hello 19!

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With my birthday being the first day of August, the day always seems to pop up abruptly and surprise me. However, that didn’t stop my family from planning a weeks worth of fun and adventures.

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It started on the 31st of July with a lovely dinner party at my house. Some of my closest friends came over to eat, laugh and make memories. We didn’t take many pictures, because we were all too busy living in the moment, but I did manage to find this gem. It truly captures how full of joy I was that night. I think those are the best types of photographs- ones that capture rare moments and raw emotions. They speak for themselves.

I took the whole week off from work to relax and find my inner zen. We all deserve to find a peace of mind and make time for yourself, so I considered this a little birthday present to myself. It felt nice having time to focus on me again, doing the things that I love and the things I never get a chance to do.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next thing on the birthday week list was traveling to Orlando, FL! We stayed in a hotel that was a walk away from Disney Springs (AKA the newest part of Downtown Disney). I must say, Disney really outdid themselves. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of Downtown Disney, but this new portion carries you away to another world. Sometimes I questioned if I was still in Florida.

The next day we had an early start and headed to Discovery Cove! We were greeted at the entrance by a friendly sloth. I was honestly freaking out because how often do you get to pet a sloth??Image-1.jpgWe all geared up in our wet suits and set off for a day of adventures. We snorkeled with fish, sharks and stingrays and we relaxed in lazy rivers. It was absolute bliss.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetHere’s the squad geared up for our SeaVenture. We put on a huge helmet/tank over our heads; they kept our faces completely dry and provided us with lots of oxygen. We walked around on the sandy floor as fish and stingrays swam above us, under us and right by our sides. DSC_0086Our last stop was Sea World! We got rained out towards the end, but still saw lots of awesome fish and rode crazy rides.

Overall, I had a lovely birthday. It was filled with so many surprises, from trying new things to spending time with the people I love dearly. Heres to 19!

hello 19!

photo diary | NYC (& a video)

With little sleep the night before, our flight left at 7 a.m. sharp and Joshua and I could not contain out excitement. Not only were we looking forward to our first flight together, but simply the fact that we would be spending the next few days in New York City.

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When we arrived, my uncle took us to two local parks in the Bronx. The weather was gloomy, making the trees and plants pop with color and life. The bridge pictured in the second photograph is the Throgs Neck Bridge.

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The next day we ventured into the heart of the city: Manhattan. The car ride alone had Joshua and I jumping out of our seats. His head was practically glued to the window in complete awe of the buildings and life that surrounded us.

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This photograph shows my Aunt and Uncle taking in the peaceful atmosphere created by the 9/11 Memorial. Despite living nearby, this was their first time stepping foot into the area since the time of the attacks. You could see the appreciation and remembrance in their eyes, as I’m sure they felt it in their hearts.

Views from the One World Trade Center: both daytime and night.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Crosstown Diner. It was quite rainy that day so we stayed inside relaxing- until we heard a little tune cruising down the street. MISTER SOFTEE! We don’t have Mister Softee ice cream trucks in Florida, so Joshua and I hopped on that, bare feet and all.

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Before being dropped off at LaGuardia airport on our final day, we decided to take in some breathtaking final views. My uncle took us to spots in the Bronx with the BEST views of the city skyline. An unforgettable trip followed by an unforgettable view.

photo diary | NYC (& a video)

photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

This past weekend was filled with many exciting, new adventures. Something I have never done in my life is gone strawberry picking- or any kind of fruit, at that. My parents did a little research and were able to find this adorable little strawberry farm (Brown’s Farm; Hawthorne, FL) just a few hours away from where we live! We arrived and my mind was absolutely spinning from all of the beautiful colors and smells.

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We were able to bring home several GIANT buckets of strawberries. I think we ended up paying around $20 for it all, which, in my opinion, is completely worth it. Store bought strawberries can cost around $4 and are picked, selected and often times gassed by someone else. These were straight off of the vine and picked with my own two hands! There was something so relieving about picking my own food- this experience has inspired me to hand pick fruits more often. Plus, it was seriously one of the funnest, most unique things I’ve done in a while.

The other adventure that I experienced for the first time, was visiting the fair! I’ve been to a few smaller fairs before, but never the annual Clay County Fair. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida for quite some time now, and everyone is always incredibly surprised when they find out that I’ve never been to the fair. This year I was determined to change that. I went at night with Joshua, Jenaya and Steven and had an absolute blast. We went on every ride until our stomachs were turning. The food was also notably interesting: FRIED BUBBLEGUM. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it’s… delicious. Anyway, I had an amazing time and 10/10 did not die on the rides.

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photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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“January 18, 2016. For most people today is a free day off from work or from school. Martin Luther King Jr. Day does not hold a  true meaning to many Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a husband, father, minister, activist, and – more importantly – a leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King practiced nonviolent civil disobedience and served as a voice of hope for people of color from 1955 to the day he was assassinated in 1968. Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 at the March on Washington in Birmingham, Alabama. This speech has gone on to represent the hope African Americans had and still have that one day the world will not be classified by the color of one’s skin, but by their actions and their character.

Fifty-three years after his death, his “dreams” are gradually becoming more and more noticeable in everyday life. In the work place, a person cannot be turned away from work due to the color of their skin. Schools consist of students pertaining to almost every race possible. Everyone is granted access to the same bathrooms and water fountains. The race issue is finally over isn’t it? No, racism and segregation are still very prevelent in today’s society and are still just as hurtful.

