An Open Letter To You

An Open Letter To You

I hope this finds you well.
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Dear You,

You know who you are, even if you don't realize it. I could call you auntie, because you were once. You used to be my aunt, but even though technically you still are, you haven't actually been for years. I don't think you realize what your addiction has taken away from me and from your family. It has not only taken who you are, but has changed you into something I can't describe. Most people argue you are sick, and addiction is a disease, but I can't wrap my head around it. I don't want it to be true because if that were the case you would accept the help we have tried to get for you. I guess it makes sense, given that the old you would never make the decisions you are making now.

You have to be sick, because choosing a substance over family doesn't seem like something a healthy person would do. What gets me though is, you chose this life in the first place. You made the decision that put you into this lifestyle of yours, and it makes me mad. It makes me mad that you would do that to yourself. You had such a big heart and somehow, like the Grinch, it got ten sizes too small.

Do you think of me? Do you remember calling me Neicy or Neicykid, because I am was your first niece? Do you remember the memories we've made? I do, they haunt me in my sleep each day that passes that I hear you made another poor decision. Remember going to my cousin's ice hockey games? I do, we took a selfie during the last one I went to. The caption on Facebook was something along the lines of "my beautiful niece, the only one that would bare this cold with me". I still have that photo, every once in a while I save it to my phone. Then I delete it, then save it, then delete it again. How can I hold on to something like that, knowing we will never be that close again? I remember another time, when we went out for my cousin's birthday. I have those pictures too. We watched the planes pass by and we ended up in some fancy restaurant underdressed. We were the only ones in that restaurant and none of us had any idea how to act in such a place.

I remember all kinds of little moments and hold them dear to my heart. We spent a lot of time together, hanging out and talking about anything and everything. I wish those moments meant as much to you as they did to me. I wish you knew how I really felt. I'm scared for the day my phone goes off because you overdosed and couldn't be saved this time. I'm scared for the day you hurt or kill someone because you were high. It's hard for me to accept that this is who you are now, and I probably never will.

You were my aunt once. At one point in my life I had you, but now I am grieving over a person that is still living. You missed out on a lot of beautiful nieces and nephews. Your loss.

Signed,

Neicykid

Cover Image Credit: Kaushik Narasimhan

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13 New Ways To Inspire Yourself This Spring

Spring out of those post-spring break dumps and into springtime.
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As the semester winds down and the weather warms up, our sights always seem to be set on summer break. Most of us are just barely hanging on by a thread to finish out the semester – I’m guilty of it myself. But, let’s not neglect our fleeting weeks of mid-60s, sunshine, and flowers. Here are 13 ways to get out of the post-winter/end-of-semester blues, and into spring!

1. Spring cleaning

This one might go without saying, but cleaning up isn’t limited to the clutter of your bedroom. Start cutting out toxic things out of your life. This can be food, relationships, or bad habits. Try fostering a new hobby. And, cleaning up your household won’t hurt, either.

2. Start a garden or buy a plant

Planting a few flower or vegetable seeds are a perfect way to brighten up your home for the season. Buying a pre-planted or fake plant counts, too.

3. Nature walk

Visit a local park, prairie path, or garden. Taking a long walk or jog to decompress and connect with the world around you can be an easy fix to a cluttered mind and restless heart.

4. Star gazing

On a clear night, spend some time looking up at the sky to decompressing. It’s a nice reminder of how small we really are in this universe. It can be fun to point out the constellations you remember learning about in elementary school science class, too.

5. Splatter painting

This one is my personal favorite. Visit a craft store and pick up some art supplies.Then, go outside, turn on some music, lay out your canvas, and go to town. This can be really therapeutic, too.

6. Try out some new recipes

Although you can do this pretty much any time throughout the year, look up some good BBQ recipes for your grill to help get you in the spring and summer mood.

7. Visit a playground and relish in being a child again

Take a break from the final weeks of the semester to be a kid again! Swinging on a swing set and climbing the monkey bars can be more cleansing than you think.

8. Stop using your phone before bed

Taking a digital break in general is a great idea, but especially if you have trouble sleeping, spending those 20 minutes before bed without looking at a screen can have a much better impact. Break out that book you’ve been meaning to read for months now, and start reading that before bed. It helps you fall asleep faster, too!

9. Spruce up your wardrobe with some DIYs

Go thrifting and try some of these cute DIY ideas for a brand new wardrobe on a budget. Tie-dying is a personal favorite of mine, too.

10. Yoga and meditation

If you’re guilty of having “monkey mind”, like me, spending as little as five minutes a day meditating or doing basic yoga stretches can help immensely. Blocking out the world to really focus on your breathing can do so much for your mentality and your attitude for the rest of the day.

11. Make a bucket list

This can be as personalized as you’d like. Make a list of must-dos for the end of the semester, for summer break, or for the rest of your life. They can be anything from singing in the rain to going bungee jumping. Having those little things to cross off your list gives you something to look forward to.

12. Volunteer

Whatever area you’re interested in, whether it’s working with the elderly, animal shelters, or homeless shelters, find some local places to volunteer with. Not only are you helping someone else in need, that internal gratification is a great feeling.

13. Take pictures of what makes you happy every day

Try this out for a week or so: photograph a thing or person that made you smile that day. Compile your photos at the end, and look at how beautiful your life really is.

Enjoy, and happy spring!

Cover Image Credit: Celeste Horrocks

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What It's Like To Stay In Pittsburgh Over The Summer

What's there to do when our teachers are hibernating for three months?
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It’s weird for me to think that some people don’t stay in Pittsburgh over the summer, if only because I haven’t gone home for any summer since I’ve been in college and I have no inclination to do so. There are plenty of reasons to stay: classes, research opportunities, jobs and internships, and some people find that they just don’t want to go home and find a reason to stay. Of course, even with all those incentives there are still some of you who will want to go home, wherever that may be, so hopefully I can clue you in on what it’s like over those three months.

To begin, Pittsburgh is absolutely gorgeous in the summer. You get a taste of it in the fall, and a whiff in spring, but wow, with the flowers and the trees in bloom, places like Frick park, The Point, The Waterfront, and Mount Washington are completely transformed in the haze of green and other colors. The second thing I always notice, around the third week in, is how quiet Oakland becomes. Walking around campus, you’re lucky to run into 8 strangers over the course of your day, although there are always a handful of stragglers in Hillman or Cathy. It feels nice, in an odd way; the campus feels much more personal, much more accommodating to you. And then, with the lack of people and stress from school, you start to branch out from Oakland and see more of the city, which is where the real fun begins.

We all know we go to the University of Pittsburgh, but honestly it’d be more accurate to say we go to school in Oakland. Campus can feel pretty big during the school year, but Pittsburgh is a city of dozens of neighborhoods outside of the four or five that make up Pitt’s domain, and most of us stay orbiting around specific buildings that are hubs for our majors. I didn’t really start understanding the dynamic of larger Pittsburgh until summer after my freshman year when I started to see comedy shows on a regular basis downtown, and it completely opened my eyes to the opportunities we miss every day during the school year.

I’m not trying to judge anyone: you’re lucky to see me outside of Hillman, Cathy, or my apartment during the school year. But still, when I think about all the festivals, museum openings, theatre performances, comedy shows, art galleries, and independent classes that are offered around Pittsburgh, just to name a few of the options available in a city like Pittsburgh with vast public services and interesting people, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out. If you ever get a chance, I’d say stay here over a summer, even if only for a couple weeks. And even if that’s not in the cards, maybe check out some of the local stuff happening outside of Oakland; Pittsburgh can surprise you.

Cover Image Credit: Robpinion on Wikimedia Commons

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