Abandoned and Mysterious : Chapter 1

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Abandoned and Mysterious : Chapter 1

Taking risks is something I've not done much of, which means I'm quite good at sticking to what's comfortable, safe, and keeps me out of jail. As I reached my mid to late 20's I began to discover new interests and philosophies. And that's where Photography comes into the picture (pun).

I fancied taking photos in my late teens, but other things took precedence, so I never really took it too seriously. ( I'm skipping a lot of things and jumping ahead to make this a short story) Anyway, last year I moved to St. Louis with a mission; In 3 years be full time in photography or videography or both. I feel as if I'm on a pretty good track to making that happen. I've been constantly trying to improve the  end product with every photo. I'm constantly attempting to apply what I learn from my favorite photographers without compromising my own personal style. It seems as if every week I learn something that could make my previously released photos look better. And as frustrating as it is to look back and see my mistakes, it makes me happy to know that I'm not there any longer. 

That brings me to these photos that you are seeing in this note. I finally pushed myself beyond anywhere I'd previously gone, and went exploring through abandoned buildings. It may not seem like such a big deal to some, but it's something I've seen other people doing and been like "That's super cool, but Idk about getting that crazy".  Well, thanks to my brave and apparently fearless friend, Amy, I ventured beyond the streets and into crumbling and graffiti riddled buildings.

I hope you enjoy some of the photos I captured!

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Bible Brownies: Nibble on a Morsel

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Bible Brownies: Nibble on a Morsel

Written by a Life Notes Subscriber

 

Prologue:

 

This is another attempt to take a story from the Bible and put it into a modern setting. Like the first story I wrote, this won't be eloquently written or filled with suspense. 

The story of Job has intrigued me for quite a while. Even when I believed wholeheartedly in the Bible, the story never sat right with me. A decent human being, who loves God, is allowed to suffer in extreme ways by God. This is seemingly all done in order to prove a point to Satan. It's essentially a wager between two supernatural beings with a human caught in the middle. It seems to me that God would've already known the outcome of the "trial" of Job and could've spared him the entire process. 

This story isn't meant to offend anyone personally. Feel free to respond however you like or ignore it completely. Thanks for taking the time to read.

 


 

 

Employee of the Month: The Story of Randy

 

Jeff looked out of his office window on the top floor as he sipped his coffee.  He liked mugs that you had to use two hands to hold.  He liked the view from up here.  Looking out over the city reminded him how much he’d accomplished. He had the tallest building in town, relationships with all the top city officials and law enforcement, and was easily the most powerful man in town. He’d started his business from nothing and had been through so much to get to this point. In the beginning, things went smoothly.  All his employees were hand picked and were the closest thing to perfect he could expect. Everyone worked together and the company flourished.  Sure, the papers would say it was because he had no competition and that he’d created a monopoly, but that didn’t bother Jeff..usually.  If only the eyesore at the end of the block wasn’t there.  He wasn’t sure when things had started to go wrong..

 

Stan enjoyed working for Jeff.  Jeff always took care of his employees, and Stan was the number one sales representative for the company.  Jeff was fair enough as a boss.  Occasionally, Stan thought he could run the company a little better, but he decided he didn’t want to create too many waves.  After all, since he was the top employee, Jeff had actually provided a house for him in a gated community to be closer to work.  He didn’t want to let his pride ruin his perks.

 

 

Jeff started to notice a change in Stan.  He seemed to be distant when they talked and occasionally walked off mid conversation.  Jeff didn’t like being embarrassed or ignored.  At the company picnic, he noticed that a lot of his employees spent a lot of time with Stan and completely ignored him.  Maybe he was overthinking the situation.  He desired to be loved more than anything and this obsession sometimes caused him to overreact. He decided it was nothing.

 

One day, Jeff overheard Stan undermining his authority to the other employees.  As much as he loved Stan, he couldn’t stand his authority being challenged.  It infuriated him.  He immediately terminated Stan and all the employees that he’d seen spending time with Stan.  He couldn't take any chances with the team’s morale.  All told, he ended up losing about 1/3 of his staff that day.

 

As if losing so much of his work force wasn’t bad enough, things really turned sour when Stan opened up his own place right down the block from Jeff.  This was a personal jab.  Stan had always hinted that he could do things better and he was determined to prove it.  Jeff tried not to let his anger show.  At first, he acted like it didn’t bother him…pulling the blinds on his windows so he didn’t have to see the construction going on down the road.  

 

Things were humming along for Stan.  He had learned so much from Jeff and was determined to show him up.  He knew Jeff wouldn’t go quietly, and he knew that if Jeff wanted to, Jeff had enough power with city officials to shut him down.  Stan was counting on Jeff’s pride.  He knew that Jeff would allow him to conduct business just so Jeff could try to show him he’d made a huge mistake.  Stan’s plan was to attract some of Jeff’s employees to level the playing field.  

