5 Genuine Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My 1-year-old Niece.

I think in life we have this tendency to over-complicate things. We are so worried about appearances and objects that we never truly appreciate our lives. We question everything: What’s the meaning of all this?” or “What should I do?” Let’s cut the bullshit, live authentically, go back to those simpler times when all that mattered was the moment we were in.

1. When you’re tired, sleep. 

When your body is exhausted, your mind is drained, it’s time to get some rest. Instead we stay up till midnight trying to cram in some OT to impress the boss who doesn’t give a shit. We wake up at 5 AM so we can rush to the gym to work on the body we neglect anyway. After that, we consume an incredibly unhealthy dose of caffeine and sugar just to stay awake.

I’ve never been one to take naps but I have a new-found respect for the necessity of slumber. I was completely unaware of the changes in my mood that sleep deprivation took till I made the decision to SLEEP. Unlike my doll of a niece, I can’t just pass out anywhere, so it’s important to make rest a priority, plan it accordingly, just do it.

2. When you are full, stop eating.

This is quite a revelation to me. I will literally make myself sick trying to cram down the remainder of my Chipotle burrito bowl just because it’s there. Whereas when my niece is done eating, she simply just stops. At what point growing up to we gain this idea that just because there is food on our plate, we must eat it? Scoop that shit into a Tupperware dish and save yourself the stomach ache… and dignity.

Stop the over-indulging, the reckless eating, the careless consumption.

3. When you don’t want to play (talk) with someone, don’t.

I have this habit of feeling compelled to have relationships with people I don’t even like. I invest my time, my feelings, even my money into maintaining these connections. We do we make priorities out of people that probably don’t like us either?

Children don’t hide their disdain, it’s time we too live with the same measure of contempt… albeit in a respectful way. I vow to remove the showmanship from my personal life.

4. When you want something, pursue it. 

If I could apply the same sense of persistence my niece shows when going after someone’s Starbucks cup to any part of my life I might be well better off. If she see shoes she likes, she goes and puts them on, even if someone else was wearing them first.

She is completely free of inhibitions, of worries about car notes and other people’s opinions. Her dreams may be small, but at least she goes for them. The idea of doing something you’ve always wanted to do is just as simple as actually doing it. (*SHOCK*)

5. When you feel something, express it. 

Do you have the audacity to stand up for yourself? If you love someone, do you have the guts to tell them? When is the last time you cried?

We’re conditioned to hide our feelings because they can make other people uncomfortable. We’re then forced to express our emotions in other ways, journal writing, drunken venting, inappropriate relations with the mailman- WHATEVER, I’m not here to judge.

You ever seen a 13 month old hold their tongue? Nah, homie because life is too short to not say the things we need to.

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Los Angeles- Land of the Lost.

Where the fuck is Colin Farrell? I’m seriously sitting at the hotel bar down the street from his house and it astonishes me that he’s not here. Isn’t this Hollywood? 10420251_594604910641225_8587184836190925736_nOnly an hour ago I was eating lunch at a popular diner famous for their chicken & waffles when I saw Joe Manganiello. I guess you could say I am accustomed to a certain level of celebrity interaction… or at least goggling.

10846252_594604727307910_8293516383362826024_nVenice Beach… or Santa Monica Beach… or any LA beach if you want to see a surplus of hobo-camps.

In all seriousness, I was caught off guard. I was not expecting to witness such an amount of gaudy shops and beggars in such touristy areas. So be cautious.


But there were some sweet views. I was frolicking down the Santa Monica Pier bridge in my Tom Ford shades when a young gentleman asked for them because he simply did not have as “bright as a future” as me. As clever as it was, I pretended to not know English and continued to walk off.

10689712_594604787307904_7551204844220710327_nEmbarrassingly so, this was my first time consuming the highly caloric In-N-Out. A delightful treat mostly consumed by the native Californians who are mostly accustomed to diets of Voss water and Cocaine.

