defeated but not deterred after failing to become spartan warrior


It is Sunday night and I’ve just awakened, but my body is still heavy from sleep.

I am 8 pounds lighter than I was yesterday morning. I have scrapes, blistered hands, muscles that need endless foam rolling, a huge bump and bruise on my right butt cheek from falling on jagged rocks and many, many stories.

In preparation for my Spartan Race (which I wrote about last week), I knew there was a good chance The Tralfamadorian Terrapins would not make it to the finish line, would not become Spartans. I can’t tell you how exactly I wanted the end to come if Justin and I could not finish, but me getting the onset of heat stroke was not what I had in mind.

We were competing in our first Reebok Spartan Race (a Super that was roughly 8 miles in length with more than 24 obstacles and difficult terrain) last Saturday at Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

My internal organs were shutting down at some point around mile four or five (the halfway mark), and for some reason, that’s not “good” enough for me. I was hoping my removal from the course would have had something to do with a crazy injury like falling 30 feet off a cargo net, breaking my ankle from slipping down a muddy cliff, getting caught on fire as I jumped over burning logs, or anything that got me medevac’ed off the mountain.

Even though heat stroke was unexpected, I can’t help blame myself and feel like I didn’t prepare enough, that I somehow could have prevented my removal from the race.

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cb east grad to compete in grueling spartan race

rock climbing

“Trust the left butt cheek, Stacey, trust it,” my fellow climbers instructed from below, safely planted on the ground at Doylestown Rock Gym. “Yes, that’s it! Grab the red rock that looks like a butt. Now, bring your right foot down so you can spread out.”

The hard part was next: trusting myself to let go with my right hand to grab hold of the next rock.

I had to move forward.

But could I do it when my fingertips ached and the chalk sweat off my already torn-up and blistered palms? Could I do it even when I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hand into my chalk bag to get a better grip?

I was about to find out.

Be brave.

My left leg acted as a pendulum as I reached the next rock in the V1+ bouldering problem, swinging out from under me, away from the inward slanting wall, before crashing back into it with the force of my entire body.

All I could focus on at that moment was the purple bruise already visible on my kneecap as I plummeted into a free fall.

This moment was when my confidence soared, because all fear of failure left me.

I felt like Tris Prior from “The Divergent” trilogy when she decided to become the first jumper among the Dauntless Initiates.

But I am not a Dauntless Initiate.

I am a Spartan in training.

This Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at the Blue Mountain Ski Area in Palmerton, Carbon County, a gun will sound, and among a wave of 248 strangers, my boyfriend Justin and I will begin running our first Spartan Race.

As novices, we ignored reason and recommendation.

It’s recommended that since Spartan claims anyone can take on The Sprint (the easiest race level that’s three to five miles with 20-plus obstacles) and finish it — even without training — we should run this race first.

But Justin and I aren’t just anyone. We’re a nerdy fit couple who enjoy reading “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” when we’re not hard at work training by playing skee-ball (I’m joking … joking).

That being said, we’re taking on The Super (Spartan’s intermediate race that’s eight to 10 miles with 24-plus obstacles) as Team Tralfamadorian Terrapins.

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going confidently in the direction of my dreams: my decision to take a year off from school


To my dear friends and family, Happy November! I hope it’s treating you as well as it’s treating me. I originally wasn’t going to blog about this…yet… but as I was cleaning up my room, putting away textbooks, and listening to The Script, this decision hit me pretty hard.

In a month’s time, I’ll be packing up my belongings as I take a year off from school. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to take a gap year. Everyone who does so has a reason; since I’m not them, I don’t know what their journey is like. I don’t know if their decision to take one is carefree, but mine is emotional.


Ruby Jones Hall

Since I made my decision last month, I’ve been ecstatic about it. I know it’s the right thing to do. So, if I know that, why have I started to cry about it so much? I believe the reason behind the emotion is the fact that I came to college thinking all my questions would be solved. Not only have they not been answered, but I’ve come to a realization that college is not right for me at this time.

Let me just say how much I love West Chester, and if you’ve visited, you know how much I brag about my school. There is nothing I don’t like. I feel well-adjusted, my dorm room is comfy and my roommate is nice, I have great friends and even better professors.

If I love West Chester so much, why am I leaving? It’s hard to explain, but taking a year off feels like the right thing to do. It’s hard not to be depressed from not having enough hours in the day to do what I want, especially when I time manage to my full capability! When I have a full course load, writing comes second. When I return to school next year that will once again become reality. So, why not do something that makes me happy?

Like, I mentioned earlier, I was listening to The Script when I felt compelled to write this blog post. Out of nowhere “It’s Not Right For You” came on and the lyrics made me stop what I was doing and just listen.

She said, “Is this the life you’ve been dreaming of

Spending half the day away from the things you love?

It’s not too late to do something new.”

She said, “It’s hard enough trying to live your life.

But not following your dreams made you dead inside.

If you don’t love what you do.”