 

 

Jeff noticed that Stan’s business was booming.  And not just with production, but employees from his own shop.  People that Jeff had bent over backwards for…given them everything.  He couldn’t understand why they’d choose Stan over him.  He offered the best retirement plan and a structured work environment.  Stan’s benefits were temporary and Jeff knew that he was lying to people to get them on his payroll. He secretly admired Stan’s tenacity and his ability to lure people despite having an inferior product.  Of course, he couldn’t let anyone know this..he had to maintain his public disdain for Stan.  In fact, he had to ramp up his public campaign to thwart Stan’s efforts.  He needed something to retain his top employees.  Currently, when workers jumped ship for Stan’s, he immediately evicted them from their company houses in the highly sought after gated community, changing the security codes to ensure they wouldn’t have access. This didn’t seem to be doing the trick.  People were still leaving regularly and Jeff was growing concerned.  He couldn’t believe they were willing to give up order and structure for Stan’s progressive, party work atmosphere.  He thought about threatening to murder anyone that left his shop for Stan…then he decided that was extreme.  He’d been having these cracks in his composure lately.  

 

Randy was Jeff’s top associate.  Jeff loved how much attention Randy gave him.  A day didn’t go by that Randy didn’t tell Jeff that he appreciated him and was grateful for everything he’d done for him and his family.  After all, Jeff had moved Randy and his family into a house in the gated community he owned…the one that used to belong to Stan. Randy knew that Jeff was his ticket to paradise.  He had given him so much and promised so much more if Randy kept up the good work.  

 

Jeff was starting his monthly board meeting.  Usually, they just went over how nice it was to be employed there and talked about ways to spruce up the place.  They had only recently started to have actual meetings, since Stan presented legitimate competition for the first time in the company’s history.  Jeff was nervous, but he didn't let anyone know his thoughts.  His right hand man, Gabriel, had even asked him point blank and he denied it.  He didn’t know why he was starting to have these character changes…he’d never lied before.  He was known by everyone in the entire city to be the most honest person around.  Gabriel was going over marketing strategies when a murmur started amongst the other board members.  People started looking at the doorway in the corner and then over to Jeff.  Stan strolled into the board room.  Jeff quickly commanded that the lights be turned on.  He demanded to know how Stan got into the room and security offered to remove him.  Secretly, Jeff knew exactly how Stan had gotten in.  He’d allowed him to keep his employee badge when he sent him packing.  Deep down, he had a connection to Stan and he didn’t think it would ever go away.  He wished that Stan would've backed down on his comments against Jeff and joined him again.  He said Stan could stay and say his piece.

 

Stan walked into the boardroom and saw an unfamiliar sight, people actually doing work…coming up with ideas.  He was impressed.  He didn’t show it though, he was here on a mission.  Stan had been able to take so many of Jeff’s employees that the tables had turned.  Stan’s business was much larger now.  Jeff’s protocols were so strict and he was overbearing.  Stan knew this firsthand.  He decided to make his shop more welcoming and allow people to express themselves more.  He was here for Randy.  He’d heard how great of a worker Randy was and knew that Jeff valued him more than anyone.  He’d tried to lure him away before, but Randy was very loyal.  Every time he talked with him, Randy reminded him how much better Jeff’s retirement plan was, how great the house in the gated community was and Randy enjoyed the overall structure of his environment..job security was important to him.  To Stan, this was personal.  If he could get Randy to leave Jeff, he knew Jeff would be devastated emotionally.  

 

Jeff could see that Stan was up to something devious.  He had that look about him.  Jeff possessed the same mean streak, but he held his close to the vest.  He envied the way Stan was so free with his comments and desires.  Sometimes living up to people’s expectations got exhausting.  Jeff longed to live like Stan..even lived vicariously through him at times.  “What do you want?”  Stan told him that he had a wager for him..Jeff was intrigued.  He loved wagers.  He told Stan to go on.  Stan told him that he thought he actually had the more desirable workplace and that the only reason Randy stayed with Jeff was because of all the perks and the fear of change in his life.  “I bet that if you stopped protecting him in that gated community and took away some of his benefits, he’d stopping singing your praises”, said Stan.  Stan was again counting on Jeff’s ego here, Jeff couldn’t stand to lose or be embarrassed.  Jeff knew that Randy loved working for him.  Sure, it helped that he’d treated him so well, but Randy had earned it.  It’s not like Jeff had a favorite employee from the beginning, he believed in earning what you had.  Jeff was confident that no matter what Stan offered Randy, that Randy wouldn’t budge.  After all, Jeff had the ace up his sleeve…retirement package.  There wasn’t a better retirement plan in town.  Jeff would take care of Randy for the rest of his life.  He’d be safe in his mansion behind the compound walls and financially secure. 