10858463_594604840641232_3820933080724056786_nBeverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive had brought me many beautiful surprises, but mostly just this. The biggest surprise being that the word surprise does actually have an “r” in it according to my auto-correct.

I stayed in Los Angeles for two days, not at all enough to judge a city on its integrity. The majority of my time was spent on buses and in the company of random bar patrons. However, I did enjoy my time.

Floating from Uber ride to the other, catching glimpses of people I have only seen on silver screens, I will always remember that one time Lukas Haas tried hitting on me at Chateau Marmont but didn’t remember unfollowing me from Instagram a couple months back. #ByeFelipe

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Because I fucking can’t.

I quit my job as a flight attendant. God, I hated it. Who would’a thought? I like to travel, I like free flights, etc.

Christmas eve I get in from a three day trip with rocks in my stomach sick from the anticipation of being called out again. As fate would have it, I heard the anticipated ringing only a few hours later. I told the poor ol’ lad I wouldn’t… couldn’t do it. Either I quit now or I wait till next month- I might as well spend the holidays with my family.

So here I am, trying to figure out what it is I do when I don’t even know what I want.

At least I have figured out how to use emojis.

Que non?

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The lust of a dream is far greater than the satisfaction of obtaining it.

As I prepare for the change of direction that is inevitable in my life, I am filled with excitement and hope. I know, however, that reality will soon dawn. My life is just that, life. No different than anyone else’s, nor special, nor meaningful.

I appreciate and take pride in the strides I have made. I value the relationships with the ones in my life. I feel compassion and sorrow and a great scope of emotions that remind me that I am human.

For every shift in my life I feel is the equivalent of a child curiously looking under rocks. Will I find what I’m looking for here?

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Dear Graham…

I find your presence in my life almost as unnerving as your excessive and incorrect use of quotations marks for emphasis around seemingly random words throughout your latest message.

I did delete you from Facebook the moment I accepted your request. I knew I had made a mistake as you make me uncomfortable and any communication from you shouldn’t be encouraged. An appropriate response to this type of rejection would be to simply let it go. The inappropriate response, and the route you decided to take, was to message me in that pathetically condescending way you did. Thank you for thinking of me when it came to that completely made up movie role you were going to offer me, but I wasn’t interested anyway.

When I would get mad at someone as a child I would tell them “I was going to give you a dollar, but not now.” I thought this would teach them to not neglect me, that it would make them feel sorry for not paying attention to me. I suppose some people never grow out of that behavior.

Let me be clear, any relationship you felt between us is completely fabricated in your own head. You are not entitled to my friendship.

Apparently what you lack in correct social behavior and grammar skills, you also lack in proper medical knowledge.

I like acting just as much as I enjoy writing, reading, traveling, and spending hours looking at Pinterest for recipe ideas. Would I say that any of these things are my passion? Probably not. You however took it upon yourself to assume something and when that turned out to be incorrect you called me a sociopath. Most people just call me a normal twenty-two year old who’s trying to figure out what she wants from life! tə-mah-tohtə-may-toh

The fact that there exists no communication between us, that I’ve barred you from my life, and yet you’ve found a way to still keep tabs on me is chilling. You have taken such a strong personal and emotional response to me that you’ve disregarded all appropriate measures of socializing in order to terrorize me, even though we are strangers.

I am not here to point fingers but… you are fucking crazy and if you harass me any further I will take police action.

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How do I get a celebrity sex tape?

I decided to move to Portland… then I decided not to. There was the flight attendant career I tried for for about eight minutes. I then told myself I’d take this time off to get in shape so I went to the gym three times.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I’m currently working in an unpaid internship I don’t even like, on the verge of dropping out of community college for a third time, and jumping back and forth on foolproof ways of fixing my life once and for all. I’m unhappy, but mostly just stuck in rut.

Do people at twenty-two know what they want to do with their lives? Because I sure don’t. Like, at all-at all. I can’t think of anything I’m so passionate about I’d devout years of my life towards achieving it. I’m a true American, I prefer my gratification to be instant.

