Travel Diaries: My Summer in San Francisco

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In case you didn’t notice from seeing my adorable two year old in the photo above I spent my summer in San Francisco. Every since I can remembered I’d dreamed of going to California and this summer I had the opportunity to do just that.

Now this trip was not for play but for business. I applied for an internship at my dream Public Relations agency and after months of an extremely competitive application process and three phone interviews I found myself on a plane to San Francisco.

Due to the cost of living in San Francisco as compared to Arkansas my husband and son did not spend the entire summer with me (that’s another story for another time). It was very hard on me emotionally, as I had never been away from my baby boy. However, my husband was brave enough to drive all the way from Arkansas to San Francisco and stay with me for a week. I thought I’d share some of the places we visited.

Golden Gate Bridge

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This one I’m sure you were probably expecting being that it’s one of the most visited places in the country but seriously you have to go. There are several places in the city you can go to if you want a great view. My husband actually found this tiny park area not far from North Beach. This spot was on all of our bucket lists.

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Giants Stadium

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I am by no means a sports fan but everyone should have an experience like the one I had at the Giants stadium. Even if you aren’t into baseball the food is delicious (garlic fries are a must) and they have tons of places to take awesome photos as you can see in the picture above. They also have a beer garden, Coca-cola slide and Trolley.

I went during the dog days of summer and got to see a ton of ADORABLE dogs dressed (and painted) in the giants gear and colors. Cutest thing you’ll ever see! So if you go make sure to go in June when all the four-legged fans are there. (Here is a link if you want to see some of the dogs from this past summer).

Ghirardelli Square

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If you have a sweet tooth like I do then you must go to Ghirardelli Square and get a sundae. The Ghirardelli shop also offers tons of chocolates and other sweets and views of the bay. My two year old definitely enjoyed this stop.

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Because I spent a great majority of time working I didn’t get to go to a few of the places on this list but my husband and son did some exploring of their own. Below are a few of their favorite stops.

Coit Tower

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This beauty is located in Telegraph hill (just a few blocks away from my job so I saw it everyday but never actually climbed the stairs to the top LOL). This was one of the first stops my husband and son took since it was so close to the office. The tower offers great views of the city.

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Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharfs

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Definitely the most “Touristy” thing on this list. You can find tons of restaurants, museums and attractions here and it’s always full of life. My husband and son took a cable car down to Fishermans Wharf. If you like seafood you are in for a treat, if not there are a number of other options from street cars to In n Out burger (you must try their vanilla malt!). You can also find a ton of seals hanging out in this area.

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So while my son and husband were out having all of the fun I was in the office.

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*I will be sharing my internship experience in a later post*

Regardless of whether I was in the office or exploring the city it’s amazing to be able to share these experiences and continue to stay optimistic about where life will take me next. It was easy to fall in love with San Francisco and their are still a ton of great places  I didn’t get to visit, which is the best excuse to go back and I definitely plan to.

Until my next adventure, ciao!

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Why I don’t plan to have more children

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Well hello again and welcome back to my blog. I am sure you are curious about the title and I thought since my little man is now two and people have started questioning me and my husband about possibly having more, (a daughter perhaps) I thought I would address my feelings on the matter.

I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD!

No, it is not because I dislike being a mother, being a mommy is the best thing that has happened to me and I adore my baby boy so much, but pregnancy was AWFUL for me. Let me explain in a bit more detail so maybe I will stop getting the “when is the next one?” question from now on.

Background

Because I do not come from a big, supportive family like many people I know, when I found out I was pregnant no one was planning a baby shower or any of those fun things for me. I didn’t have many people to celebrate with and it was a little lonely. At the time I just told my husband and a few relatives. My husband, on the other hand, does have a big family who all seemed really excited, so we decided to go to Belgium to have the baby. I was young, pregnant, lonely and in a foreign country where I did not speak the language and it was rough. I’ll add that this is the summer after my brother died and I was also struggling a lot mentally so I had dropped out of college and was quite depressed but that is not even the full story… allow me to go into the pregnancy itself.

