Navratri Festival

Oh. My. God. Do you know how much Indians like to party?!

Obviously, I am an educated and empathetic human being and I am speaking of Indians that come from India; not the disastrous and hurtful term Americans sometimes use while speaking of Native Americans.
I have actually corrected a Native American about this before. It did not seem to bother them, but that is why everything is subjective, and we Americans fight like little babies about everything (including if a cup from Starbucks should be red or not -wutt??).

But, seriously, Indians can freakin dance! And if you thought their weddings were gigantic affairs, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to a Navratri Festival, a.k.a The Festival of NINE NIGHTS.

Yes, nine nights in a row, these people come together to pray, to eat, and to DANCE. This festival is specific to the Gujarati culture.

Here we are, washing blessings over us from exquisite plates with tea candles that have been prayer over on them.

Navratri Blessing

And oh, let me tell you about the stick dance!! That was the most fun, albeit challenging, dance. I think we mastered it. Everyone is in a line, facing a partner. You tap your sticks to your partners in 5 different ways, and then you move over two people to your left. Raas, as it is called, is “actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance'” (wikipedia).

My friend Julia and I, being the only white girls in the place, felt so incredible welcomed at every moment. We also kicked some serious Raas ass. Really though, the people at this huge, remarkable festival were so kind to us. They went out of their way to make sure we were having a good time, that we were comfortable, and they even showed us the moves!

Navratri Sticks

It was the most welcoming event I have ever been apart of. And I cannot wait to go back Friday night!!

Navratri Dancing

Even if my calves hurt for three days after. It was the most fun night of our lives! I think Mr. Trump could use a night or two dancing with folks from another culture to see that all people just want peace and happiness. And that does not have to come from money.

A woman at the Navratri festival did walk around bestowing gifts on all the participants. And it was Julia’s first day as a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, so she and I were both extremely grateful to have received these beautiful elephant incense holders and patches from India.

Navratri Gifts

I cannot thank my beautiful, radiant friends Shika and Tejal enough for inviting us to celebrate Navratri this year!! I am sure it will be a part of our lives for many years to come. And I hope I can inspire at least one person to find out if there is a Navratri festival near you, and attend!!

Navratri All

This really was an amazing spectacle of humans.

As Promised… a night on the town.

As promised, here is my best recollection of last night. We were all stone cold sober, and still had the time of our lives.


So we’re sitting in this fancy modern French restaurant in Buffalo on Main St. and I’m feeling super weird. I don’t do fancy restaurants. I don’t know how to act in them. My idea of a good meal is Mighty Taco where the sour cream and meat grease don’t run too much down my hands while eating in the car. But, since it was Casey’s last night at Coco, Siobhan, our friend Crystal, and I all went to her restaurant where she is a sous chef, and she cooked our amazing meals. Even gave me extra Lamb Lollies 😉


So we’re trying to get comfortable at this place and are enjoying our food tremendously and we’re chatting, and the topic of men comes up. Watch out, it’s about to get sillyyy.


This woman’s we know looks like a lesbian but only has sexual relationships with women and dates men.

I said I wanted to have the opposite. I want to date women without having sex with them.

Siobhan goes, you mean friendships?!

Uh… yeah. Haha, didn’t even cross my mind.


After we ate our fabulous meal that Casey slaved over, she wanted to go home and change and get cute. Siobhan went with her, and our other friends weren’t ready to come out yet, so I had some time to myself. And after eating that scrumptious food, I really needed to use the bathroom. So I called my good friend Charlotte, who lives by the club, and went to poop there. After hanging with her for a bit, the guys were ready, and off we went in Matt’s new Mercedes Benz. He got a new car and ditched his girlfriend. We have yet to talk about how fucked up that might be. But, for the night, I let it go, and just rode in style. He was obviously not ready for going out, and he ended up leaving and going for a ride to clear his head.


Meanwhile, we were having a grand ole time, twerking, shaking, moving and grooving. We walked in right as the sexy underwear contest was going on. The drag queen ruling the stage had great big, blonde hair, and the tits to match (except they were brown). She told the men (and one actual girl) to shake what their momma gave them, pulling their undies down in the back so the audience could all see exactly who’s momma had the better genes. I watched in marvel as the skinniest guy up there had the most charisma and confidence. He ended up winning, by round of applause – the crowd actually loved him. That goes to show, it’s not what you’re working with, it’s how you work it!


