Tag Archives: family

It’s A Gift Being A Big Sister

For me, being a big sister can be a frustrating role to have, but can also be very rewarding.  I have three siblings…all are younger than me.  I would like to share a bit about each one of my them to show just how much they mean to me.

(From Left) Ariana, Joshua, Rayah, and Me

(From Left) Ariana, Joshua, Rayah, and Me

Ariana or Ari as we call her…she is quite the opposite of me in many ways.  She has blonde hair…I have brown.  She is short…I am tall.  Our tastes in music, shows, and movies are completely different, but I love her just the way she is.

Honestly, it would be kind of boring if we didn’t argue about what radio station to listen to while driving or who borrowed a shirt and didn’t return it.

I believe our relationship is like many other sisters who are close in age…she is three years younger than I am.  There is a competitiveness between us, which I am certain will always be there.  We always have to do things differently than the other, I would assume it’s so prove who is right and wrong.

Regardless of our differences, I have always had this strong urge to protect her from everything and everyone.  I made sure nobody picked on her…because that was my job.

When she was about 6, I remember she was playing outside.  I was listening to music at the babysitter’s house when she came in crying.  She told me she was swinging on the swings when an older girl started yelling at her to get off.  I was fuming!

We then proceeded to walk around the mobile home park to find this girl because she conveniently disappeared from the play ground.  We eventually found her and I gave her a piece of my mind, telling her to never talk to my sister like that again.  Don’t worry…I didn’t fight her or anything, but I know she wanted to.  I walked away knowing that I said what I wanted to say to her.

I consider Ari to be the other me.  When I can’t help my other two siblings, she is there for them.  Lately, she is able to do more for them than I can.  She understands that she is also a big sister…so she takes on the same role as I do for her.  Ari is a great big sister…and an amazing little sister.

Being there for each other is what bonds us.  Yes, we are different, but we will always be sisters.  I will always be there for her during good times and bad, supporting her decisions, and just having fun with her.

Ari is one of the most beautiful people I know.  Not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.  She will love unconditionally and want nothing in return.  I think she gets that from our mom.

Ariana and Me over the years.

Ariana and Me over the years.

Josh…my baby brother as I like to call him.  Let me just say that he is the greatest little brother a girl can have.  Even though he is younger, I know that he will be there for me.  If a guy is being a jerk…he will set him straight.  If I need someone to cry to…he listens.

One of the things I loved most about growing up with Josh is that we goofed around a lot together…and I mean a lot!  There would be many instances when we would lock ourselves in my room…blast some music…and dance in crazy, weird, and goofy ways until we were about to pass out.  This always gave us a good laugh…I miss it.

There are times when he needs me, but what he needs me for now was different from when he was little.  At three years old he needed me to help him when he fell down or when Ari was picking on him.  Now, he needs me to give him advice about girls, school, and work.  I like to be the one he comes to.

One thing that hasn’t changed with my brother is that he still calls me “Sis”.  I don’t know what it is, but I have always wanted my siblings to keep calling me “Sis” or “Sissy”.  It’s something that I consider special… or something that I long for as a big sister.

When Ari stopped calling me “Sis”, I was actually really sad and I had my brother promise that he will never stop…even when we are old wrinkly people.  He has kept that promise and I am sure will always keep it.

He doesn’t get embarrassed calling me this in front of his friends or in a public place and I am extremely grateful that he does this one thing for me that is dear to my heart.

Josh and Me over the years.

Josh and Me over the years.

Rayah…my baby sister, who is 15 years younger than me is my motivation for many things.  Since the day she was born, she has been a focal point in my life.  I would do anything for that little girl.

My mother gave me the honor of picking her first name and I picked one that was different…a name that wasn’t common.  I knew that she deserved something special because she is special.

The relationship with her is more like a mother daughter relationship.  I take care of her like a mother would when she is with me.  Teaching her new things about life.  Disciplining her as needed.

Now that our mother is gone it’s even more important for me to be there for her.  She will need someone to talk to about boys, about college, about marriage and children.  Being the oldest, I will be able to use my experience to help her because hopefully I will be married and have kids before she does and before I am an old maid.

It is my job to show her what life can be like and what opportunities she has.  It’s just about working hard to get them and having support from people who love you.  That’s what I will be for her.

Rayah and Me.

Rayah and Me.