 

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Stan could see that Jeff was conflicted.  Jeff probably wanted to tell Stan to get out, but something kept him in the conversation…pride.  Jeff loved bets no matter the risk.  Stan went on to say that he would offer a compromise in the bet.  Jeff could let Randy keep his retirement, but that everything else was fair game for Stan to manipulate.  Stan was willing to do anything to show Jeff that his employees didn’t really prefer his shop, but that they stayed because of the comfort it provided.  They didn’t have to step into the unknown or wonder what else was out there.  He knew that Randy would actually enjoy the environment at his shop if he just gave it a chance.  He had to show Randy that Jeff was actually a sinister person, not the saint that he presented himself as.  Stan was about as terrible as a human could be, but at least he was honest about it.  He’d seen the way Jeff had acted in private meetings, Steve Jobs had nothing on Jeff.  Jeff would rant about kicking people out of the gated community just for not showing him enough attention or thanking him on a regular basis.  Once, he saw a person doing the landscaping for the building on the wrong day and he’d actually whispered, “I’d like to kill that guy…I specifically told him not to do any work on Saturday.”  These weren’t isolated incidents.  Stan had heard him threaten many people and seen him kick people out of their houses for nothing more than eating shrimp in the break room, or anything else Jeff thought was disgusting. 

 

Stan said, “You give Randy everything.  Let me take some of the things from him and make sure he knows you did nothing to stop me and see what he says then.”  “What exactly did you have in mind?”, asked Jeff.  Stan smiled, almost devilishly and replied, “Let me into the gated community to set his house on fire.” Stan absolutely loved fire.  Jeff didn't want to let Stan do this, even though he loved fire.  He’d spent so much time building his neighborhood and keeping it safe.  Nobody that wasn’t living there had the key code to the main gate and each house had its own gate that only the homeowner and Jeff had.  That way, not even other members of the community could get onto the property without the permission of the owner or Jeff.  This was his crown jewel.  His employees could live the rest of their days in peace here once they were done working for him.  He didn’t want to allow Stan back in there.  He knew what Stan was capable of…

 

Stan waited to see how Jeff would respond, again, he hoped ego would rule the day.  Jeff didn’t want to take this bet, however, how would it look to the other board members if he didn’t show confidence in his employees.  He knew that the guys wouldn’t take kindly to allowing Stan to rob Randy, but he hoped they’d see the big picture.  He accepted.  “You’re free to take anything he owns, just don’t hurt him.”  Stan thought for a minute…he was ready to up the ante and put Jeff on the spot.  “I’d like to kill his pets and children and destroy his house.”  Jeff thought this was crazy, even for Stan.  He couldn’t back down now though.  “You can do anything you want to his family and pets, just don’t hurt Randy personally.”  Stan couldn’t believe Jeff was actually going for this..he thought by putting him on the spot with such a crazy proposition, that Jeff would be forced to swallow his pride and back out of the bet.  He knew Jeff’s ego was irrational, but this was a new level.  Although, he did recall when the landscaper was picking up around the building on the wrong day and Jeff said he’d like to kill him…maybe this wasn’t too far out of character for Jeff.  “You realize that Randy will know you gave me his personal key code to his gate, right?  He’ll know that you didn’t protect him and allowed me to murder everything he loves.”  Jeff said that no matter what Stan did, Randy would still stay with him and be grateful for everything Jeff had done.  

 

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It had been a few days since all of their children and pets had been murdered.  Randy was obviously devastated..he shaved his head in despair.  His wife had told him that this was Jeff’s fault.  Jeff had obviously failed to protect them.  Randy knew Jeff had allowed someone onto his property and that person had killed his children..yet, for some reason, he was still thankful for the fact that Jeff had hired him and put his family in the gated community to begin with.  His wife kept telling him that they had to get out of there.  That Jeff was a psychopath for allowing something that he could’ve easily prevented.   She knew they weren’t safe.  Randy told her that they had nothing before Jeff and that life without Jeff was too uncertain.  Besides, the only other place he could go would be Stan’s and that wasn’t an option.  Randy eventually decided to talk to Jeff about what had happened.  Maybe Jeff’s security system was hacked.  He needed to find out.  He hadn’t questioned anything Jeff had ever done before, so he was nervous.  As nice as Jeff seemed to be, he’d heard the rumors about his violent temper.  Plus, it seemed that he might be partially responsible for something that was more evil than anything Randy could’ve imagined.

 

Jeff told Randy to take a seat.  Randy looked nervous.  Jeff wasn’t sure how to play this.  He liked Randy and knew it was out of character for Randy to ask to see him.  Randy must’ve at least considered the possibility that he’d allowed his family to be put in danger.  He wasn’t sure if he should just deny this and say there was a malfunction in the security system.  He only knew he wanted Randy to stay, that’s how he’d win the bet.  Randy told Jeff how sad he was…his life had no meaning anymore…he wasn’t sure if he could continue working here, or anywhere for that matter…  “What happened?”, asked Randy.  “Was there a malfunction with the security system?”  He wanted this to be the case so badly, but deep down, he knew the system was rock solid.  Jeff was silent.  Randy told Jeff that he should’ve noticed something was wrong with the system.  Jeff finally answered, “The system is fine.  I have the master key code.  Nobody gets in that I don’t want to get in.”  It took a second to sink in.  Randy had looked up to Jeff so much.  He told everyone about how great his boss was.  He’d made sure that Jeff knew how grateful he was on a regular basis.  How could someone be so calloused?  “How could you do this to us?!?  You’re a murderer, or at least an accomplice!”  Jeff knew Randy was right, but he couldn’t play this the wrong way..he decided to meet him with arrogance and crush his spirits even more.  “Where were you when I started this company?  Do you know how many dinners I had to sit through with city officials?  I trained everyone from the beginning.”  Then Jeff completely lost it..  “Do you make horses strong?  Do you make them leap like locusts?  Do you make horses laugh at fear?  Do you make hawks soar and spread their wings?”  Why am I asking these questions of a man whose family I just allowed to be killed, Jeff wondered…he continued,  “Do you make eagles build high nests?  Do you help them spy their prey and feed the blood of their kill to their young?”