Which leads me to the highlight/low-light of the night. It was both, I can assure you. Warning: video is embarrassing for all involved.


The Spiritual Side

This post is where I get real. To get real with me, I need you to open your mind, and let go of what you believe if that belief does not include God-coincidences.

Because last night, I awakened. Again.

I had my hopes wayy high up about getting this editing gig at a really established company. This is what I want to do with my life, but I’ve been super lazy about working on getting better at my craft -like I never have. I thought getting a degree would teach me everything I needed to know. Turns out, the ONLY relevant class I ever took was in Australia, and I was not exactly dedicated. I was in the greatest country, experiencing the coolest things, just by walking outside my door. I did not have the motivation to put my all into my class work. I was there to have fun. My bad.

But it all led me to this moment, where I didn’t get the job, even when the owner was rooting for me to get it after speaking with him on the phone. My skills just were not up to par. Because I have never practiced, honed, or worked on making them better.

My naive little self thought that my talents were enough to get me by in life. Not so.
So, I was a bit devastated, and thought all the negative things I could think, just to really drag me down. So I sat, watching The Good Place and wising I was there instead. I tried to shake it off and read “The Freelancer’s Bible,”  but every time they wrote of some idea that is part of your career as a freelancer, I would think to myself, “You’ll never be able to do that.”

What a crock.

I had scheduled to hang with my Buddhist friend and chant together, so I dusted my self-pity off and went to her house. My spirits were lifted within minutes of speaking to this girl, as they always are, and for that, I love her dearly.

After leaving her house though, I felt saddened again. The wave was coming back, trying to pull me under. Luckily, I met up with some friends from another spiritual practice of mine – and boy, did they let me bitch!

It was going on 10 pm when they finally said, okay, time to go home now.

And as I was pulling away to go home and mope some more about how stuck I am and why can’t I believe things will get better for me, it instantly hit me.

I WANT ATTENTION. Negative, positive; it doesn’t matter -as long as I can play the victim, which I am tremendous at.

So now, I am awake to that fact and can change it. I can decide I want attention for the things I am doing good at, for the things I can accomplish in life.

I was under the smoke-screen of resolving to live a life as a nuisance, as someone always trying, but never actually achieving the goals they want in life, who they want to become.

No longer! I am taking full responsibility, as best I can on any given day, for MY LIFE. And it feels sooo good. Not at all as scary as my mind makes it out to be.

So, my friends, I wish you the same clarity, and the same determination. To make your life whatever you truly want it to be!

And, it’s not just words. I put this thinking into action immediately. I began reading the tools that came from the proofreading course I signed up for. The thoughts again, came at me, that I am just not good enough. I dashed those instantly. I emailed the company and asked why they didn’t hire me and what I can improve on. And, you know what? The owner replied this morning and gave a heartfelt wish of sorrow that we could not work together, and helped me see what I can do better for the next interview!

Follow your heart, and you will never be disappointed.


A gentleman came calling…

I moved in to my first ever apartment by myself, FOR myself, in May of this year. Ladies, (and gentlemen) if you have never done this… GO, do this now! I don’t care if you don’t have the money, it will come. Life alone is sooo much better than living with a roommate, or a family member, just to save some dough. The freedom of creativity in adorning your place with your style is just something that everyone needs to experience, if they are able to.


I was so scared of living on my own, I moved in with my boyfriend after three months. Needless to say, that only lasted a total of seven months. You do the math :/ Not a fantastic choice on my part. Turns out, it only works for lesbians haha.

FullSizeR Remember this gem?

Anyway, so I have this downstairs neighbor, who, when I first met her —I thought she was on coke, straight to her veins 24/7.  That is how hyper this woman is. But in living here for a bit longer, I could see she has a heart of gold. Well, maybe copper. She’s a sweetie who’s trying her best. So, of course, she has adult children living with her that she supports. One of them is a young, vegetarian man named Cameron. He seems normal and very polite.

The other is a trainwreck of a mother who smokes blunts in her car with the toddler in the backseat. Keepin’ it real here folks. This is why they call our neighborhood, “Crack Rock.”


I am a keep to myself human, so I just spoke politely to each of the children in passing, whenever I actually did see them, which wasn’t often.

Okay, now here’s where the fun begins.

