Houston Will Remember Harvey

Houston, Let's Not Forget Harvey

Harvey had an impact that went beyond floodwaters.

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Almost exactly a year ago, Houston was victim to Hurricane Harvey's torrential storming and flooding. A year later, recovery has been swift but not complete. Some areas still bear the brunt of Harvey's damage—and some losses, of course, can never be made up.

Harvey taught us, as Houstonians, more about ourselves and each other than we've bothered to know in a long, long time. I live in a neighborhood where I'm lucky if I ever manage to catch a glimpse of my next-door neighbor, let alone have some attempt at a conversation with them.

I remember though, when Harvey hit, how everyone would be out, surveying the water levels, asking each other for the latest updates and evacuation possibilities, and checking in to make sure everyone was all right. It made me understand what being a member of a community can truly be like.

It was also a wonder seeing how much compassion and mercy were still present in people; recovery could have been delayed for much longer without the help of every single person who pitched in. I'm not just talking about immediate relief like providing boating services to shelters and providing food and supplies to evacuees stuck at said shelters.

Even the rebuilding that began weeks later and is still ongoing was supported by people's lives, times, wallets and hearts. Spending weekends helping clean out residential areas and hosting food drives for the homeless became the norm, and volunteer lists overflowed with the number of people who were willing to come out and lend a hand.

Today, I remember Harvey and I realize that it marked a trying period for the city. Lives were lost and many people lost many invaluable things; some people are still trying to recover from the impacts of the hurricane.

Recently, the Carolinas were hit by Florence, a tropical storm that seemed like nature's attempt of irony after Harvey.

Thankfully, meteorologists were able to provide timely enough weather updates that the inhabitants of the worst affected areas were able to evacuate to a safer location before the storm hit. Even with about a million people being told to clear evacuation zones though, almost fifteen people still died and many hundreds were rescued by air and water.

Right now, many people in those areas are in the same position our community was in a year ago; many watched the hurricane take away everything they had ever known and loved, and are in the critical process of rebuilding in the aftermath of the hurricane.

We are proud Houstonians, but what Harvey showed was that we were also proud citizens and very, very human. So Houston, let's take this opportunity to remember Harvey not only for what it took from us but also what we gained from it.

Let's show that we remember and have felt the pain of being left with nothing and feeling broken and helpless.

With our support, whether monetary or material, let us show the victims of Florence that as long as there is humanity, there is hope.

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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To The Dad Who Works Out Of Town, Thank You For All You Do

Thank you for everything you do, I wouldn't have the things I do if it wasn't for you.

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I want to say Thank you. Thank you for sleeping in hotel beds every night. Thank you for eating sandwiches some days for lunch while I ate my pizza Lunchables in my brand new Hello Kitty lunchbox.

Thank you for taking your truck with no cruise control some weeks for work because I wanted to drive your car. I'm sure driving for four hours straight with your foot on the pedal was pretty boring. Thank you for filling up the car before you let me drive it as well.

Thank you for waking up at 3 and 4 a.m. to head out of town to work and being so quiet while doing so. Thank you for adding lunch money to my account while you're over 100 miles away. Thank you for working sometimes 10-14 days straight without a day off. I can never thank you enough for what you do.

Thank you for filling my truck up in high school every Sunday night before you left for work. Thank you for spending your lunch breaks calling and making orthodontist appointments for me. Thank you for taking days off work to take me to some of these appointments. Thank you for always fitting me in.

While being out of town can make you feel like an absent parent, I promise you are not that. You always make sure to call me during the week. If I'm sick and didn't go to class, you call and check on me. You even call and remind me of things I need to get done like returning my rental book.

If it wasn't for you working out of town, I wouldn't have the luxuries I do now. I want you to know I am thankful for you.

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