 

Randy was so confused.  The questions Jeff was asking had nothing to do with anything that had happened.  It was clear to Randy that Jeff was a psychopath.  He was being irrational and screaming that Randy and his friends needed to learn some respect.  Randy slunk down in the chair as Jeff stood over him.  Randy had thought about leaving, but now he feared Jeff.  If Jeff was capable of allowing the slaughter of his children and animals, Randy feared for his own life and the life of his wife.  He decided that even though he was furious with Jeff, he didn’t want to anger him any further.  “I’m sorry, Jeff.  I shouldn’t have doubted you.  I know that everything you do has a reason and I’m sure that it was for the best.  I’ll head back to my desk and get back to work.”  

 

Jeff stopped…it had worked.  Randy was so defeated.  And scared, especially scared.  Jeff didn’t care.  He knew that most of his employees stayed with him out of fear.  He knew that’s why they always told him how much they liked him.  He didn’t care though.  He loved hearing it.  He told Randy that because of his loyalty, he’d give him even more pets and make sure that he was approved to adopt some new children.  Sure, having new children didn’t exactly make up for the original ones that Jeff had allowed Stan to murder, but that was the past.  Randy was staying.  Jeff had sent a clear message to Stan that he was the most desirable boss.  That’s what was important…well, that and winning that bet.  Jeff went to the window, oversized mug resting between his hands…he brought it to his smirking lips…

 


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Pregnancy: My First 20 Weeks

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Pregnancy: My First 20 Weeks

So, you just found out you're pregnant. Congratulations! The world as you know it is about to turn completely upside down. You might be wondering to yourself “how did this happen?” which we both know the answer. Or you might be jumping for joy after several attempts at trying to conceive a child. I know for me, my first thoughts after the initial “is this really happening?" phase wore off, was "what do I do now?"

Being a first-time pregnant mom is equivalent to being a freshman college student with a declared major they know absolutely nothing about. I have noticed while googling my heart out the past five months that there are a lot of sugar coated articles about how amazing pregnancy is or the necessary items you need on your baby registry. I will admit that pregnancy has been an eye opener and does have many positives, but I have not found an article that walks you through the unedited version of the journey you are truly about to go on. So without further ado, here is my personal tale of the highs and lows of my pregnancy journey thus far. I hope that my story will help you mentally prepare for how your own journey might be. It is important to remember that every pregnancy is a different path. May the odds be ever in your favor!

My first trimester was what some might call “typical” in a lot of ways. I had the mood swings and nausea. Acquiring some pregnancy products was highly recommended, so I bought the belly butter (Burt’s Bees) which I highly recommend as I have successfully avoided even the tiniest of stretch marks! I cut out alcohol and other bad habits I had acquired in the past 25 years, which to be honest was not all that hard for me to do. I did however have some symptoms that I would never wish on anyone which included prenatal or prepartum depression and placenta previa.

Prenatal depression is often not talked about on other pregnancy blogs. I guess in a way it's a bit taboo. This is and should be one of the best times of my life, but for whatever reason I was a tornado of emotions ranging from thinking “I will not be a good mother” to the selfish thoughts like “my body is going to look like shit after this, and my boyfriends eyes will begin to wander. Which I now realize is ridiculous, and I was my usual pessimistic self! 

If you are experiencing depression that was not there before you became pregnant, it is 100% preventable, and there are things you can do including, but not limited to, being prescribed medications, or simply talking it out with your partner or a family member you feel comfortable confiding in. I chose the latter, and I am so glad that I was able to vocalize what I was feeling to someone who cared. It made me realize that everything I was thinking was, in fact, all in my head, but it was not “stupid” to think those things. I think any mom would be worried about their life changing in such a drastic and permanent way. 

At the beginning of my second trimester, I was diagnosed with Complete Placenta Previa. This is when the placenta is completely covering your cervix instead of being attached to the top right or left corner of the uterus. When I heard this news, I was also informed that there was a higher percent change I would need to have a C-section if my little girl didn't move. Fortunately for me, and a lot of other women diagnosed with this, my baby girl moved enough out of the way for natural birth to still be on the table. For this to be possible, the baby needs to be at least 2 cm away from the cervix. So for now, and hopefully for the rest of my pregnancy, I am out of the woods when it comes to a risky delivery! 

