The diary of 12-year-old Ciera.

The other day I was reading about an organization – Mortified: Angst Written – that hosts shows consisting of people reading journal entries or poems from their childhood as a form of comedy. So I decided to go and read my journal from when I was 12 years old. Against my better judgement I have decided to share the first entry with you. I’m going to type it as is, so there will be grammatical errors. I wasn’t always the grammar nazi I am today. 

May 31, 2002

7:42 p.m.

Dear Diary,

Hey I’m on my way to Scottie’s. He’s one of my mom’s guy friends, that’s 2 separate words. Yesterday was my b-day. I got a bunch of clothes and today I exchanged all the ones that didn’t fit. My mom gave me this diary yesterday. My great grandpa is really sick and everyone except Nany and Mommie want he to move into a nursing home. I don’t think he should move into a nursing home. I also take dance. Nationals is coming up and I think my tap and jazz production is goin to make the TV show. I have 3 dance teachers Tiffany Hilliard, Sadie Roberts and Pat Hall. Tiff is my favorite teachers. She teaches tap! She’s awesome and funny. At one competition all the class made a bet w/ her that if we got 1st place overall and a platinum she had to do a tuck jump and she did!! hehe it was so funny.

10:35 p.m.

I just got done swimming. It was ok. Cole and his friends r so annoying. They asked me wut u call a blonde wit pigtails sand would’t tell me the answer b/c they said I wuz 2 young. They must not know me very well. I cuse at school even though it’s a private Christian school. NCA is wut it’s called. Short for Northside Christian Academy. I’m goin into 7th grade. There’s this boy Chris Crowley. He’s a grade below me but he’s suppose to be n my grade. I have a major crush on him. He has blonde hair, brown eyes and a 6 pack. He’s so HOT. This summer I’m goin 2 Florida and New York. I’m goin 2 Florida w/ my Papa Ray. He keeps my horse and Savannah’s horse. (She’s my sis).

Well G2G

Sincerely,

Sierra Rae Choate (Yeah, I know that’s not how you actually spell my name)

The way you are.

Yesterday I was getting ready to take Kahlua to her training class when I looked in the mirror. I thought to myself, “Oh my, it is not a no makeup kind of day.” I reached for my makeup bag but stopped myself. Why did I feel the need to “make myself prettier” just for an hour long training class full of women who probably couldn’t care less about the way I look?

Even as someone who can be quite self confident (all of my closest friends are probably laughing at that statement) there are instances every day where I want to change something about my appearance, from simply putting on makeup or thinking I’m too big to wear some of my favorite clothes. We all, men and women, are constantly judging ourselves and others when really we should be looking for the beauty and good in people. We all have at least one person who is close to us who struggles with body image. From skipping meals to obsessively working out to being on a never-ending diet. Some of the most beautiful girls I know are always watching what they eat and if they have a day where they spoil themselves it’s torture at the gym or no eating anything but lettuce for the next day. For what? Why do we all feel the need to do this?

I get it, we all want to look like Sarah Jessica Parker in a bathing suit, but of course there’s probably something you would change about her too.

How boring would life be if we were all exactly the same? We all strive to be independent, but in the end all work toward being exactly the same. Instead of wearing clothes that fit our body types we are changing our body types to fit our clothes. I know a girl who is beautiful, not a size zero, but definitely in the top five for most beautiful girls I know. I would kill for her body and curves. The worst part is, she is constantly being critiqued and told she needs to lose weight. It’s bullshit. So you’re not a size zero? Don’t buy a size zero. You don’t look like a girl on the cover of Vogue? Yeah, she doesn’t look like that either.

I know another girl, for obvious reasons I’m not using people’s names, who struggles more than anyone I’ve personally known with body image. She looks like a runway model but still has days where she diets because she looks “bloated” or has some “cellulite” on her legs. Both of these things are invisible to everyone else around. No matter how many people tell her how perfect and gorgeous she is, it doesn’t work. The battle is constant and even though she knows she shouldn’t hate what she sees when she looks in the mirror, she does. Everyday she is struggling to tell herself she is beautiful.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t work out or watch what we eat, but we should do it because working out and a healthy diet make us FEEL better. If you lay on the couch all day eating McDonald’s chances are you’re going to feel like crap because you’re putting crap into your body. We’ve all done it. But if you get up, maybe just even go on a walk outside and eat something delicious but maybe a little healthier than McDonald’s you feel like a million bucks. We are all made perfectly, but not all the same.

