Friday, April 18, 2014

Thanks For The Memories

Today marks my last day at T3 Communications/ITVantage.  I have mixed emotions about all of this.  If I could describe how I feel in one word, it would be “bittersweet.”

After graduating with my master’s degree, I spent months looking for a job, and eventually I was hired as the marketing coordinator for T3 and ITVantage.  The job came with a lot of difficulties and struggles, and at times I just wanted to quit.  There were days where I thought “I can’t take this anymore.”  But at the end of the day, it all made me a better marketing professional. 

I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone to learn all about telecommunications and IT (two fields I knew nothing about).  I was tasked with projects that most entry-level coordinators would never see, like writing content for an entire website.  But I did it all.  I pushed myself to learn new skills and to implement those skills on the job.  I wasn’t perfect, and I certainly made my fair share of mistakes, but I never gave up.

I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given at T3 and ITVantage, and I’m so thankful that my boss took a chance when he hired me.  I can only hope that I didn’t let them down, and that my work mattered.  I want nothing more than to see them succeed (and to be ranked #1 on Google).

I’m excited for this next chapter of my life, but it’s bittersweet leaving my first job behind.  Thanks for the memories, T3 and ITVantage.  You’ll be missed.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

TWLOHA Matters. My Story Matters. I Matter.

Today, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) turns eight.

I first learned about TWLOHA on Myspace.  I think the year was 2007.  I learned about TWLOHA at a time when I felt alone, lost, discouraged and hopeless.  My life was spiraling downward, and I didn’t see a way out. 


From the moment I read the story that inspired the movement, I myself was moved.  TWLOHA gave me hope and inspired me to take my recovery seriously.  It wasn’t always easy, and there were times when I was moving backwards.  But I never gave up because I knew that recovery was possible.  I learned that people need people, and we need to share our stories.  The stories of hope and recovery were what got my through it all.  I don’t think I’d be here today without those stories.

Eight years after TWLOHA was founded, I still struggle.  I’m not 100% better, and I don’t think I’ll ever be.  But I’ve always known that.  I always knew that even when I was better, I would still struggle.  And that’s okay.  But now I know when to ask for help and when to lean on others.  I know now that I don’t have to go through it alone.

I’m so thankful for everything TWLOHA has done over the past eight years.  From concerts to blog posts to speaking engagements.  All of it has mattered.  Their story matters.  Their mission and vision matter.  And because all of that, I know I matter too.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from TWLOHA’s vision statement:
“The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.  The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.  The vision is hope, and hope is real.  You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”

To learn more about TWLOHA or how to get help, visit

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Get me out. I'm stuck.

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way.  For anyone that’s read my blog, you know that I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety as well as struggled with self-injury (cutting) and suicidal thoughts.  Although all of that’s “behind me” (it’s never really behind you), lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m back in that place of pain, sadness and helplessness. 
Don’t get me wrong – I am NOT saying I’m depressed or that I want to hurt myself. But I’ve been thinking about it all a lot lately, and if I think about it long enough, I feel like I’m back in middle school and high school.  I feel like I’m back in the place where I was being bullied and tormented because I was different.  The place where I took an x-acto knife to my wrist and made small, shallow cuts from my wrist to my elbow.  The place where I just wanted to end my life because I didn’t see the point of living.
And then, the feelings fade.
I’m not really sure how to explain it.  And I don’t know why it’s happening.  Recently, I came to the realization that I’m not happy with my job.  I don’t know if it’s that I don’t like what I do or that I don’t like where I work.  But when I go to work, I’m miserable.  When I come home, I’m happy.  It’s almost like I live two different lives.
All of this has made me think about other times in my life when I’ve been unhappy, and the first thing that comes to mind are all of those things I listed above.  I think to myself, “how did I get over it back then?  At what point did I say ‘something needs to change,’ and at what point did I change it?”  THAT is when I go back to that place.  THAT is when I remember all of the pain I’ve been through.  But THAT is also when I remember that I can get through it, and I will figure this out.
I’m stuck in a rut, and right now I’m having a really hard time getting out.  Given my past, I know it’s going to take time.  But in the meantime, I need to find a way to cope.  Because I can’t go to work and be snippy and bitchy with my boss and coworkers.  It’s not fair to them.  And it certainly isn’t going to help my career.
I wish I could snap my fingers, figure out what I want and make it happen.  But I can’t. What I can do is figure out what’s making me unhappy and then fix it.  It won’t be easy, and it may involve me making some hard decisions.  But I owe it to myself to be happy.  I deserve it.  I know I do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