Since my ex and I broke up, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire year to a life free from male influence. That means no hooking-up, no dating, and definitely no making out. Yeeps, what was I thinking?! But I’ve determined to do this, no matter how fine men be looking now that I can’t (choose not to) have them in my life.

And of course, they smell the non-desperation in me and I’m attracting them like bees to honey.

One day I was walking out of my apartment and I see a note on my windowsill. It says, “Hey Boo!” The night before, I was talking to the mother downstairs, and she said her son called me “Boo.” I was shocked to receive a card, was touched, but also was pretty leery of if I could really keep my boundaries up when it came time.

The note inside the card was sweet. Cameron wrote how he wanted to get to know me and some things about himself. I was a little panic-stricken, to be honest. As a recovering sex addict, any temptation is like 5-alarm bells going off in your head.

I decided to call my sponsor, and she talked me off the proverbial ledge, and gave me some guidance as to what my reply should be.

Mine was either going to be: “Give me that dick!” or ignore the shit out of him and hope he forgets he wrote me a card.

Instead, with her guidance, I was able to reply politely while keeping my dignity, and his, intact. I simply thanked him for his note and said I was not accepting men into my life at this time.

I thought that would be the end of it, but he wrote back sweetly and said he was bummed but understood and told me to keep his number if things change.

I thought that was the end of it. I wish it was!

I have all this extra free time being single, so I decided to make a banana cake.
That would have been fine.
The mom downstairs washed my comforter in her machine yesterday.
That would have been fine.
I decided to give her some banana cake because she has been so sweet to me.

I knock on the door, and Cameron opens it, with ONLY A TOWEL ON!

Fucking of course, right?

sexy black man 3

I am so stunned at this mostly naked creature in front of me, all I could do is say, “I brought you some cake.”

What a dork!

He goes, “That you made?”
I said, “Yes, it’s banana.”
He goes, “Thanks.”

And he shuts the door and I run upstairs, humiliated, because why the fuck would I make someone a cake if I wasn’t interested? God only knows what that man is thinking, but all I know is, I have some delicious banana cake to help me stay smiling!

Sleep Disorders

Who knew that when you have trouble sleeping, you have a sleep disorder? Obviously not me…

I have been struggling with waking up every since I can remember. When I was a kid my mom and sister would scream. And shake me and I just wouldn’t budge. I was always late for things, including my grandfather’s funeral… it cause me great shame.

I worked at a daycare. Kids start early. I do not.


I was given warning after warning and was almost fired many times. I was fired from a job that started at 10 am because I was late because I was asleep.

I have difficulty falling asleep, so I thought that was the problem. I tried melatonin, sleepy time tea, Valerian root, I don’t drink coffee after a certain time. It ruled my life and my self esteem was in the toilet when it came to this aspect of my life.

I finally, begrudgingly, asked for sleeping pills because I could not do it on my own. They work sometimes.


I sleep through every alarm. I tried the app Alarmy where you take a picture of something in your house outside your bedroom the night before and then, to turn off your alarm you have to the the same picture in the morning. I was so exhausted trying to wake up with that method that I would turn off my phone instead of getting up.


This has been years and tears of struggle. I felt I was unreliable and unable to participate in life as I wanted.


I hadn’t gone out in a while, and with Casey leaving on Monday, Siobhan asked if I wanted to go to Coco, the French restaurant Casey works at, and go out to Buffalo’s best gay bar after. We went with a friend and each had a delicious meal. Pear and chicken salad, a creamy, perfect-amount-of-garlic pasta, mushroom and chicken dish, and Lamb Lollies. A tender, delicious piece of lamb on their bone, with spiraled potatoes in a pomegranate reduction. I am gushing because this food was so fucking fantastic. And also, can you imagine us at a fancy French restaurant? I’ll get to that in my next post.

Anyway, so we go out and have a great time dancing with some friends. I get home at about 2:30am. Take a shower, and snuggle in for some reading, after popping all my pills. You’d think that would be adequate to fall asleep quickly. After all, I had to be tired, and I made my atmosphere comfortable and I had not a care in the world.

I didn’t get to sleep until 4am. Then, I woke up at 12:30pm. Without thinking or any conscious decision on my part, I went back to sleep for another hour and a half. I woke up at 2 and thought to myself, maybe I just need 10 hours of sleep.

