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A LITTLE GHOST STORY FOR MODERN TIMES

Over the summer, I ventured to Canada for the first time. Two friends and I decided to explore Montreal and Quebec City, hoping for slightly cooler weather, French-style pastries, and Canada Day celebrations. We succeeded in two of the three experiences (we happened to visit during a record-breaking heat that sapped our energy and resulted in the over-consumption of gelato and iced coffee—not necessarily a horrible way to cool down).  Once we arrived, we had intended to stay in a quaint little hostel in the middle of Vieux-Montréal. After checking in and lugging our bags up multiple flights of tiny, winding stairs, we arrived in a small room on a top floor with an adorable view of the city and no air conditioning. The air sat still in the room and the three of us toppled onto the bed, our ...

GRADE BUDS: A COLLECTION OF POEMS

BLOOM We cannot wait to be flowers.  We are all so excited to blossom,  To bloom into the best,   most radiant versions of ourselves.   As seeds we imagine what it will be like   to finally break through the top layer of soil  and find the light for the first time.  But what we must remember   Is that before we can rise from our roots  Those roots must first be  Planted, pruned  And immersed   in the depths of the dirt.   SUNFLOWER When I compared myself  To the peonies, the poppies, and the tulips,  I gave up all hope of ever being beautiful.   I was not pink. I was not pretty.   I prayed that someone would come along  And tell me  Their favorite color was yellow,  And that they always liked things   That reminded them  Of the sun.    ALL  The human heart is not complicated,   b...

TRIBE, LOVE, COURAGE: LEADERSHIP IN A HASHTAG

On my birthday this year, I received an invitation to speak at the #LeadLikeAGirl Conference. Little did I know that this invitation would be the start of something much bigger. As I prepared for the conference and for my words of wisdom, I started thinking about the message I wanted to share with the aspiring young girls and women I would be in the room with. I began reflecting on the things and people who helped me on my own journey of growth, specifically as a woman in STEM. What became clear were three things: the tribe of people who supported me, the love that I have for my passions, and the courage I grew to persevere.   Tribe. Love. Courage. These three words, though simple, are the foundation for growing into a leader. It is the basis for a mutually beneficial community that one bo...

LETTING THE INSTAGRAM BALL DROP

When I finally launched my pastry blog, I was thrilled to share my experiences with others. For years I had dreamed of building an online presence, but didn’t have the confidence to pursue it. Finally, the idea of creating sweet treats, photographing and writing about them was too hard to pass up. Once I began, I was excited to connect with like-minded people and continue my pastry education at home. I was certain I could fit in the time to work on my blog during my childrens’ nap and bedtimes. There are 24 hours in a day, I told myself. What I didn’t factor in was the perceived importance of social media. Instagram’s rise among visual creatives has become a cornerstone in promoting their work. It connects people who wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise. For this reason, it...

I THOUGHT

i. I thought that you were more worth than you are, tears shed, upset, felt it in my heart. Believe me, we are allowed to have feelings online, a virtual world with its frailties and no apparent explanations, no commitment necessary, no strings attached, emptiness, loneliness and questions left unanswered. ii. The attraction was strong; there is no denying a connection of kinds, super handsome and charming, keep pics coming. I know this online myriad of craziness, been living it too long and understand its shallowness. Saw the warning signs chose to ignore them, “this is fun, I’m excited in fact exhilarated.” Minds full of virtual fantasies, what to do and how to do it, wondering, hoping it wouldn’t be disappointing, Knowing deep in my soul it would come crashing down. iii. Commonalities c...

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Changing your perspective can truly change how you parent. Many parents see their children as difficult, delicate, fragile, limited, needy, or incapable. Clients come to me expressing how strong-willed their children are or how stubborn, determined, or persistent they can be. Well, I say, “Those are some great traits to have as adults.” Wouldn’t you agree? So why not guide them in the right direction, where they can still have those traits and you are still in charge. Your children are not aliens that are impossible to understand. They are just smaller human beings looking for the same things we need as adults.   As adults, we need rules, words of affirmation, discipline, and consistency as much as our children do. These are the things that make us feel in control, safe, loved, and success...

