A year in reflection


year in review
Hard at work, taking reservations and handling customer service.

This weekend marks my first full year of living in Cape May.  Journalists are supposed to avoid clichés in their writing, but this year really flew by fast. It’s been a whirlwind, I blinked and time was gone (seriously, I’ll just apply all the applicable clichés).


One minute you’re in college and wishing you were out in the real world. Next thing you know, you’re working fulltime, paying rent and daring to wonder the next time you’ll be able to afford to travel somewhere, anywhere (preferably back to Harry Potter world, Nashville, or somewhere new like New Orleans or Europe).

My writing capabilities have grown substantially in the past year. I’ve spent the last seven months writing for the Cape May Star and Wave Newspaper, learning tricks that you can’t learn in college – it has to be learned in the field.

Other than writing, what drew me to journalism is its ability to put me outside of my comfort zone. For reasons I can’t put my fingers on, my least favorite part of writing a story is collecting interviews. I recall the feeling going back to being on the middle school newspaper staff.

Writing for the Star & Wave means a lot of interviews and speaking to people. I’ve always been used to it, but now I don’t think twice about phone call interviews and even ones in person. Journalism has pushed me to change.

In the year since I moved, I’ve gone from staying at my parents’ house, renting a room in a house with roommates and now I just signed a lease on my very own one bedroom duplex.

When I look back on the past year, I don’t recognize the person I was in the past because I have changed for the better. I feel completely lucky that I have been able to support myself by moving away from the only place I have lived my entire life and starting a career in the place I have always lived in my dreams.

I would not be where I am today without my family and friends.

Here’s to another year in Cape May, learning more about myself and journalism every day.


Love for Valentine’s Day cards grew during U.S. Victorian Era

by Rachel Shubin

Special to the Star and Wave

In Victorian times, handwritten love notes on Valentine’s Day were the way to reveal romantic feelings for someone. In the modern age, “swiping right” with your thumb on a smart phone dating app is a way to signify interest in someone and potentially connect with a future love.

Located in Cape May Court House, the Museum of Cape May County is home to hundreds of years’ worth of local records and artifacts. Established in 1927, the Museum preserves and protects the history of the Jersey Cape for historians and visitors alike.

Valentine’s Day cards sent in the Victorian era are remarkably different from the current cards one can find at a Hallmark store. Valentine’s Day is the second-most-popular holiday for greeting cards behind Christmas.

In fact, Victorian valentines were not mailed, but hand delivered, according to museum volunteer Barbara Novsak.

“Historically, the old way valentines were sent were on handwritten on letter paper and then hand delivered,” Novsak said. “The letters had embossed envelopes with embellishments on the cards. They had pockets to put jewelry, candy and candy jewelry. Even secret notes.”

Novsak said some of the valentines were so embellished and large, they had to be put in a presentation box.

“When sending valentines first started, it was just on notepaper,” Novsak said. “The Valentine’s Day market first started in America because a young girl in Massachusetts received a valentine from a man in England.”

That young girl was Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass. The Howland family came over to America on the Mayflower. Her father owned a stationery and bookstore. She graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847. The card she received was made with fabric and lace, with dimensional layers.

Esther “started manufacturing them and then enlisted college friends to write them,” Novsak said. “She sold them at her father’s stationery store. Worcester became the valentines center of America.”

Howland’s creation of valentine cards came during the height of the Industrial Revolution.

“It was a time where they could make paper better and faster and they had machinery for everything,” Novsak said. “Even the embellishments.”

The Museum has a collection of Victorian valentine cards, including one from a Cape May County woman, Hattie Hughes.

The year was 1868. At age sixteen, Hughes received a valentine from an admirer, Frank Hoffman. The valentine letter from Hoffman to Hughes is carefully preserved in wrappings at the museum.


The valentine reads: “Hattie – may the flowers of friendship forever bloom around thy way and may the choice gems of heavenly affection beam o’er thy path to light thee o’er to heaven, if sickness could cloud thy moment here and cast its gloom upon the prospects, he will serve like the storms on Earth to render far more bright and beautiful the sunshine of the eternal world. There storms come not; and no cloud mars the clear beauty of immortal bowers. The destiny of Earth may hurt us but cannot sever the lies of friendship – but beyond the tomb there is a world were friends part not and flowers immortal bloom.”

In addition to his valentine, Hughes received other love notes from Hoffman. Hoffman’s words did not sway Hughes, for she married Michael Lengert of Philadelphia in April 1871.

