Intern Life: A Trip to DC

The last time I went to Washington DC, I was in grade school. I remember that my mom and my aunt brought me with them. They were so excited to see all the art museums and monuments.
I hated it.
I couldn’t have cared less about giant statues and boring pictures. I probably made my mom think I was the most ungrateful little brat under the summer sun.
That was our thing; my mom is a teacher, so if we were going to travel anywhere, it was always during summertime. I’d like to start off this post with a big ole, SORRY MOM!
Because for the first time as an adult, I visited Washington DC, and to be in the presence of so much history was exceptional.
I totally get it now.

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As some of you know, I’ve been participating in an internship with a nonprofit that works to end world hunger. Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) has not only been one of the fastest growing nonprofits in central Florida, but has also opened up my eyes to the opportunities around me; all I have to do is seize them!

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My first adventure with FCE was recent a trip on September 10th and 11th to DC with a bunch of other interns…and I didn’t really know any of them. It was a little nerve wrecking, but in hindsight, absolutely worth it.
We were headed to package 1 million meals for seniors in need through AARP and US Hunger on the National Day of Service.
And did I mention all the new friends I made by the end?

Our trip began with a flight out of Orlando at 5:20 am, which meant getting to the airport parking lot at 3:30 am.
Maybe it was the adrenaline of going to a place with a bunch of people I didn’t know to work my first hunger project that pushed me through, but the flight wasn’t bad at all. TSA was pretty breezy. We also had a lay over flight in Atlanta. It was surprisingly easier flying with a collective of people, despite barely knowing one another.

We arrived in DC around 10:30 am and grabbed coffee. A woman dressed to the nines, and I chatted for a bit while waiting in line. That’s kind of a thing in DC; everyone dresses like they’re really important. She told me about the sights to see and I told her about FCE. It was a new feeling, watching someone else’s eyes light up when I said we were here to package food. Honestly, at first it was kind of awkward, and then I realized we were actually doing something very impactful. Something good.

We piled into a big black chevy SUV and ubered (that’s not a recognized verb yet but like..it should be) to our Hunger Project site for set up. We arrived at the Washington Mall and started slinging boxes, 50 pound bags of rice and lentils and sorted hundreds of wet wipes. Riveting work I tell you.
I kid.
Seriously though, set up was a long day (and remember we all were basically running on no sleep), but we made it through. The jokes were free flowing, conversation was good. We were all finally starting to get to know each other.

I was exactly where I was supposed to be, with the people I was supposed to be surrounded with. It was enlightening and refreshing to be surrounded by all these new personalities and colorful minds.
We went out exploring that night. We shared laughs, snapped pictures and traded stories. It was a night that I’ll never forget.

 

 

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The next morning I was up and ready to go by 6 am. My hotel roomie and I dragged our luggage behind us, and made our way to the Washington Mall. It was go time.

Here we were, in Washington DC and we’d be working together to package 1 million meals for seniors in need.
The enormous white tent on Washington Mall housed 65 tables, each for 12-15 volunteers. It was filled with banners repping AARP and US Hunger. There were 5 shifts ahead of us. Each table had a volunteer in charge, called a table captain, and they would lead the rest of their volunteers on how to package the meals. It was a room of assembly lines unlike anything I’ve ever seen; I’d say it was very well controlled chaos. Each shift would last a little over an hour and then the current volunteers would file out while new ones came in.
For the next 10 hours, we were on.

 

 

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I never thought I’d see myself lugging 50 pound bags of rice and lentils and dancing while I was doing it, but life is funny like that.
The music was blasting from a DJ on stage, a peacock mascot waltzed around the room, AARP employees snapped pictures and even Carla Hall hung out on stage to amp up the event!  Close to 4,000 volunteers worked on packaging meals. Each shift contributed about 250,000 meals on average. We completed and exceeded our goal of 1 million meals for seniors in need.
That’s a whole lot of rice and beans.

When it came time to break down, I was covered in plastic bits, sweat, and onion powder.
We finished up cleaning and decided on one last adventure: The Lincoln Memorial.
It was about 6 pm and we had to be at the airport at 8 pm. We had a short window of time before dealing with TSA on 9/11, so why not?