WHEN YOU ARE BATTLING DREAMS VS. REALITY

“If you can think of a goal you want, and if you can see it unraveling in your mind as you visualize it, the next step is to bring it to life. Speak it into existence, feed it life so it can progress into reality, think of a dream as a person who you are one step closer to becoming, the more you start believing it is not as far as your mind makes it be” – H.C  As I write this, life is not a massive rock on my shoulder, as it usually seems to be. Mostly because of today, all the things I imagined and worked hard to make reality have happened.  Dreams can feel like they rarely take the form of reality, but when they do, as J Cole says, “it’s a beautiful thing.” And ever since I heard that song, I envisioned them in front of me. I have sung the song “...

WHO IS SHE?

I’d stopped seeing my myself. The reflection before me had become a stranger. Who was this woman? Her wings had been broken, her eyes carried the weight of every dark corner that her marriage projected onto the back of her eyelids; nightmares. No emotion in her eyes as if every murky memory had blown out her existence, her mouth the grave. A once flawless smile was now chipped teeth hidden behind busted lips holding an unspoken tragedy and each scar held a memory from being slammed into doors, floors, cabinets and above all, abused by the hands that held hers before God with a promise to love and protect her from the world around her. Those hands of protection were the reason for broken bones, permanent scars, a child resting in peace, hospital bills longer than grocery receipts, but...

HEARTBREAK

Let it happen.  Let her rip open  your ribs and sternum.   Pour the whiskey down   her throat.   She can take  the hits.  Withstand   the pummel.   This muscle   will not  fail you.  It will sober  and continue.  Beat and pump  blood through your veins.  You are purpose.  Purpose that  will break  and heal  and find  love again.  Your heart.  Your heart  will fight for you.     Author: Raquel Franco Link to social media: Twitter @wordsbyraquel | Instagram @raquelfranco.poet

DEMYSTIFYING DHARMA

Life and happiness haven’t always been obvious to me. Rewind a few years ago—my dark years. Why did I feel so empty inside? I had everything society told me should make me happy: a great job, a good circle of friends and family, a partner. So why was my inner being screaming “is this it?” I felt like I was staring down the long barrel of a gun. I could see the next twenty years mapped out for me—marriage, kids, a holiday a year, if I was lucky! It made me want to run away and hide. Then it hit me that there must be more to life than this. My initial way out was to escape, to run away from it as if it didn’t exist, to ignore the emptiness through distraction. This came in the form of drugs and alcohol until my body could take it no more. My breakdown eventually led to a breakthrough and a n...

HELLO 33

“I wish he was a Virgo, the same sign as me; And know how to show me love, cause I’ve been hurt by a Pisces”  – Beyonce, Signs  Another year has passed, and 33 came with a bang. I celebrated this milestone surrounded by family and close friends at Tuscan Kitchen—a restaurant I was excited to finally try. As I sat down to reflect on the last 32 years, it occurred to me how much has happened since last year. I made the best out of living with Muscular Dystrophy and continued spreading awareness, connected with new friends, partners and supporters, and kept dreaming beyond the scope of how my body was feeling. I launched my own business, Girls Chronically Rock. I initiated the first Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day and had the governor of Massachusetts and the mayor of Cambr...

WHY HAVING PINK HAIR MAKES ME A BADASS

You would think making my hair cotton candy pink would make me feel soft, feminine, weak. I, too, thought it would make me feel girly.   And I mean girly in that derogatory way that most people mean it. And, by the way, it must stop. “Girly” was something people said with the word, “ew”, in front. As in, “Ew, that’s so girly!” I remember high school being a minefield of such judgments.   The above sentence was met with one of two responses. Either, favorable, as in, “Oh I know,” with a giggle. Picture that girl, we all knew one. No judgment on life choices, you do you, but to play into the negative connotations of the term bothered me, and bothers me still.   The other response was unfavorable and defensive. “No, I’m not”, met with a snarl, “You don’t know me.” Often this was f...

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