Novsak did research on the history of the origins of Valentine’s Day, which started because of Paganism in Rome.

“Christian belief changed the celebration, with Emperor Claudius II having problems with his empire during the third century A.D.,” Novsak said. “It started to fracture, so he needed soldiers to keep hoards from coming in and he wanted young, single men to fight. He thought they fought better than married men.”

According to Novsak’s research, it was a time when Catholics were converting to Christianity, priests were becoming bishops, who were, in turn, going around and marrying people to encourage them to stay faithful.

“That didn’t sit well with the emperor, so he arrested a bishop named Valentinus and put him in jail,” Novsak said. “The bishop became friend with his jailer and the story has it that the judge who was going to execute him had a blind daughter. Valentinius prayed for her and her vision got better and her father converted to Christianity.”

Novsak said Emperor Claudius was so mad, he had Valentinius beat, stoned and beheaded.

“The trifecta of death,” Novsak said. “That is where Saint Valentine comes from because he didn’t recant or stop marrying people. He stuck to his religion in the way he believed, which cost him his life but made him a Saint.”

Novsak said the more she reads and researches, the more she learns every day.

“Before Valentinius was killed, he wrote a message to the girl he had healed and at the end of his message he wrote, ‘from your Valentine,’” Novsak said.

Novsak also discussed her research on vinegar valentines, a lesser known form of valentine cards with bitter sentiments.

“It piqued my interest because I hadn’t heard of it,” Novsak said. “In the 1840s, you printed valentines on postcards and put them in mailboxes anonymously. They were valentine cards that insulted the person you sent it to.”

Novsak explained that the postal service was dependable and price controlled at the time, so for a penny, senders could mail the card without paying, but the receiver had to pay.

“So not only did they insult you, but you had to pay to get insulted,” Novsak said.

Novsak said there were valentine cards being produced during the first World War.

“The war made things scarce and harder to do and get it across seas,” she said. “But when the soldiers came home, there was an uptick in nicer valentines and has continued to grow continuously into the second largest card industry today.”

The staff of the museum said they could not do without Novsak as a volunteer.

Novsak, a retired nurse, said she had wanted to volunteer at the Museum for years. “I started coming up here to pull weeds and play in their gardens. But it got too hot and I ran out of weeds and came inside. One thing led to another and now I’m here five days a week.”

The Museum, located at 504 Route 9 in Cape May Court House, is home to more than 500 years of county history. It is located in the historic Cresse-Holmes House, which dates back to 1704 and 1830. In addition, the property is home to the historic Smith Barn and a carriage shed. The museum is also home to the Alexander Library, which houses centuries of Cape May County genealogical documents.


More Cape May merchants offering winter hours


by Rachel Shubin

Special to the Star and Wave

The stillness that is wintertime in Cape May can be felt Monday through Thursday. Weekends in Cape May have more of a bustle to them, which is why many local shops opt to be open on weekends to cater to locals and visitors alike.

Do a double take, or a double shot of espresso, because Coffee Tyme is opening a new location on the Washington Street Mall. While their flagship store remains at 315 Beach Ave., owners Jesse and Leigha Lambert are opening a new and additional location at 414 Washington St.

Coffee Tyme at the mall will have their grand opening on Feb. 16. The shop will be open at least five days a week, Thursdays to Mondays. Coffee Tyme plans to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will add longer hours in May.

The Lamberts said they were hoping to expand their store in the next few years to another location that could stay open year-round. When an opportunity arose to open a new shop in 2018, they decided to take that next step.

“One thing that really excited us is seeing more stores return to being open seven days a week in the winter,” Jesse Lambert said. “We want to be a part of Cape May’s evolution back into a year-round destination.”

He said it could be difficult to find enough open places in the winter. Having Coffee Tyme at the mall stay open during the offseason will give a place for Coast Guard families, local workers, contractors and the like to have a place to eat and drink.

“I always wanted the Beach Drive location to be year-round, but in the winter, you don’t see people on the Promenade unless it’s a nice day,” Lambert said. “I still see people on the mall even when it is 20 or 30 degrees out.”

Coffee Tyme gives local workers receive a discount on their purchases, as their way to give back to the community, Jesse Lambert said.

Coffee Tyme at the mall will still have the same products as their Beach Ave. location.

“We will also have nighttime snacks and drinks such as decaf coffee and loose leaf teas,” Lambert said. “We will also offer call in orders to pick up. We are also thinking of doing delivery to the immediate Cape May City area.”

