LA Changed Me.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-3-13-55-pm

5 years ago I started revealing to people I was going to move to LA and a common response I received was “don’t let it change you.” I promised it wouldn’t. I really didn’t know what I was promising, I just figured it was the right thing to say so that people would still like me since I assumed they meant LA would turn me into a superficial, self-indulgent, fantasy-land daydreamer. There’s no way I would ever let that happen…I know who I am, I thought.

When I finally moved to LA I had not a single clue how my life was about to change. I’m not talking about just my surroundings…but more importantly —  who I was… my thought process, my morals, and what I believed in.

I was immediately thrust into a foreign domain of excessive fame, fortune, partying, and vanity, where it seemed like everyone was in a race to the top…which meant different things for different people…success in their careers, a mansion, a sports car, a beautiful lover, or the worst drug – fame. I had to learn how to navigate through this new world on my own. It was a clean slate for me to be whoever I wanted. No one in LA knew who I was or where I had came from.

After a few months of living in LA I tried to fight against the changes that I could already feel happening within me. It was small town me vs. new big city me. The changes were inevitable. I felt every conservative chain start to unlock until I slowly turned into a liberal.

For better or for worse, I now have spent 5 years living in Los Angeles, and I am admittedly changed. People from my home state of Michigan say bizarre things such as: “remember where you came from”, “you’re so Hollywood now”, or “LA is so fake.” I say it’s bizarre because I am confused how this growth and change can be considered as only a negative thing.

I am sure there are things that have affected me negatively, however, for the most part, I feel LA has done a great deal of attributing to my mindfulness and awareness to the world around me…not just my own bubble, but the world as a whole.

I am more open-minded.

Literally…to everything. Before I moved to LA I was in my own little close-minded bubble with little room for acceptance. My hometown of 50,000 people isn’t exactly the best representation of diversity. Many of my peers have never even left the state of Michigan. LA is a true melting pot…I have friends from: all over the world, different sexual orientations, transgendered friends, friends who are doctors, actors, singers, Uber drivers, and analysts. I had never even met a transgendered person before I moved to LA. My tolerance to others different than me is pretty high. It’s awesome that this city attracts the biggest dreamers and some of the hardest hustlers. Yeah, the high rent isn’t pleasant, but most of us know how to really get things done and have a heightened sense of what survival really means.

I’ve tried authentic cuisines because we have cities literally dedicated to serving certain groups such as: Korea Town, Little Armenia, China Town, West Hollywood, Silver Lake, or even Venice, etc. Foods that would have otherwise disgusted me now are some of my personal favorites. If you haven’t please stop at one of the various Korean BBQ’s and change your life.

But the best thing is…you’re ALLOWED to be whoever you want to be which with great privilege has allowed me to be whoever I want to be. No one looks twice at the man wearing a crop top, no one cares if you’re a 35 year old single female, and no one looks twice at me when I want to wear heels to the mall at 2pm. You are allowed to exist, for the most part, exactly how you are…no matter how weird you are. There are just too many different types of people here to focus on hating a specific individual type. LA is a safe haven for the outsiders of a ‘normal’ society.

It has made me more realistic.

A lot of people think that LA actually brings out the fantastical side of people, which I won’t lie, it does. We get a bad wrap for having our heads up in the clouds, our feet in the sand, and a drink in our hand. However, for me, it’s actually made me a much more realistic person in the way that I see things for what they really are. I won’t shamelessly name drop (because that’s SO LA) but I’ve partied or been around some of the so-called “elite” and while some are super nice and lovely people, some are down right depressed, insecure, angry, and sad. It is not real life. Rather, a facade. I have seen the media lie about parties or events I have been at just to create a fake tabloid story about someone.

As a former aspiring entertainer, I grew up idolizing fame and fortune, thinking that these people had it all, which could not be further from the truth for some of them. They are no more special than the average joe. I see the massive divide of my city…people who are extremely talented but not given a second look and those who are rewarded for being nothing but beautiful. I’ve spent time handing out sandwiches on skid row and handing out over 70 blankets last winter to the ever rising amount of homelessness and that same day went to an after party in a multi-million dollar mansion in the Hills. There’s so much illusion saturating social media that the same people posting on yachts and driving sports cars are the same ones struggling to pay their lease. I see things now for what they actually are and who they actually are — just people and things. No more, no less. I put no value on fame, fortune, or materialism as I used to.  It’s a beautiful and freeing thing.

It’s helped broaden my horizons in relationships.

My friends joke that I have a type because the 3 boyfriends I’ve had in my life have been eerily similar. I definitely have a type and certainly still do. However, LA has left my heart open to new friendships and relationships. Although none have resulted in serious courtships, I am open to men from different races, religions, sexual orientation, careers, ages, and abilities. People I probably wouldn’t have been as open to before because I would be afraid of judgment. LA is very open to different types of relationships so there is little shame in dating someone who is opposite of you. I have went out with men much younger than I and much older than I. I’ve went out with atheists and Jewish men. I’ve went out with bi men. I’ve went out with actors and surgeons. I’ve went out with trust fund babies and guys who I make less than I. I’ve went out with liberal men and conservative men. I’ve went out with Europeans, Australians, and Asians. I am open to love and friendship in a way I would have never been before had I not lived here. It has resulted in a lot of meaningful friendships.

It made me appreciate my upbringing.

One of the most common questions I am asked in LA is… “so where are you from?”  As soon as I say Michigan, there is some sort of relief that comes over the person asking. “Midwest people are good people”, or some variation of this is what I hear in response. Somehow being from the Midwest but living on the West coast gives you an rite of passage that you are safe, trustworthy, and well-rounded. It makes me proud, to be honest, because it’s true. I’m not perfect, but most of us Midwest folk do have something extra about us that I don’t find in other people. Plenty of us were raised in small towns, in decent/good families, with good morals, and we look out for thy neighbor. We are sincere, kind, loyal, grounded, and warm. It is instilled within us, it is how we were raised. In a city full of identity crisis, there is nothing more valuable than to know who you are inside and out. Besides our Ohio vs. Michigan rivalry, we are also pretty damn respectful and polite compared to a lot of other folk I come across in Los Angeles.

LA will humble you and bring you back down to earth.

Before I moved to LA rejection for me resulted in an internal crisis. I would ponder what was wrong with me for days if a guy ghosted me or I didn’t get a job. It would crush me. LA literally is a constant revolving door of rejection because quite frankly, there are millions of options here. There is always someone more beautiful, richer, more talented, more lucky. My brief bout with entertainment was the epitome of rejection. Auditions at first were a nightmare…but after awhile I got used to not getting the call back and just accepting I did my best. One of my most embarrassing moments was when Sean Kingston told me I basically sucked at singing in front of one of my idols. If that would have happened when I lived in Michigan, I would have probably cried in my room for days. Instead I went home and joked about it to everyone.

Dating in LA is atrocious due to the “grass is always greener” syndrome and it’s funny because for whatever reason people assume that I do not get rejected. I can count on 5 human hands or more how many guys have not called or texted me back. And while I won’t say it doesn’t sometimes bum me out, I accept it. I move on rather quickly because just as they probably have lots of options, I do too. It’s actually what resulted in me being so outspoken and open to sharing my feelings. I am not afraid of rejection anymore in any regard. I am willing to take risks now and be patient to get what I want and deserve.

I care more about my health and appearance.

I realize that vanity is considered a bad thing, and yes, it can be if used to think you are better than others. There is nothing more annoying than someone who thinks they are God’s gift to humanity. But I am less lazy in my appearance and for good reason. LA holds you to a certain standard of what the ideal person looks like. We have gyms and juice bars on every corner. But, I believe this is only a bad thing when you take this too literally and become unhappy or obsessed to the point you feel like you need to compete with others to get what they have, taking away from who you genuinely are. But, I truly believe that when you look good, you feel good. When I leave the house looking put together my confidence sky rockets. For me, it keeps me on my toes. I am now health conscious in a way I was not before– I enjoy working out and eating well (although I go through lazy phases), I enjoy looking nice and often get complimented by my boss for showing up to work dressed up even when I don’t have to be, and  I get taken more seriously.  I like that it doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable slacking off on my health and appearance for too long. In Michigan, half of my wardrobe was sweatpants.