Right now, my heart is in my throat as I reflect on what brought me to this decision. I believe the inspiration to take a gap year came the day I hung up photos from this summer in the shape of a heart on my closet doors. This past summer I traveled out to California, and I came face to face with thousands of people’s dreams being shaped into reality. I had a chance to reflect upon this as I hung up photos. Something amazing happened. My motivation to write and make something of it was kickstarted for the first time in who knows how long.


This next year, I’m swinging for a home-run, and I’ll be lucky if I can get a single. But you should know that I’m not afraid to strike out. If you’re curious, here are my plans for the next 14-months:

  1. Finish my book series and start sending my manuscript out to agents.
  2. To create a platform via this blog. I’ll be taking you guys on the journey with me.
  3. Create YouTube videos that cover my experience with mental neuroses and bereavement. Add in the occasional slam poem.
  4. Figure out how to give motivational speeches in schools. Because, thanks to my website and social media, I’ve had people from all over the world (Australia, Ohio, Michigan, California, Texas, and South Africa) see my Pride speech. They’ve contacted me. They’ve all asked if motivational speaking is something I do, and when I say no, they say I should. I agree.
  5. I will refurbish the house and get it in great shape for my daddy.
  6. I understand that religion isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m taking time to grow closer to God. I’ve been letting Him back into my life for the first time in years. I believe in Him, and I know He will show me how to believe in myself. I’ve never read the Bible, so how great will that be to enlighten my mornings with that and a cup of coffee?

Family has been supportive, yet critical. Some, believing they know best have been disapproving of my decision. I don’t know if it is because they’re older or what that they think they know how I should go about living life, but they don’t know better. Nobody knows better than myself. I have to live my life the way I see it, and trust me, I’m prepared for miles of trials and tribulations.

If I have learned one thing in these past 8 months since my mom passed away, it would be that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so why harbor any regrets? I only have one life to live, and I’m prepared to love what I do. That being said, I don’t believe in bucket lists, nor do I not believe in coulda-shoulda-woulda-beens.

I’m going to share with you some of their thoughts and feelings, and I’m prepared to explain myself:

  1.  “You’re never going to get back the memories of your Freshman year.” Well, maybe… but who says I can’t make different memories? I’ll be returning for the Spring 2016 semester. With only 15 credits right now, I’ll still be considered a freshman. So, I’m not done making memories quite yet!
  2. “You won’t have a normal college experience.” Who is to say what’s normal? My life has been anything from “ordinary” so why start now? College isn’t the same for

    How you view me is not how I view the world. Let me help you look through my eyes.

    everyone– there is no such thing as a normal college experience. Coming to DubC, I had plans of rushing a sorority because one of my cousins (who I look up to tremendously) joined one.I realized that’s not for me. Instead I started training for the radio station. Would that be considered normal or abnormal? If you think “normal” is studying all week just to party on the weekends, then my view of college is a little different from yours. That’s okay!

  3. “Once you leave college, you probably won’t go back.” I intend to obtain my degrees through hard work. I have plans on receiving  a PhD from the Writing Center at the University of Iowa. The question is—will I get there from where I am now? Probably not. So, the better question is, what can I do to get there? Frank A. Clark once said, “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” By staying at West Chester and “going through the motions” I don’t believe I’m going to end up anywhere meaningful.
  4. “How are you going to support yourself?” I’m very lucky to have a father who gave me a full year off when I asked for a semester. If you’re asking me about how I will support myself when I’m independent and a full adult (which, by the way, is stereotyping all English majors), I’ll do what needs to be done. If I’m not making a sufficient amount of money from selling books, I’ll teach (not because “those who can do, and those who can’t teach,” but because I love helping and inspiring others). As long as I can support a family in the future, I’ll be happy. I don’t need a million dollars to survive, because what good is that when I’m dead?
  5. “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll lose the friends that you’ve made?” Luckily, I have a fantastic car named Jenny that can get me to DubC in about an hour every once in a while if I choose. Do you really think I can stay away from Cathey’s Coffee Bar? I also have a cell phone and social media. If I should lose touch with my friends, who says they can’t come back into my life? Life is like a train, we all have to get off at our designated stops. And with that, there is a great quote that reads, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I’m thankful nonetheless.
  6. “Do you think you’re better at writing than your professors? Do you have such a big ego that you feel like you won’t benefit from a great education?” By taking a year off to write, I’m not saying I know more than what I’m being taught here in college; however, I’m not learning what I need. I’m not learning about how to get an agent or how to get published. Currently, I’m doing myself a disservice by not writing and reading everyday. You’ve all heard the Dr. Seuss quote,“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Just so you know, I don’t even have time to read my required lit books during the day, so I’m not learning all that much in English194. Obviously, it is clear that taking writing classes will help my writing ability. However, if you have read my blog post about writing courses, they can’t work wonders. Writing classes will give me information about different skills [i.e. this is how parallel structure works] but it’s up to me to apply and practice the skills. When I walk into a lecture with 300+ students, am I learning how to inspire people through YouTube videos or motivational speeches?
  7. “It’s not healthy to spend so much time alone.” It’s cool. I’ll have my three dogs to keep me company. I’ve always been an introvert and I think that’s just as healthy as it is to be an extrovert. If there is anything that I’ve learned over the past few months is that college and dormitories are places for extroverts where introverts are forced to fit in. I’ve learned how to socialize more in the past two months than I ever learned in four years of high school. Anyway, I think I’ll manage. Look on the bright side; by being at home there will be no one to distract me from writing!
  8. “Who in your life is going to tell you you’re good enough?” I will. I am. I’m good enough and I need to believe in myself. And just because I say I’m good enough doesn’t mean I’m not going to fail when I get rejection slip after rejection slip.