The new store will also give the Lamberts the opportunity to try out a variety of sandwiches, different lunch specials, baked goods and a wider selection of teas. All their products are made in house and they offer a diversity of gluten-free options.

“In the summer we offer eight types of sandwiches,” Lambert said. “Those sandwiches are great, but in the offseason we are going to experiment with different combinations. We can put ones that everyone likes on our summer menu.”

The winter season allows the Lamberts and their employees to get to know their customers.

“The slower pace gives us a chance to know and connect with the people in the community beyond the level of a customer,” Lambert said. “A lot of customers become my Facebook friends, so when I see them come back I can ask them about what I’ve seen them post online and it is neat to connect with them in that way.”

Coffee Tyme prides themselves on being a personal coffee shop. Their employees know customers by name, he said.

“As much as I like the slow pace of the offseason, there is something to be said about the fast pace of the summer season,” Lambert said. “In the summer we can have a line of customers that means twelve different drinks and ten sandwiches to make. In the summer, it’s now or never.”

Coffee Tyme on the beach will open in the spring.

Cape May is a running friendly community because it is a very flat place to run. Born and raised in Cape May, Michael Mader and Harry Back are two locals who took their running passion to the next level. Mader and Back opened Cape May Running Co. in May 2017.

Cape May Running Co. sells a variety of running gear at 305 Beach Ave. Their winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The store will resume more days and hours in April.

“Mike and Harry really wanted to keep the running community active in the winter,” staff member A.J. Mercincavage said. “There is still a need to buy winter gear, new shoes and running nutrition. We sell gel packs, small waffles, and salt tablets, which are used to stay hydrated and give energy when you’re going for a run.”

Being open in the winter, the employees and owners get more of a chance to interact with a different crowd.

“There are still people vacationing on the weekend stopping in,” Mercincavage said. “There is also the local running community who stop in more regularly too.”

Starting the running company was a chance co-owners Mader and Back had to take. They are the only running store in Cape May.

“We wanted to be of service and give back to the local community, not just a boutique store,” Mader said. “We give discounts to our local military, police and fire, lifeguards and cross country and track teams from the local high schools. We also want to support kids and we sponsor the healthy kid running series based in Cape May Court House.”

The running company also offers discounts for the Wildwood Harbor Tri-Club and local businesses.

Mader and Back are advocates for kids in running as well as adults. Mader also wants to support those who are walkers.

“The store is a big part of what we do and a big part of running is hosting races,” Mader said.

Cape May Running Co. will host the Great Cape May Foot Race for their second year in 2018. The 39th annual Great Cape May Footrace is scheduled for May 12. The race is both a 5K and 10K run. The cost to register is currently $30 and increases on April 1. According to Mercincavage, their races are competitively priced.

“Many people like to run on the promenade and the beach, which is great,” Mercincavage said. “That’s what Cape May is all about. We also want to show people there are other really nice places to run on the island.”

The running company is hosting the first half-marathon run in Cape May. The Hollowed Half will take place on October 27. The registration price is $80.

“It’s going to be a really great race for the first year,” Mercincavage said. “It’s going to include a run on the Promenade, through West Cape May by the horse farms, through Cape May Point to see the lighthouse. It is really scenic and a flat course.”

Mader and Back had the opportunity to sit down and pick out picturesque spots for the half-marathon course. Mercincavage says the course shows everything the island has to offer.

“We wanted to get people outside in Cape May and see more than just the beach front. It’s going to be a great event and is very affordable,” Mader said.

The company sells training packages for their runs.

“We learned a lot the first year about customers’ needs and we are looking to build on that and those relationships,” Mercincavage said. “We are very excited to start hosting more races and continuing to develop relations with the running community in Cape May and South Jersey.”

The running company is adding Asics brand to their shoe inventory and will continue to add brand names as they grow.

“A local podiatrist came in the other morning and asked if he can refer his patients to us to get their shoes properly fitted,” Mader said.

Visit Cape May Running Company online at www.capemayrunning.co.

Nestled in the bright white storefront of 510 Carpenters Lane, is Quirk & Co. A newcomer from the past summer season, Quirk & Co. features local and regional artists.

Quirk & Co is on winter break and will re-open February 10 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Owner Heather Seaman enjoys the offseason because she gets to spend more time with customers and work on Jackson Street Designs, her custom design studio.

“I like the quieter months because it allows me more time to talk with visitors and locals while they shop,” Seaman said. “I also can work closer with customers on custom furniture pieces and window treatments.”

Visitors to Quirk & Co. will find a variety of Valentine’s Day and Easter items, as well as spring décor and gifts. A fresh batch of candles from Gold & Ivy will be in stock.