My friends became my family.

Before I moved to LA I had a lot of close friends. But it wasn’t until I moved that I realized I saw friendship in a way that most of my friends back home did not. Here often the number of transplants will outweigh the LA natives so we have to rely on our friends as family. Most of my friends families live a 3-15 hour flight away. There is no calling your parents to come over if you’re sick, in trouble, or you need them to watch your pet while you go away. Those are things my friends do for me. On holidays we have “Friendsgiving” instead of Thanksgiving and a Christmas holiday party for the orphans who didn’t go home. These are the people who I rely on and vice versa. If I choose to have children someday with a man whose family is also far away, my friends will be the ones helping me out. Of course I miss my family and love them dearly, but it is also beautiful to see the deep bond I have created with people who are not my own blood. These are people who I see no differently than my own sibling and I would die for some of them. It’s on a different level of any friendships I’ve ever experienced before. When my mother calls she doesn’t just ask about me, she does a welfare check of my best friends, too. It’s that deep.

Bottom line is, I love this place. It has unlimited opportunity for all walks of life. Sometimes it drives me insane with it’s traffic, expensive rent, and flaky people but it’s the first city I’ve lived in where I feel like I belong. So in light of it being the Holidays, I am thankful for you, Los Angeles.

-Cee

Advertisements

A Girl Can Be Crazy, But Not Just Because She Owns a Cat

I grew up with dogs. I never had a cat nor even liked them until 4 years ago when my best friend came over to show me his new tiny kitten and somehow that kitten never left my apartment and I am now the owner of a 19 lb beast. However, there is something different that I have experienced owning cats that I never experienced with owning a dog. Cat-shaming.

Whenever I tell men I own a cat I feel the air get thick and tense while they make a face similar to when one takes a tequila shot before they finally say,”Are you a crazy cat lady?” Never fails. I don’t even get to the horrific part where I admit with insincere guilt that I actually have TWO cats. I always save that bomb for later. Meanwhile, my friend tells men she has 5 dogs and their response is some variation of, “that’s awesome.”

By now most people know I am a feminist (but I try not to be annoying about it) and I write openly about my disappointment being a female in our misogynistic society. However, what they don’t know is I also get cat-shamed. So not do I only get to be slut-shamed for being a natural sexual being because I am a woman, I also get the privilege of being cat-shamed for choosing to own a cat. Because, you know, owning one definitely correlates to a high level on the crazy scale.

The term ‘crazy cat lady’ is just another label society made up to make women look off-balanced and off their rocker.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-1-26-24-pm

First off, cats are independent and incredibly smart. They come and cuddle you when they please. They go to the bathroom in their own designated space. They are constantly grooming themselves. And truthfully, they give no fucks about you 80% of the time. My cat Leo solely believes I exist to pay his rent and feed him. He truly believes he is an emperor. When I picked him out of the kitten line up at the highest kill shelter in Los Angeles 4 years ago I am sure he was thrilled to finally get his meal ticket.


If women were ACTUALLY ‘crazy’ we would pick a dog. Dogs are needy and attention whores. They need to shit outside and have YOU pick it up, they beg for your food, they need walks, they can’t stay alone for days at a time, they constantly need to interact with you, and hurry up, would you throw that ball already? Seriously, hurry up, before he f-ing barks. Some dogs have even killed people, when’s the last time you heard a cat killing a human? I’ll wait.

I get called a crazy cat lady for my two well-behaved, sweet cats but the lady in the Facebook viral video with 45 Saint Bernard’s (this is real) gets 15,000 comments about how she’s living the dream. You know what the real dream is? Going to Mexico for 5 days and only having to have someone stop over to check on your pets once.

10653685_10102514866564258_9018711992041480418_n

The other day I saw a grown man riding a bike with a Pitbull sitting in the backseat of an attached baby carrier, no one except me looked twice. No one probably says, “Are you a crazy dog man?” But god forbid someone walk their cat on a leash, oh shit, that ladies really lost her marbles. No one is insulting the LA women who is use Target as a dog park pushing their chihuahuas in baby strollers.

So lay off us cat people. Yes, we are covered in hair and keep lint rollers in our purse, and yes, some cats are assholes, but really it’s the dog people who are crazy. Society will not bring me down. VIVA LA FELINES.

– Cee

PS. This is a humorous post, and while factual, I sure do love some slobbery puppies.

PSS. My cat has an instagram @acatholdingthings and he’s cool as shit. Check it out.

 

Anxiety: An Uneasy State of Mind

Currently I am sitting on my couch alone eating a yogurt watching CNN (btw, a great reminder that the world is a giant mess) on a Thursday with the blinds closed in the dark even though it is 6pm and the sun is still shining. Normally I need to get my daily dosage of Vitamin C but today is not one of them.

There is something that many people don’t know about me.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 6.15.17 PM

I have anxiety. Sometimes massive anxiety.

It can be triggered or appear suddenly for no reason at all. It is exhausting and definitely annoying for the people who tell me “get over it” or “you’re overreacting.” I am an over-thinker. It is not something I can control and it is hardly an everyday or even monthly occurrence.  Because most of my inner social circle knows me as outspoken, passionate, happy, and gregarious, I cannot blame them for not taking this side of me seriously. Most people think I am joking when we are texting and they say something triggering and I say, “that just gave me anxiety.”

I used to believe I was the only one who dealt with this irrational but suddenly paralyzing feeling until I started to open up to a few friends about it and I found that it is actually a common thing for many people. Some even admitted to smoking marijuana or taking pharmaceuticals because their anxiety is so crippling. I am grateful to have close friends that open up about their struggles because no one talks about these things. No one wants to talk about depression, anxiety, mental illness, or anything else that is bothersome because those who do suffer silently don’t want to admit their truths due to stigmas and the others never want to hear about it because they simply don’t deal with these issues. Thousands of people will talk about their problems anonymously online on a Reddit forum to strangers but not to their own loved ones. I don’t blame them — we live in a bizarre, cruel, judgmental world that doesn’t generally accept ‘flawed’ humans, even though everyone is flawed. No one on earth, not even Beyonce, is exempt from some kind of human ailment. It makes no sense why these issues are hidden if so many have them, but that’s life.

I want to talk about it.

Personally, my anxiety tends to stem from dealing with a lot of death of loved ones in my early 20s and severe emotional abuse that happened from two specific people throughout my life. Death opened my eyes far too wide about how delicate our morality is and quickly solved my existential question about what a human’s purpose is on earth (not to be a downer, but I truly believe there is none besides to possibly reproduce and make other humans temporarily feel good.) Suddenly I became aware that things don’t change year to year but rather nano second to nano second. A shift in perspective awakened an adventurous, open-minded, free-thinking, impulsive, outspoken, and a risk taking side of me.  After years of walking on eggshells, the emotional abuse and brainwash shredded my shield of innocence and belief that everyone is good and that just because someone says they love you doesn’t mean it’s true. It created a downward tail-spin of self-doubt, confusion, low-self esteem, fear and anger, and left a trail of mild anxiety in it’s wake. Not good but manageable.

What most people don’t seem to understand about anxiety sufferers is that an anxiety attack doesn’t mean I am sad and I hardly ever cry. It is not the same thing as depression. I just have to be alone in peace and if I reach out it means I need affirmation that the world truly isn’t ending. Anxiety can be crippling for some. Sometimes it comes served up in a glass of PTSD, which contrary to common belief, doesn’t just affect the military personnel. There have been times when it felt as if my life was in such chaos that I couldn’t leave my apartment for a few days.

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.43.14 PM.png

My superhero alter ego during anxious times.