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Other than that, my second trimester has been night and day from my first. I have a lot of energy; I do not feel sick hardly at all. My food aversions have ceased for the most part, and I can be in the car again without getting motion sickness! I would trade my first-trimester mood swings and morning sickness for my current dilemmas of shortness of breath and not being able to get off the couch as gracefully as before any day of the week! I have accepted most of the changes my body is making as well. I now have a new found love for my belly bump. Knowing that my little girl is growing and swimming around in my belly is amazing, and I am reminded of that every time I feel her wiggle around as if she's saying good night at the end of the day (when she is most active.)

So there you have it. My first 20 weeks of pregnancy wrapped in 1000 words or less. I am in no means an expert, nor do I claim to be one. I realize that every pregnancy is unique and amazing in its own way. I wish all of you mommas to be, or new mommy’s the best of luck on your new journey into motherhood. I cannot wait to be able to be finally able to hold my little girl and introduce her to the life that David and I have built together. The best is yet to come! 

Keep up with our pregnancy by following and or liking us on social media! 
Elle's Instagram
David's Instagram

** All photos in this blog were taken by David Beardsley. Be sure to check out his other work here. 

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Snapshots of Independence Day 2016

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Snapshots of Independence Day 2016

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Can You Be Pregnant and Pro Choice?

In a word, Yes! After watching the documentary 12th and Delaware and It makes me so sad to see women being treated like murderers for simply walking into a health clinic that performs abortions. Not everyone who visits said clinics are there to terminate their pregnancy. Some are there for birth control, STD testing, pregnancy tests, pap smears, etc. These women are taking their health into their own hands and doing the responsible thing by getting the medical attention they need. Many of these women choose places like this because they are more affordable for those without health insurance or those with a low income. Unfortunately, these women are not represented in this documentary. 

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What is represented is the bullying of pro-life individuals who are trying to deter young women from making a choice that she believes is best for herself. The law currently states that a woman can terminate her pregnancy if she so chooses. This choice is not something that a majority of women take lightly or make on a whim. It is something they have researched and talked to health professionals about. They have gone through the pros, and the cons of their choices, whether that be on their own or because the clinics, hospitals, etc. have walked them through all the options.

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 If a 20 year old girl who becomes pregnant in a low-income household and no insurance walks into one of these clinics she will be told lies such as, you can do this because we will be here to help you. The clinic may offer to pay her rent and/or give her clothing for her other children (if she has them). The sad reality of the situation is that they won't be there for long. They won't be there at all hours of the night to feed that baby, or to pay for its immunization shots, or to pay for their food and clothing. They also will not be there to make sure she has a ride to work to help pay for her growing family.  The sad reality is that they will say what they can at the moment to make them change their minds. 

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They have lied about how far along these women are in their pregnancies to make them think that they have more time to make this important and life changing decision. This becomes clear to them only when they go to the pro-choice clinic to be told they can no longer have their abortion through the medicinal method, but rather the D&C method which has more risks and is more painful/expensive. So now, these women who have money issues may not even be able to afford to pay for their procedure despite that being the best choice for her.  The people who work at pro-life clinics may have their hearts in the right place, but what they are doing in some of these clinics across America is hurting those that they are trying to help.

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One of the biggest options these clinics push on their clients is adoption. I have a few issues with this simply because some of these women who are interested in aborting their babies are doing so because they do not want to go through a pregnancy. A great example of this is when a woman in her forties comes in concerned about the heath risks she is putting on herself as well as the unborn baby by preceding with the pregnancy. Children who are born to mothers older than their mid-thirties are at a higher risk for things such as down syndrome and other mentally debilitating illnesses. Now these children who are born with handicaps are going to be raised by older parents who will may even die before their children can become self-sufficient if in fact that is even a possibility. This leaves them with few options if they do not have a sibling or family member to take the child under their wing. A lot of them will live in assisted living facilities in which living conditions are less than ideal, and the staff on many occasions have been caught being horrible to them. 

Younger mothers who are looking to abort a pregnancy are more likely to continue to drink, smoke, and often time try to take matters into their own hands to induce a miscarriage by drinking elixirs they read about online or way worse. These babies are born addicted to drugs or have developmental issues due to improper care while in the womb. This then becomes an issue, because these babies are not often peoples first pick when it comes adoption. They end up living on the governments dime or in foster homes without a real chance at a loving home. 

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As a pro-choice pregnant woman, I did discuss all of the options with my significant other before making the decision to keep our child. My pregnancy was not planned, nor was it something that I was immediately thrilled about. Realizing that you are now responsible for another life besides your own is a scary realization, and not one to be taken lightly. Ultimately I chose to keep my child, and I could not be more thrilled to be adding a little one to my growing family! I am sure that I made the right choice for myself. I understand that this choice isn't for everyone and that my circumstance is a lot different than a lot of women having to make this decision. I was able to make a choice for myself. I was able to be in complete control of what is happening to my body, and that is something that I believe everyone should be able to decide. 