I googled it. And that is EXACTLY what I found!

I have been known to stay awake for 24-hour periods, uncontrollably, and not know why. It was frustrating beyond belief. And then I wouldn’t even be tired the next day enough to fall asleep at a more reasonable time.


I am so insanely grateful to have finally found an answer to why I just can’t seem to sleep like a regular person!

And this all came when I finally let go. When I finally realized that I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole working for a company or business.

This is my time to work for myself and God just placed this revelation in my head when I stopped trying to find the answer and fix it myself!


I am 100% positive that the universe has the solution on how to work with this in my new venture, all I have to do is be open and forget what I think I know. God is so awesome, when we let him be 🙂

No Filter.

This blog is one part silly, one part professional, one part concerned citizen of the globe, and 7 parts my best friend and I being complete loons because you only go around this blue dot once, my friends!

To kick it off, I’d like to introduce you to our hang session last night.

But first, some context.

I am a 27-year-old, reasonably attractive white female that grew up in “the hoods” of Buffalo, NY. My friend Siobhan (pronounced See-oh-bun). Actually, she’s super Irish, gingered to the max (literally Kiss My Ass, I’m Irish tattoo on her a$$), so it’s Shove on. She’s a gorgeous, know-it-all (but really, she knows how to do everything, but is humble as shit about everything) nut from the great, strange state of Florida. We’ve both lived some very interesting lives. We find humor in the dreadful. Enjoy.


This bitch is leaving me after I only just found her. She fell in straight up tinder love. Her match made in Wi-Fi heaven is moving to North Carolina in a few days. She’s packing up her brood of incredibly sweet, smart, well-behaved (because they have no other choice, mom’s a hard-ass) funny, strange, beautiful children with her. (I also hate her for this.)

She is doing the whole lesbian thing. Rented the Uhaul before the second date was even over, had amazing 4-hours of lamp-breaking sex, told mom about said sex. Okay, I might have made up one of those (hint: Siobhan is getting a tattoo of a broken lamp on her sometime soon), but they are surely moving down to NC together, so I HAD to meet this fantastical mystery tinder lover, and now you can too.


Que last night: I meet her, I hug her, I ask her how old she is and how the armed robbery she witnessed the night before was. Siobhan said she already warned her about me. That I am her, without a filter.

Before her girlfriend, Casey, came over, we were chatting about my sex life, and how I have taken a hiatus from the male species for one year since my last break up. It’s been about 6 months, and I was telling Siobhan how difficult it can be. Not because I’m lonely, gawd no! Because I’m horny! 😉 Here’s a tidbit of our convo:

Siobhan: So, this guy downstairs, what’s been going on?
Rebecca: Well, he’s living with his mom, he’s vegetarian, andd I’m not dating right now.
Siobhan: I don’t think that’s in the correct order. Anyway, what have you been doing as a substitute?
Rebecca: (full of excitement) I’m masturbating!!
Siobhan: hahahaha, I meant spiritually!

Hilarity continues to ensue when we are together. That’s our blog.


Wrongfully Employed

I started a brand new job “in my field.” The most under-talked about profession in America, it seems. Editing. Even in college, I went for a few years before even being able to find a major that was close to what I actually wanted to do with my life, my passion. I found the Writing degree when it was first being established at Buffalo State College, and thank god I did. I was able to study abroad in Australia through that and finally, actually take my first ever Editing and Proofreading class.

I had arrived. I learned a lot and felt accomplished and ready to dive into my profession.

Then I came back to America to complete my silly degree that was a whole lot of writing, which did not help me in my profession in the least, except maybe to meet one professor who had actually been in the industry.

To try to find proofreaders in Buffalo is like trying to find ghosts in your apartment buildings parking lot. You might hear about them, and think you see them, but they are nowhere to be found.

You’d think with that much of an open market, I’d be able to find jobs, just like that. Not so. I was going through a hard time in my personal life (my mom was passing away), so I took a hiatus from the job search to care for her and grieve. When I was finally somewhat ready to go back to work, a perfect part-time position found me and I began coordinating an after school program. There was a lot of stress and mind-boggling amounts of work to be done, but I completed the year, very close to not being able to. What kept me going, crisis after dramatic employee-induced crisis, was the children. They adored me, and I them.