And it can strike at any time and for many different reasons…my biggest triggers are death, deceit, unintentionally hurting someone, failure, abandonment, intimacy, thinking about my future and the unknown, thinking about my mother dying and also disappointing her, confrontation, comparing myself to others, dealing with people who have short fuses and anger issues, strange men approaching me in public, yelling, vulnerability, etc. I remember being on the verge of a panic attack last December when I was in a very crowded Penn Station in NYC for the first time. It was at a time our country was on high alert and I imagined someone literally setting a bomb in the middle of the train station because it was the perfect place with so many people rushing around for the holidays. Irrational and dramatic, but it still crossed my mind. I over analyze a lot. That’s anxiety for you.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-35-30-pm

Everyone deals with their anxiety differently. I will feel my heart beating rapidly and like I am suffocating, my mind is imagining the worst possible scenario or outcome, I create a long list of possible ‘what if’s.’ I wish I could just chill the hell out like my best friend always tells me to when I text him during an attack. However, I can’t. It is physically impossible unless I cut off the world, lay in my bed, talk about it with a close friend, listen to music, exercise, clean, write it all out in a journal, and/or in severe times sometimes smoke. If not, I will sit there replaying the tense scenario in my head over and over again or worry that something worse will happen. It isn’t productive and wastes so much valuable time. I recognize most of the time these are irrational thoughts as soon as I acknowledge these feelings and within an hour or two I am fine. However, I know many people who have it much worse where they have to be medicated to function. My heart goes out to you and anyone else bothered with an issue that cannot been seen with the naked eye.

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.38.27 PM.png

 If you know someone who suffers from anxiety, the worst possible thing you can do is to tell them to relax or chill. By doing this you perpetuate the problem by making the person feel ashamed that they are feeling this way, making their feelings feel unjustified, and they may want to seclude themselves even further. Instead you have two jobs: listen and support. If you find yourself suffering from anxiety, there is help for you and you are not alone whether that be googling ideas that can help you relax, therapy, or medication. This is fairly common and most of us that seem to look like we have it together just make it look that way. This is much more common than it is talked about. I literally just had anxiety thinking about posting this publicly, so I repeat, you are not alone. 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 3.41.41 PM.png

– Cee

 

 

Why I didn’t Pawn My Promise Ring

A little over a year and a half ago my ex-boyfriend showed up on my door step with a promise ring which in little time he proved he had no intention of keeping any of the promises.

So the ring sat on my desk untouched since the week I received it. I didn’t want to throw it away as it still had sentimental value to me. I took it to a pawn shop but felt a weird vibe so I walked out. I am too scared to sell anything on Craigslist now a days. But we have been broken up a year and I don’t want to look at it anymore as it is the last item that reminds me that he existed.

I decided to post this status on Facebook.

 

My page is public and followed by thousands of people…many who are complete strangers. But something in my gut inspired me to write this status. A lot of people messaged me and left comments saying I was a good person and it made me feel uncomfortable because I was actually doing it out of selfishness, while I don’t mind giving it away, I really needed to read stories of true love again.  It has been about a year since my break up and I have yet to have met anyone I am extremely excited about. I know this is partly because I am a bit jaded not only through my own experiences but others too.

I see my friends get cheated on, I see people in the news being killed by their spouse,  I read the sadness of the people who write to me and admit they are suffering abuse in silence, I see the multiple men that boldly hit on me with wedding rings on, I know of men who have wives but are having affairs with men, I have men who are writing to me in their 30-50s asking me for advice or a listening ear of how unhappy they are in their marriage. While blessed to have this gift, it is very emotional to have people confide in you with their heaviest secrets and hidden sadness. You know everyone’s darkest secrets and while you would never dare share them, you know what they are hiding…so who knows if the next guy is hiding something from you like they are from everyone else? While I feel more than happy to give advice and listen, the negativity sometimes makes me feel emotionally heavy to the point that I no longer believe that faithful, loyal, loving, respectful, honest, and above all – healthy –  partnerships exist. Especially with men.

I had a few people say giving away this $600 ring for free was a dumb idea because someone could be lying. 3 women told me, “All men are liars” and another said “they are just going to pawn it.”

And you know what? If someone has to lie to me about a $600 ring then they must really need that money anyway. I’m exhausted walking around this world not trusting people. CNN now has me always looking over my shoulder afraid to talk to anyone or for an escape route in a mall. So this is going to be my leap of faith that good humans exist. And hopefully the ring will bring someone more joy than it did me and restore my faith in love and human race.

-Cee

 

 

Happiness Can Come In a Box.

I hope you learn to make it on your own and if you love yourself just know you’ll never be alone. – “One Man Can Change the World”, Big Sean.

While I rarely show this side of me externally, I am someone who is empathetic by nature and internalizes others negative feelings even if it has nothing to do with me. So when I hear about a traumatic event on the news, a dispirited personal story from a friend, social injustice, or even something as trivial as reading someone’s unhappy status on Facebook, I ponder about what would make society (Western cultures) more well-rounded and peaceful as a whole…what could make us understand each other better, to live judgement free from others, to produce more open-minded free thinkers, generate confidence and introspection, and to allow more people to achieve the universal goal of their own personal happiness. It bothers me that there are so many brainwashed, unfulfilled, tortured people walking around this planet putting on a brave face that does not even remotely match their soul.

Some could say people need more money, to love and appreciate one another, to implement equal rights, and some may have no freakin’ clue. However, it’s been proven that money doesn’t provide ultimate happiness, those who are loved aren’t always fulfilled, and equal rights produces hate in some.

Which is why I believe that if it is monetarily feasible and a person is of sound mind, every single person should take the opportunity to live alone for at least one year. No parents, no roommates, no significant other, no siblings.

Hear me out.

In September 2014, I was in a really bad place. Like, really bad. I was living with my long-term boyfriend (now ex) at the time and as well as my best guy friend. Our lease was going to be up in a few weeks so my boyfriend and I talked about renting a house together and my friend had found a roommate to live with. Two weeks before our lease ended my relationship became extremely strained and ended abruptly. I was extremely distressed as there was no time for me to find a compatible roommate. In Los Angeles, it can take FOREVER to find the right apartment because it is overpopulated and the competition is fierce. While my ex went on to get a place with a friend, I had no other option but to live alone.

Let me tell you that the thought of living solo at the time was terrifying. I had roommates ever since I left my parents house at 18 (boyfriends, strangers, friends) years old to go to university. That’s 9 years of roommates. Even though I had been paying my own rent and bills for the past years, it was still scary to think it would be just my cats and I…on my own. Alone. And SINGLE. And HEARTBROKEN. Is there a worst combo? I was distraught.

I searched high and low, willing to settle for anything, because I could NOT find a place. Everything in my budget was an abomination or  potential tenants had beat me to it. I was consistently calling my mom crying knowing that the lease date was looming and I would be homeless soon. And then finally after 2 weeks of searching — I found the place I call home now:  a cozy, renovated studio apartment. I have lived here for 20 months, alone. While I could afford something bigger and better, I find it hard to move out as I am attached to it as I am my childhood home: it is my sanctuary and the place that I have had the most personal growth since I was 21 years old.

____________________________________________________________

When I first moved in I was a mess and cried a lot. This lasted about two weeks. I was no longer living with my best friend (we lived together the past 3 years), newly single, and I just wasn’t used to being alone so much. While my past roommates used to take control of the household, now I had to learn how to actually learn to do things for myself like: call the cable company, set up the internet, fix stuff, use a power drill to build shelves, move a couch down three flights of narrow stairs solo, and worst of all — kill my own spiders. I remember holding my cat sobbing thinking how lonely I was and how I missed my old comfortable and convenient life.

But after 3-4 weeks, something incredible happened. I started to feel something inside me that I had never felt in my life before: Liberation. Independence. Freedom.

When you live alone, no one on the planet knows what you’re doing inside your space. You are free to do as you please. It’s your kingdom and you make the rules. No one tells you no, asks where you’re going, knows what you’re googling, or tells you to put away your coffee mug that’s been sitting on the table for 3 days. You can have over whoever you want and talk about whenever you want, because surprise!, there’s no chance of an eavesdropper. The options are endless.

There was a time I spent a few hours with a close male friend of mine who lives alone.  We laughed hysterically about how he had a sock hanging from a piece of artwork in his apartment and how no one gave a shit because it’s only him there. He said he probably threw it there when he came in drunk days ago but no one was bitching to put it away. Should he probably put it away? Sure, but it’s freakin’ glorious a sock can hang there til he feels like it. This is the same friend who I expressed my concern about possible future loneliness before I moved out on my own. At that time, he told me that I would grow in imaginable ways and become my own best friend. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was right. We laughed about that, too.

When you live alone you are given the privilege of being your true self.