First Trimester

My first trimester I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is basically 24/7 morning sickness. I vomited constantly… It was miserable. I could not smell food cooking without vomiting and even when my stomach was empty (which was 90% of the time) my body would try to vomit which led to dry heaving. The only things I could manage to get down on occasion were apple slices, oatmeal and sometimes soup or crackers. I also drank a great deal of apple juice. I was weak because I could hardly eat and basically lived in bed.

At some point, It got so bad and I got so weak I almost fainted and had to go to the emergency room. I was then given an IV and prescribed medicine to help with the extreme morning sickness. It helped a bit but not enough, I was still sick constantly. I remember trying to walk through the city with my husband so he could show me around and literally having to walk into an alley to throw up. Not fun at all! I lost over 10 pounds during this trimester.

Second Trimester

During this point in my pregnancy, I developed what is called sciatica. This is when pressure is put on the sciatic nerve that leads to radiating pain throughout the body, particularly the lower back and hip area. It was excruciating and I have a high pain tolerance so that’s saying a lot. There were no medications that I could take for this while pregnant so I had to just make myself as comfortable as possible.

Around the same time I developed this problem, we started to have issues with some of Michael’s relatives and were put on the street living from home to home due to the severity of those issues. I was having to walk a lot and sleep on floors at times and the pain got worse. I also developed pelvic girdle pain, this happens when the joints in that area become unstable. It literally felt like my hip was popping out of place when I walked at times. It became painful just to roll over in bed, I would literally cry ( I didn’t even cry during labor) and as the baby grew more and more the pain became worse and so did my mobility.

Third Trimester

So at this point in the pregnancy, my extreme morning sickness had subsided but the sciatica and pelvic girdle were really bad and because my belly had gotten big it became very difficult for me to walk.

Around this time we were still living from house to house and struggling with the family conflicts. We were being threatened and harassed and my stress level was at an all-time high. I started having contractions at around 30 weeks and went into preterm labor a week later. I was taken to the emergency room where I was monitored, given a steroid shot and other medications and put on bedrest. The entire time my husband and I were in the hospital we were still receiving threats from some of his relatives, so while doctors were telling me to relax, I still could not. The hospital staff even locked the door to our wing because they were receiving calls and asked if we wanted to contact the police. I can’t make this stuff up, it was stressful.

I returned to the home we were staying in at the time and had to stay on bedrest for the last six weeks of my pregnancy. I was given medication that was supposed to stop the contractions and prevent preterm labor. I could only get up to use the bathroom or take a shower (I had to sit on a stool in the shower because I couldn’t stand). Because of my lack of exercise, my sciatica and pelvic girdle pain became ten times worse and I now needed help to get around. I could not walk properly. I had to go to my doctors’ visits in a wheelchair at this point. I was honestly worried it would not improve after labor and that I wouldn’t be able to walk normally again.

Labor

I went into labor at 38 weeks, a few weeks before my actual due date. This was actually the easiest part of my pregnancy and for a lot of women, the opposite is true. I was in labor for around 33 hours. I wanted to have a natural birth so I gave birth in a room with a jacuzzi tub, but because I had a high-risk pregnancy I wasn’t able to have a full water birth and had to get out of the tub once it was time to push. Everything went perfectly, the pain was awful but bearable… at least for me. I spent the majority of the time trying to meditate and do deep breathing practices. The intimacy of the room was incredibly nice and my doctor and midwife were great! I loved giving birth in Europe because they do not intervene as much as American doctors.

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(Old Instagram Post of the room ^^)

My son and I had skin to skin for the first two hours of his life and he was kept by my side the entire time. The only mishap was that I tore (TMI) during labor and had to have stitches. I honestly did not feel a thing until later. I was up and walking like normal the next day and my sciatica and pelvic girdle were gone. I literally felt like giving birth was a miracle and I was so grateful my pregnancy was over. The recovery went fairly well minus the stitches and my baby boy was perfectly healthy.