Still, I wanted to continue to pursue my passion of editing. I did not believe there was one solid, open job for an editor in Buffalo. Everyone I spoke with said, “Go to New York (city),” or, “Chicago is where it’s at for the publishing industry,” and finally, “L.A. is where you need to be to find jobs.”

I had just lost my mother and had come back from Australia purely for family. I was not about to leave Buffalo now.

I determined to find a proofreading/editing job in Buffalo, and now.

I found the closest match instead – a media sales company.

This is a job editing obituaries, that is how it was marketed (Proofread/Notice Specialist to be sure). In actuality, we were called Sales Representatives. We sold and placed advertisements. This is not my forte. This is not even something I ever thought of doing. But so goes the search for your dream job, with bumps along the way, right?

Well, I figured I would give it my best shot. I was “working” for a great paper, Canada’s largest, and at least was doing some proofreading, right?

Wrong. I once read a book called “Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot” by Max Lucado. It established something that really resonated with me, and I believe it to this day after reading this many years ago.

The premise was that the universe (God) gave us tools when we were born; special talents and skills no one else quite has. Once we figure out what these are, and use them properly, we will be in the sweet spot of life, where nothing can touch you or harm you (career wise) because you have found where you are supposed to be and are doing what you are supposed to be doing.

I knew this to be true, but I figured this job would be a good stepping stone to getting there. It would give me the experience, tools and know-how to help me in my future career. I intuitively knew this. And three months after being hired, I was fired.

You’d think I would be upset. You’d think I would be boo-hoo-ing and woe-is-me-ing. I did none of those things (after I cried profusely in the HR’s office.) No, (pretty much) immediately, I knew there was a greater purpose for me. I knew I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in that position. They knew it too. God knew it before I even started there.

Boy, am I grateful for my time there. It did give me experience, it did give me confidence, it did give me the tools I needed to see how a business operates.

So that I can start my own business!

I introduce to you: Rebecca’s Proofreading!

I am now my own boss and have total creative freedom, and otherwise, in my dream job. I will help you look like a rock star in writing! I specialize in e-books, but can handle and will take on any manuscript, blog post, poem, novel, novella, or love letter you have!

Please contact me for timetables and rates at

Peace, love and lights,

The Opposite Of Gentrification

Everyone has heard of gentrification and how awful it is for every city in America. If you haven’t, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

While you might think that sounds like a great way for a city to prosper, people have been up in arms about gentrification because it is making it too difficult for people who have been living in a certain community to continue to afford to live there.

But, what about the opposite of gentrification? While there is no antonym for gentrification because it means to improve, I found a man using the term communizing or communization. I agree, as it could mean, and does to him, to depreciate the importance of or make ordinary. I will use this term in talking about the deteriorating conditions in Buffalo, because they are plentiful.

Specifically, my grandmother lives in Black Rock. It is a small town on the north side of Buffalo by the Niagara River. She told me when she was growing up and going to school there, it was a quaint Polish village. She grew up with the same six girls. They called themselves “The Sexy Six” and never had to worry about unwanted attention, or even had to lock their doors.

Everyone knew everyone and everyone protected each other.

Now, my 85-year-old grandmother has to live in fear of bullets coming through her windows.

Shady people continue to move in and bring more people in to do their shady dealings with, and every night, there are at least 10 grown men playing dice in the streets. I can remember when I rode my tricycle around that neighborhood and waved to everyone I saw. When I get out of my car now, I try not to make eye contact and walk with fear of being catcalled, or worse.

Last summer, my Babci (grandmother in Polish) had all four of her tires slashed because one drug dealer thought she was talking to the cops about him when she was really answering their questions about another drug dealer. This is not something my grandfather, who was a World War II veteran, would have tolerated. But, he was born in that house and died in that house in Black Rock, and now that he has passed, my grandmother would never think of moving. So, what is there to do?

I don’t want the same fate for my darling grandmother as Juan Rodriquez. He is an 11-year-old boy who was just shot in the head in Buffalo while trying to protect his younger brothers and sisters. This was two days before his 12th birthday. The media outlets are trying to suggest the shooting may have been gang-related. I suggest, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

I know, at least for my grandmother’s recent street shooting, the gunfire was over a girl. The target was an 18-year-old young man I watched grow up. The innocence in this person is gone. He has let his environment influence him more than is safe. Especially for my Babci, who lives next door. That is the problem with communization, it takes over well before anything can be done about it.