Not many people will experience or appreciate this privilege. Yeah, I know some people will say “well, so and so knows the true me”…no. They know a comfortable version of you. When you’re finally alone for a few precious moments you probably do some weird shit you don’t want your significant other or best friend to see. You’re not subconsciously thinking they will walk in or be in the next room. When you live alone you can do that weird thing ALL THE TIME. You don’t have to censor yourself, you can walk around naked, and no one is going to ask why you didn’t come home last night or remind you it’s unsafe to go to 7-11 at 4am to get some ice cream to feed your munchies.

You can feel any emotion you want to feel without judgment or an external reaction…you can scream (reasonably), cry, cuss your anger out into the open air. I cannot tell you how grateful I was that I went through my break up living alone…I cried for days in my apartment without a roommate awkwardly asking, “are you ok?” I was forced to sit and relish in my uncomfortable feelings and rely on myself for comfort. It built a strength and confidence I never had before… I could recognize my bad feelings, learn what to do with them, and work through them on my own. Because I wasn’t receiving the normal sympathy or pity, I experienced the ‘hey, this sucks, I am sad, but I’m gonna survive’ phase much quicker. Too often we immediately reach out to others for advice or support not realizing that’s how we sometimes get ourselves in stressful situations in the first place. When you live alone, you learn to trust yourself and your instincts.

But most importantly, you get to know you. This is the biggest problem I see with society. We are so hung up on judgments, fitting in, keeping up with the Joneses, doing what is right in others eyes for their approval that we forget we also have a voice and in most situations self approval is all you need. Humans are too often a part of the herd, naively following and absorbing what they see which consequently destroys their creativity, individualism, and independence. It’s scary. We have people who are grown adults, sometimes parents, encouraging children to be confident and stable, but are still insecure and unsure of themselves. These same people become heavily  co-dependent and when they lose their security blanket they derail completely.

Most of us are raised in a household with pre-set rules, values, obligations, and opinions that are are forced upon us by our caregivers who can be completely different people than who we are as an individual. This is something my parents struggled with as I grew older (and even to this day) because while much alike in some ways, I also had many vast, liberal opinions they did not agree with which caused them to think I was being devious, disrespectful, or disobedient when simply I was just thinking for myself. It is no different than identical twins that have opposite personalities. Before a baby is even conceived, a parent has already assumed a set of values, morals, hopes, and dreams they want to enforce on their unborn child. And when that child ends up being different (religion, homosexual, transgendered, career choice, lifestyle, etc.) than what they expected it can instill guilt and shame in the child that runs into adulthood not allowing them to reach their full potential of being a happy, well-adjusted human being. And the effects of this can be devastating, destructive, dangerous, and even fatal.

____________________________________________________________

Another issue is that some people find their partner very young and move in together (I was one of them) without having a period of solitude which I believe perpetuates the cycle of having yet another person enforce a set of values, morals, hopes, and dreams on their partner. In order to comply and keep everyone happy, people often become a mix of their parents and their partners set of rules, values, morals, etc. — which often leaves them unfulfilled and unhappy in years to come because it leaves little room for their own self guidance. These are usually the people who often put on a happy front for years but will abruptly divorce, commit suicide, cheat, fall into addiction, have deep regrets as they age, or become constant daily complainers that hardly ever smile. I cannot count the number of times someone in this position has come to with these feelings, whether or not they are happily or unhappily married. It is important to understand that most of these people acknowledge it has nothing to do with their partner but rather lack of self discovery.

When I share these feelings many people respond that I am bitter, jaded, or angry at love and the hand it has shown me but this could not be further from the truth. Romantic love is such a beautiful thing. It is priceless and incomparable to any other feeling. I have been in love twice and it is unique to have your soul connect on every level with another person. I long to feel that again in my life time. However, I truly believe that when you move from under someone’s shared roof to another it makes it impossible to become your most authentic self. I believe it inhibits confidence, self approval, personal strength, and feelings of self worth. I do not think you can fully love someone else or achieve the gift of self-love, happiness, and emotional independence without eliminating external distractions and influences for at least a short period to determine who you are first…what you value, hope, and dream and then understanding WHY. And it should be because you truly feel that way, not because society, your parents, your church, or you partner told you so. And if you agree with the set of beliefs these external forces have shown you without being influenced to be told to just because, that’s awesome too. But I recommend to everyone I know, that if possible, to explore these beliefs and feelings in a space you can be yourself.

Living alone isn’t for everyone. There are obstacles that can prevent solo living whether that be monetary, mental illness, being a caregiver, marriage, children, whatever. But for those that are in the position to do so and have a fear of being alone, this experience will change your life in the best way. You may dislike it and decide never to do it again, but it will water your soul and help your internal seed grow in ways you didn’t think possible. Or you may become like me and never want to live with someone again (haha) because you enjoy it so much. Regardless, hopefully you learn to comfortably sit with yourself in the silence. You will take care of yourself more. For at least once in your life, you will put yourself first. You will think and see things differently.  You will go through loneliness and tough emotional times and come out a pillar of strength. You will appreciate yourself and others more. You will become your very best friend and create an indescribable love and friendship with yourself that NO ONE can ever take away from you. You got you. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. My whole life I was searching for love and acceptance from others and who knew that I would find it at 28 years old, living in this box.

– Cee

 

Why I Wear Sweats to The Grocery Store

If you follow me on social media it is probably of no surprise that I am writing a post about a topic that has been the target of conversation of not only my posts but of many others thanks to mainstream media finally not turning a blind eye to the perpetual harassment, assault, and rape of women. Harassment by men is something I live with every day of my life. It is not something I choose, enjoy, or feel flattered (which many men have told me they believe this is how I should feel) to receive.

I update sporadically…sometimes against the advice of other successful bloggers, leaving a two week gap in between posts because I write for myself as a therapy outlet and as well for others enlightenment and enjoyment. Writing (good writing) is not something that can be forced out of me or done at the drop of a hat. I need to be inspired. It is the one thing I am extremely passionate about and aspire to do well at.

This moment of inspiration came on June 2nd, 2016 when a photographer friend posted a status about a man writing to him on the app Snapchat asking if he could have nude photos of models that he has shot. I rolled my eyes at this man asking something so immature, but it wasn’t until I scrolled through the comments that I felt true disgust, annoyance, and rage. A model had commented “now you know how I feel” and another woman responded to her (I would copy and paste here but she blocked me ha) something along the lines of: “I have never received cat calls, harassment, etc. The only women that receive comments like these are ones that dress or act in a certain way.” Basically implying that women who pose in lingerie, bikinis, or show cleavage are the only ones to receive and deserve this demeaning commentary from men. We went back and forth debating to which she told me basically my opinion was invalid because ironically she has a Juris Doctor degree and is an advocate for sexual abuse victims.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 7.10.27 PM.png

The ignorance of this woman is the exact problem our society is facing. We choose to victim blame and shame not even attempting to put ourselves in the shoes of these women who cannot even walk outside of their homes without having something inappropriate yelled at them or fearing a man could physically hurt them out of rejection regardless of what they are wearing. And yes, perhaps many people, specifically people like this woman, cannot relate to this fear and blatant disrespect because they live in a city that shames men’s infantile behavior or perhaps they are lucky to be the 1 in a million who is unscathed and left alone. However, for most of us, we live this every single day.

If you do not know me, I have posed probably over 50-100 times in my life in lingerie and bikinis. There’s hundreds of images on my social media and all over the internet. I prefer wearing Brazilian bikinis at the beach. After a lifetime of feeling insecure I am finally proud of my body and don’t see what I wear as socially inappropriate, especially for where I live (liberal Los Angeles) where you are allowed to be whomever you want and dress however you want. When I go out to a bar in Hollywood, I can be found in a tight bandage dress showing off some cleavage along with my female friends. Surprisingly, during these times are when I am LEAST harassed by men.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 6.19.19 PM.png

A message I sent to a friend that was meant half as a joke but also half seriousness. Not that it matters, as women who wear hoodies or are lesbians are harassed too.