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(After labor^^)

And so…

I have no doubt that I could get through labor but I am not sure my body can stand another pregnancy. I was told several of the issues I had are sometimes even worse the second time around and that seriously concerns me. For now, I am content with my little man. Adoption is something I have always considered and always wanted to do and something my husband and I will discuss more in the future but for now, I am completely content with just one.

I hope this puts things in perspective for you. If you’re reading this and you are a mom what are your thoughts on having more children? Do you feel pressured to have more? If so comment below and let’s talk about it!

Thanks for reading!

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What it’s like to feel paranoid

For those of you who do not know I will be spending the summer in San Francisco away from my little family, while I’m excited for new opportunities to learn and build my career, it would be an understatement to say I am FREAKING out but the point of this post is that I always freak out.

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Because I hear time and time again to just “calm down” or “everything will be fine” I thought I would share my frustration with those statements by explaining how my brain works. My brain does not understand “calm down” my brain only hears “freak out” and “everything can and will go wrong.” That is the immediate response I have when faced with anything, whether it is routine or novel.

No matter how many times people tell me to relax I can’t. I literally feel like I have hands around my throat and can hardly breathe the majority of the time. You know that big lump you get in your throat when you feel like crying but can’t, the kind that leaves you with a pounding headache… that is how I feel 99% of the time.

Let me explain this a bit more because people typically see me and think I’m fearless or I have it all together and trust me I work VERY hard to keep that image. In reality that is far from the truth.

On the daily basis I freak out about everything that could possibly go wrong from car crashes to abduction (no exaggeration) and because of this I research and plan everything out beforehand (of course this is only sometimes helpful because we all know nothing ever goes as planned).

Let me give you an example, if I have to go somewhere I plan out my route beforehand. Last year I was interning in Little Rock, AR and had to drive alone for the first time to the city. Not only did I plan out my route beforehand but I literally took a virtual tour of the route via google maps (street view to be exact). I planned which parking lots I would use and which streets I would walk down. This may not sound like a big deal but trust me feeling that I HAVE to plan every tiny thing is a huge burden and honestly it’s only the beginning of my obsessive thoughts. If you think I don’t know exactly which ways I will have to get to my internship this time around, which streets to avoid, which areas have more crime in San Francisco already, you do not know me well my friends. I’ve already researched the exact buses, BART (bay area rapit transit) and which streets I should walk down versus when I will need to call an uber or taxi (something I have never done). It may sound like I’m just overly prepared but let me continue.

I’ve spent at least 4 hours reading stories of people who’d been mugged in San Francisco, I read so much I found there is a pattern, it seems people are typically mugged between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. Which means I won’t be out after dark. I may as well be a detective right? I already discovered that the majority of the people in the area have their car broken into and that petty theft is often ignored by the cops in the area so I’ve been planning ways to secure my belongings. Even looked up antitheft bags. I even considered dressing down on the way to work and then changing my clothes once I arrive so I don’t look like an easy target. I also considered what steps to take in case I do get mugged and oh what if they have a weapon? What if there is more than one mugger? Now you’re starting to get it. Do you understand how annoying it is to feel this way? A part of me knows I am overreacting but regardless I can’t make the thoughts go away.

My mind automatically goes to the worst possible thing that could happen. Last night I looked out of the window more than 20 times because I thought someone would break in. I literally jump out of bed anytime I hear a car door close. Because it can’t just be a neighbor or civilian right. Not in my head… in my head, it is most definitely a serial killer. The only time I ever get a full nights sleep is when I know someone else is home (my husband or relative). I have a son who I check on at least 10 times once I put him to bed to make sure he is still alive. I even check if my husband is still breathing in his sleep half of the time. He may think I’m being sweet if I lay on his chest but I am just checking for a pulse. Relaxing is not my strong suit.

