Please help – Grad School!

Hello all! It’s that time of the year for students – FINALS!!! I’m in the process of writing a TWENTY page final for my Tourism Attractions class at CSU Fullerton. This paper focuses on the Marketing and promotional techniques used by a local attraction – Glen Ivy Hot Springs. Part of the paper requires me to conduct a survey, which you will find below!

Please click HERE to take my super short survey & help me finish this paper!!

Thank you to all who participate, you are amazing people!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I know this holiday’s origins are controversial *cue Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”* but I hope you all have a wonderful holiday spending time with your loved ones!

If, like me, you’re preparing for finals, take a break today & try to de-stress – I’m sure you deserve it!

Enjoy your day, eat lots of delicious food, & leave me a comment letting me know how you celebrated!

#MeToo

As many of you may know, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, women are taking to social media with the message of #MeToo to indicate that they also have been the victims of sexual abuse/harassment/assault. This is being done in the hopes that people will see the scope of the problem & realize that this is a very widespread problem that has hit nearly all women in some way.

Although I previously have spoken about my experience with domestic violence, I never really go into much detail, for a few reasons.
1. This is MY story & I will share what I want, with who I want, when I feel comfortable. While I 100% see the value in speaking out to shut down someone like Harvey Weinstein, that is not my situation. There is no legal action that could be brought upon my abuser any more, I am safe, I am happy, & I feel like my healing is better done through other methods, rather than sharing with the internet. Although, again, I support those that choose to speak out & search for healing & help in whatever ways they think best.
2. I’m not 100% convinced that randomly discussing private problems on public forums does anything except spread my business around & drudge up memories I’m trying to move past. If I volunteer for a charity, like I did with TAPS in July, & it seems relevant to mention WHY I’m invested in a charity like that, then yes, I will explain a little.
3. I want to live my life forward. I don’t want to spend creative energy on posts & videos about something that makes me sad. I want to talk to you guys about amazing books I’m reading, or fun make up looks, or new music I can’t stop listening to!

Why then, am I writing this now?

As I’ve watched nearly all of my female Facebook friends come forward with #MeToo posts, I’ve considered joining them, but have mixed emotions for the above reasons. I have enjoyed posts that say, “Survivors don’t owe you their story” or that men should be part of this narrative as well, but one status in particular struck a nerve. The person wrote, “Please don’t be afraid to speak up. You let that person win by remaining silent”

OH HELL NO.
OH HELLLLLLLLLL NO.
OH. HELL. NO!

This person meant well & has a good heart, but statements like these are why I tend to shy away from putting my personal beliefs on the internet. Even with the best intentions, you never know who you’ll offend/trigger. Triggering & offending people on the internet is a topic we can discuss another day. I’m not here to offer a solution. I’m not saying, “Oh because we never know who you’ll offend or trigger, we should all stay silent!” NOPE. Not here to say that at all. What I am here to do is respond to this person’s statement because it made me FEEL. SO. MUCH. that a simple FB status wasn’t going to cut it.

As mentioned above, Survivors don’t owe anyone their story. My story is just that – MINE. MY journey. MY healing process. MY life. MY CHOICE. Choosing to live my own way is something my abuser took away from me. Even after we broke up, I lived in fear of making my own decisions because I was never sure which one was going to cause him to reach out to me – something he continues to do periodically even now, even though we’ve been broken up for 4 years. Which selfie would get “Liked” almost immediately after posting it? Would a different one elicit a comment or, worse, a text? How do I prove that I DON’T WANT THIS?!!?
This was at a time in my recovery where I did not understand that I really have nothing to do with his interactions with me. I could’ve posted a picture of cheese & crackers & he would’ve reached out just to prove that he was still watching & could elicit a response from me, which meant attention for him. For those wondering why this individual was not blocked, trust me, that tactic was tried with negative results & now it’s merely an irritation, rather than a full on stressor like it used to be.

The bottom line is…

I have made the choice to be the heroine of my story – a tagline I’m sure you’re familiar with, if you’re familiar with this blog. Thank you to Nora Ephron for inspiring me with the quote, “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim”. To the well meaning FB motivator urging “me” not to be afraid to speak up & saying that “I’m” letting my abuser win by remaining silent…I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but you don’t get to dictate who wins and loses in a game you aren’t even playing. My abuser will not win – no matter what. If I stay silent or shout my story from the rooftops of Orange County, that is my choice – something my abuser will never take from me again. Every day I live on my own terms, I WIN. Not him, never again. This is my game. I am the winner, I am the champion, I am victorious, a fighter, a heroine.

Edit: I want to make really clear, this is my response to that statement as I interpreted it regarding my current situation. I fully support & encourage speaking out about any form of abuse and support those on the very difficult road from victim to hero/heroine. If I had my life to live over, I would’ve spoken up, I would’ve taken legal action, but I didn’t, & it’s too late for me now. I will never know the victory of having my abuser formally punished, so I have to take my victories in other ways. Just wanted to make clear that I’m not trying to shame anyone into silence, this was a response geared with my current situation specifically in mind.

#Happy4thofJuly! @TAPSOrg @Macys @GotYourSix @ShopBreaMall – #StoryTime !