 I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk to an interracial couple who are beginning to make the climb into the social media spotlight. Joshua Henderson,20, and Kayla Catalano,18, have recently made their two-year relationship more public to their followers on various platforms such as Phhhoto. The two take their followers on adventures with them and create a situation where the followers are left wondering “what’s next?” Between the two of them, they have accumulated 5336 followers and over 80k likes in just thirty weeks, however most of the content is featured on Kayla’s constantly growing account.

 I took my seat in the self proclaimed “hipster coffee shop” across from the couple. Their body language confirming the idea they were crazy about each other. Joshua complimented Kayla and she grinned. Their playful flirting continued as we waited for our coffee to brew. I found myself wondering how someone could look at the two of them and not see two people sharing innocent love, but black and white- not even humans- just colors. Immediately my mind was thinking of more and more questions to pick their brains on and I could not wait for the interview to begin.

 Five minutes later our coffee arrived and it was go time. I wanted to see what it was like having a relationship be something people looked up to but at the same time looked down upon, and once I started asking questions I couldn’t stop.”

What was the initial response when you told your families you were dating a person of a different race?

Joshua:
“My parents didn’t really care. In my family there are a bunch of interracial couples already. My uncle’s wife is white, my aunt’s boyfriend is white, and I have a bunch of mixed cousins. They really didn’t care. It was normal.”

Kayla:
“My parents were like ‘What?'” *chuckle* “Yeah, they weren’t really thrilled because they didn’t know him. It was also my first boyfriend too so that didn’t help. It was like ‘Boyfriend! What? Black! What?’ They love him though, they hang out without me. It was just shocking at first.”

Do you believe racism still exists?

Joshua:
“Most definitely”

Kayla:
“Yes!”

How does the public on social media generally take seeing an interracial couple?

Joshua:
“Yeah, interracial couples have become such a, not a trend, but, a big thing now and you know its more smiled upon than frowned upon and people love it.”

Kayla:
“They are happy for us and excited and ‘Yay, Interracial!’

How does the general public usually take seeing an interracial couple walking down the street?

Joshua:
“It’s a lot of looks from older people just from a different time. Younger people usually just judge our outfits.”

Kayla:
“We get a lot of weird looks, A LOT. Like double takes. It’s mostly from older folk… older white folk. I’ve even gotten some looks from older black people. It’s really just older folk in general, you know, the older times. They’re usually like ‘what?’ Younger people are okay with it because they know that it’s okay now and older people are like ‘back in my day..'”

How do you guys feel when people consider you as playing into the stereotype of the “Black guy dating the white girl”?

Joshua:
“It’s about to get pretty serious. I feel like today everyone wants to go with the whole ‘Black guys only want the white girls and white girls loving the black guys’ type of thing, but for me I was attracted to her personality before anything else and hopefully she was attracted to my personality before anything. I think we were both raised to see color, but for it to not be a big factor or anything like that. So, when people are ‘Oh, you’re doing the whole stereotypical- you only like white girls’ No, I think every one is beautiful in their own way. I only like Kayla, but it’s just like that. I don’t know, people are weird.”

Kayla:
“I feel like it’s super messed up because they don’t have the right to judge us, they don’t know us, they don’t know the type of people we are and how respectful our relationship is.”

What advice do you have for other interracial couples or for people who are thinking about getting in an interracial relationship, but are scared of what other people might think?

Joshua:
“Just do it. You love who you love and screw what other people think. Make sure you tell your loved ones and don’t keep it a secret because that’s just adding to racism.”

Kayla:
“Do what your heart is telling you. The heart knows what it wants.”

How do you guys keep your relationship strong?

Joshua:
“The main thing is to always be honest and trustworthy. We go out and make it exciting. We make sure that spending time together never dies, never gets dull, and never gets boring.”

Kayla:
“Oh wow, well, honestly it took a lot of time to become strong- almost two years. We had to really learn about each other and what we both want from each other and how to respect one another. But, honestly the keys are to just be honest with your partner and yourself and to have trust. We just love each other and have fun.”

To view the whole interview, visit Jenn’s blog here: http://jenayalauren.wix.com/jennuinethoughts

All credit for this article goes to Jennuine Thoughts©

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

2 years with him

We started as best friends. We were inseparable- only through texting of course. I knew his favorite color: forrest green, and he knew mine. If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is. We remained best friends from my freshmen year all the way until my junior year. I was there for him while he vented to me about his girl problems. If only he knew I had the biggest crush on him, I would think. However, I bit my tongue and accepted the role as ‘The Best Friend’. In November of my junior year my family and I took a week long cruise. Joshua and I realized that our texting streak would soon come to a halt. It was during this period of separation that we realized our true feelings for one another. On January 6th, 2014 he sat me down and asked me to be his girlfriend. Two years ago I didn’t understand how much of an impact the word “yes” would have. I didn’t know about the beautiful memories that we would soon make together. But I also didn’t know how difficult relationships could be. The first year together was filled with many ups and downs. Not only was the transition from best friends to a couple difficult, but awkward as well. We quickly had to learn how to deal with one another on a much more intimate level. We both experienced very personal emotions and feelings together. He learned things like how cranky I get when I’m hungry, while I discovered how often he forgets his wallet at home. Being together for two years taught us to ensure I’m always fed, along with a reminder to bring his wallet- all done with smiles on our faces. Ultimately we’re growing and learning together. The more experiences and hardships we go through, the stronger we become as a team. I couldn’t be in a happier place with him, though. With the love and care he provides me, every day is a happy one.

 

2 years with him