It happens when I am walking to my nail appointment wearing jeans and a jacket. It happens when I am at the grocery store makeup-less in sweat pants and a hoodie. It happens when I am waiting for a lyft or an uber at night, especially alone. Or when I am leaving an audition that requires me to be all dolled up and in a dress. There have been times I have wore sweats and stuffed my dress and heels into a bag to change into just in case I had to walk on a public street or wait for a ride for awhile. I am on high alert of my surroundings when I take out the trash especially of the man who looks down at me through his third floor window. I have filmed it many times on my own Snap chat account so others can see I am not exaggerating. My gay friends have been appalled to see how straight men act when they accompany me out to lunch. In all these instances I was minding my own business usually with my head down in order not to make eye contact with any man passing me so I didn’t ‘provoke’ an unwanted interaction. If someone even looks at me too long or walks by me my body language involuntarily shifts into a stiff, defensive mode. You see, the problem is not only the men words, it is that you don’t know which man is going to take it that one step further and put your safety in jeopardy. Male friends have called me paranoid but as a woman you have to ALWAYS be on alert and aware. That is the world we live in, that is our reality.

One of the times I filmed this kind of interaction was when I was inside of an isolated establishment waiting for my friend to get out of the bathroom. A security guard approached me and asked what I was doing. I told him and he proceeded to ask me a bunch of irrelevant questions like where I live and where I am from. When I said I didn’t want to answer anymore questions he got closer to me demanding aggressively that I answer them to which I squeezed past him outside to feel safe since no one was around. This was ON VIDEO.

But forget about me, since my frustrations don’t count because I have sexy photos on the internet or wear short dresses when I go out. How about my lesbian friend who wouldn’t be caught in a tight dress, who has never slept with a man in her life, but was sexually assaulted in the worst way by a man? Or my own conservative middle-aged, married mother who has shown me repulsive, uncomfortable, cringe-worthy sexual messages from men half her age in her Facebook inbox or men who say “mmm” under their breath and have touched without permission as she walked by? How about my OWN MOTHER who was almost abducted at my age by a man on the street who she let pass by her on the sidewalk and would have gotten her into his car if not for my grandmother beating him with her purse? Or how about my Facebook friend who just posted about her 11-year-old daughter getting catcalled by grown men on the street? Do they at least count?  They don’t wear dresses or have sexy photos on the internet.

The fact of the matter is that it is unfathomable how a human being with decency can blame a profession (strippers, etc), sex, article of clothing (or lack there of), photo, or WHATEVER REASON they can come up with for the inexcusable behavior of an adult man. Yes, even strippers, deserve the dignity to not be raped, assaulted, or harassed even if there is an certain degree of objectification in their work. Many others including myself have been to strip clubs, have enjoyed them, and never felt the need to scream obscenities or rape one. It does not matter. There is zero excuse. Not “she was drunk”, not “it’s how you dress”, not about photos, not about how a girl was walking alone at night. Men have the ability to control themselves. They CHOOSE this behavior unlike we choose the harassment.

I used to be quiet about it but now it has reached a level of toxicity where I will no longer can tolerate feeling uncomfortable stepping out of my home in a world that is supposed to be shared freely among everyone just because I have female genitalia and was born into a male-dominated world. None of this is my fault. When I share stories with my mother about how I talk back to or shame these men she is afraid that I am going to get killed or hurt. I will not pretend that when I was waiting for an Uber ride and a random man approached me calling me a whore (again, on video) because I didn’t want to give him my number and I told him to F*** off that I was scared he could have a gun and blow my head off simply for sticking up for myself. But as a double edged sword, certain men have respected me for calling them out, and if I was to be killed it would not be in vain. I do not mind being the voice for women who cannot walk alone in fear of abduction or being called a name.

It is interesting because a couple of years ago I was working in Hong Kong. I remember walking the streets (dolled up and in heels) with 5 other very attractive women and expected men to catcall or say something to us under their breath. After awhile I suspiciously asked our guide why no one was saying anything. Were we invisible? Not their type? He said, “if men were to behave like that here, say anything public like that, society would shame them. We would look at them as if something was wrong with them.” It blew my mind. A city where we could feel safe to dress however we wanted and finally a society that saw this not as a WE problem…it was a THEM problem. *round of applause*

And really women know it is not all men. I hate this argument, when men say, “it’s not all men.” We know that. We have brothers, husbands, male friends, and fathers who we have never seen act this way. They protect women. They love us. They respect us. They are our allies. But we need MORE of you. We need to outnumber the assholes. We need more people not turning a blind eye to rape allegations or even catcalling on the street. We need to scold and shame our sons and brothers for disgusting behavior unlike Brock Turner’s father.  I am by no means saying someone cannot respectfully compliment a woman or even ask for her number, if done politely. But if the woman chooses to ignore it or rejects the advancement politely move on. No one just simply living their life and going about their business owes any stranger an interaction, period. Not a “thanks”, not a “I have a boyfriend” excuse, not a smile. Stop telling women to freakin’ smile for you.

This foul behavior does not only hurt women, it hurts men too. It keeps women’s guards up. We can’t relax around you in a public place. It may as well be YOUR space. This is why it is important for the good guys to do more than just say “not all men!” If you see a woman getting attacked and berated on social media, chime in. If you see a woman getting harassed in public, say something or call for help. If you see a woman getting raped at the swedes did in the Brock Turner case, step in or call for help. Yes, it is your business. We all need you to lead by example and show others this is not okay. The reason why this is such an epidemic which is only getting worse is because it is not seen as a big deal. By the time you approach a woman with good intentions, chances are she has already had to deal with 5 jerks…in one day. It affects you. It is hard to see the good after experiencing so much bad. We want to give you the time of day and not assume ‘ugh, here comes another one’ when you approach us. We want to be approached, asked out, and make male friends and allies. I promise.

Good guys, we need you.

– Cee

Skin, Skin, Skin.

As I sit here with mud caking on my face I figure it is a good time to talk about skincare. I am often complimented on my skin and asked my routine which I owe all thanks to my mother who has religiously moisturized her face every day and night for most of her life and has nagged me since I was a small child to do the same. Even with her good genes, she has always looked 10-15 years younger than her actual age, so I had no other choice but to believe that slathering on creams everyday was the way to her ageless success. BTW, I am not a skincare consultant or dermatologist and I was not paid by any brands to give a review. However, I love pampering my skin, specifically my face, and I am a true believer that the products that I use make my face brighter, clearer, healthier, and appear younger.

image1(1)

Going into this post I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I get approximately one pimple a year. It is such a rare occurrence that when I see even a minuscule of a red dot pitch a tent on my face I act like the world is ending…I cancel all my plans if possible because it makes me feel very insecure. I irrationally become paranoid that everyone is staring at my face. It’s dramatic but true. So I am not going to lie to you like the Instagram models selling Tea or waist trainers. I have no idea if the products I use actually clear up skin, however, they are excellent at maintaining its glow for my skin type which is normal. However, I assume that for dry skin this is also an excellent regime since it is all about moisturizing.

I also want to plug in the company Ipsy, who not only created a GENIUS idea, but also made me a loyal monthly subscriber. It is a program that cost $10 a month and they send you a very cute bag of 5 items from different make up brands ranging from skincare, make up, make up brushes, nail polish, lotion, hair product, etc. Some come in full or trial size, but all are high quality products that over exceed in value for what you pay. Even the trial sizes last me a long time. Most of the products I love so much that I order again. Many of the products I use have come in my monthly bag and I became addicted.

Normally I do my routine 2-3 times a week. I have so many different facial and mud masks that I use a different one each week. It’s relaxing, fun to do with a friend, and once you wash off the masks your face feels like a baby’s bottom that is so smooth you will find yourself doing strange things in public like randomly stroking your face.