Hey everyone!! I know it’s been a hot minute…I think of you all often & how I can engage with you (Follow my Social Media @MissAl_Leigh for more active engagement!) on a more regular basis & my current game plan is…to not have as much of a game plan. I’m going to try to relax & see what comes naturally. My first thought is that means more Blogs/Vlogs that are just me talking to you, story time!

Today’s Story Time is something I also discussed last year, click here to read that post! I am proud to say that I was again invited to speak at Macy’s at the Brea Mall regarding a promotion they have with Got Your Six. Today is the last day of the promo so if you’re a Macy’s fan or want to support this group effort, make your way to a store ASAP, give $3 & get a 25% Discount Pass – 100% of the profits will go towards benefitting the groups I’m talking about today & more! I was specifically speaking on behalf of a non profit I’ve volunteered for – TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

My purpose for going to Macy’s is not really to discuss the promotion or the Charities in great detail. That information is given to the employees & easily accessible online – if you’re interested, please click the links above! My purpose is to tell my story & put a face to a name so that when they’re trying to encourage Guests to spend the $3 they can use me as a talking point or a frame of reference in their mind like, “Hmm, if someone “like her” could benefit, maybe this Guest will have a connection as well”. I am not the typical “military charity beneficiary”, after what I’ve been through most people are surprised I still volunteer at all, but that’s the type of person I want to be. I don’t want my demons to stop me from being a source of learning, growth, & positivity.  I will admit, these presentations are extremely stressful, writing this post is hugely challenging, especially because of the fear that the co-star of my story or his family will see this. Unfortunately for him, I will no longer be silenced.

About 6 years ago (Wow! Time flies.) I met a guy & we fell head over heels. Sounds great except that, even with all the demons I’d danced with, I’d never seen anything like his dance card. He was/is a Veteran, a Reservist in the Marine Corps, and had semi-recently come back from a tour in Iraq where he was on the front, serving our country as a “Grunt”. He had seen and done things that I will never understand & I thank him for that. I quickly became invested in “the cause”, doing research & becoming well versed on PTSD/TBI, Veteran’s rights/causes, & volunteering.
A wonderful relationship quickly became sour and eventually dangerous due to a combination of being too young/immature, moving too fast, and his refusal to seek help for PTSD. There are, of course, many versions to this story, but I think that sentence sums it up best. I stayed for 2 years, through a cycle of abuse & apologies. The hilarious part – HE LEFT ME. It was the best thing that ever happened to me but I felt like I had died. I felt like HE had died. This was not just giving up a guy, this was my LIFE. We had lived together, we knew each other’s families, we were “engaged to be engaged”, we had PLANS. I knew in my head that being with someone with that much rage was only going to end badly for me, but my heart kept telling me, “Be strong, stand by him. He’s going to get help & everything will go back to normal”.
It was extremely difficult for me to move on, especially because I felt so passionate about Veteran’s causes but now had no outlet. I tried to continue volunteering but every face looked like his, every voice sounded like him, it was too much. By chance, I stumbled upon TAPS, a group for SURVIVORS. They focus on those left behind when someone in the military passes away. I appreciated that their outreach included even the most seemingly removed people, random classmates, civilian co workers, GIRLFRIENDS – not just immediate family & fellow Vets. Additionally, the death could happen in any way, car accident, cancer, etc, not just war-related, so I felt like I had some “room to talk” based on the deaths I had been exposed to in my family. I have enjoyed volunteering with them ever since as often as I can because I feel I can identify with their volunteers & the recipients of their cause.

That is roughly the story I shared at Macy’s last Thursday morning in the hopes that it would make people think. Hopefully it makes you think & encourages you to get involved in whatever causes you’re passionate about. On another note, if you’re at all curious, I HAVE moved on & have been dating an AMAZING guy for almost a year, our anniversary is July 9th! He was my friend through the whole above mentioned ordeal & I’m grateful that the dark road I once walked down led me to the place I’m at now.
Thank you for reading, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or write me an email about anything I’ve discussed here – don’t be shy, I certainly was not!

Announcement! Grad School

Happy December!

I can’t believe 2016 is almost over – thank goodness! It’s been a weird year for all of us it seems, so let’s hope 2017 brings some much needed positive change. Speaking of which…I posted about something on social media earlier – @MissAl_Leigh on Twitter & Instagram – that I also wanted to mention here.

I have been accepted to Cal State Fullerton’s Graduate School where I will earn my Master’s Degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Tourism & Entertainment!

I’m really nervous for this new adventure, but I’m excited to be going back to SoCal. While it seems like I would be even busier, I anticipate having MORE time to spend on the blog/vlog as I will only be in school two days a week with no job YET. I’m sure that will change as I find work & school picks up, but we’ll climb the hills & valleys together as always 🙂

Thank you for the continued support & stay tuned for upcoming vlogs like Food Friday & a Winter Haul! As always, please FOLLOW, COMMENT, SHARE, & LIKE!

Arizona Adventures!

Hey everyone!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!

This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.

Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂

Beauty Deals 2.0

Sunday Book Club – Postponed! 

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the late notice but this week’s SBC, “Turn Of Mind” by Alice LaPlante, will be postponed until next week! I’ve been on many adventures this weekend that you will see recapped soon & unfortunately don’t have time to put the post up. Many apologies! Lo siento! I’m sorry!

Mom, me, Danny, & Aunt Millie at the West Edge Opera in Oakland