Having my siblings is one of the greatest gifts I have.  It’s like having friends for life.  In good times and in bad we can count on each other to be there.  There will never be a time in our lives when we don’t see each other and together we will conquer anything.

Love You Always & Forever Ariana, Joshua, and Rayah. ❤

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Life Can Be Unfair

A lot of things in life are unfair.  At seven, its unfair when your sister doesn’t have to help clean the bedroom.  At thirteen, its unfair that you can’t go to a birthday party when all the other kids are.  At seventeen, its unfair that all your friends can drive, but you can’t.

In retrospect, these things don’t really matter.  What really matters, is family.  So, the most unfair thing in life is losing someone close to you.  I know what its like to lose someone and so do many other people, such as Matthew Logelin.  Matt is the author of the memoir titled, “Two Kisses for Maddy”.  If you get a chance I would highly recommend reading it.

It is about the emotional rollercoaster of a man whose child was born pre-mature and less than 24 hours later, his wife passes without ever having held her child.  It is a truly inspirational story of how a single dad raised his daughter while trying to cope with a tragic loss.

Much of his book really hit home for me in the sense that my mother was taken from us while my sister was so young.  Rayah was only four when our mother passed.  She didn’t get a chance to really know her and I feel as though the only memories she will have are the ones we tell her.

It’s so unfair that I got to spend 19 years with her and I was able to grow up with a mother in my life.  My sister doesn’t have that constant mother figure in her life.  She is having to grow without our mother’s love and support.

Rayah understands that our mother is in heaven now and she has been coping in a way that I will never know or experience.  I couldn’t imagine being in Elementary school and having to explain to my classmates that my mom is gone or what it feels like not being a part of the Mother’s Day projects.

When she was younger, I don’t think the concept of death was really there yet.  She didn’t know and still doesn’t completely know the social etiquette when discussing death.  That was usually clear when her and I were out in public alone together.  There was one instance when Rayah and I were at a mall…she was about five.

A sales rep promoting a hair straightener asked if he could use it on me.  With time to kill I said ok.  In the process of doing my hair the sales rep asked Rayah, “Doesn’t your mommy’s hair look so pretty?”

Rayah replied, “My mommy’s dead.  This is my sissy.”  She said it so matter of fact that it hurt my heart hearing it…and embarrassed the sales rep who didn’t speak another word until we left.

The older she gets, the more questions she asks.  She has asked me about my mother’s “skeleton”being buried.  I had to explain to an 8-year-old about why there were no bones in our mother’s grave because we instead cremated her.  Looking at her face while I tried to explain it to her almost made me burst into tears.

Questions like this are really tough for me, but I know that she needs an answer.  She wants to understand and know who her mother is and I want to give her that, no matter how hard it is for me.

Yes, I think about all the things in my life where mom won’t be here, but Rayah hasn’t had our mom for anything passed the age of four.

My mom should have been taking her to her first day of Kindergarten.  Signing her up for a sport and watching her team win games.  Helping her with her first big project in school.  All of these things in Rayah’s life should have had my mother in it.

I know what joy it brings to a child’s life to have her mother and if I could, I would trade all the days I had with her, just so Rayah could have them.

One of the few pictures I have of my sister and mother

One of the few pictures I have of my sister and mother

5 Life Lessons I Have Learned from My 7 Year Old Sister

Sometimes it is weird to think that I have a sister that is 15 years younger than I am.  Yes….at times people assume she is mine (I can assure you that she is not).  Over the past 7 years she has been in my life, I have learned some valuable lessons from her.

1. Don’t Take Everything Too Seriously:  Taking everything so seriously takes the fun out of things.  You shouldn’t want to live a life of seriousness.  Don’t be afraid to make your responsibilities something fun….trust me, it makes it easier to get it done.  Having fun keeps you sane too!  It keeps you from stressing out about everything and falling apart.

2. Dream Big or Don’t Dream at All:  When you are young, all you can think about is what you want to do when you get older, where you want to live, where you want to travel, who you want to meet, but when you get older you realize it’s harder than it sounds.  But I am constantly reminded by my sister that you can still dream.  And I believe that if you work hard enough your dreams can become a reality.  I make sure my sister knows that!  She tells me all the time that she wants to be a dentist and have a nice car.  And I tell her, “You have to work hard for it, do well in school, and don’t get into trouble”.  I make sure she knows that everything won’t be handed to her, but that I will be there to help her.