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What is...Community?

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What is...Community?

The year 2016 found Eureka, Missouri under water. The new year is typically brought in with live music, fun festivities, good food, and a large gathering of a tight knit community. Unfortunately the Meramac River's reach went far beyond its banks and seeped into the local businesses in downtown Eureka. The flood devastated thousands of people and some still see and smell the damage that was left behind, almost like an elderly woman's perfume that has overtaken an elevator. 

The water receded almost as fast as it had risen, but the problems it caused weren't going anywhere. Fortunately, Eureka is full of people who care about other people, and the community came together to assist in returning the area back to it's peaceful state. Fundraisers, physical labor, and strategic planning allowed for a swift rehabilitation of some of the downtown businesses, and on April 2nd downtown Eureka was alive once again. The streets were filled with members of the local community, excited to see it's city partying like it knows how.

Thank you for reading and looking!

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10 BENEFITS OF ROLLERBLADING

Burns Calories Fast
The Mayo Clinic concluded that a 160 lb individual will burn 913 calories in one hour if they are blading at a decent pace. If an individual weighs in at 240 lbs and rollerblades at the same pace for an hour, they can burn up to 1,363 calories. If you are looking for a kick-start to your weight loss journey but don't have a lot of time to spare this is the perfect way to burn a decent amount of calories in a short amount of time

Great For Your Joints
Study after study suggests that rollerblading is a healthier alternative than running when it comes to your joint health and preservation. In some cases, it has been proven to decrease joint impact shock by up to 50%. A person who is rollerblading at a fast rate to elevate their heart rate will be using more fluid motions that in the long run will maintain the overall health of your ankles and knees. I don't know about you, but I would much rather walk freely than with a walker in my old age!

Improves Balance
Blading works and tones your abdominal and back muscles. Without a strong core and back, you can develop balance issues. I can personally feel my balance gradually become worse in the fall and winter. I dread the leaves changing colors because that means this girls blading days are numbered.

Minimal Gear
There is no need for expensive bike racks! You can easily put your blades, pads, helmet, socks, iPod, and water bottle in a duffel bag in your car for easy access. I love keeping my blades in my trunk so that I can go straight after work. 

Full Body Workout
Rollerblading isn't just for leg day! I get a full body workout every time I go rollerblading. As anyone can guess, your glutes and your legs are being worked while you glide around turns and climb hills, but the workout doesn't stop there! Your abdomen and back muscles are being put to work to help you maintain your balance while your arms are working to help propel you to higher speeds. 

Improves Endurance
Blading is one of the most intense muscular workouts you can do. You engage multiple muscle groups in one workout. As you blade, your body builds up endurance to help you propel yourself father for longer amounts of time. It took me half the summer, but last year I was able to complete a 16.9-mile blading session all because of the endurance training I was getting every time I put on my blades

Solo Workout
At the end of a long work day, I always look forward to some alone time to meditate and sort through my thoughts. I have had some pretty good heart to hearts with myself while blazing trails. I find it extremely therapeutic just to spend some time outdoors and inside your own head. 

It Can A Be Social Thing Too
My father and I are both rollerblading lovers! It's a guaranteed way for me to be able to spend time with him during the week despite our crazy schedules! Now if only I would get my boyfriend to invest in some blades I'd be set! 

It Gets You Outside
Why would you workout in a smelly gym when you could be breathing in the fresh outdoor air. Spending time outdoors is good for your mind and your body. Sunlight provides your body with vitamin D. Some studies even suggest being outdoors benefits those with depression.

Improves Mood
Speaking of depression, have you ever seen a sad rollerblader? I didn't think so.  I can only speak for myself, but rollerblading helps me with my anxiety. For whatever reason my mind slows down, and I don't worry about anything or anyone. It's almost like hitting the restart button on my attitude. I am always in a good mood after a good roller blading session. 

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A Slice of Bible Pie

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A Slice of Bible Pie

Written by a Life Notes subscriber

 

Prologue:

I'm not a writer.  I never planned on putting any ideas out there for people to see.  This short story will probably not be the height of literary quality.  The dialogue will be mediocre and straightforward.  I wanted to make it easy to read and the reality is that I'm not a screenwriter, so I probably couldn't have made it more interesting even if I tried. 

 When I read Bible stories at a young age, I never really thought about the actual content.  Most stories were just skimmed through to get to "the lesson".  I think that many times people are able to read the Bible and not be phased when they read horrific stories because they are disconnected.  I routinely hear "it was a different time" or "God would never do that now" when these things are brought up.  This story will be my first attempt at taking a premise or story from the Bible and adapting it into a more modern scenario.  

The goal here is to get people to look at the true content in these stories and offer a different perspective on the topic than what you may be used to.  My intent is not to offend anyone.  I am not trying to attack people personally.  Ideas can and should be questioned.  Beliefs should be held based on evidence.  Thank you for taking the time to read the story and feel free to respond however you like or ignore it entirely.  