I always feel like someone is watching me, or following me. It feels like I’m walking on eggshells everytime I leave the house. Every time I get into the car I imagine getting into an accident. Every time I go to the store alone I imagine getting mugged. I hate walking anywhere alone. Even just calling people to handle administrative things stresses me out. I literally plan out what I will say in my head before any phone call or meeting, even if it’s as simple as asking for directions. I get so anxious I physically get sick. The majority of the time I keep myself incredibly busy to distract myself from these thoughts.

Now you may think I sound like a hot mess and you’d never want to hang out with me but do not worry, the majority of the time people around me do not notice because I have mastered my poker face. Internally I may be freaking out but on the outside, I look like I have it together and trust me that is a talent in and of itself. Odds are if we met, you would probably never know I was feeling this way. Unless of course, I told you, but then you still wouldn’t understand to what extent.

Don’t get me wrong being overly paranoid does have its benefits, though very few. I tend to be overly prepared which means I am never lacking when it comes to school and work. However, dealing with everyday life can be a burden at times and it is especially worse when people who do not understand how difficult it is for me to relax, tell me to do just that.

When I was just a child my dad left and my mother was arrested. My oldest sister was murdered and my brother randomly died in a car crash 4 years ago. Many of the people I grew up knowing have passed away. It bothers me when people say “you will be fine” or “nothing like that will happen to you” because if it happened to them what makes me an exception. Bad things happen and I have reasons for feeling like they will happen to me. A part of me feels that it is inevitable and so I should just take chances and live life to the fullest but yet I still worry about everything. It’s a neverending battle that I deal with on the daily basis but I try very hard not to let those negative thoughts rule my life (even though at times it feels that way).

It is not fun to live inside your head considering all the horrible things that could possibly happen at any given moment but it’s also not fun to have people tell you to just stop worrying as if it’s that simple. I wrote this in hopes that people who do not experience this level of anxiety will understand how burdensome it can be. We need to switch the need to tell people to just “calm down” or “be happy” and shift that into understanding how others perceive the world. Those things aren’t simple for everyone. It is easy to tell someone not to worry when you don’t understand how it feels to be bombarded with intrusive thoughts on the regular basis. Instead just be present and be there to show support. I hope this post will offer some understanding to some of you and I hope you share this with others.

Thanks for reading!

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Why I can’t lose weight!

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I’m writing this post in hopes that someone out there can resonate with it. I write this jokingly but at the same time it is seriously frustrating trying to get the body you want, especially after having children. However, I hear it can be done… I will let you know when I figure out how (lol). Lets get to my list of reasons why I can’t lose weight.

I am an emotional eater

I am a pretty anxious person to say the least and I find a great amount of my comfort in extremely stressful times comes from a big bowl of ice-cream and a chocolate bar. Now this is a tough habit to break (especially when it’s that time of the month). It doesn’t help that I feel I’m going to kill someone if I don’t have at least one sweet a day which brings me to my next reason.

I am addicted to sugar

Hello, my name is Raneisha and I am a sugar addict. I first found out about this problem when I went to spend a year in Europe. I was pregnant and was told my sugar levels were way too high. I had to have the amount of sugar I was eating measured weekly and I had to go one day without ANY sugar even natural sugars for a blood test. Needless to say that day I turned into an absolute monster. I never knew you could suffer actual withdrawals from not eating sweets.

Exercising consistently is hard

I will admit I have very little self-discipline. I can not afford a personal trainer and therefore without someone there literally telling me what to do I tend to stop after the first 10 minutes or so. One thing I DID find helpful was trying to find a class I could actually afford to attend and join. It also helps to have someone to go with because then you feel obligated to go and for people with no self-discipline like myself you know you will probably stop going if it were only up to you. So find a buddy and make sure it’s one that is actually consistent otherwise you’ll both end up watching fitness videos on Youtube while eating ice-cream.

So those are just a few of the reasons I am struggling with my fitness goals? How is your fitness journey going if you are on one? It’s hard. I am so bad at it that it’s hilarious.

Comment below if you have some of the same struggles and share with someone you know feels the same way I do! You’re not alone girl I got you!