3. It’s Ok to Cry Sometimes: Kids don’t even think twice about crying.  When they are sad, they cry!  No matter where it is or when, they let their emotions out.  I believe it’s healthy to cry when you need it.  When things are getting tough, you have had a bad day, or you are watching a movie that moves you.  Don’t be afraid to cry.  Keeping everything bottled up won’t help you in the long run.

4. Love Life: I don’t know what it is, but kids seem to have this zest for life all the time.  They run around like they don’t have a care in the world.  They are loving the simple things in life, like going to the park or watching Spongebob.  I think it’s important for anyone to have a love for life.  We should live life like it’s our last day.

5. Family Matters: If I have learned anything from my sister, it’s that family is so important.  Your family are the people that are there for you no matter what.  They are there for you when you are sad and you need someone to talk to.  They are there to cheer you up and make your day a bit better.  They are there when you want to celebrate and you want to have a good time.  No matter what you are going through in life; a bad break-up, you lost your job, you got a bad grade in class, or you lost a game….they are there to help you.  Your family members are your friends for life!  When I am sad, all I have to do is talk to my baby sister and she makes it better.  She may not know what’s going on, but the fact that she is happy makes me forget about all the things that were going wrong.

College Students – What to Do After a Family Member’s Passing

The hardest thing a college student will every go through is the death of a family member, especially immediate family members.  Once you hear the news, you ask yourself what do I do now? Do I drop out of school, take a semester off? Or do I stick it out and hope I pass my classes?  These are not the types of questions you want to think about during a time as difficult as a family member’s passing, but it’s important that you do.

I can tell you from experience that it is possible to get through it and continue with your education.  You shouldn’t give up, but instead use your education as a way to keep your mind off of what’s going on in your life.  When my mother passed during my second year of college, I did consider dropping out, but realized that overall it would be a bad idea.  So, I set out to catch up with my schooling after I had taken three weeks off.  For those college students that don’t know how to continue the semester after a family member has passed, I have included some helpful tips.  Just don’t give up and keep on going!

  1. Talk to the Right College Officials:  The best thing for you to do is talk to a college official that specifically works for the well-being of the students.  When I needed to take three weeks off of school to go through my mother’s belongings, I went to the student development center at Woodbury University.  This staff member helped me out by contacting my professors and gave me the paperwork I needed to fill out.
  2. Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork: If you feel you need to take some time off there is paperwork that you must fill out.  The process is different for every school so be sure to find out what is required from your school.  As for me, I had to make a request for a leave of absence and provide the appropriate paperwork to prove my mother’s passing, which meant I had to bring in my mother’s death certificate.  This may seem wrong, but is quite necessary for both you and the school.  It protects the school and enables them to help you during this difficult period.
  3. Talk to Your Professors: While the staff member you spoke with will contact your professors, you should still take the time to contact them yourself.  Tell them about the circumstances and ask if they can provide you with class materials that will be covered during your time off.  This will show them that you are still thinking about your education, but need some time to deal with family matters.
  4. Get Help: There may come a point when you need to ask for help to catch up with any work you missed.  I decided to use the Academic Peer Mentor program, at Woodbury University, to help me catch up and manage my time after I had returned to school.   Take advantage of programs that your school may offer to help students with their school work.
  5. Talk to Someone: Another thing that my school offered was counseling.  Honestly, I am the type of person that hates taking to people I don’t know about my issues.  But I decided that going to counseling, on campus, might help me cope with the loss of my mother and focus on my school work at the same time.  It actually did help!  I was able to talk to someone who would listen to  me about whatever.  You don’t necessarily have to talk to a counselor, but talking to someone about how your feeling will help the grieving process.

Words of Inspiration

I want this blog to be a place where college students can get information on entrepreneurship, college life, and the challenges that face students everyday.  So, to start off my blog I want to share with you some words of inspiration that may help with all your endeavors; not just your entrepreneurial ones.  To do this I want to tell you a little bit about my life:

I come from a low-income family in the Antelope Valley, CA.  This meant that throughout school I never had what the “cool” kids had.  You know, the most trendy clothing, best hairstyles, tans, cars, gadgets, and essentially the popularity.  But what I did have, was family and a drive to achieve my goals.