I’m inconsistent and indifferent and afraid my life is going to be so mediocre because of it. I JUST WANT TO BE FABULOUS. All day- all night. And married to an incredibly successful rapper. And have a great complexion. I guess what I’m basically saying is that I want to be Kim Kardashian when I grow up.

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Four years ago today, Friday August 13 2010, I was wondering where the fuck my brother was. 

It wasn’t like him to not come home at night. But no matter, I had a party to be. I’ll ask him what it was he did all night tomorrow. Tomorrow came and he never did come home. Nor did he that next night. It wasn’t until Sunday morning when my uncle and father found his body in the woods down the street from the house we grew up in did I learn where he went that night. 

Suicide isn’t glamorous or courageous. It is an act done by a person that truly feels there is no other way to escape how they feel. 

My brother’s name is Paul Caraway and he was twenty-one years old when he decided living just wasn’t his thing. I’m sure there are people who are up in arms over my casualness of his suicide. I’ve been told plenty of times about the families who have to deal with family members doing themselves off, escaping their duties. It’s selfish. It’s cowardice. 

I’ve been that family that has to deal with the aftermath of a suicide. I call tell you about my heartbreak or my own depression fueled drug addiction. I can tell you about how after my brother committed suicide that I would drive down the highway just on the verge of swerving over onto oncoming traffic. Or the suicide letters I wrote and never fulfilled. 

I was the coward. I wanted to die and I couldn’t even do it. 

My brother was my best friend. As we grew up we were shuttled from house to house and eventually ended up in foster care. The day we were picked up we were driven to a beautiful big house and told this is where we were going to live. We were lice-ridden, poor children who never had anything. As you could imagine, we couldn’t contain our excitement. It wasn’t until I was out of the van and the door closed that I was told it would just be me. I cried. As a girl who grew up with only brothers I wasn’t accustomed to crying in front of anyone, but I cried to the point of hiccups. I wasn’t worried about my parents or other siblings, I was worried about the boy in the van that I thought I’d never see again. 

My amazing grandmother eventually won custody of us and we reconvened in Kansas City. We’d often go “exploring” , walking for hours at a time talking about god or politics. Even as children we had this peculiar heightened obligation to stay knowledgeable. 

Paul was a shy, funny guy. A genius in some sense with an IQ score of 165. He also had an extra tooth that he would point out as making him special. Something I’d always laugh at, who the fuck wants an extra tooth? The guy made fun of me for having dimples. I told him it was also special, to which he replied, “webbed toes are special, too.”

Touche, motherfucker. 

My brother went to a college preparatory academy, the same one that I eventually tested into. He dropped out before I entered my freshman year but I still heard all about him from upper classmen. “Caraway? Are you related to Paul? Man…I remember the time he climbed the top of the school building. That guy was my hero.” Or, “You’re related to Paul? That guy is hilarious!” 

It’s some impossible shoes to fulfill, I tell you.

I knew he was depressed. I was depressed, and we often talked about it. At one (marijuana-induced conversation) point we concluded that the way to live forever was somehow to kill yourself. I forgot how that actually panned out but we thought we were fucking geniuses. 

His first suicide attempt was April 2010, an early morning when my dad busted into my bedroom screaming to get up. Not accustomed to my dad being around or people bursting into my bedroom, I woke up in a daze. I walked into my brother’s room to see what he was doing in this commotion only to see his wrists bleeding and a shoelace tied around his neck. 

I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife before returning to his room to saw off the restraint around his neck. How ironic, I was worried about cutting him while attempting to cut it off before it strangled him, whereas he was worried I would cut if off in time. When I got it off he laughed.  

It was five in the morning, I was confused, crying, and my brother just laughed in my face after cutting off the shoelace that was strangling him to death as our father attempted to stop the bleeding from his wrists. 