 


 

The Passerby: A Story of Compassion

Steve was walking down a sidewalk.  As he passed by one of the houses in the neighborhood, the owner of the home rushed from his porch to meet him.  The homeowner was out of breath and radiant with excitement.  Steve had never seen the man before and was taken aback by how elated the homeowner was to see him.  “I have great news. You can live upstairs with me”, blurted the homeowner.  Steve was confused. He didn’t know the homeowner and had no idea what the man was talking about.  His confusion was apparent, because the man said, “Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself.  I’m Jeff.”  After Steve nodded at him, still confused and cautious, Jeff continued. ”Sorry, I’m sure that was an odd thing for me to blurt out without context.”  Steve told him it was fine and that he must have him confused with someone else.  “No”, Jeff said. “I knew you’d be walking by, and I have been busy preparing the upstairs for you to move in.”  “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t know you and I have my own house.  Thanks anyway.”  Steve started walking away.  Jeff knew Steve didn’t know the trouble he had gone through for him so he decided to give him more details.  “You don’t have to go into the torture chamber!!”, Jeff yelled at Steve’s back.  Steve turned immediately so he wouldn’t have his back to Jeff anymore. The man was obviously unstable, and Steve didn’t want to be defenseless. “Excuse me?” 

“You don’t have to go into the torture chamber in my basement.”  Things were tense at this moment, and Jeff knew that he needed to help Steve understand by giving him more details.  Of course, Jeff knew that it made sense. He was only trying to help Steve.  He wished Steve could see how much he loved him.  He’d been watching him for a long time now, trying to get Steve to notice him.  He didn’t want to intrude. He wanted Steve to notice him on his own and realize that he needed Jeff in his life.  Jeff was patient, but decided that he had to act at some point.  Now was the time. "I’ve been very angry with the way the neighborhood has been going downhill.”  Steve was nervous and slowly backing away. ”I was just passing through on the way to a friend’s house”, he said.  Jeff took a few steps toward Steve and said, “I built a torture chamber in my basement to punish the people in this neighborhood.  They act like I’m not even here.”  Steve was frozen with fear. His legs were not listening to the voice in his head telling him to run.  Jeff continued. "However, I decided that instead of torturing the neighbors down there, I would use my own son instead. I recently took my son into the basement and tortured him to death. Through his death, my anger has been balanced, and now I feel like I can open up to people again.”  Steve was shaking. Should he attack Jeff? Should he run? “Because my son has been killed, you can live upstairs with me now. The upstairs has been redecorated recently, and I think you’ll like what I’ve done with the place.”  Steve decided that he would try to not become emotional and spook Jeff into another horrific act.  He needed to get away and notify the authorities.  He could see Jeff was clearly out of his mind.  “I appreciate the offer, but my house is nice, and I think that I’ll just stay there.” 

Jeff was confused. Why couldn’t Steve see that the upstairs in his house was clearly the better option?  Maybe he hadn't made himself clear enough. He’d had that problem before.  “Steve, I want you to make your own decision. I’m not going to force you to move into my upstairs.”  Steve was relieved. He started to back away, smiling.  “Thanks for the offer anyway.”  Jeff really wanted Steve to live with him. He loved him more than anything else on this Earth.  What was Steve’s reservation?  His house was the nicest on the block. He didn’t want to force Steve’s hand. It was of the utmost importance that Steve made his own decision.  He didn’t want Steve to make the wrong decision, though.  “Steve, you don’t have to live in my upstairs, but if you choose not to, I’m going to have to put you into my torture chamber and kill you.”  “I thought you said it was up to me.", Steve replied.  Jeff reassured him that it was entirely up to him.  Steve was confused but decided this was his way out. “Ok, I’ll just head back to my house and enjoy living with my family.”  “Steve, that’s not an option.  It’s either my upstairs or my basement.”  “You said it was my choice. How is it that those are the only two options?” Only fear kept Steve from getting angry at Jeff.  “I wasn’t hurting anyone when I was walking by. I just want to live my life and enjoy my family, friends, food and football.” Jeff was getting frustrated. "I’m afraid it’s too late for that.  Now that you know about my house, you can’t act like you don’t. The only compromise I’ll offer is that you can live in your own house for a short time, but then you will go into my basement to be tortured for your rejection of my offer.”  Steve started running. What had just happened?  How was a person like this thought to be a good member of the community?  As he put distance between them, he heard Jeff’s parting words, “It’s totally up to you. I won’t force you to do anything!!”  Steve was scared for his life.  He had to notify someone. The fear of the torture chamber and the fact that Jeff had sacrificed his own son for some sadistic delusion would haunt him forever.

Augustus Winterbottom

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Perspective is Everything

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Perspective is Everything

I can't imagine what being a parent is like. The love they have for their children is beyond anything I've felt, I'm sure. Creating someone, then molding them into an individual that will go out into the world and live their own life. That's a lot of responsibility, and naturally most parents desire to raise their children with a certain set of morals or social standards that will help them to be successful in life. That being said, sometimes it doesn't always pan out like the parent(s) intended. 