  Until next time bye!

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I saw my Civil Rights Icon: Ruby Bridges

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Growing up black and southern I heard a lot of stories of the difficulties many of my ancestors and family members faced 50 or so years ago. Ruby Bridges’ story was one of those stories I always grew up hearing. My family owned the film created in honor of her and I watched it all throughout my childhood. I was not able to understand what she faced and how significant it was until I was much older and now I can fully appreciate everything she experienced.

On Feb. 2, 2017 I was able to see my childhood icon share her story in person in the auditorium of my very own campus at Harding University. It was a historic moment as I, an African American woman at a historically white university, was witnessing a woman who helped break the boundaries to allow that to happen. Needless to say, I was extremely excited.

The event began with a formal introduction of Ruby Bridges along with a video that shared a bit of her story. We were then introduced to her and were able to hear her story in detail. Afterwards, the President of Harding University was able to sit with her and ask her a few questions. This was the only part I didn’t quite enjoy because I was unable to see her from where I was seated. After that she stayed on stage to sign copies of her book, which were available for purchase prior to and after her speech. I unfortunately was not able to get a photo with her but being able to hear her speak was incredibly rewarding. I really loved that even with the amount of people who showed up, everyone was incredibly respectful and courteous. She had several standing ovations and just had a way of speaking about a difficult experience with such grace.

Several of the things she said have been engrained in my mind. One of my favorite quotes from her that night was: “Evil doesn’t care what you look like. If you open yourself up to it, it will use you to do the work that it wants done. And if evil doesn’t care what we look like, why should we if we consider ourselves good?”

I hope these are words we all take to heart. All in all it was an event that I and many others will remember for a lifetime.

How to get the perfect summer internship!

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So It’s been a while but I promise I have a good excuse. I was accepted as a summer intern for my dream public relations company for the summer! It was an extremely competitive process and I spent a lot of time preparing for every stage of that process so I thought I’d share some of the things I did to help secure my internship. Hopefully it will help some of you.

1) Prepare a killer resume!

Your resume is the first thing they will see so you want to make sure it represents you and your skills adequately. You want to make sure your resume fits within the field you’re going into. My field is public relations therefore I need to show that I have basic software media tool skills. So for more creative fields choose more creative designs, other fields may just want a standard resume (you can check out mine in the portfolio tab of my website).

On your resume make sure you include your education, relevant work experience, skills, extracurricular activities if you have them, contact info and any awards you may have received. I wrote RELEVANT work experience because you want to include jobs that fit within the field you’re going into, or at least find a way to show that the skills you’ve learned or utilized will fit with the skills needed for the internship you’re applying.

*Tip: Double check the job duties of your internship to tailor your work experience to it. I’m not saying to lie… you should have some experience whether that be school, volunteer or previous jobs/internships.*

2) Have a well thought out cover letter

Do not rush through your cover letter, this is your first impression. Introduce yourself and tell how you are best fitted for the internship. Highlight some of your skills and experiences, this is a good time to sell yourself. Make sure you are sincere, if this is an internship you really want express that. They want to know you are serious about the opportunity and that you have what it takes to be there.

I tend to use the first paragraph as an introduction, the second one to pitch myself and my skills, and I conclude in the third paragraph by expressing why I’d love to intern with that specific company.

3) Prep for your interview

I over-prepare for everything so I took notes of possible questions they could ask *thanks google* and prepared answers in advance. Common questions include:

“How has your experience helped prepared you for this internship?”

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

“Tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?”

A good strategy is to practice with a friend or out-loud to yourself, that way it feels more natural once you have the actual interview. Remember to ALWAYS have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview. They will almost always ask “Do you have any questions for me?” It’s awkward to just answer no, if you are truly interested you will have questions.

Some questions I asked were:

“What do you expect from an intern?”

“What does a typical work day look like for you?”

“Who would I report to for daily tasks?”

“What is the company dress code?”

If you are truly interested in the internship it will be easy to come up with questions because you will be curious.

