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Let’s talk about 2016

What do we do with things we don’t like? We put them in the cupboard. – Doctor Who

There have been way too many moments throughout 2016 where I thought it needed to go in the cupboard. Both in my personal and professional life, I suffered heartache. I felt helpless and useless and simply put, destroyed. There were days that the outside world didn’t help this turmoil.

Yes, this year was awful in a lot of aspects.

On more than one occasion, I said that 2016 was trying to take the title of “Worst Year of My Life” away from 2006.

But here’s the thing.

It…really wasn’t.

I know. Look. I’m watching my home country essentially burn to the ground from the other side of the world. The country I’ve chosen to call home is doing some pretty…scary things on a large scale too. It’s a downright scary world right now.

I’ve had friends lose loved ones and have felt helpless with tending to their heartbreak. I’ve had loved ones leave my life when I was no longer useful to them. I’ve felt helpless on more occasions than I’d care to count.

But as a survivor, I can’t help but focus on the positives. The lessons. The silver linings. The days I made it through without a bad thought. The ability to laugh through the tears. The strength to ask for help.

2016 brought me a lot of good things too, which is why I’ve had the strength to make it this far.

I’ve got this incredible support system. My brother and his girlfriend moved out to Seattle, just a few minutes from me. After years of being single, I met a man who worked his “I hate taking pictures” self into my heart. One of my best friends brought a tiny human into this world and I got to hold him when he was just a few hours old. I took risks. I tried new things. I had my best friend of 14 years come out to Seattle for my birthday. I pushed myself to new challenges in my career. I left the country to cross the border into Canada and then flew to Bangkok.

I took risks. I tried new things. I pushed myself to new challenges in my career. I went to my first Seahawks game and cheered until I nearly lost my voice.

I drank way too much. I risked my health. I made stupid mistakes and even stupider decisions. I drank way too much coffee. I didn’t drink enough coffee. I took way too many selfies. I didn’t sleep enough. I gave into depression and slept too much.

But, the thing is, I lived. I keep living. I keep getting up every morning and even when I’m frustrated, I’m trying to create something – anything with my life.

Because my life is all I have. This is it. The good days, the bad days, the “I can’t keep going but have to” days.

I can’t control the world. I can’t control the people who choose to break my heart. I can’t prevent my heart breaking  because I can’t stop being who I am.

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason.” ― Anaïs Nin

I’m a giver. I love too hard. I’m overly anxious. I give second chances. If I have to, I’m ready to give the shirt off my back to someone who needs it, even if I need to be cold for a while.

In 2016, I learned to finally really let go. I reconnected with my past selves and remembered my strengths before I let the world get to me. I remembered that my life makes sense when I’m unapologetically being me – because no one else can live my life. No one else should tell me how I can live my life.

It’s hard. At times, it’s lonely. But this is the only life I have.

So, yeah, 2016, you were kind of an asshole. There’s no guarantee that 2017 will be any better. Hell, it might be worse.

So, it’s time to buckle up and decide: How do you want to remember your 2017? How do you want to react to the world? How will you continue to be you in a world of chaos?

 

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Self-Care Doesn’t Take a Holiday

December is such a weird month for me. It’s always been full of new beginnings and sometimes, terrifying endings. I know that the holidays bring out a lot of emotions for everyone, no matter what’s going on in your life.

I’ve come a long way since I ran away to a new life when I packed my car and drove to Seattle four years ago. 21 years ago, my family and I made a similar journey when we moved from Turkey to the U.S.

At 31 years old, I’m finally feeling like I’ve got a good handle on life. I’ve got a solid career path, a group of friends I can finally trust to be there but also know when I need to be alone. I’m in a healthy relationship (we just passed the 9-month mark, what!). Most importantly, my baby brother and his girlfriend are now living in Seattle.

Life is good.

Life is emotional.

It’s the constant struggle, isn’t it – to feel sad even though you’ve got a lot of things right in your life? “Things could be worse,” we tell ourselves. I tell myself that all the time.

I also allow myself to feel the sadness and anxiety that comes up because they are part of who I am. I need to process feelings to understand where they come from, and maybe, help me become a better person.

That’s the beauty of being human. We can feel conflicting feelings all at once, defining who we are at a given moment by choosing to embrace the positive ones as the negative ones run their course.

I know I’m not alone in this.

We feel guilty at this time of year if we personally cannot live up to the standard to be ever-cheerful and happy and joyful. — Dr. Arthur Hayward, Kaiser Permanente

Whether you’re spending your holidays surrounded by family and friends, or not – remember that self-care doesn’t take a holiday. In fact, it’s more important than ever. What you’re going through matters, whether it’s good or sad. I want you to remember that too.

Here are a few tips for practicing self-care this holiday season.

 

  • Give yourself permission. To take a walk. To take a break. To be a bit selfish. To feel happy. To feel anxious. To feel – period.
  • Take your time. If you’re going home for the holidays, everything can feel rushed. You have to see everyone. You have to rush from house to house, event to event. Where and when you can, take a breather. Maybe spend a little extra time getting ready. Take the longer route from one house to the other. And yes, cancel on events if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to be everywhere, all the time. (I know this applies more to social activities versus family obligations.)
  • Hydrate. No, seriously. Water. Don’t forget about it – especially between those glasses of wine at family functions.
  • Laugh. Even if it’s through tears sometimes.
  • Take a walk. Put on your coat (or light jacket), put away your phone, and take a walk around the neighborhood. Don’t forget to take deep breaths.
  • Indulge. Listen to your favorite songs. Put on your favorite holiday movie. Make your favorite treats.
  • Give up expectations. Nothing will be perfect. Something will always go wrong. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself (and others) and try to enjoy the moments.
  • Breathe. This is the most important one. No matter what, remember to breathe.