Between set up, the night out, walking everywhere, hauling huge sacks of dried goods and break down, my legs were beyond over it. Still, climbing up those stairs felt symbolic.
To look out and see the reflection pond, to stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a lull of quiet, held so much significance. Those moments made me feel like we had come so far as a country, together. I also felt we have so far to go. But not in a bad way. More like in a way that felt so do-able, so possible.
Together we had packaged over 1 million meals for hungry seniors. If that doesn’t say that we can make a difference, then I should’ve just turned into a lentil and rolled down the stairs then and there.

 

 

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Our uber ride to the airport was light shift in energy. Aka, we sang along to some Beyonce and Neil Diamond.
Sing(read?) it with me…Sweeeeet Caroooliiiiiine, your turn: BAH BAH BAAAAAH
Always good for the end of a trip and just good for the soul, am I right?

We grabbed a bite to eat at the Dulles airport and chatted about things like activism groups, future travels and even some of our biggest fears.  After the flight we bid our sleepy “goodbyes and see ya next week” adieus, and it was finally time to go home.
So what did I learn? What’s the moral? The point?

I learned I am way stronger than I realized. Rice and beans got nothin’ on me. I learned how much I value travel and being surrounded by positive, well rounded beings. I learned that making a tangible difference is something that I desire to accomplish with my life’s work. I have to remember to push myself to be my best, to seize the moment, grasp opportunities as they come and embrace them all to make a difference.

Thanks for reading y’all, until next time. Much love.

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Life’s A Drag; Be A Queen.

Cord Skyla is a personality rising up in the Orlando nightlife scene. By day he models, by night, he drags. However, the road to gigs has been a fairly bumpy one.

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Cord started acting when he was around 7 years old, modeling at age 15, and has loved the feeling of the spotlight since. To preview his recent accomplishments, the Orlando local has walked in Orlando Fashion Week, Aveda Institute Fashion shows, been signed by BMG Modeling agency and has recently begun his journey with drag. Since starting out in October of 2017, he has performed at Parliament House and Southern Nights.

“What really got me into it was one of my friends was obsessed with Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and she did my make up back for Halloween,” said Cord.
“We went downtown for Halloween, and she dressed up in drag. The whole night people thought I was a girl and she was a guy. It was so funny and ever since that night, I just started doing drag.”
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I’ve walked in about 8 or 9 fashion shows. It’s really made me comfortable with who I am. I’m not your basic model, I don’t even look like a model. I’m a little bit on the thicker side compared to all the male models that are usually casted with me. They’re usually all fit and buff and I’m always the oddball,” said Cord.

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Cord has also done photoshoots for Lupus Disease Awareness.

Although he continues to work his way up the ladder of entertainment, he has endured an intricate level of losses along the way.

Cord came out when he was around 21 to his mother who was very religious.

“I was experimenting with my clothes. I was cutting off my jeans into short shorts and cutting my shirts. I was getting really comfortable with dressing like who I wanted to be. (the argument escalated) and I just said “You know what mom, I’m gay!” I slammed the door and went outside,” said Cord.
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“A few weeks passed and I was sitting in the car with my mom during a car ride and she was like “you’ve always talked about wanting to have kids and a family.” And I told her I’d still have kids and a family, I just don’t know if it’ll be with a woman. She accepted me no matter what but she was just really hurt at first.”

Eventually she came to accept her son and their relationship grew even more. Cord’s father wasn’t around much because of his traveling career in baseball. Despite all of this, Cord has remained a stable faith and left judgement of others at the door.
Since I’ve come out, I’m still a believer of God. I don’t judge anyone on religion, I have friends of all different religions,” said Cord.

Cord described his mom as his best friend. She struggled with breast cancer and multiple rounds of chemo. Once his mother reached a state of remission they visited Tennessee for his sister’s wedding. While vacationing in Tennessee, they were in a tragic car accident. Cord’s mother lost the ability to walk and became very weak in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, she passed away.

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This loss had followed another even more tragic loss; Cord’s fiance had died.

He told me about his fiance, Chris and how the two of them were at their friend’s 40th birthday party. He claimed they were having the times of their lives during a photo shoot, when he noticed Chris’ absence from the party.
He walked outside to find a crowd surrounding his fiance. As he picked up Chris’ head to hold, he noticed black and blue bruising around his left eye and a large gash above his left ear. Cord explained this to police and was instead questioned about being an attacker.
During this night, they had even gone on Facebook live because the incident was such an outrage.
There’s still video footage from that night that I cant bear to watch it,” said Cord.