It’s time I start being selfish with my interests and living life. If I have this opportunity now, why not take it?

How I want to live my life may not be how you choose to live yours. With only one life to live, I choose to not stay in college full-time just because society deems it an acceptable step after high school. I want my life to be full of overpowering memories that bring me to tears. Memories like taking a stroll on a fine autumn day, brushing my hand through the leaves, and being able to breathe clearly for the first time in months. Memories like going out to California and falling in love with everything I see; sneaking around studio lots and believing in potential. Going on eight-hour hikes with views that startled me just to open my mind that what I see day-to-day is not all that there is to this world. To walk in a used bookshop and see thousands of books stacked to the ceiling knowing that I will never read all of them.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-1-42-41-pmMemories like going to Wawa to buy newspapers with my articles in it every Friday morning of senior year, and still having a fantastic day even if it meant I was late to school. Memories like being bold enough to talk about how I would take a blade to my skin just to cope for my once outlandish fear of being different. Memories like being curious enough to Facebook message a boy I hardly knew and to fall head over heels in love with him. Memories of hope after waking up the morning after losing someone I can never replace and realizing that I was still alive. I am alive. I am human. I have hopes and dreams. I’m not going to accomplish gaining those types of memories by stressing over schoolwork and watching Netflix in my dorm room. Where I am now is not going to get me where I want to go.

It’s time for me to roll the dice and not panic as I move back home… proud.

cheap ways to beat summer boredom


Go wherever the wind takes you

Summer vacation is a gift, but sometimes the excitement fades fast, especially during the dog days. After getting back from vacation, I’ve been all caught up in my mundane daily routine. It’s during this time I forget there is an entire world out there waiting to be discovered!

So, what’s my go-to solution? Take a car trip and go wherever the wind takes me! Get in the car with all your friends, pitch in a few bucks for gas (and snacks), bring a mixed CD with all your favorite tunes (don’t count on excellent radio service) and hit the road without the guidance of the GPS.

My latest adventure with my friends took me through Nockamixon, in the boonies where there’s no cell service, and to Bowman’s Tower. It was such a crazy trip with laughs, excitement and ghost stories. The night ended with a bonfire at some random park my pals and I never knew existed!

This fun trip will be sure to be mentioned in the “Remember when …” conversations my friends and I have for years to come.

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california culture shock: an “idiots” guide to l.a.

culture shock

The journey didn’t start when I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan.

Nor did it start when I crossed “listen to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ when I land at LAX for the first time” off my bucket list.

It more so started when I hit the infamous traffic on the 405 and 101, and my expectations were slightly crushed. Nothing looked as glamorous or as exciting as it did on television, and after 23 days, I have yet to see a “celebrity” with my own eyes.

OK, OK, so that’s not the reason I came out to the Pacific Coast … but still.

With my bustling and artsy hometown of Doylestown 3,000 miles away, I’ve had to make necessary lifestyle adjustments to feel fully ingrained in this foreign society.

Here are some key cultural differences any tourist or potential resident needs to appreciate in order to love the Golden Coast:

1. Get used to earth tones

Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are in the middle of a drought. Besides the palm trees and colorful Jacaranda trees in bloom, you have to embrace the fact that brown is beautiful. The cliffs of Santa Monica aren’t lush like the hills of the Poconos. They’re just covered in dirt and rocks; however, as long as there are no mudslides or forest fires, one can say they’re still beautiful.

2. Grass not always greener

Even though I just mentioned that L.A. is in a drought and citizens should be conserving water, there are always multiple houses that have perfectly conditioned green, lush lawns, while neighbors have lawns of hay.

3. Watch Fido carefully

I’m not saying domestic animals get along with wild creatures back East, but circumstances seem to be even rougher out West. For example, coyotes can (and will) attack pets like cats. Also, did you know there are rattlesnake venom shots and an entire protocol people actually follow if their pet gets bit?

4. Classes have class

I recently graduated from Central Bucks East, a typical, single-building high school that sometimes felt like a jail. Out here, California schools seem to have so much freedom. Due to the dry weather conditions (and many other factors), it is much more feasible for schools to have bungalow classroom buildings, offices and outdoor walkways available for students to shuffle between classes.

5. Urban sprawl at its best

Los Angeles is unlike the condensed, 142 square miles of Philadelphia. L.A. is extremely spread out, and there is no single “city” where Hollywood movie magic or record deals happens. The city expands 468 square miles, with Hollywood right smack in the middle. There are 16 regions in Los Angeles County, with numerous neighborhoods in each.

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