I have an extremely large family, but the people I see most often are my three siblings, my father, and step-parents.  As the oldest of four, I have taken on many responsibilities, especially with the youngest.  One of my sisters is three years younger, brother is five years younger, and the youngest is fifteen years younger.  I know that’s crazy right!  Even though I had a lot of responsibilities and didn’t get to experience those “teenage” years, I would never take back the things I have done for my siblings because I have and always will want the best for them.

I have always been a book nerd and excelled in school, which was always part of my plan.  However, from people who didn’t know me everything in my life may have seemed fine, but they are mistaken.  At times, it was really hard for me to focus on what I wanted to do because I was so busy worrying about other things going on in my life.  When my youngest sister was born, I ended up having to take on a motherly role.  I was more of a mother to her than my actual mother was; I fed her in the middle of the night, watched her almost everyday after school, and gave her baths.  This type of obstacle would be hard for anyone to deal with and I am sure I am not the only one who has gone through it, but I want people to know that they can reach their goals even when it seems like they can’t.

I always have this wall up that gives people this perception that things come easy to me.  While sometimes this is true, others time it is not.  In my young life (I am 22 writing this) I have gone through things that made me question if I could actually achieve the goals I have set for myself.  So many events have happened in my life that I almost caused me stop pursuing my goals, but I never gave up.  I always felt that the path I was taking would help me reach any goal I set for myself regardless of the obstacles that most often presented themselves.  I always found a way to get through anything in order to achieve my goals. 

The hardest obstacle I ever faced was the death of my mother, which just happened to be during a time I was working towards one of the most important goals I set for myself.  My college degree.  I was 19 years old and starting off my sophomore year at Woodbury University when I heard the news of my mother’s passing.  The relationship with my mother was very unhealthy at this point and to this day it upsets me knowing we never fixed it.  I never called her, never wanted to talk to her, I was ashamed to be around her or introduce her to people, I hated everything she did, I hated her addiction to prescription drugs, I hated her smoking, I hated that I didn’t get to be like normal teenagers, and I just hated the thought of having to be in the same room as her for long periods of time.  But now that she isn’t here I would give anything to have her back!  I always hope that she knew I still loved her even if I never showed it.

As the oldest, I had to take on the responsibilities that came with the death of a family member.  I had to sign a lot of paperwork, pick out the urn, put the music together for her funeral, and clean, organize, and deal with everything inside her home.  I literally had to take three weeks off of school to get everything out of my mother’s house, which I did alone almost the entire time.  It had to be done though and if I didn’t do it, it would not have gotten done.  Missing that much schooling meant I was way behind in all of my classes.  Anyone who knows me could tell you that this was a devastating thing for me to go through along with my mother’s death.  I get upset if I get a B and I was actually failing some of my classes, so you can imagine how upset I was.  At this point I was considering dropping out of school all together and I kept dwelling on the fact that my baby sister was never going to know her mother.  Everything was very overwhelming for me and I thought my life was coming to a halt.

But through it all I found out that reaching my goals is something my mother always wanted for me.  I realized that she wanted so much for me; more than she could have ever given me.  Achieving my goals was something I always pride myself in accomplishing and I was not going to jeopardize the biggest goal I set for myself.  So, instead of dropping out of school, I decided I was going to get help and work even harder to catch up.  I knew that I had to get some help to catch up in school and I was able to do just that.  My mother’s words also helped me get through that difficult time in my life.  Going through her things I found this letter that helped me through that semester of school and even to this day, I have it framed in my room so I can read it whenever I need to:

Dear Danielle,

I just wanted you to know how special you are to me.  God blessed me when he gave you to me.  You are a special girl and you should know that.  Please always remember that.  Even when mom has problems she thinks of you.  You can always make my day sunnier and bright.  You are so smart and kind.  Keep being you.  You are so important in my life.  Without you my life would not be complete.  I love you so much.  Thank you for being you, the wonderful person you are. I love you.

Mom

I ended up graduating on time, kept my scholarships, and showed myself that I can do anything, even when something tragic happens in my life.  I ultimately want to show people that they can do anything with hard work and determination no matter what life brings them.  It’s just about never giving up on your dreams! That’s what I hope everyone can do for themselves because only you can determine your future.

So, I hope my story inspires you to keep working towards your goals no matter what life brings you! 🙂  My hope is that this blog will give you some valuable advice about entrepreneurship, college, and life!

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