Next time you take to beating yourself up, think of five positive things you like about your body. It can be your long eyelashes, your lips, your skin, dat ass ;), anything you love. And if that doesn’t work, remember no one else’s opinion matters. Those people who make you feel terrible about yourself, their words shouldn’t penetrate your thoughts. They definitely shouldn’t be part of your life. And next time you go to say something negative about someone else, trust me I’m more guilty of this than most, think about how your words may influence their thoughts. We should all work to build others up, not tear one another down. As women especially, and a lot of men as well, we are hard enough on ourselves, let’s try to be that positive light in the live’s of others.

Not everyone has the same religious beliefs as me, and that’s okay. But for those of you who do, how can you truly believe in God but constantly criticize the one thing he made in his image, you. He doesn’t mess up. The creator of the universe took time to create you, just the way you are. To not love yourself is to not truly love the Lord, because he lives within us. We are his children, part of his kingdom. Think about that the next time you look in the mirror and are disgusted at what you see.

Love has no limits.

At least four times a week someone makes a comment about how hard my long distance relationship must be. I understand, the thought of only seeing the person you love once a month is tough, but if you really love them shouldn’t it be enough?

At the beginning of this year and end of the last I was in a weird spot. I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t sure what I enjoyed doing, what would take me from complacency to joy. I also didn’t know how to be alone and be okay. At the time I was living with my ex boyfriend, which is a whole other story in itself, but he didn’t make me happy. The reality of it was that I was looking to someone else for my happiness when it was really up to me. I needed to take the time to look deeper at my life and find out who I was. Everything about my life was different than in previous years. Through high school dance was my everything, then college came along and it was school and hanging out with my friends, but after graduating I was in a sort of limbo. Graduate school was definitely part of the picture, but an education and career should never be what defines a person. I needed time alone to figure myself out, but there was one problem – I had already (without planning on it) began a relationship with someone I couldn’t walk away from. So how do you manage when you need space and time to learn who you are but you’ve already met the love of your life? Well, if you’re in a long distance relationship you don’t have to choose.

There was a period in my life where relationships were almost entirely physical for me. Emotional connections didn’t exist with my boyfriends and I preferred it that way. When you barely understand what’s going on inside of your own head how can you talk about it with someone else? Cue Keith, that all changed. All we did was talk from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to sleep, sometimes even waking up to text each other in the middle of the night. In a way I was forced to let this man into my life and my heart because otherwise our relationship wouldn’t have progressed past a few friendly texts. You can only small talk for so long. There isn’t anything about me he doesn’t know, and this is the first time I can say that about anyone in my life, aside from my best girl friends.

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Since Keith and I have started dating I have spent a fair amount of time around people who aren’t in long distance relationships, as most people aren’t, and I’ve made a few observations. Most couple are entirely obsessed with spending time together, without that time they don’t feel loved. Without the face-to-face time most people feel like their significant other doesn’t care, like something is falling apart. I’ve been there. But if we love someone and they are wholly committed to us as well, the doubts about their feelings shouldn’t surface by going a few nights without seeing them. If your boyfriend or girlfriend goes a few hours without talking to you and your world crumbles, maybe you two should work on creating a more solid bond.

But what I’ve noticed the most is how couples who spend every day together rarely know how to have a conversation with each other. Girls often ask their friends what to do in certain situations, “things have been weird lately, what should I do?” When I say, “talk to him/her” no one ever listens. Most problems could be solved by a simple, “hey you did [[insert complaint]] and it really made me feel [[insert unwanted emotion]].” I guarantee you that your relationship would improve. How do I know this? Because talking is pretty much all Keith and I have. Without communication everything we have falls apart, and that’s not something either of us want. The fact that we talk so much is what makes us so strong.

I’m not saying our relationship is perfect. We both have moments where we would like to be face-to-face so we can strangle each other, and going weeks at a time without being together is harder than most of you will ever understand. But you reminding us over and over again about how lonely we must be and how much long distance must suck really doesn’t help.