I slapped him the face. “Why would you do this? Why would you do this to me?” I asked him as the EMTs arrived. They carried him off on a stretcher as he gave his most convincing remorseful-face.

The state put him up in a rehabilitation center to try and get him evaluated for medication. As a couple of aides were escorting him from one building to the next he politely thanked them both for their service and told them again, very politely, he would be leaving then, before taking off and jumping a six-foot fence and eventually running the eight miles home. That was when my grandmother called me. I rushed home, from where I can’t remember anymore, before cornering him at a friend’s apartment where he told me he was going to shoot himself in the head. 

One of the most incredibly saddest moments of my life was when I had to call the police on my brother. They came out and confronted him. Apparently by the law, they can only arrest him if he openly admits to wanting to kill himself, which he did.

He must have known the law, which makes me wonder if that was just a cry for help. They took him off to another rehabilitation center.

I skipped school the next day and proceeded to the county courthouse. I was eighteen years old and had no idea what I was doing, but I filed the paperwork to have my brother involuntarily committed on act of insanity. I fucking tried. 

I went and visited him a week later. He was smiling and even apologetic. He told me he was “such an idiot” that he’d “never do that to” me again.

It was a couple good weeks. I was busy working, about to start college, and even getting married. 

On August 12th, I bought fake ecstasy. (Drug experimentation was something we did often. Don’t get me started into that story about him tripping Dramamine when I was trying to sneak in one night YEARS ago)  When I told my brother about it, he wanted some. So I gave him some money to buy it and let him borrow my car to go get it. When he came back he decided to go watch a movie, I went on a walk to the park.

I didn’t see him that night, but the next morning we all woke up early. My grandma wanted the family to go to breakfast. Me, him, and my uncle (who is now deceased) rode in the same car. My brother asked about about some good liquor to celebrate with. I offered Disaronno, my uncle- tequila. 

Later that day, as I was getting ready for work, my brother came into my room. He asked me if I was really happy. He wanted to know if I was really in love, if I’d be okay. Then he gave me a hug. It all seemed so weird, and out of place, but I thought he was just being emotional and/or drunk. (Both very plausible excuses) 

That was the night that he took his shoes off, pocketed a handful of my dad’s sleeping pills, and walked down the street to the woods with a bottle of Disaronno to never wake up again. 

He was so set on the idea of dying, no one was going to stop him. Trust me, I’ve been paying for it ever since. 

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KANSAS CITY IS THE BEST CITY- PART 1: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Opened in 1933, The Nelson (as we call it for short) is Kansas City’s premier art museum. A staple field trip in every adolescent student’s life within a 100 mile radius and an escape for every type of art admirer. The Nelson boasts impressive collections ranging everywhere from African to European Renaissance to the ever popular Egyptian exhibit (complete with a mummy).

The view from the front including lawn and additional exhibits

The view from the front including lawn and additional exhibits

The giant lawn in front is usually crowded with picnic goers on nicer days, often including myself. I will grab a skinny iced vanilla latte (or bottle of wine) and my nook and head over for an afternoon spent of chigger bites and intense reading from the book I started to read eight months ago but can’t seem to get into.

Robert Morris's Glass Labyrinth

Robert Morris’s Glass Labyrinth

If warm sandwiches and public intoxication aren’t your thing, there are multiple engaging things to do still outside of the museum, including the above pictured Glass Labyrinth.

Built in celebration of the Nelson’s 25th anniversary, the “Glass Labyrinth is a brilliant, interactive addition that now occupies a prominent site in the south section of the park”… or so according the museum’s website.

Also be on the look for the three giant shuttlecocks placed around the grounds, an icon of KC.

Entrance into the galleries

Entrance into the galleries

The museum itself is quite impressive in size, not including one of the newest renovations, the Bloch building. Once trekking up the stairs to the main entrances to the museum, you enter the lobby as seen above. Once stepping into the tapestry adorned walls of the room you are immediately greeted by a suited attendant offering maps and advice. At which point you pay your admission price of … NOTHING.