Quirk & Co. is known for their hand stenciled pillows and visitors will find a new line of the pillows in the shop when it re-opens. Other popular items include tote bags, table linens as well as other customer favorites.

“In the offseason I have made a little workshop space to paint some special pieces,” Seaman said. “During the summer the shop is packed with merchandise and people.”

Seaman is bringing in a furniture paint line to Quirk & Co. and will be doing paint demonstrations and classes.

East coast tsunami warning test


Photo by John Cooke.

There are certain weather-related events you worry about when you live by the ocean, like tidal flooding and hurricanes. The east coast seldom worries about tsunamis but on Tues., February 6, we almost did.


Accuweather pushed out a tsunami warning notification, which did not have the word “test” in the title. Upon opening the notification, it showed that this notification was a test.

A few things ran through my mind immediately. First and honestly, what the f***? To which I admit that I actually did say out loud. Second thought was is this real or a repeat of Hawaii’s fake ballistic missile notification and thirdly I thought, where do you go if there’s a tsunami coming? Cape May is not exactly high above sea level elevation.

Of course, with our ever-changing climate and recent natural disasters (read: California Wildfires, mudslides), I didn’t want to immediately rule out the chance of abnormal weather. I hopped on to social media to see a few others asking if anyone else got a false alarm. I did not feel relief as I was not really too worried in the first place.

Accuweather released a statement, essentially blaming the National Weather Service for releasing the warning. NWS, in turn, blames an unnamed agency. Play the blame game all you want, but these false alarms need a system of checks and balances so they don’t become a regular occurrence.

At the urging of my boss and fellow journalist, John Cooke, I replied to a reporter’s question on Twitter if anyone on the Jersey Shore had gotten the fake notification. Not too long after replying, I got a phone call asking for an interview. Journalists work fast like that.

Being a reporter, you are typically on the other side of the lens. The side that is capturing the story, not being captured. There is much more anticipation when you’re being interviewed for a story, rather than the one doing the interviewing. For me, it was a personal reminder that I would rather be on the side doing the reporting, though it was a refreshing change.

John and I were interviewed by Philly Fox 29’s Hank Flynn, for his Hank’s Take segment. I will update this blog post tonight and link the video once it is online. It will be on tonight Fox 29 at 10 p.m.

Shops open to serve locals, prepare for spring


Best Two
Pete Smith’s Surf Shop. Photo by Rachel Shubin.

Special to the Star and Wave


by Rachel Shubin

The snowbirds have migrated south for winter, but Cape May is not without a small population in the heart of the season. Many stores in the city stay open as a warm place for locals and visitors to shop.

The best way to find out the hours for local stores is to call them, check their social media pages and websites. Around town, there are stores that are still open but only on the weekends.

Up on the Promenade at 714 Beach Ave., Pete Smith’s Surf Shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. The store will be open full time starting April 1.

Pete Smith’s stays open during the winter for consistency and to try to keep Cape May a year-round community, according to store manager Meghan Protasi.

“We want people to know that we are up here and open, with core items in stock,” Protasi said. “We keep in mind the smaller audience, so people can buy what they need to.”

In the winter, Protasi sees more homeowners who take their time to vacation in the offseason.

“They really appreciate the stores being open and taking advantage of what’s going on in town,” Protasi said. “Rather than just being focused on a beach community, visitors can fill an entire weekend with shopping, winery and brewery tours and happy hours.”

Protasi said winter is also time for her to spend more time with customers.

“When the weather is chillier in winter, visitors spend more time in the stores which is nice,” Protasi said.

Protasi also takes time in the winter to do research on products for the upcoming season. Pete Smith also has art shows in the winter. They post all the events on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

“I get to spend time exploring new brands and writing up different orders based on inventory,” Protasi said. “I also send emails and work on social media, which is something I don’t have a ton of time for in the summer.”

Protasi said she loves when visitors to the store notice and acknowledge products that the shop did not have the previous season.

“Memorial Day is like having a big family coming to visit, where you have so much work to do to prepare but you’re so excited,” Protasi said.

Shop Pete Smith Surf Shop online at www.shoppetesmiths.com.

Shore Soaps re-opens Presidents Day Weekend and will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturays, and they will re-open seven days a week in April. Shore Soaps owner Corinne Rietheimer said the store is currently in the process of being renovated.

“We are building some new, bigger displays and rearranging,” Rietheimer said. “We are touching up the paint, rearranging and making room for new inventory. It’s normal upkeep that needs to be done every year but we can’t do it while we are open.”