Fat Shaming — For Whose Benefit?

Women’s insecurities are a multi-trillion dollar business that is continued and compounded by fat shaming. Most of the time, people doing the fat shaming think we are trying to help. We tell fat people, lose the weight and you will be happy. Lose the weight and you will be healthy. What we are really telling them is, lose the weight and you will be normal.

Lindy West came up with a radical idea to confront this perspective: Maybe all body types can be normal and correct. She is the author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, and she was recently a guest on “This American Life,” a well-known podcast with Ira Glass. She spoke of her own experience with being publicly fat-shamed by her boss, Dan Savage. He never attacked her personally, but she said it sure felt like it. She viewed his stance, through his books, online blogs and magazines, on obese people was that they are in the way, they are awful to look at, and they are costing our health care system too much money.

This has been the narrative in this country for decades. There is always a new fad or diet to consume your life. Lindy spoke to this. She said she always felt as a person who was fat that as long as you are trying not to be fat, it is acceptable. She lived her whole life that way. Trying to be something she was not, and waiting for the miraculous day when it wouldn’t be so anymore. And then, she had a break through. What if, instead of spending her life wishing away a problem that was so clearly there, (she mentioned how she was constantly in fear of knocking things down or breaking a chair in public) she decided to embrace and accept the body she was in?

This is so empowering and necessary. And something I try to implement in my life on a daily basis. While I am not “classically fat,” nor obese by any stretch of the imagination, I do have fat. I don’t know many people that don’t. This article is for everyone who is ashamed of the body they walk around in each day. I’m here to tell you to stop it! Begin to stop letting your fears about what other people think of you destroy your happiness. Most people could not care less if you are fat or not. We are the ones, each individually, who are allowing the beauty and diet industries to continue to disempower us.

My sister Sarah, who lost over 120 pounds —with actual diet and exercise— is a testament to the reality of the fat situation. Ever since we were kids, I marveled at her confidence, especially as a fat person. It was something I never had, even when I was sickly underweight. She proves to me every day that the two are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Sarah was always the bigger-boned sister. She weighed over 200 pounds most of her adolescent and teenage life. She was not proud of it, but she never shrank at an opportunity to socialize, and never let the fact that she was bigger stop her from having a multitude of friends and feeling comfortable in her own skin.

Then, in 2008, she was dating a guy who was big and sloppy and a mess of a human being. He would emotionally abuse her and teared her down into a person I did not recognize, both physically and internally. She began eating more and staying in more to block out the pain. She stopped being the social butterfly we all knew and loved. This went on for years.

Naturally, when I thought of writing this article, she came to the forefront of my mind, and luckily, she was more than happy to talk about her experience. The first question I asked was, “Have you ever been fat shamed?”

No; was her immediate reply. This week, I am, again proud of my city of good neighbors. While I am sure it happens, bullying and hate crimes are relatively unheard of in Buffalo. She was always the literal big sister, and it never bothered her. Until one day, it did. Here she is; my amazing older sister.

Sarah: “Once I fit the 24 size pants, I was thinking, ‘they don’t make bigger sized pants than this in the store!’

That was a big wake-up call to me. I don’t want to have someone to make my pants.

It scared me to think of how my life would turn out if I continued to eat, like I would eat half a package of macaroni and cheese as often as possible.

That’s the thing. I didn’t realize those little things could cause so much weight gain. I had no idea about the effects of it. I loved candy, chocolate, cake… haha… ice cream; anything I could get my hands on.

You know, after I lost the weight, I still look at myself as that same huge person. Like I know I’m not, but I do.

I had my friend Michelle interview me about the same topic. It doesn’t scare me. I don’t mind looking at my old pictures. Some people don’t want to look at them ever again. But it shows me that I’m not the same. It reminds me I’m not the same person. It shows me the amount of progress I’ve made.”

I recalled us, her family, being the only ones really saying anything to her when she was gaining a lot of weight. It definitely came from a concerned place, but the words did not always come out in the most polite way, even when said with love. I asked her about that experience.

Sarah: “When Babci (our grandmother) would grab my stomach and tell me ‘You gotta lose this.’ That really bothered me.”

“It really did stick in my head, like will I ever be able to? Will I be fat forever?

But I thought that I would just always be fat and it was in my genetics and that stuck in my mind. But, it was just that I never tried.”

