Brunette’s Book Club: Silver People (Not Exclusive To Brunettes!)

        This was one of those random books at the library you find every once in a good while. They’re rare, but spectacular. The story, Silver People, by Margarita Engle, followed an intriguing ensemble cast of characters as they shared their own stories of living life, either working, watching, or leading the construction of the Panama Canal in 1906. 

        The story starts out from the point of view of Mateo, the main character in the story. He’s going through all of the reasons of why he needs this job of working on the Panama Canal. His abusive father. His helpless mother desperate for financial relief. The desideratum for a new life. Every few pages, the perspective changes: Anita, the forest whisperer who sells herbal medicines to whoever will take them, that is, whoever notices her. She is discouraged that her sacred forest is being overrun by Americans. Henry,  a former cock-fighter, is livid due to the utterly inadequate conditions Cubans are placed under versus those Americans are (similar to the highly debated issue of equal pay for equal work, no?). And finally, Augusto, an artist Mateo discovers, who decides to paint the beauty of the forest that surrounded him, while it’s still there. Despite the beauty of each character’s disposition, it’s the character of The Forest that stood out for me. It gave me insight to a common problem we face today in the world; climate change. Humans may reach for the stars, developing, researching, creating, but no iPhone bazillion or Samsung Galaxy S Note Edge whatever will trump the ultimate force of Mother Nature. When you take out the chaos and social expectations and Instagram feeds and Snapchat filters and viral videos and screens and binges and clothing and competition, all you have left is your bare hands and feet, and our Earth. And that makes me smile.

        The story of these characters’ journeys; their work being undermined because of their skin color, their pay being docked because of their country of origin, and their integrity being sacrificed in order to provide for their families. Doesn’t this strike an eerily similar chord with you? The hatred these workers face is the same immigrants, Muslims, and African Americans still face to this very day. There’s no denying the fact, progress has been made since the construction of the Panama Canal, as my 4th grade teacher once said, practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. If we practice the core ideals of our nation, by fostering acceptance of all, then without a doubt, progress will be made. 

        There is still work that needs to be done. Some days, it feels that every step we take forward, we walk a mile backwards. Now, isn’t this blog post timely? President Trump’s recent travel ban is the epitome of walking a mile backwards. If not, 5, 10, or 20 miles backwards. But a little lesson I learned from Lorelei Gilmore, is that, one little pothole in your life will not ruin your entire journey. One thing I am certain of, is that the journey of the American Spirit has taken more harsh beatings than any other. Yet, another thing I am certain of, is that, no bump, batter, bruise, or president will ever defeat the American Spirit. Right now, we’re just feeling the blow. I have the utmost confidence in the United States, now and always. Not the administration that runs it, but the United States as a whole. We the people have more control over how our country runs that the people who have been elected to run our country. If we work together, sign petitions, join marches, make phone calls, read the (completely legitimate!) news, and run for office,  then we really do have a chance to be the change we want to see in the world.

       This book took my breath away, each stanza being better than the last. Margarita Engle perfectly encapsulated the trauma, pain, and sorrow of the construction of the Panama Canal, while instilling a firm message to readers of today about the progress still needing to be made about immigration and racism. Poetically charming, the book was, and with the fewest of words, Engle left the greatest of messages. You’re never the same person after you’ve been through a life-changing experience, and Engle gave her readers the opportunity of gaining perspective through this beautiful piece of literature. If couldn’t tell already, I strongly recommend this read! Let me know if you’re planning to read this, or if you already have, and if you have any book recommendations of your own for me! Tune in next time for the final bow of the hair-tutorials sweep through the Legally Brunette Blog. Continue reading

Reader of the Month: “Mind Games”

Welcome back, everyone, to Reader of the Month! This month, I have convinced one of my very best friends, going under the alias, Buddy, to join the Legally Brunette family by making her debut as February’s Reader of the Month. In her captivating opinion piece entitled, “Mind Games,” she discusses her experience with having an anxiety disorder,  commonly found among teenagers, and delves into the misconceptions, day-to-day  struggles of feeling “policed” by your own mind, and steps she took to regain control of the fear that had overwhelmed . I am beyond impressed with Buddy’s open mindedness and pure honesty that I know will inspire not only those suffering from anxiety, but anyone who is in need of hearing wisdom from someone who has survived tough times. Leave a comment below showing support for this blog, and for Buddy, as well as all former and prospective ROMs, whose willingness to share their experiences, opinions, and creativity has immensely shaped my outlook on the world, and this blog’s mission as a whole. Introducing Buddy, with the piece, “Mind Games.”

~The Legally Brunette


 

“Mind Games”

By Buddy

                     If there’s one phrase that I hate, it’s “It’ll get better.” The truth is, that things tend to not get better, but more so get more tolerable. Whatever your challenge to overcome is will always be a part of you no matter what, which is sad, but a true statement. For example, I have an anxiety disorder. I worry about events in the future going wrong in such elaborate ways that it keeps me from truly expressing myself and living my life to the fullest. I’m afraid to go up to the front of the classroom to sharpen my pencil because I’m afraid I’ll trip and make a fool of myself. I’m afraid to talk to people if I don’t really know them in fear that just saying “hi” will sound stupid. In fact, my anxiety has only gotten worse throughout the years. As a young kid I just thought I was shy, but when I started to get nervous and anxious talking on the phone with my grandparents, I knew I needed help. Now I go to therapy, and while my anxiety is still there and will always be there, it has become more manageable.