The first thing I do in the morning is wash my face with Petal Fresh facial cleanser and if I run out I use regular hand soap. I do not recommend hand soap if your skin is dry or oily. This is a cheap drugstore brand…$4. Nothing special but gets the job done.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 5.44.35 PM.png

I wipe my face dry then apply Dr. Brandt’s PoreDermabrasion. It is an excellent exfoliator that feels like sandpaper but afterwards has your face looking vibrant and feeling super smooth. I am obsessed. Any brand will do but you should definitely add an exfoliator to your routine.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 5.56.31 PM.png

Next I rinse my face and rub in eye serum under my eyes called Pur-lisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1. This is especially my go-to after a night of no sleep or drinking. I can be suffering the hangover of death and you would never know it. It decreases dark circles, puffiness, and prevents fine lines like crows feet. It is pricey costing $35.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.03.25 PM

I notice that many skincare routine articles leave out the lips! Do not neglect your mouth pillows that a beautiful suitor rests their lips upon. Jersey Shore Spa’s Anti-Aging Lip and Hand Polish acts as an exfoliator rubbing away dead skin cells. This is not only to keep the hands and lips soft, you can also see a noticeable difference when you apply lip gloss and lip sticks. And also in how your partner kisses you –they will be hypnotized into biting your bottom lip.  It tastes yummy because it’s main ingredient is brown sugar. It runs about $15 but is so worth it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.08.36 PM

Now here is where it gets fun. Three times a week I rotate different masks but all pretty much do the same thing: hydrate and moisturize. These are the different choices in rotation right now but I have used countless others.

  • Formula 10.0.6 – Pores Be Pure mud mask $7-8
  • Pur-lisse Blue Lotus + Seaweed or White Tea treatment sheet mask $6-8
  • Seacret – Mineral-Rich Clarifying mud mask $45
  • Seacret – Renew Mineral-Rich Scrubbing Mask $50

 

My favorite by far is the Seacret Mineral-Rich Clarifying mud mask but I do like the sheet masks as well because you don’t rinse it off so the minerals absorb into your skin.

image1(2)

Note: The sheet masks have an extra bonus of creepiness resembling a Jason mask. The other night I was wearing this mask and my neighbor happened to look up while I was closing the blinds and I’m pretty sure he now thinks I’m a serial killer.

After I finish the masks it is time to moisturize MORE. You can never get enough moisturizer, do not play yourself or your skin by thinking you did too much! Unless your skin is super oily — the answer is always more.

During the day, I use either Seacret’s Intensive Moisture Face Cream ($40-50) or their anti-aging Vitamin-Rich Moisturizer ($80). Both are wonderful but I am OBSESSED  with the latter. It is super pricey but you know that feeling when you slip into a hot tub and you have that “aww” feels good reaction? That’s the same sound I make when this stuff hits my face. I have never in my life felt a smoother finish. Your face literally feels as if you were born yesterday. If I am not going to wear any make up coverage, this is my #1.

At night, if I remember to wash my make up off before I go to bed I apply a serum or oil. This is great for dry to normal skin.  Seacret has an amazing serum but again, it is expensive. These 2 products have been doing the same job at a quarter of the cost. I am currently using Nourish Organic’s rejuvenating Rose Hip & Rosewater body oil mist ($12-15) and Nourish Organic’s Pure Hydrating Argan Face Serum ($18.) 

 

 

You can find all these products for sale in an easy google search.  These are for men and women. Men, don’t be afraid to be “feminine” and use skincare too. No one is too cool for wrinkles, break outs, or dark circle prevention. Most of these products do not have any scent so you won’t smell like a walking flower.

13220906_10103925785122158_4210462777905782241_n

Stay thirsty my friends as long as your skin is not.

-Cee

Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list 🙂

 

 

Why You Should Date Your Friends

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.46.47 PM.png

From the time humans are age 5 all the way throughout college our friends are our entire world. We want to spend all our time with them, relate to them, complain about our problems to them. We want to be around them when our parents  don’t understand and when our significant others are being a pain in the ass. Girls nights are celebrated with the same eagerness as Christmas. A successful boys trip is a rite of passage for bad decisions and debauchery that will be talked about for years to come. Some of us stay friends with the same group of people our entire lives and some of us meet our best friends later in life. Maybe you have a combination of both. Friends are an essential part of life and if you have the right friends, true friends, they will become an extension of who you are and blood will no longer be a requirement of who is considered family.

This is why I get extremely disappointed when I see solid long term friendships dissolve because a friend acquires a significant other. People outgrow each other and it is normal for lives to take different directions. I am not talking about an acquaintance or that friend you call when you want to go out. I am talking about those pure, loyal, friendships that are so deep you cry together on the couch, you know secrets that could destroy each others lives but you know neither of you would ever tell nor judge each other even if you stopped being friends, your parents ask how they are doing when you call, and you have no question that if someone held a gun to both of your heads you would both say “take me instead” without hesitation. That kind of friendship. Some people will never get to experience it. People are aware of how hard it is to find a solid romantic connection so they cherish and make their relationships a priority but often forget that it is just as hard to find this unity within a friendship. It is so rare and throughout my life I have only had that connection with a handful of people.

There was something I noticed growing up that I always admired about my mother (among so many things.) She has been married to my father for almost 30 years but she has always made her friends a priority the entire duration of their marriage. This is on top of getting a Master’s degree, raising two children, keeping a husband happy, and working a full time teaching job. The woman is basically a super hero. While many women in their late 50s don’t have many friends she still has the friends she had when she was in her 20s. She calls and writes the ones that live far away and every few weeks checks in with the ones she hasn’t seen in awhile. She knows the value they have in her life is worth just as much as her family. Some of her closest friends helped raise me while my parents were working or in school. I still consider them second mothers.

I didn’t learn the hard lesson of neglecting your friends until I was 20 years old. My first two years away at university were not spent making new friends, exploring campus life, joining clubs, or partying as most college freshmen or sophomores. Mine were spent sitting inside on my computer skyping my boyfriend for hours or driving the hour home to spend the weekend with him. My roommates, classmates, and friends would invite me out but I always declined. He was my best friend and entire world. So it was no surprise that when we broke up I found myself young, alone, and depressed in my college apartment. By this time, all my friends (the ones I had left) were done inviting me out. I lost most of my friends because I sucked being one and didn’t deserve them. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than going through a break up living away from your family when you have no friends. Thankfully, I eventually met another girl who was in the same exact boat and we became inseparable promising we would never repeat putting ourselves in that position. She was the reason why university was some of the best times thus far in my life.

After that experience, I knew I would never neglect my friendships while in a relationship again. But it truly wasn’t until my best friend of 17 years unexpectedly died when we were 21 that I realized how much friendship truly meant to me. Life moves fast and most of us become comfortable thinking things will always stay the same, so it is not until we lose someone that we appreciate all they do or have done for us.

I soon found myself standing in front of a podium at my best friends funeral reading a 2-page letter to her dead body laying in a casket proclaiming how much she meant to me. Things I never told her in person. Instead I was now just saying it to a bunch of strangers to quiet my guilt. The guilt only worsened afterwards when they felt remorse for me. I remember for weeks just being stunned that this person who was one of my life soulmates (I believe soulmates can be platonic, romantic, and you can have many) was now permanently gone. You will not understand this level of desolation and sorrow until a part of your world dies.  I visit her grave 1-2 times a year and six years later still weep at the dirt mound whispering things she will never physically hear like – ‘thank for everything, I’m sorry, I appreciate you, you’re wonderful, and I love you.’

11204972_975207645853314_1248116220515561762_n.jpg

There were other times in my life that I really, really needed my friends. Towards the end of high school and going into college, I began to get sick and was hospitalized on and off for years with a gastrointestinal disorder I was falsely diagnosed with called IBS. It remains one of the most painful, desperate, scariest, and loneliest times in my life where I had no idea what was wrong with me, doctors couldn’t cure it, and I was in so much pain I frequently collapsed, begging God to please take my life if I had to live with this condition forever. My boyfriend at the time was a huge help, but my friends were my savior. When I was unable to drive they would take me to the doctors or drive me an hour home, email my professors for me, visit me in the hospital, and bring me food or medication because I was too frail to leave my bed. They played therapist for hours on end. I went from being a healthy person to becoming deathly ill. I lost so much weight I looked like a cancer patient. Thankfully, for unexplained reasons, eventually the pain never returned. I still fear it returning and am still thankful I had these people to look after me during this incredibly horrific time.

In my last relationship, I knew to make my best friends a priority. I was hopelessly in love but I knew better than to make the same mistakes. My significant other couldn’t stand my best friend but I never stopped hanging out with her with I knew how important she was to me, an asset. I would schedule one day out of the week to spend time with my friends…just to spend time and catch up. I live across the country from my family so when I eventually went through my traumatic break up with my long-term partner, they were the ones there to catch me and remind me who I was when I was lost. Some sent me flowers, some held me while I collapsed in their arms to cry, some took off nights to go out and dance the night away. They cheered me on as I started my long-awaited goals. They brought me back to life.