However, I can imagine what being a child is like. I'm far from a golden child, but I've always lived my life with a true intent to do right. When I say "do right" I'm referring to the morals and life standards that were instilled in me from when I was just a small child. I'll be forever grateful for the morals that my parents taught me by being a living example. I was raised to treat people the way I wanted to be treated, help the less fortunate, put others before myself, etc. The list goes on, and it's exactly what you would expect to see from any human being with common sense. I was also taught a set of very strict standards and qualifications that were taken directly from the Bible. And as I've grown older and have come into my young adult years, I've arrived at a place where I’ve had to make a decision. Is this real?

"God's ways are above our ways" or "You just have to have faith" are just a couple of sayings I was very familiar with when it came to asking questions that had no answer. Growing up I would take it as fact, because I knew that my family and church friends would never steer me wrong. We were all striving for the same goal, an eternity in paradise - versus the other option, an eternity living the worst nightmare ever. 

So as I've become a fully aware adult, these answers haven't quite been enough. I was and am aware of the warnings that have been issued when it comes to this way of thinking. Not enough prayer and fasting, too carnal of a mindset, desiring "worldly" pleasures, and not reading the Bible enough - just to list several. Yet, I've witnessed not only in my life, but in a multitude of others, that these answers never come. And when they didn't, I would be concerned with my motives.

"Am I requesting something with the wrong intentions?"

"Is it not god's will?”

and these series of questions would lead to the ultimate question...

“Why and how am I here?"

These are questions that I’ve still found no resolution. Many have claimed the answers, but have only presented their claim with the basis of faith and personal experience.

Some may say that I’ve been given a delusion to believe. Some will say that I’m now a reprobate. Some will claim that I just want to live a life of pleasure without commitment or consequence. Most people have a stance on pretty much any topic you can think of. If you’re asked if you like chocolate or vanilla flavored ice cream, and you reply with “I don’t know” or “It doesn’t matter”, you will more than likely get a very surprised response due to your lack of commitment to either side. Call it society, human nature, or common sense; but we’re programmed to take a stance on one side or the other. 

The fact is, nobody actually knows anything for certain. So why is everyone claiming that they do?

Embracing the unknown is a healthy alternative to fearing it.  


| In Addition | 

 - After sharing this blog with my friend, he shared this video of Dr. David Eagleman with me. It's very much worth a watch. -


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DIVA CUP REVIEW

Four months ago I finally took the plunge and purchased a Diva Cup, and I must say it has been one of the best decisions I've made to date! My overall menstrual health has greatly improved, and I have really gotten to know a lot about my body. I am so excited to share my two cents on this life changing product. I have compiled a list of the top reasons have come to love this menstrual cup below. 

Photo Credit: The Diva Cup

NO LEAKS
The Diva cup has single handily saved my bed sheets and underwear. I no longer have to keep a mental timer of when I need to change out my pad or tampon because you only have to empty the menstrual cup about twice a day. I usually set it in place and wear it over night and then I empty it into the toilet in the morning and then at lunch time. 

LESS TO PACK
As a travel focused blog you had to have seen this coming. 

One tiny silicone flexible cup obviously takes up way less space in your carryon or your purse. It also produces zero waste which is extremely eco-friendly! 

LIFETIME DOLLARS SPENT ON YOUR PERIOD

statistics by huffington post

IT SAVES YOU MONEY
It became curious about my girl down under’s new best friend when I stumbled across an article about how much money one saves when investing in a Diva Cup. I can't seem to find the exact article so I will use this similar Huffington Post article. 

The article states that women will on average spend about $18,171 on her weekly visits from mother nature in her lifetime (OBGYN visits are not included in the estimated total.) 

The Diva Cup is a whopping $39.97, and if it is taken care of, properly it will last you a few years. 

NATURAL ALTERNATIVE
Tampons, pads, and panty liners are ridden with all kinds of toxins that can lead to a list of heal issues for women included but not limited to
TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome
Immune system suppression
Hormonal disruption
Abnormal tissue  grown in reproductive organs

The Diva cup is also made from the highest quality medical grade silicone. It does not contain latex, acrylic, BPA, plastic, or dyes. It has also been approved by the US FDA. 

GET TO KNOW YOU
It is hard to truly know your cycle when pads and tampons have various absorbencies. My Diva cup has allowed me to really know my bodies cycle, and it is quite a liberating thing. I can tell exactly what my body needs and when it needs it. My periods are like clockwork now that I am letting it naturally letting my body menstruate without a plug or a diaper interrupting my body’s natural flow. 

For full instruction on how to insert, clean, and store the Diva Cup, you can check out these instructional videos on The Diva Cup’s website and watch some awesome and informative videos.

Do you use a Diva Cup? What positive changes has it made in your life?

I did not receive compensation of any kind for this blog post
Photos and graphics were provided by The Huffington Post and Diva Cup

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