She said her choice to stay open during the winter season comes from wanting to keep the doors open for locals.

“Our mentality is that we are here anyway producing our inventory for the season,” she said. “We make all of our products in house and our handmade soaps take six weeks to cure. We always have to be thinking at least two months ahead.”

It seems far away, but the soaps that Shore Soaps makes during January will be the first ones on the shelves in March and April.

“Even though we consider this time our ‘off season,’ this is actually our crunch time for 2018 production,” she said.

Rietheimer gets to view her store at a slower speed in the winter. The quieter time gives her opportunities such as down time to make necessary improvements.

“By the summer we are a well-oiled machine,” she said.

Visitors will find different music played than in the summer, especially when it is the time for Christmas music.

“After listening to Christmas carols for a month straight, we need to regain our sanity with normal tunes,” she said. “We get to listen to our personal taste in music in the offseason.”

Sore Soaps is a dog friendly shop. Rietheimer’s husky Cecilia is the store’s official greeter and is in the store every single day, both in winter and summer.

“Cecilia has a lot of visitors throughout the day,” Rietheimer said. “She has lots of dog friends in town that stop by and even people that don’t have dogs or know me by name stop in and ask, ‘Is Cecilia here today?’ She’s a local celebrity.”

Tourists stop by Shore Soaps every year to see Cecilia. Many recognize her from the West Cape May Farmer’s Market, where she spends every summer under the soap booth’s table.

“We welcome all friendly dogs in the front of the store, as Cecilia is very friendly,” Rietheimer said. “We do have a sign outside of the store just letting guests know that she is inside in case they have a dog with them or are afraid of dogs. We never like anyone to be caught off guard and fully understand that not everyone likes dogs.”

Shore Soaps is located at 658 Washington Street and online www.shoresoapscapemay.com

At the corner of Perry Street and Carpenters Lane, is Cash and Clive, which carries premium denim, women’s clothing and apparel. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays.

Owner Jessica Cicchitti stays open to encourage Cape May’s year-round community.

“So many people live here and we want to be available for the people who live here year-round,” Cicchitti said. “Being across the street from Congress Hall, there is always someone around between the hotel guests and weddings.”

In the past when Cicchitti shopped in town, she found herself disappointed when she visited stores and they were not open in the winter.

“I hated having them not be open, so I will never be that store,” Cicchitti said. “Being open in the off season means people are excited when they find out we are open. I get to spend more time talking to customers.”

Cicchitti does inventory during the day while she is open. In the summertime, she waits until the evening.  Cicchitti also takes the time to reorganize furniture during the day as well.

“I am looking forward to the arrival of our spring and summer fashions,” Cicchitti said. “I’m super excited for Misa Los Angeles. I just placed my order and the line has really cute dresses.”



The podcast comeback

Podcasts remind me of my classic iPod. What was once the craze to get the newest iPod is now what occurs for the latest iPhone release.

I’m not sure if I ever listened to podcasts in the past, but there has been a resurgence in the availability of podcasts lately – especially among millennials. Podcasts being free is also a plus.

Podcasts have become a way to digest news on the go, a multitasking tool.  The narrative audio format is perfect to listen to while at work, in transit or outside on a run.

I started listening to the Views podcast by David Dobrik and Jason Nash this year in May. It’s a comedy podcast based on their lives as vloggers on YouTube. The following is clearly people who watch them online, otherwise it might be a bit confusing.

I have occasionally listened to other YouTuber’s podcasts when the subject or guest on the show interested me, such as Shane and Friends, Psychobabble and Not too deep with Grace. They are light and good entertainment to listen to occasionally.

Recently my roommates turned me on to The Daily, which is a podcast from the New York Times, narrated by Michael Barbaro. The Daily comes out five times a week. I find it to be 20 minutes of the most timely, concise and literate reporting that I hear every day.

Image from New York Times.

The Daily is one of those podcasts that has relevant topics and great guest speakers. Entertainment Weekly named The Daily as one of the top podcasts of 2017.

The Daily brings my roommates and I together, because we will often discuss the topics of the show after work or over dinner. We are definitely the target audience for the show, being 24, 29 and 36.

My list of podcasts that I want to listen to has continued to grow, ranging from pop culture, entertainment and other news reporting.

Podcasts are a great way to relieve stress (unless your listening to something that makes you angry, like the news often tends to do these days).

Podcasts are having a renaissance moment and I’m listening. Are you?