You need to date your true friends like you date your significant other. Prioritize them. Value them. Cherish them. Love them. Call them. Especially the ones who have been there for you before your partner was a presence in your life.  Friends are such a privilege to have and I hate when the meaning is cheapened. I have seen countless people lose parents, partners, or get very sick with illness and their friends swoop in with financial or emotional support like super heroes. You never know what life is going to throw at you or when you will need them on your team. Life gets busy and time is limited, but you don’t want to be me wishing you had appreciated your friends before it is too late.

12341156_10103579555853388_3105689292189323187_n

– Cee

Subscribe to the mailing list to get future blog updates 🙂

So You Want To Be A Model?

Let me start by saying this…I am no longer modeling much at all as I have lost interest and desire. Between agencies and castings telling me I am too short, too old (ugh), and the general hustle of auditions and castings it was emotionally exhausting me, not mentally stimulating me, and no longer fun. However, I have been in the industry for 8 years and while not signed with the top agencies like Wilhelmina, Elite, etc. and not gracing a bunch of huge magazine covers, I do think I have some insight on the industry through my own endeavors, common knowledge, as well as my friends experiences.

I started modeling when I was about 19 years old. It happened by accident. I was living in Canada at the time and couldn’t find work (thanks, worthless work visa) so I spent my days browsing the Canadian version of Craiglist – Kijiji. I saw an ad for a photographer wanting to take some test photos. I had never taken a professional photo in my life besides a school photo but I set up a time slot and drove over to his house anyway with my then boyfriend because obviously, safety first. We did the shoot and when I got the photos back I thought they were cute. The photographer suggested I join a website called Model Mayhem to find more photographers and build a portfolio. Within a year I had test shot with a handful of photographers and got increasingly better with each shoot. It is a great idea to shoot as much as you can before going to an agency to practice posing and facial expression.

Here are some hilarious photos from that first shoot:

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 9.45.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 9.46.34 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 9.46.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 9.47.09 PM

Throughout college I started working gigs here and there. I signed with an agency called Prestigious Models working car shows and also booked gigs independently. After I graduated I knew that I wanted to live in California and give the entertainment industry a try. And that’s exactly what I did. I packed up my car and drove 30 hours to LA and moved in with a stranger who 5 years later is still one of my best friends. If you do not live in a big city, you’re going to have a harder time making it as a full time model (I never was regardless and had a part-time job while taking actings classes, etc because LA is expensive).

When I got here I had zero idea of how anything worked. LA is a completely different world and lifestyle from the midwest. I booked a lot of amazing gigs (including a music video that was filmed in Hong Kong, holla!!) off of a website called Model Mayhem. IT IS FREE! You can submit yourself on their castings tab. You can also create casting calls or search already posted ones to find photographers to shoot with to build your book. A lot of them will do what is called TF which is a trade shoot — no one is paid because it is mutually beneficial. If you live in LA, you can shoot me a message and I can send you a list of talented photographers you can pay for. Bonus: You also can find a boyfriend on there! My second boyfriend was a male model I met on MM. hehe.

With that said, I want you to learn from my mistakes and create a release form for every single shoot you do that is not booked through your agency. EVERY SHOOT. If the photographer does not want to sign it, don’t shoot with him. You can write in any details you’d like (ie. images are for website use only, photographer must have permission before posting photos, etc.) Never do anything you are uncomfortable with. I am telling you this because in the past I made this mistake where I took photos that I had agreed upon with a photographer not to be released without my permission and he posted them anyway. Because it was an oral and not written agreement, I had no legal power to do anything. While most people are good humans, it is always better to protect yourself and not get taken advantage of.

A216

Here is an example of a release.

The agencies in LA are a lot bigger and stricter with their in-take. However, being 5’6.5 I was very limited anyway. I do lie and say I am 5’7 because my legs are 80% of my body and i photograph tall. I do not suggest lying anymore than a half of an inch although they rarely pull out a measuring tape. If you are not at least 5’9 you are going to have a hard time getting in with a high fashion agency (runway) such as Wilhelmina, Ford, etc. but there are always exceptions. I tried and kept getting told that as 23 years old I was too old and too short. That’s another thing, most fashion agencies prefer you to be 16-21 years old. All hope is not lost because actually sometimes it is worse to be with the high end agencies anyway because you get lost in the shuffle. Boutique (smaller) agencies can be just as good if they work hard for you. If you are 5’5+ you will qualify for commercial or lifestyle divisions. That means print ads, commercials, etc. In that case, I recommend you take a couple commercial classes if you have never acted just to be prepared. They care more about a warm happy appearance as you will be usually selling a product. Throughout my 5 years in LA I was (and still am) signed with multiple commercial agencies but I choose to not go out much anymore. One my agencies I was too short to qualify but I am signed to their hair division (hair shows, hair mags, etc.) If an agency is not sending you out as often as you would like, you need to talk with them or switch.

Once you figure out which market you fit into you have 2 choices:

  1.  You go to the agency website and find when their open call is. Do not call them unless it says to. Pay attention to the instructions on the website as every agency is different. You can bring professional shots but really all they care about is polaroids. They will most likely take some of you there. Wear very little make up with your hair down and clean. Simplicity is bliss.  Here is a good list of things you should do and wear at an open call.
  2. You can submit online at the agency’s website. I recommend going to the open call but if you live far or can’t make their time frame, this is another option. Again, follow the instructions exactly as they are given.

 

Do not be discouraged if no one takes you. It happens. You can also book a lot of work on your own once you start marketing yourself and then you don’t have to pay anyone their % ;).  Anyone in any part of entertainment will tell you that a big part of success is being prepared and creating your own opportunities. You cannot rely on your agency to do everything for you. They won’t, especially if you’re just starting out.              If you truly have what it takes and have the passion for modeling, don’t give up. However at some point, you also have to reassess and be realistic if you are meeting industry standards for what your market is. It IS A HUSTLE and it can be draining. You’re competing against tons of other people and being judged by your looks. You have to stay in shape and be on top of your game at all times. This industry is not for those with a weak or soft heart. Your feelings will get hurt one time or another. It happens to everyone.

Once you get signed your agency will make you a comp card that looks similar to this that you hand in at castings:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 12.07.22 AM

Stephanie Cook Comp Card

Yes, I realize the shoe size is wrong but it won’t let me upload the corrected one. PDF woes.

When you go to a casting you sign in and wait for what can seem like an eternity with tons of girls in a room. It doesn’t matter if it says you were scheduled for 11am, just like a doctors office sometimes you won’t go in for 1-2 hours, so be prepared to bring a granola bar and put a sufficient amount of money into your meter. It’s okay to be nervous, castings always gave me massive anxiety for whatever reason but usually it does get better the more you go. The hardest part is showing up. Usually within a week if they like you they will send you in for a callback and then you repeat the process. No matter what the outcome just always know that you tried your best. Sometimes they want a certain look and it has nothing to do with you.

It is now 2016 and unfortunately social media (primarily instagram, twitter, and facebook) has spread like a disease and many agencies/castings want you to have a certain number of followers or they will ask your number. I got turned down by a bikini company AT a casting because they said I didn’t have enough followers. Many contact forms now include filling in your follower count. The music video I booked in China wouldn’t allow you into the casting unless you had at least 5,000 followers. Gone are the days of just being talented alone and for now, social media is here to stay. Youtubers, Viners, Instagramers are now not only making ridiculous amounts of money but also moving to the top of the list for entertainment jobs because of the ability to promote for brands and projects. You can increase your follower count by using popular hashtags, posting consistently in a specific niche (ie. fitness modeling), take quality photos, cross-posting with other big accounts, or you can find a social media manager (like me) who specializes in building accounts. This can take time and sometimes money but it is worth it.