That was the beginning of her weight loss journey. It has been nothing short of a remarkable transformation. I watched her skip the cookies and carbs on every holiday. I saw her meal prep and eat salmon with vegetables and be content. I am so proud of my sister’s efforts at the gym and the change in her outlook on life and herself. She is back to being the outgoing, helpful, giving person she always wanted to be.

For her, it had to be something she took on for herself. But that is just for her because of the events that led up to becoming severely overweight. Everyone has their own story, body type and genetics they have no control over. Also, now that she is smaller than she was before she gained the weight, she is more self-conscious than ever before. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It is a daily struggle for her to continue on this different lifestyle, as well as coming to terms with her body now that it has undergone such a transformation. She was not ashamed of an inch of her body in the past. She would always point out how sexy she looked in each outfit she wore. Now, she is worried about her sagging skin, and what people can see in each outfit.

Sarah is currently looking into an abdominoplasty (a tummy tuck) and is trying to scrape together the money for arm skin surgery as well. Her body’s skin is the very last thing she needs to be worrying about right now. Our mother has stage 4 breast cancer, she is moving into my mother’s house to fix it up for the future, she is engaged to be married, and is going through school while working a full-time job. And all I want to say to her is, why isn’t the amazing feat you accomplished enough?

And I could say that to all the people reading this as well. When will your efforts be good enough? And whose standards are you holding yourself to? Self-improvement is a vital part of life. It gives us hope and something to look forward to. But when it is all we are focusing on and putting our money into, can we stop? Can we realize that beauty most definitely comes from within? Our bodies will not be remembered at our funerals, (unless we are so big we break the coffin, and let’s definitely hope against that) but our souls and our hearts will. When we are content with ourselves, people do not look to our cellulite or our sagging skin, they look into our eyes and are warmed by our spirit. No cream or shake or workout plan can give that to you.

Prayer Vigil Turned Political Rally

As a new Buddhist, I attended Buffalo’s prayer vigil for Orlando on Monday in high hopes of actual prayer happening. What I got was an “official non-political rally” turned political.

The shooting that happened Sunday in Orlando, FL by a homophobic, confused homosexual was horrific. We’ve all seen the texts of a young man’s last words to his mother, the photos of the victims, and the tragic news that this is the worst criminal mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history. There needs to be prayer and action after this happens. And yet, I saw neither at Buffalo’s Prayer Vigil held by the Pride Center of WNY. I walked up to a huge crowd of people covering our William McKinley memorial and the entire Niagara Square. I could not have been more proud of Buffalo showing up to support the victims that will not ever know we congregated. It was a spirit of togetherness and solidarity I have come to appreciate about “The City of Good Neighbors.” Rainbow and transgender flags flew high, candles were in hand, and people braved the cold to pay their respects to the lives lost. It could have been a beautiful moment for our city. But it was more about having the who’s who speaking and showing our elected officials what they mean to our city than showing love to the fallen.

I will not bash the entire gathering. It is always heart-warming to hear that the people you hold accountable in your government cares about the same issues you do. There were a few mentions of how joyous the kick off of Pride Week was only two weeks earlier, in the same spot as the prayer vigil; and how upsetting it was to have to live in a time where those joys had been wiped out by a madman with a gun. There was an opening prayer and a closing moment of silence, followed by The Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus singing a song.

It was needed. It was necessary. But I felt like it could have been so much more.

It was a gay rights rally rather than a human lives loss mourning. It was a gun control speech, rather than a time to pray for the victims and their families. It was a time for government officials and politicians to show their community they meant business, rather than a time for people actually invested in this to speak of their sorrows.

I am proud to be in a city where hate crime is rather unheard of, and we celebrate diversity in wonderful ways. We recently just had the first transgender surgery in Buffalo. But they did not ask her to say a few words. They asked one leader in the LGBTQ community to speak, and a few pastors who were gay to say a few words. But it was not enough. We cannot say a massacre like this will not happen again, even though they tried to. All we can do at this point is pray. Pray for the legislators to pass the bill stopping people on the FBI’s watch list from legally obtaining a firearm. We can pray for the city of Orlando as they deal with loss and the struggle to mourn their friends, co-workers, and family members. We can pray for the victims, who were completely helpless in those few moments before their death. And we can pray for our collective conscious to learn from this and finally do better.