See you later, 23!

On Monday (December 16th), I turned 24.  That's right...24.

I can't believe it's been a year since I celebrated my 23rd birthday.  So much has happened this year that I don't think I'd be able to capture it all in a single blog post (good thing for all those other posts).  But, I'm going to try and list out some of my favorites:

1. Watching my sister get married and being her maid of honor.

2. Watching Alabama win the BCS National Championship.  

3. Snow day in Tuscaloosa!

4. Celebrating my one year anniversary with Alex by going on a cruise to the Bahamas.

5. Watching Dunk City come to life during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

6. Being in the ultrasound room when my sister found out she was having a girl.

7. Going to my first craft brewery.  I've been a craft beer lover ever since!

8. Seeing Lee Brice, Chris Young and Brad Paisley in Tuscaloosa.

9. Graduating with my master's degree and being back with my boyfriend.

10. Marley Shai Johnson.  In September, my sister gave birth to her first child, Marley Shai (she also happens to be my first niece).  She has brought so much joy to my life in such a short period of time, and I miss being able to see her all the time.

11. Landing my first job.  It's been nearly a month since I started working with ITVantage, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity I was given.

12. Painting and re-organizing the condo and making it "ours."  It feels nice to come home from work every day and feel at home.

13. Experiencing seasons while living in Tuscaloosa.  You don't get that in Southwest Florida.

Twenty-three was a great year, but I can't wait to see what the next year of my life will hold.  If it's anything like the past, it will be filled with ups and downs...but I wouldn't want things any other way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alyssa, I Couldn't Love You More

(NOTE: This blog post was written on September 4, 2013 right after Marley was born.  Only a few changes, mostly punctuation and rephrasing, have been made.  Other than that, it's all the same.)

Sometimes I hated being the big sister.  I hated feeling like I had all of this responsibility to protect my sister from things I couldn't really protect her from.  I hated trying to be the perfect role model, but mostly, I hated failing at being a good role model.  During high school, I headed down a negative and destructive path, and when my sister did the same, I blamed myself.  I still do.  But despite all of this, I loved being her big sister, and I think (despite everything) I was a pretty good role model for her.

But what I've loved the most is having her as my best friend and being able to watch her grown into a beautiful and loving person, wife and now a mother.  It's been one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences watching her grow into the person she is today.  When I watched her get married, I cried.  And today when I watched her during labor, I almost cried (I held it in for you, baby sis!).  I couldn't have been more proud.  Sure she cried (most women would), but she rarely complained.  She never yelled at anyone.  And despite the tremendous amount of pain she was in, she was calm.  Most importantly, she was strong.

And when I watched her hold her beautiful baby girl, I just knew she was going to be an incredible mother.  The things she has already done for her daughter shows just how selfless she is.  For the past nine months she's put her baby first...and labor was no different.  All she ever wanted was to have a healthy baby, and after 15 hours of labor that ended in a c-section, she got just that - a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  Alyssa, I'm so proud to call you my sister.  You are truly one of the strongest people I've ever known.  You've been to hell and back, but you've come out on top.  In January I watched you marry the man of your dreams, and now I'm watching you hold your newest love- your daughter.

Congratulations, Alyssa on your baby girl.  I have no doubt you're going to be an amazing mother.  And I'm so excited to have a niece to spoil.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I'm a Master!