It’s free, let’s all rejoice in our thriftiness.

"Step up your art appreciation, Scrub."

“Step up your art appreciation, Scrub.”

Photography is allowed in most of the galleries, however, flash cameras are not.

I have a specific route I tend to take while visiting but I recommend that you allow yourself to be drawn to wherever and whatever you may fancy.

A particular game I like to play while strolling is “would I wear that?”. It mostly consists of jewelry and mostly located in the Roman/Byzantine exhibitions.

With a high bun, oh yissss.

With a high bun, oh yissss.

As a history fanatic, it was to my absolute delight when I stumbled upon some of the galleries that were actual rooms, or walls, of art. As there is something so gratifying about being immersed from wall to wall in beautiful works from the past.

You'll get in trouble for licking the walls. FYI.


In one of the Asian galleries, meditation classes are given once a week. It’s nothing I’ve tried yet, but I feel would be a really good bragging subject at my local juice bar.

I don't know if it's technically a terrace

View onto the court from the second story terrace (?)

According to the museum’s website, “In the dramatic style of a 15th-century Italian courtyard, Rozzelle Court Restaurant serves artful cuisine worthy of its glorious setting.” 

While I can’t really account for the quality of it’s cuisine, the beauty of the Nelson’s unique courtyard is obvious.

Meet the Museum Guard

Meet the Museum Guard

Garnering second glances and oh-so-original selfies for years, the Duane Hanson constructed sculpture of a traditional museum guard is a well known piece of art here.

Some of the lesser known pieces known by me are located in the Bloch Building, along side our friend the Guard.


Modern art has never really been my forte. Regardless, the Nelson offers the more appreciative types quite the array of art to view.

I don't get it.

I don’t get it.

All condescending put aside, it really is impressive the work put into some of pieces displayed in the Modern & Contemporary galleries.

133If you haven’t yet, visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art whether you be a local or simply visiting. It is one of the most enriching experiences offered in the Midwest and on par to the art museums of Chicago and New York.

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There’s an epidemic in our society, it’s called “resting bitch face.” And it’s real.

After forgetting my sunglasses and/or judging people’s stupid-disapproving comments on CLEARLY HILARIOUS photos of cats on imgur, I’ve grown a permanent scowl.

"What do you mean you don't like Chris Farley?"

“What do you mean you don’t like Chris Farley?”

Depending on how hard I’m concentrating, the crease in my brow can be anywhere from a smolder on par to that of Colin Farrell’s (yeaaaa right) to a Neanderthal-esque look of confusion.

It’s a trait I share with most of the people in my family, unfortunately. However, I am the only one that is A. vain enough B. financially capable to get something done. So while I walk around with the forehead of a toddler, my sister looks like she’s sitting on the panel of a cupcake competition.

This is me honestly trying to scrunch my brow. Tres Chic, non?

This is me honestly trying to scrunch my brow. Tres Chic, non?

And if you were wondering, YES! I am a hypocrite. I cringe at questionable food coloring choices and think that eating anything that is not bought from Whole Foods will give me cancer. Then I go and get my face injected with unknown substances because I don’t like my brow furrow. To each their own vice.

It costs me about $150-200 and last upwards of 6-8 months. That’s months of being able to look in the mirror and not think to myself that I look bad or worry about my signs of premature aging. I am living life, yo.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “but the first picture isn’t even that bad”, I know. I am not going to really put a bad photo of me up. You’re going to have to take my word for it.

Don't I look like someone you'd want to take out to lunch and pick up the tab for?

Don’t I look like someone you’d want to take out to lunch and pick up the tab for?

That photo makes me want to go back to blonde. Ugh. Dilemmas.

Maybe when I’m forty and it’s more an appropriate time to actually look forty I will cease to get botox injections, I’m not holding my breath. At the end of the day I do what I need to feel okay with myself, and at least that doesn’t mean bathing in the blood of innocent virgins (see: Elizabeth Bathory).

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