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The police’s lack of empathy ensued as they dismissed the guests from the party and never followed up with Cord about his fiance’s death. Articles came out claiming the death of Cord’s fiance, was due to natural causes. They stated that his blood vessels simply burst in his brain and there was not further investigating into the external injuries that were visible, though camouflaged with make up, even during the wake of Cord’s fiance Chris.

For a year after both of the close losses, Cord moved to Tennessee to be close to his mother’s grave so he could grieve and heal.

Since Cord has moved back to Orlando, he has jumped right back into the world of work.
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“When I moved back in October, I started getting all these gigs. I was in a Disney Live Action Film a couple of weeks ago with Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston. It’s called One and Only Ivan and it’s coming out Summer of 2019,” said Cord.

During this, he has decided to start exploring in the world of drag. Although he said he gets mostly positive feedback, he hinted that the community of queens is tight-knit and hard to join.
Some of the push back from other queens has included insulting his wigs and questioning his looks.

Starting out, you get a lot of hate but I’ve still kept going,” said Cord.IMG_9716

On the upside, Cord also told me how he has met some of his truly best friends while out in drag.

“Drag is a form of art for me, a way to escape to be someone else and to perform your talents. I just love how the transformation is for people, how different of a transformation that people can make of themselves. Drag has made me really comfortable with who I am personally,” said Cord.

While he isn’t out in drag or performing, he teaches classes on commercial modeling and acting and runway tactical classes to other aspiring talents.

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Overcoming his past has not only thickened his skin, but made him a bit of a role model. When life gets you down, you don’t give up. You heal, and you come back stronger than ever. When considering his past and younger self, he said this-

“I wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid of what everyone thought of me. I used to care so much about what I looked like.
It’s okay to be who you are, God made you a certain way for a reason.”
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Thanks for reading! Much love~
If you’d like to see more of Cord Skyla, click the links below.
Cord’s Instagram
Cord’s Youtube

The Dinner Party Partisanship

I love a good family dinner party. 
Your aunt brings the garden fresh garden salad.
Your uncle brings his famous mac ‘n cheese.
Your cousin makes the best garlic mashed potatoes.
Your grandma bakes the cinnamon apple pie.
Your mom makes the biggest pork roast.
Your spouse makes their winning bacon wrapped scallops.
It’s about coming together, conversation and all the good foods!

Now lets switch gears.
Political parties are the same.
Some people fall on the conservative side of the spectrum, while others land on the liberal side. If you choose to stay between the two, you can always identify as an independent too.
Of course there are other subcategories, but without going to far down the rabbit hole, we’ll keep it to these three sections.

At the end of the day, we all eat together, so why the separation?
Depending on upbringing, personal opinions, virtues, values, and learned morals, each individual is entitled to their own opinions, should it not bring harm to others.
These are the separate dishes.

When these elements dine together,
a cohesive unit of humans should ideally be able to work and talk together.
The only way this won’t work, is when you’ve got that one family member who thinks their dish is the end all be all.
Everybody should only eat what they brought to the table.
Their big ole roast.
No bacon wrapped scallops,
no mac ‘n cheese,
no garden fresh salad,
no mashed potatoes,
no apple pie.

And that’s where we are currently in America.

I’m not here to tell you one party should surpass the other or that one is better.
I want a plate full of everything!
Same dinner party, remember?

However, we can’t work on problems equally, when one voice is on full volume,
while the other is getting
quieter

and

quieter

and

quieter.

Currently, republicans control the senate, the house and the presidency.
Until recently, the only area that acquired some level of equality, was the supreme court. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy has recently announced his coming retirement to spend more time with his family.
A simple google search will tell you all about how Justice Kennedy has been the major swing vote in many huge cases.

Now that he is stepping down, President Trump will be expected to hand select the next Supreme Court Justice. Now don’t forget, Justices are expected to serve until they either retire or die.
They’re in it for life; this is a huge decision to fall unto the Presidents’ lap.