4) Always write a thank you note/email.

I had several interviews throughout my process but I tried to remember to always send a formal thank you email to the interviewers thanking them for taking the time to interview me. Remember, the interviewers are busy employees and it’s a big deal for them to take time out to speak to you so make sure you show them you are thankful. It’s not only polite but it makes you look that much more professional.

5) Be yourself

As overwhelming as the entire process may be, try to always be sincere. Others can tell when someone is trying too hard so don’t. The best way to find the opportunity that’s right for you is to be yourself. Remember you will get rejected, I was rejected several times before I was finally accepted and I now appreciate those rejections. If you are being yourself do not be discouraged if you don’t get an opportunity because the right one will come along.

I hope this post will help some of you and good luck to all you future interns!

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Spring Break for Millennial Parents: Kid-Friendly Vacation in Destin, Florida!

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So as a young college student and mommy spring break is a little different for me than it is for many of my peers. I decided to share my family-friendly spring break trip with you guys!

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My family and I spent our Spring Break in Destin, Florida! It’s absolutely gorgeous with bright white sand beaches and gorgeous blue water. It’s also a good combination of college spring breakers and family so for me it was perfect to experience a little bit of both!

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We spent a lot of time at the beach but we also stayed in a gorgeous resort, Destin West beach and bay in Okaloosa Island between Fort Walton and Destin Florida.

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The resort has two sides, the bay side (pictured above) or the gulf side (a view of the beach). It had a bridge over the overpass that allowed guest to walk from one side to the other. I actually preferred the bay side (it was more affordable) because it has several pools, a hot tub and a lazy river. Many of the college students chose to stay on this side so it was buzzing with people. It’s also pretty easy to get to the bridge and walk across to the gulf side to visit the beach.

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Destin was really easy to get around and had lots of areas for walking and activities that both children and adults could enjoy. We visited Harbourwalk village near the Emerald Grande hotel while we were there. destin13

The village has tons of shops, drinks (for both adults and children), Ice cream (even alcoholic ice-cream because apparently thats a thing), Henna tattoo, water sports rentals, you name it! It’s a really nice space to walk with children because it’s separated away from the main roads but also not too close to the water so my little man was free to roam around. I actually stopped to get dippin dots and a henna tattoo here. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and there were people from all over! I’d definitely suggest visiting.

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My husband actually ended up renting a kayak for an hour to take our little man out into the bay (the gulf had a strong current but in the summer you can venture out there as well). Our little boy was much too active so they didn’t stay too long for fear of flipping over, but you can also rent boats which may be a better option for those of you with young children. You can even take them out to Crab Island, a cool restaurant in the middle of the bay!

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If you like sweets you may want to stop by some local grocery stores for fresh fruits (like we did) but one of my favorite places was Destination Little Donuts in Destin. They made all sorts of specialty donuts with various toppings, all very aesthetically pleasing and delicious!

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We actually stopped by twice because I couldn’t get enough of the Oreo Cheesecake and Cookie Dough (pictured above). They were also really informative and friendly so I’d suggest stopping by if you have a sweet tooth like I do! There were also a lot of great restaurants along the beach. Most of them served seafood, which I actually dislike, but there were a wide variety of options within Destin. We ate at Floyds on our first day and had gorgeous view of the beach while we ate.

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We also visited Fudpuckers, a really interesting restaurant that serves pretty good seafood but also hosts a number of live alligators. You can purchase bait to feed them and even get a picture with a baby gator (their mouths are taped for the photo). My little man was much too excited so we had to take him away for a minute, he kept pulling the alligators feet (not a good idea). We also got the chance to see a rare albino alligator. Pretty cool!

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Of course much of our vacation was spent on the beach. We just couldn’t get over how stunning they were!

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We even got shot by a photographer for a local newspaper!

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All in all it was a pretty fun and relaxing spring break and I’d definitely suggest visiting, whether you’re a student, single, or mother of two! We are already planning our next trip back!

meee

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