If you want to better understand our connection take a few days, hang out with your friends, don’t spend any time with your girlfriend or boyfriend and make time for yourself. After those few days see how amazing you feel when you finally see them again. Now multiply that to weeks at a time and maybe you will begin to understand why we think it’s worth it.

I’m a professional now.

I’m enrolled in three classes at Georgetown, two I am comfortable with – news writing and ethics – and one I am a little nervous about – video journalism. It all comes down to having experience in print journalism and no experience on the video side of things. But four (maybe three, I can’t remember) weeks in I’m starting to feel a little better. I completed my first project, and while I am no where near a professional, it’s a start. I know you all are DYING to see the video, so here it is below. Please remember this is the first time I have shot or editing any video content. Don’t be too critical. <3

On another note, momma is making an appearance up here this weekend. I have a long list of things I’ve wanted to do, but we will see how much we actually accomplish. Hopefully I’ll have at least once good story for you.

How Kahlua saved my life.

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When I started talking about adopting a dog I wasn’t convinced it was the best idea. That was before I came across Carolina Hearts Aussie Rescue. After seeing the dogs on the website and submitting and application I knew adopting an Australian Shepherd was what I should do. Mom, Savannah and I had an Aussie when I was younger and she was the best dog we could have adopted. The process was long, but after a couple of months I drove to Salisbury, N.C. to meet my baby girl, Kahlua. They told me she was a very hyper dog, but that day when I met her she was calm and sweet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The first couple of weeks after I adopted Kahlua she would wake me up at 7 a.m. every morning and wouldn’t calm down until about 10 p.m. every night. She was a full time job. It took me some time to learn how to handle her and all that comes with her excitement. I’m not going to lie, at first I was overwhelmed. I have loved her from the moment I saw her, but the non-stop playing and running was wearing me out.

One day Kahlua and I were at the dog park and she was playing fetch, which is her full-time job. She kept bringing the ball back, dropping it at my feet and nudging me. I threw the ball and as she trotted back to me the look on her face made my heart melt. The look of pure joy I saw in her eyes and smile made me realize why God brought her to me – to bring that joy into my everyday life.

Everyone had their opinions of why I shouldn’t adopt a dog before I brought Kahlua home. What about graduate school? What if you don’t have time to take care of her? What if she’s too much to handle? But regardless of those things I wanted her.

Fast forward a month or so and I packed up everything I own, Kahlua, Princess Baby and Mr. Tinkles and moved 400 miles away from home to attend Georgetown University. Now, when you first hear about a 24-year-old taking three animals with her on such a big move I bet you have a concerned look on your face, but after being here about a month I know that Kahlua has saved my life.

I only know a handful of people up here so far, and most of them work during the day. I have classes three nights a week, so sometimes I spend my days alone without speaking to a single person face-to-face. But thanks to Kahlua I’m up, I’m doing things, I’m leaving the apartment, I’m smiling, I’m laughing, I’m happy. She doesn’t let me sleep all day. She doesn’t let me lay on the couch watching TV for hours at a time. Kahlua is up, active and always wanting to do something fun. We spend our days on long walks, playing tug-of-war, going to the dog park and occasionally going shopping for new toys. We are always playing, even if I’m doing homework or studying. I can be cooking dinner, but we are still playing a mini game of fetch. I can be on the phone with my mom or boyfriend, but we are playing tug-of-war. She has taken an introverted person who has struggled with depression almost her entire life and brought laughter and happiness in a difficult time.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little lonely, just wanting to get out of the apartment. Without Kahlua I know I would lose my mind. I would spend my days sitting here alone watching TV, not talking to a single human. The best part is, she doesn’t even know how happy she makes me. She has no idea that her early morning wake up calls (which are now closer to about 8 or 9 a.m.) with her slobbery toys are the highlight of my day and that her constant need to go is bringing light into my life every day.

Falling in love.