Trump has mentioned that he has a list composed of candidates for the opening position. Considering he leads with a conservative hand, we can expect a conservative justice.

Without jumping to too many conclusions,
I would say it’s fairly reasonable to consider the idea that our country will then have a republican house, senate, presidency and team of justices.

This reality isn’t so farfetched.
When Obama was in office, the democrats controlled the senate, the presidency and the supreme court was pretty equal but fell towards the liberal side.
The house was the only part of senate controlled by republicans.

I see a bit of a problem with both instances.
One side is constantly trying to undo the other.
Instead of building each other up, we’re busy tearing each other down. It’s the same cycle with a different party.
The only way to change partisanship is go old school, reach across the aisle.

We don’t have to agree on everything,
some of us want steak and some of us want tofu.
We still sit at the same table, we still eat together.
I know I want a plate with a little bit of everything,
and not just because I was a fat kid growing up!

I want to hear about what everyone has been up to and how well they’ve been doing.
The dinner time conversation can only flow
when we’re all speaking at the same volume and taking turns.
We can’t keep trying to yell over each other, because eventually somebody hits the mute.

Now that I’ve got your wheels spinning I’ve one last thing to say:
Welcome to the dinner party,
what kind of guest will you be?

Pulse: 2 Years Passed

If you know about the Pulse tragedy that occurred two years ago, June 13, 2016, the word pulse may mean something different to you now.

It could represent a heartbeat, beating or ceased. It could represent a past place, once thumping with jubilant and alive electricity. It could represent a current place of empty space and quiet handmade alters with wilted flowers.

It could represent a feeling; one of anger and confusion. Or it could be one of strength sprouted and flourished from the concrete actions of a misled soul.

It could represent a tattoo, if you had one inked on you to show your support. It could represent a community you’ve been a part of, that slowed its pace in the peak of the horror. It could represent friends gone, family lost and those forever scarred physically and mentally by an act of hatred.

The word pulse could bring back memories put away, either of good days or not. It could conjure up questions of how and when and why and what could I have done? It could be a word that numbs the senses.

The word pulse means something very dynamic and shrewd to me. It carries a terrifying spectrum of reality and hopefulness along with it now.

To me, pulse is not just a word or picture or a memory or song or sadness. Pulse is a number.

49.

49 times does the word Pulse ring in my ears.

49 times does the word echo on the ground, when I stroll the cobblestone streets of my neighborhood.

49 times does the word stop my thought process and slow my pace, 2 years later.

49 times do I say to myself,

“Don’t you dare complain about any type of tiresome or trying time, when you know there are souls who will never get the same chance.”

49 times do I wonder, what if it happens again? What if something worse happens? What if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time? Should I hide my sexuality? Should I remove myself from my community?

And twice as many times do I say no.

I say not one bit. I say never.

I will never shrink, or shadow my personality. I will never hide my being or sugarcoat my life. I will never slink out of a room that makes me uncomfortable.

I will never sit down because my stance is too tall for a short girl with individuality. I will never cower from or ignore the crude reality of the world we live in.

There is hate, and I cannot change it all at once.

There are people who spread that hate, like black mold.

Hate is quiet. It is easy. And most of all, deadly.

How can I fight a quiet and sly killer?

Hate can live in us all, if we let it. It holds potential to grow in the darkest corners of our minds.

But the thing is, love holds that same potential. It is the yin and yang of life. The darkness is equally met with the light. The scale that teeters and totters during our years of existence is weighted by whatever we pile onto it.

Because each and every one of us holds potential for both hate and love, we can fight the hate equally with just as much love.

You don’t fight fire with gasoline.

You don’t hide from fire either, because the smoke will eventually seep into your lungs.

You face the fire, and you saturate it until the water has washed away the char.

You listen to opposing views. You listen to the groups of people that preach hate. You listen to the anger and the sadness. You don’t spew venom. You just listen.

And once they feel heard, you can share your love. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be loved. It is instinctual, deeply rooted and almost primal. It acknowledges the other as equal, and that paves the way in the right direction.

That is the first step to stopping another shortcoming; the first step to saving the next life.

It has to start with us. We have to think about it consistently; be it 2 years later or 200 years later. 49 lives are gone from this world, but they are not gone for nothing.