                     A lot of times people wonder what anxiety really feels like, because they just figure “Well everybody has anxiety, get over it.” But the fact is, that those people will probably get anxiety about a project or homework or maybe public speaking at times, whereas with anxiety, you could say “Good morning” to someone and spend the rest of the day analyzing all the wrong ways it could have sounded or been perceived. Anxiety is like having a police officer constantly follow you around saying “You can’t do that.” It’s like becoming a scared little girl again for the smallest things. So while therapy can’t cure my anxiety per se, it has taught me a lot of ways to tone it down and get through my daily life without worrying about things such as whether that stranger that walked past me thought I looked weird.

                    Two of the biggest things that I have learned in therapy have been that 1) Everybody is focusing on themselves and their lives, and are not very worried about how you said something to them that may have sounded weird to you, and 2) There’s a difference between awkward and quiet. What I mean by there’s a difference between awkward and quiet is that, yes, I’m a generally soft spoken person with a quiet nature. However, I still laugh and have fun with friends and family, so just because media portrays the quiet kids in school as being awkward, does not make it true. I always thought I was super weird for being quiet, since from a young age I would see all the kids around me talking to each other and talking out in class and I would wonder “Is it weird that I don’t talk as much as them?” And then when awkward was added to my vocabulary, I figured that was what I was, when in reality, quiet isn’t weird or awkward.

                    Although I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you’re never going to be perfect, you will have some slip ups, but will they always happen? No. Should you restrict yourself from doing things because you’re afraid you’ll slip up? NO. Not at all. Trust yourself, and your body will trust you back.


About the Author: Buddy is one of the Legally Brunette’s very best friends, and they never have a normal day as long as they’re together.


Mental health is a very serious topic, one that should never be taken lightly. If you believe you or someone you know has a mental illness similar to anxiety or depression, visit some of these websites to learn more information and receive care:

https://www.adaa.org/ (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

http://www.worrywisekids.org/ (Worry Wise Kids)

https://www.anxiety.org/ (Anxiety.org)

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/ (MentalHealth.gov)

http://teenmentalhealth.org/ (Teen Mental Health)


 

It’s De-Lovely.

Hey everyone!

After a brief blogging hiatus, I am officially back. After making so many plans for my blog, I guess I kind of forgot to actually post on my blog. Over the weekend, I took a much- needed detox. From plans, homework, and responsibility, so I went to Maine.                  Yup. That’s the whole story. If you feel overwhelmed, I will always vouch for a warm bath and rummaging through Pinterest for inspirational quotes and whatnot, but in my family, our most commonly used “inspirational quote” goes along the lines of “Give up and just go to Maine already.” 

So yeah. Official Weekend Status Report: Check! A few members of my family -myself included- have also made it a tradition to embark on an annual trek to the ole Vacation Land right around Valentines Day. Well, I don’t know if it is coincidence or not, but very recently, Beyonce announced that she was having twins!! The initial reaction my cousin (the same one who relentlessly pressed me for the status of my purchase of her most recent album, Lemonade, until I finally bought it) and I went through was pure giddiness. Any time Beyonce posts a picture with caption, it’s declared an official holiday. But let’s be real here- any time Beyonce posts a picture, it’s always declared a holiday in our minds!

To commemorate the joyous occasion, we decided to combine our annual Single-Pringle Valentine’s Day dinner with a not your average Beyonce baby shower. We crafted (Including making a string of cut-out bees saying cute Valentine’s/bee puns. Our cheesiness ranged from “I think I’m POLLEN for ya!” all the way to “You make me feel aHIVE.”), binged (I had to be there with my cousin as his experience with The Office came to a close. Speaking as someone who has watched the series roughly four times in a row     -36 seasons in total- I am well aware of the challenge in itself to cope with the mere thought of life after The Office. But luckily I did encourage him to pick Parks and Recreation, so all was well.), snacked (A few months ago, as I was waiting in line at a local T.J. Maxx, I discovered  possibly the best impulse buy I would ever make: heart shaped pasta. I know, I know, but I just had one of those moments! A Pinterest epiphany, some might call it.) played (There was snow. There was sledding. There was snow-mobiling. There was hot-tubbing. There was “Holy schnitzel it’s wicked ch-ch-ch-chilly out here”-ing. Oh yes, and there was ski-biking.), and sang (Hamilyonce: the two best things to have possibly graced the earth. This really needs to become a power couple name or something…). So yeah, it was a pretty awesome weekend, and a good gettaway from all of the hub bub life throws at you. To  read more opinion on travel, check out this blog post!

Well, when all is said and when all is done, I do believe Beyonce said it best: “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.” Am I right, single ladies? Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without us.  Continue reading