What are some ways you get through the holiday blues?

 

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Welcome to Being Berrak

My blogging journey began on AOL message boards in the late 90s.

Then came a very angsty personal blog on Tripod or AngelFire or GeoCities (I can’t really remember), which was actually the first time I tried to teach myself coding. I was using GIFs before I knew they were called GIFs.

Then there was LiveJournal…and Myspace…and my very first stand-alone blog which was hosted on Yahoo. Sometime in 2008, I found myself in this space, though it didn’t always look like this.

I’ve been constantly evolving as a writer and a person. My personal blog has always been a safe space, even after I dropped my pen name and came out.

You know what happens in someone’s life over the course of 13 years?

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How to Get an Early Start to Your Day

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  • Wake up in the middle of the night with painful cramps.
  • Check your phone to see what time it is (1:30 AM) and notice an important email.
  • Unwisely open said email while you’re in an already emotionally raw place after four days of being sick & go into another emotional tailspin.
  • Wonder if you’ll cry yourself to sleep (and actually sleep through your cramps).
  • 2:27 AM – Nope. The cramps are too much.
  • Wonder how early is too early to take a shower without waking up your neighbors.
  • Decide that 5:30 AM is reasonable.
  • Lie back down, contemplating every mistake you’ve ever made while doing the “If I go to sleep now, I’ll get X hours of sleep countdown.”

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Bring on the Holiday Cards

We’re getting close to the end of 2016, which can only mean one thing for some of you: It’s time to mail out those holiday cards! I don’t know about you but I still think there’s something special about getting physical mail and covering my fridge with cards from my friends and family who are scattered across the globe.

Of course, holiday cards aren’t the only thing that warrant creative invitations. My fridge is full of wedding invitations, birth announcements, and “thank you” cards reminding me of special occasions and memories.

Unless you’re super creative and a pro at Photoshop, designing cards that perfectly capture your personality and the mood of your special event can feel like a chore. Most of the websites out there that offer services to create invitations have awesome templates but they each have some kind of restriction. Maybe they have limited colors – or they don’t allow you to request samples before you put in a large order.

Enter Basic Invite. [click to continue…]

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Making Peace with Being Settled

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Sometime last year, I seriously contemplated the idea of selling all of my possessions (except for my books, of course), and truly embracing the nomad life. Shit, I started a nomad conference with my friends because I truly expected to meet them in various parts of the world throughout the year.

The wanderlust was strong, and I was feeling antsy.

My life was going to be an adventure, with Seattle being my home base.

When I had to put Dot down last year, I wasn’t going to get another cat. I wouldn’t take on the responsibility of another pet.

I was going to be spontaneous – ready to get away at a moment’s notice.

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There would be no need for me to settle down. I didn’t want to put down roots, even as I was finally building solid friendships with people I could actually trust to stay in my life.

Then heartbreak happened.

I felt like a failure as a friend. As a woman. As a partner. As a business owner.

Over and over again.

So, I kept driving. I embraced the road. All I needed was Roxanne, the clothes on my back, my laptop, my camera, and McLovin. Nobody else.

I didn’t want to settle.

But then… [click to continue…]

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IMG_7819I have no strong feelings about Pokémon. When my brother was younger, I took him to see the movies in the theaters, he collected the cards, and I would sometimes play the games with him on his GameBoy color. As he grew older, his interests changed, and Pokémon wasn’t something present in my life.

Fast-forward to summer of 2016. A new app is sweeping the world. It’s augmented reality. It’s nostalgic. It’s fun. I downloaded it because why not? I still don’t have any strong feelings about Pokémon but this app? I’m really enjoying it – so are a lot of other people.

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This Is 31

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I turned into a drunk pumpkin at midnight on my birthday. 

It was, by far, the best birthday celebration of my life. My best friend of 16 years flew in from North Carolina. My brother was there (MY BROTHER LIVES HERE NOW). The wonderful guy I’d only been dating for a few weeks was, well, wonderful. I invited my friends to my favorite bar because I knew that I would get overwhelmed if I had another house party.

I built in an escape plan to my own birthday party.

It was pretty spectacular. [click to continue…]

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Stream of Consciousness: March 15-16, 2016

This is my usual writing face, by the way.

This is my usual writing face, by the way.

A few weeks ago, I came to a realization.

People and experiences come into our lives in the exact moment we need them. They’re not always meant to be around forever. They’re meant to remind us of our strengths and who we are when we’re feeling lost.

I still believe this. Wholeheartedly. I also know closure isn’t always promised, people will continue to make Irish exits out of my life, and it will hurt. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only been in my life for a few weeks or if you were supposed to be by my side at my wedding.

You will hurt me when you decide my life is no longer something you are interested in.

The transient people don’t hurt – obviously. I don’t mourn the disappearance of every person out of my life. We meet people in passing. Maybe we hit it off with them right off the bat but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a constant part of our lives.

I wear my soul and scars out in the open. I don’t wear them as a badge of honor. At this point in my life, as I’m about to turn the corner to 31, it’s more of a time consideration.

Here I am. Here are the things that have contributed to who I am today. Here are the scars that get picked and bleed once in a while. Here’s how I am on a good day, and here’s me on a shitty day. Do you still want to be a part of it?

I don’t know why but in the last year or so, people have decided I am no longer worthy. [click to continue…]

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My “Friends” Outrage

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If you don’t already know, I’m obsessed with Friends. I think in Friends references. I will always watch it when I get I chance, and I fully accept that it’s a ridiculous show with flaws.

But I love it with its flaws. [click to continue…]

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