It can be really fun and rewarding experience, you will get to do some super cool things. I was cast to be on a TV game show and won a few thousands dollars. I was grateful to travel to places I never thought I would go and get paid to experience other cultures. I got to meet some celebrities and even sing in front of one of my lifelong idols, which by the way, I was so starstruck and nervous I messed up all the lyrics. It has helped me become a strong person and accept rejection gracefully as well as be confident in my body and its imperfections. You will blossom and be forced to come out of your shell.  It is a journey that even though it is time for me to move on to other endeavors, I will never regret nor forget. And I wish you luck on your own 🙂

-Cee

Don’t forget to subscribe to be added to my email list! 😉

 

 

Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, and Intuitiveness, Oh my!

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 9.18.41 PM

Three of the most valuable gifts that can be learned in this life are self-awareness, mindfulness, and intuitiveness. The most important of these is self awareness because it allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment. Even though some may argue that these are inherited traits or held in our subconscious, I truly believe that these are skills most people can master if they do the work and that the three go hand in hand. It took me many years of self reflection and trial and error to understand how some people had the ability to draw people in in a way others couldn’t. Those types that are told they are an”old soul” or the ones people meet and say they have felt like they have known them forever or those that you feel immediately at ease around. This is by no coincidence, these well-rounded people have simply learned how to adapt to others, listen, and pick up on social cues. They have realized that while it is important to acknowledge certain situations, not everything needs a big reaction and when it is appropriate to react. Some people will be blessed to learn these skills very young while others will never achieve this even as a senior citizen, whether they just aren’t capable or too lazy to learn because they are stuck in their ways. But if you can master these skills, you will have the key to getting almost whatever you want even in the most difficult situations or with the most difficult people. P.S. This has nothing to do with manipulation which I highly advise against.

 

***

When I was younger and started to come out of my shell I was consistently finding myself in a cycle of stress, complications, heartache, anxiety, feeling misunderstood, misunderstanding others, feeling offended, sensitivity, riding a roller coaster of extreme emotional highs and lows, and feeling victimized due to my interactions with others…eventually as I grew older I learned that a lot of my feelings had to do with meI was socially inept… failing at taking hints, absorbing cues, and talking way more than I ever listened. I was a know-it-all (as most young people are) and more obnoxious than Wendy Williams. I wasn’t aware of the energy I was putting out and how others around me were absorbing it. I wasn’t interested in learning anything new especially if it meant changing something about myself. I would say, “I can careless what they think about me or if they like me” but the truth was I was always feeling offended and victimized (and honestly, sometimes still do.) And just like this entire paragraph uses so much “I”, that’s exactly what my life was like back then. All about I. Although self-awareness contains the word self,  the point of this post is how to use your self-awareness to positively interact and understand others and how they relate to you. It makes life a lot more pleasant and draws people towards you.

I don’t know if I am making sense. It is something I find so difficult to explain without offending someone because it comes off as if you are attacking their character.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 6.58.54 PM

Have you ever ridden in an uber or lyft and the driver just keeps on talking and asking questions…and talking…and talking while the entire time you’re silent or responding with short responses because you are obviously not in the mood to talk but they aren’t catching the hint? Or how about that friend that keeps talking for hours when you make it clear you’re not actively listening by saying “uh huh” or “that’s interesting” or looking down while playing with your phone? Ladies, how about when you use a bothered tone with a guy at the bar who won’t go away and doesn’t get the hint that you’re not interested? Or that person who has texted you 5 times in a row and you have your read receipts turned on so it’s obvious you don’t want to talk to them but they will probably send a 6th text anyway just for good measure? How about that person who is in your space (taxi, gym, nail salon, literally anywhere) and talks so loudly on the phone that you hear their entire 20 minutes conversation regardless if everyone is silently glaring at them to shut up? There’s thousands of examples of these annoyances.

These are the types of examples of people this post is geared toward. The ones who are not intentionally trying to irritate others, they innocently just aren’t aware. Maybe you are that person. It’s okay if you are, at one point I was too. I was HORRIBLE at taking hints and cues. No one is a mind reader but sometimes it is really easy to figure out how someone feels just by paying attention.

The first thing I always notice about someone is the way someone reacts to me. I try not to come on too strong even though I can be aggressive by nature. The most important things you should take in about a person immediately are their volume, tone, body language, and vocabulary. These will tell you everything you need to know about how a person feels about you and how you should proceed.

I love to talk and share stories with everyone I meet. Sometimes I am too open and want to relate too much that I end up talking to them for hours with me mostly doing the talking. No one wants to be known as the “will he/she shut up already” person. I have learned to notice when someone is losing interest and I will either change the topic, redirect the attention toward them, or end the conversation. You can tell when someone is losing interest by silence, an annoyed tone or yawning/sigh, fidgety or rigid body language, one word bland responses. The hints are so clear but many people won’t see them. The self-awareness part is you checking in with yourself to see if you are doing too much, the mindfulness is paying attention to their cues, and the intuitiveness part comes from that deep feeling inside your gut that, yes, you are being fucking annoying.

Some people will think “why should I care how they feel?” This generation has an “IDGAF” mentality, but you should be giving lots of them because if not you gain a reputation as being the obnoxious, aloof person that people do not want to be around. You become the butt of people’s jokes. You are the one who a person has screenshotted your embarrassing behavior to all their friends or worse — posted it somewhere online. When it’s a future boss, a potential partner, or a good networking connection — you SHOULD definitely care. Also, chances are if you truly don’t care at all, you’re embarrassing your friends/family and you have gained a reputation for being that person people cannot bring to events or parties. There has been many times I have been asked to not bring someone to certain places because they are unaware their behavior is irritating to others. There is also a big difference between not giving a crap and just being an ass. Find the silver lining.

Another huge problem that I see in the millennial generation is a huge lack of texting etiquette which sadly is the majority of human communication now. In college, I was that girl that would ponder for hours if a guy got my text. If he didn’t reply I would send another…and another…and another…you know, just in case he forgot or my text got lost in the intergalactic somewhere. If he didn’t respond it would anger me because I didn’t get it…HOW DARE THIS ASSHAT IGNORE ME!! Once I learned the cues that someone is clearly not interested, I no longer had to ask my friends “what should I say next?” or “what is he thinking?” advice.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.32.12 PM.png

Some people probably think this part is a no brainer but I assure you if you scroll through my facebook message inbox or text messages you will find at least 10 more Marvels. I have specifically turned on my read receipts at times just to drop a hint and surprise, it didn’t work. I continued to be visually harassed with “heys” and “what’s ups” to the point of having to block the person.

The general rules with texting should simply be this:

  1. You text.
  2.  If they do not respond after an hour or more you can text ONCE more.
  3. If they do not answer again you should just leave it be. *MAYBE if you’re bold text one more time the next day. But after that, it’s time to take a hint and let it go. Believe me, even if the read receipts isn’t on, 9/10 times they received your text. They aren’t sick in bed, they didn’t die, your text isn’t floating around in intergalactic text land. The same goes for facebook or any other platform you can message someone on.  If someone is interested in talking to you, they will talk to you. They will respond, I promise.

 

It is important to check your tone, volume, body language, and vocabulary too because sometimes you’re also giving off a bad vibe that you never intended.

There will be times that I am out with someone and it is as if they are speaking at such an high audible level that it sounds as if they are yelling through a megaphone. Most people that talk loud are unaware of their volume. Normally this is not a huge issue unless the content of your vocabulary is something that should be talked about in private. I was just out with a girl who was talking LOUDLY about vulgar things and genitalia. She saw nothing wrong with it because she didn’t notice everyone around us was horrified. Again, some people will say who cares, but you should care because it made her look unladylike and while she is an amazing person, it immediately portrayed her in a dark light to others.

When talking to someone new you should also be aware of your tone and body language. Some of us have monotonous voices by nature and it is something I have tried to work on to seem more warm. I try to be conscious about uncrossing my arms, smiling, relaxing my shoulders, and straighten my posture. When you sound and look warm it attracts people to you. It is cliche but first impressions are everything.

These are things I encourage all people to work on that ask me for advice and sometimes for people that I think need to hear it…my friends, random guys in my inbox who message me 100 times with no response, and even my parents. It will open up so many more doors for your life and attract so many more opportunities. People will want you around and they will open up to you in a way that they won’t even open up to their friends because you will have an aura around you that is unexplained. You will possess what I call The Gift.