When Love Discovered Me

By Mireillee Lamourt

Just when I was ready to unplug and give up on love, I couldn’t avoid it. Let me back track.

Earlier this year, I connected with someone through a dating app. I had tried dating apps before. I even met a few people and they all turned out to be duds, or it was a complete mis-match made online. I was discouraged to say the least.

I had been getting to know the girl I “matched with” through messages, but we had never met. I was getting ready to relocate for the summer and so, I eventually stopped messaging. But suddenly, I was working my last shift at my restaurant job before going back home for the summer. I had been working a double that day and was just about ready to leave when my last table of the night sat down. And there she was.

The girl I had been messaging for weeks, and gave up on, was locking nervous eyes with me. I couldn’t do anything except avert her gaze and ask what her friends wanted to drink. I was sure she knew who I was from photos, the same way I knew it was her. My heart was racing. By the end of their meal, my nerves subsided and I wished her and her friends a good night.

That night we reconnected, and we continued to keep in touch throughout the summer, even though we were hundreds of miles apart. Honestly, keeping in touch from a distance has never really been something I’ve been good at. Sometimes it takes me days to reply to a text. But there were a few things that her and I did to keep in touch without getting discouraged or side tracked.

First, we were honest with each other. We chose to make our intentions with one another clear from the very beginning. And if either of us did or said something that the other didn’t like, we talked about it.

We also video chatted through FaceTime. You don’t realize how much a conversation can change just by seeing someone’s facial expressions when you ask how their day was. We didn’t do this too often, but when we were able to take 20 minutes out of our evening to catch up with one another, it was nice to see a smile.

But most importantly, we made time to see one another. We like to stay productive and we each keep a full schedule. By setting aside dates to drive and visit one another, it became clear that we were making each other a priority. And seeing a smiling emoticon, or sending a heart through texts can only get you so far before you need a face-to-face connection.

In this very connected age it can be surprisingly hard to meet people. The more you swipe left, the worse you start to feel. I was ready to quit on dating all together. But if there is anything that online dating has taught me, it’s that no matter how many people you “match with” and no matter how hard you look for love, it’s supposed to find you.



What Lies Beneath

By Melissa Smith

My first breath underwater might as well have been my first breath. In June 2015, wide-eyed and wobbly, I knelt on the sand carpet of Florida’s Lake Denton as small, friendly bluegill fish bumped into my mask and wetsuit. Careful not to hold my breath (a cardinal rule of diving), I looked around this new world I was reborn into and imagined swimming alongside green sea turtles, massive manta rays and speckled whale sharks – animals I’d only seen in aquariums. The possibility of meeting these creatures face-to-face and exploring underwater caves, bright coral reefs and thick kelp forests was, and still is, one of my most exciting prospects. Since that first dive, I’ve completed two more levels of certifications and dove in some of the most interesting spots in Florida, like sinkholes, an aquarium in Disney’s EPCOT theme park and surrounded by hammerhead sharks off the coast of Jupiter.

What drew me to scuba diving was my overwhelming sense of curiosity. I’m the kind of person who is constantly looking for something new to try or somewhere new to go. My dad has been scuba certified for about 40 years, and that, mixed with my ingrained love and appreciation of Florida’s waters, inspired my yearning to experience life beneath the surface.

Diving is something I would encourage every person to try, because it is an activity that has many interesting benefits to scuba diving. One is that you get to develop your communication skills. When you’re underwater, you can’t talk to anyone. It’s like one big game of charades. You have to rely on a mix of hand signals, pointing and acting out to convey what you’re trying to tell your fellow divers. There are a few basic universal hand signals, like a thumbs up for indicating that you’re surfacing or crossing your arms to let others know you’re cold, but when your buddy doesn’t know the signals or wants to convey something else, you get really good at nonverbal communication. You could also just use an underwater slate and write everything down, but where’s the fun in that?


Diving in the aquarium at Epcot. This is one of my favorite dives, because people can interact with you on the other side of the glass from an observation deck or a restaurant that looks out into the aquarium.

Another benefit, and one of my favorite reasons to dive, is the serenity and lack of noise. When you’re underwater, all you typically hear is your breathing and your bubbles. Of course there’s a lot to be conscious of on a dive, like how much air you have left in your tank or whether you’re swimming in the right direction, but it’s mostly a time to discover fun and beautiful parts of the natural world and reflect. I’ve done some of my best meditation at the bottom of the ocean, and I’ll always say that to keep your head above water, sometimes you have to go underwater.

And finally, diving is just cool. The Earth is about 70 percent water, so if you’re not exploring what’s below the surface, you’re not even getting a third of what the beautiful world has to offer. Seeing marine creatures up close and in their natural habitat is something not everyone has the opportunity to do. Being out in the open ocean, not being able to see shore and back-rolling off of a boat into the unknown may sound scary, but the rush of not knowing just adds to how awesome the entire experience is. You have no idea what’s under you — it could be a tiger shark or barracuda; it could be a goliath grouper that’s half the size of your boat or a green sea turtle. Or it could be nothing. The key is to just go with it. Most divers know the “vicious predators” of the ocean won’t be too interested in eating them, anyway.

I Didn’t Know I Was Being Too Blunt

By Lisandranette Rios

I was always told I am “so sweet,” quiet, caring and all of the other fuzzy, whimsical adjectives in the dictionary. That was until a few months ago, when a group of my female co-workers, who are also close friends of mine, jokingly pointed out that I’m too blunt.

We work in marketing, a field in which the more personable you are, the better your success rate will be. The psychology behind influencing is a real thing, and I discovered I sometimes slay and sometimes fail in this. The conversation came up when we were reviewing one another’s emails and giving feedback on how each of us can improve our outreach. My feedback all went a little like:

  • Too blunt
  • Too direct
  • A little sassy

When I am texting people or trying to finish tasks, I tend to just say what needs to be done or answer others feedback in a short, direct reply.

It seems that sometimes good intentions fall short when you deliver messages without extra care.

As far as me being this way toward my friends outside of work, one of the ladies from this group told me that she knows I’m blunt and “tell it like it is” because I love her. See? It’s with good intentions. And I agree with this: I would rather tell you something that I think will definitely help you, even if it might hurt you. The trouble is I’m not one to sugarcoat.

But it was hard to ignore that people were commenting on my bluntness at all. I was raised to stand up for myself, speak my mind and be respectful. Somewhere down the line, my mother’s own nuyorican — puerto rican from New York — mindset of standing up for herself, speaking her mind and being respectful rubbed off on me and took a life of it’s own. Unfortunately, that meant things I was saying came out too harshly. Part of this comes from the need to always stand my ground. That defensive approach in life has kept me safe, but now I see I can tone it down and still be a powerful young woman.

Now that I know I can be too blunt, I’ve taken steps to get back to delivering my intentions with care. I will still let you know when you are being a jerk, and I still will not let anyone walk over me, but it was good to be forced to see a negative side to this part of my personality that I did not realize was affecting my relationships.

Some tips to help you reflect how you interact with people:

  1. Are you rushing to reply to someone? If the message isn’t urgent, you can give a more detailed response.
  2. Don’t want to go to another party at what’s-her-face’s house? Talk to the person who invited you personally and tell them you don’t want to go, but add that you want to plan something else to do together instead.
  3. Check your sarcasm. Some people just don’t get it. Save your cleverness for where it’ll be appreciated.
  4. Everyone is not out to get you. Sure, some people down right suck. That’s OK! You can choose to stop interacting with people who make you put a guard up and go into you defensive/blunt mode.
  5. Breathe and think. The best thing I have done is take a few extra seconds to process what I want to say before I say it. You already know how that saying goes.