This time has built the Orlando community tighter and stronger than ever before. There is a steady backing that says “I’ve got you, I’m here for you.”

We have to share that with each person we encounter. It won’t be easy, it won’t happen quickly. But we have to show courage and patience, and we have to show how much love our community holds for those with us and against us.

If you take away anything from this article, it is this:

Nobody is born hating the world, but holds an equal potential for hate and for love. What they are shown they will mirror and mimic into their adult life. In our adult lives, we still hold that same potential for hate and for love. Regardless of any dispositions or disadvantages, the potential does not disappear. Will you choose hate or love?

Thanks for reading, much love.

Kate Spade: The Speculation Spam

Why are we so obsessed with the fall of the rich and famous?
Is it because we crave a lifestyle that many of us will never experience? Is it because we look at the rich and famous as invincible and untouchable?
They aren’t so unlike us.

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Part of me wants to say the oversharing is due to much admiration of Kate Spade’s many accomplishments as a designer.
Yet, part of me knows, that there hasn’t been an inkling of privacy granted to the Brosnahan and Spade family; because as a society we are obsessed with the details of what could have happened inside a seemingly perfect life. 

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It’s easy to google Kate and find out the details of her suicide.
She hung herself with a red scarf from a doorknob in her Park Avenue apartment. Found by her housekeeper, there was also a note left addressing her daughter.
The note allegedly said “It’s not your fault” and “Ask your father.”
13 year old Francis was at school.
It’s everywhere. We get it. So why are we probing for more?

An article was published on Kate’s husband, (linked at the bottom of this page)
Andy Spade, that he left his apartment in a mouse mask, shouting at paparazzi,
begging for privacy.

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Another article was published on Kate’s niece posting a video of her aunt dancing at a Christmas party with a Mariachi band playing in the background.
Why do I need to know these things? I don’t.

This is called, being intrusive. Am I being a hypocrite for further illuminating the subjects? Maybe. However, I’m doing it to present a counter perspective:
We’re diving too deep into a sensitive situation.

Image: Kate Spade
SPECIAL PRICE. American accessories designer Kate Spade.

I love seeing the articles celebrate Kate Spade and her successes.
She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Journalism.
Her beginning at Mademoiselle Magazine in the fashion department grew her love for fashion. Eventually she would team up with Andy Spade, her future husband, and create a designer line of handbags named Kate Spade New York.
Her first boutique would be only 400 square feet, but would graduate into a 10,000 square foot unit eventually. She’s since been named in the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Neiman Marcus Group developed a grand interest in Kate Spade’s line and bought 56% of the company.
Following suit, Liz Claiborne would buy the rest, then sell to purse and accessory line, Coach. At 55 years old Kate Spade was not only a billionaire, but also a mother. Her daughter, Frances is left with the designer legend of her mother.

Kate’s family has contradicting stances on her mental state.
Her older sister, Saffo, although upset by the news, said that the suicide wasn’t unexpected. Saffo said that Kate suffered from anxiety and depression, and asked Kate many times to seek help. While these claims were made, Kate’s brother insists that Kate would never do anything like this and never seemed unhappy.

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However, the fact of the matter is that Kate did take her own life. Instead of speculating on the perfection that had once been presented, I think it’s worth noting the phrase “More money, more problems” are pretty damn relevant.
You never really know what one person is battling with daily.
It doesn’t matter who they are, or what they have.
Before you share another viral article or video online delving into the depths of the Brosnahan or Spade family, think about what you would want in you were in their shoes. Maybe go ahead and share something that celebrate’s Kate’s life, but maybe pass on the darker speculations.
Hug your loved one’s today, call your mom or do a good deed.
As the cliche goes, life is just too short.

Thanks for reading, much love.

I do not own any of the above pictures.
Sources:
https://pagesix.com/2018/06/05/kate-spades-suicide-note-had-a-message-for-her-daughter/

https://www.refinery29.com/2018/06/201040/kate-valentine-spade-name-designer-fashion-career
https://people.com/style/kate-spades-family-disgusted-after-designers-sister-claims-suicide-not-unexpected-suffered-mental-illnes/

https://pagesix.com/2018/06/07/kate-spades-husband-emerges-in-bizarre-mouse-mask/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/style/kate-spade-husband-andy-spade.html