Saying that my first full week of classes has been perfect would be an understatement. All of the things I worried about are no longer an issue, and I am so excited to really dig into my classes and see what the semester holds. I’m falling in love with this city, university and all of the people who I have had the pleasure to meet and talk to over the course of the weeks I have been here, not to mention my short trip home to see my friends and family who I’ve been missing. Shout out to Ashley Mitzel Dillard! Your wedding was gorgeous, just like you.

Video journalism was the class I was, by far, the most nervous about attending. I’m a pen and paper kind of girl, so the thought of having to shoot and edit something terrified me. Plus, the broadcast class I took at UNC Charlotte was awful. After the first class my feelings completely changed, and video journalism might be the class I’m most excited about now. Having the opportunity to create a small documentary-type project about something, anything I feel is important excites me to no end. (As I finish projects for all of my classes I’ll post them on here for y’all to check out) Not to mention the teacher seems pretty awesome. All of my teachers seem to be pretty cool and like their classes are going to be extremely interesting, which would fit nicely with the rest of what I’ve experienced in DC.

Yesterday I was on the metro. I’ve met a lot of people on the metro – drunk law student, cute little boy who wouldn’t stop blowing me kisses, all kinds – but the best was yesterday. I step onto the metro and a man is trying to find a pen, and the lady in the seat in front of him is halfway listening to him. She’s mainly focused on the conversation she’s having with the lady next to her. Over and over again he says, “let me get that number.” I think prior to me walking up on the conversation he had given her his number. She says, “I’ll call you when you get rid of that girlfriend.” He just laughs like she’s kidding, which I don’t think she was, then proceeds to go on about how he’s going to take her out somewhere “real nice.” The whole time she is doing that thing all of us girls do when we are flattered and want to flirt back but know better. She was listening to every word he said, but was pretending to have something better to do. Well about two stops in he stands up to get off the metro and says, “Oh, girl, I’m going to be thinking about you all night.” Her response, which made me laugh (kind of loud) was, “You’ll be with your girlfriend all night.” Maybe it’s not that funny if you weren’t there, but I almost DIED laughing.

I’m hoping next week to finally bust out my bicycle and go exploring a little. I’ll take a lot of pictures for everyone, just don’t tell my mom until after I’m back. The thought of me on my bike makes her very nervous.

Until next time. <3

Towed, dog park, Capitol and a $5,000 bottle of wine.

Every box is unpacked and every decoration is hung. I am officially moved into my new apartment, and it’s perfect. I am so in love with every aspect of my apartment complex.

IMG_2576Mom and I started the week off with a rocky start. After we woke up Monday morning we realized my car had been towed. The complex is very strict with parking, and my temporary pass expired a day before I thought it would. After talked to the property manager we had the $160 fee waved. It was a short drive to pick up Cinnamon (my car). Momma expected me to be really upset when she told me, but, like I told her, there are worse things that can happen. We shouldn’t get upset over every little thing that doesn’t go smoothly.

After picking up the car we headed to the dog park with little Kahlua to let her stretch her legs a little. She’s obsessed with playing fetch and has been dying to get out of the apartment and run around. Everything has been a little overwhelming for her and the kitties, but they have been adjusting nicely. Everyone is starting to become familiar with all of the new things, new people and new noises. Kahlua barks at almost everyone when we go outside, especially dogs, but once she has the chance to sniff them and see they are okay she calms down a lot. She’s been making all kinds of friends.

We wrapped up Monday by going into the city for some Mexican food, and mom wanted to see the capitol. It was nice to finally get into DC and walk around a little, just relax and enjoy the day. There are so many things left on my to-do list, it’s just nice to get away for a little while and not think about all of the things I still need to accomplish. I’ve been trying to take my list one item at a time, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

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The night ended perfectly, though, with a trip to Total Wine, which is right next to my apartment. That might be a little dangerous. But we picked up a wine rack and a couple bottles of wine for the week. If there’s one thing the Choate women all agree on it’s wine and how we can’t live without it. While at the store we saw a $5,000 bottle of wine. Mom and I just want to taste it to see what makes it so expensive. We convinced Savannah we bought it and drank it without her. She was upset to say the least. She hates being left out of things like that. :)

I’m not sure what today has in store for us, but I know it’s going to be a new adventure in my new home. I can’t wait to venture out and see what else DC and Alexandria have in store for me.