On August 3, 2013, I graduated from The University of Alabama with my master's degree in advertising and public relations.  I did it.  I'm a master!

A year ago I packed up my car and moved 700 miles away from everything I knew and everyone I loved to start a new chapter of my life.  I moved into an apartment in Tuscaloosa by myself, and I struggled for weeks on end trying to get used to being on my own.  I started my graduate program with one goal: work hard and get that degree.  But through the long days, sleepless nights, endless papers and near-impossible exams, I gained so much more.  I fell in love with the incredible town of Tuscaloosa, but mostly, I fell in love with my amazing classmates.  They are an incredibly talented and amazing group of individuals, and I would not have survived the program without them.  When I had no one else to talk to, I had them.  When no one else understood the pressure or the frustrations I was feeling, they understood.  When I just wanted to give up and say "screw it," they reminded me why I was there.  I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today without the support of my classmates and fellow masters.

For a year I complained how much I hated the program, the classes, the professors and everything else in between.  And despite how much I complained, I now know that getting my master's degree was the right decision.  When I was giving my final presentation to my client on July 31st, I knew that I had the knowledge, talent and abilities to conquer the PR world.  The campaign my partner and I developed wasn't perfect by any means, and looking back there are things I wish I had added and changed.  BUT, I never would've been able to do that a year ago.  The creative elements, designs, advertisements, social media ideas and overall campaign we put together is a direct result of the knowledge I gained during my time at The University of Alabama.

A year after moving into my apartment in Tuscaloosa, I'm back in Florida and living with my boyfriend.  It isn't easy being back, and I miss Tuscaloosa terribly, but there's truly no place like home.  I'm ready to take on the PR world, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Thank you Alabama for a truly incredible year.  ROLL TIDE!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Regret (verb): To think of with a sense of loss

I never used to believe in regrets.  I always believed that something good could come out of something bad.  I truly believed you should never regret anything because it can only make you stronger.

But recently, I've had a change of heart.  Going to grad school at Alabama...that's my biggest regret.

Sure, I got to experience a beautiful campus, amazing campus life, and a campus full of history and tradition.  But at what cost?  I risked so much coming here, and although I didn't lose it all, I lost something I fought so hard for for so many years - my happiness.

When I left Florida, I was in a fairly new relationship.  We had only been dating for six months when I moved.  Things were great.  I was in love for the first time in my life, and I felt like I had found the one I was meant to be with for the rest of my life.  Now, 10 months later, we're still together, and I'm so grateful for that because I know he didn't have to stay with me.  But honestly, our relationship is tough.  In a long distance relationship, you rely solely on verbal communication.  And at times, it puts a lot of strain on the relationship.  You fight more often, you run out of things to talk about, and you begin to feel distant.  I've grown so jealous and insecure in this relationship, and I've never been that kind of person before.  It's put unnecessary strain on our relationship, and it's certainly caused a lot of fights. This past year has gotten the best of us, and I almost feel like my relationship is a daily battle.  Some days, I wonder if we're going to make it.

I've struggled with my happiness from the moment I left Fort Myers.  The first few days I was in Alabama I cried every moment I was awake.  It was torture.  Over time I cried a little less, but every now and then, I break down.  I still hurt every day because I feel like I left something something great for something terrible.  I took a gamble, and it backfired.  Each day it hurts to be here, and it's a battle to get up in the morning and work hard.

I'm 68 days away from graduating, and it seriously cannot come soon enough.  I believe in living in the present and enjoying each moment, but right now, I wouldn't mind time speeding up a little.  I'm ready to have my master's degree and move back to Florida.

I don't regret much.  In fact, I can only think of one or two things that I regret.  Every hardship I've experience, every heartache, and every low point in my life has only made me stronger.  Maybe six months from now I'll have that same outlook on this experience.  But right now, I regret coming here.

I'm ready for the worst year of my life to be over.  I'm ready to take the "long distance" out of my relationship.  But mostly, I'm ready to be happy again.  I'm ready to smile and laugh and enjoy life...and really mean it.