New traditions



I can be rigid and a total stickler for keeping traditions the same every year, especially when it comes to the holidays. But it can be difficult to do so when the world is constantly changing and throwing unexpected things at you.

Since moving to Cape May in February, I’ve celebrated all the holidays here. In April, we celebrated Passover and we had an unofficial seder. But as the seasons changed and the winter holidays are in sight, I knew there were going to be bigger changes ahead.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, even though it is a difficult time of the year. In 2009, my grandpa passed away the weekend before Thanksgiving. And in the years since then, I have had two Thanksgivings in Cape May, which was the start of a new tradition that was cut short.

Thanksgiving 2015 I spent incapacitated on the couch due to a muscle spasm in my lower back (think unpleasant pain & serious painkillers). And of course, last Thanksgiving when I was two weeks out from getting my wisdom teeth removed and was in a lot of pain. Two years of less than stellar celebrations.


Thanksgiving 2017


I was hoping this year’s Thanksgiving would be a little bit better, but my grandma passed away the week before Thanksgiving. And in an unexpected turn of events, I ended up staying in Cape May. I felt like it was the right thing to do, even though I did want to be with my family. Another part of me knew that going home and not having my grandma with us at Thanksgiving dinner would just make me realize that she is really gone.

Lucky for me, I have fallen in with a great group of people through my roommates. My roommate AJ and I set out to have a Thanksgiving dinner for two people – easier said than done.

The pre-Thanksgiving weekend started out with a bang, between me spraining my ankle on Thursday night and then our refrigerator stopped working that weekend. I completely took on the “I’m not stressed, you’re stressed” mentality.

Uncertainty gives me anxiety, so not knowing whether we would have a working fridge by Thanksgiving made me worry we might not be cooking. But we had a backup fridge that was up and running by Wednesday night, Thanksgiving eve (Shout out to AJ, Tom and Kyle). AJ and I even did the Thanksgiving shopping on Wednesday night. Yes – I hobbled around ShopRite on crutches and it was not a fun time.

After 23 years, I had my first Thanksgiving away from home. It might have been one of the best holidays yet. There’s something about removing yourself from family drama and just having a casual Friendsgiving dinner that just works.

I had just written a newspaper article about breaking Thanksgiving traditions by trying new foods. I did not think I would be breaking my biggest tradition by spending Thanksgiving away from my old Virginia home. Cape May is home now.

It seems like making new traditions is better than I thought it would be. And I’m very thankful for this year’s Thanksgiving with AJ and Nabs.


Friendsgiving with AJ.


Why not write a novel?


November is notoriously known as National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short. It’s a month where you write approximately1,666 words a day with a goal of 50,000 by the end of the month.

In 2012, I attempted to write a fiction novel, but I did not like the story and I also was too busy with my senior year of high school and college applications.

In 2015, I sat down to write a non-fiction story about my life with anxiety. I wrote 11,000 words and then I was just too consumed with my senior year to continue to write.

I promised myself that when I was out of college that I would continue the story that already had 11,000 words and keep going. I’ve always wanted to be an author and I have wanted to do a lot of writing to work towards eventually publishing a book.

Even though I was out of school in 2016, I was going through a lot of anxiety as I waited to find out when my surgery for wisdom teeth would be happening. I was experiencing so much anxiety, that writing about anxiety just did not feel right at the time.

Fast forward to this November — I’m settled in my life in Cape May, working the motel front desk and writing for the local newspaper weekly. I have no excuse to not be writing, so I decided that this year is going to be the year I write a 50,000-word novel.

NaNoWriMo’s slogan is “the world needs your novel,” and that is truly an inspriation to me to sit down and write this damn book.

Writing about my anxiety is not always easy, but if I could write a book that helps one person with their anxiety – then I feel my book will serve the right purpose. I have so many thoughts about anxiety, that writing it all down feels really good.

I thought I would share an unedited excerpt, for those who are interested in reading some of my thoughts:

      Once I started learning I had friends and family who struggle with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder among others, I realized that we all cope in different ways.

            The treatment and medication that I have used to treat my anxiety work for me, but not necessarily for others. Finding what works for you is half of the battle and it does take some trial and error to find the right match.

            I am a strong proponent of therapy and medication, which is something I had to learn for myself. I was extremely resistant to both at first; but again, it’s the culmination of finding the right person to speak with and the right medication to take. Having a great therapist and being on the right medication is what allowed me to see that asking and receiving help did not have to be a scary thing.

            I have read a handful of books about anxiety, but none have clicked completely. I wish that there were more books about mental health, particularly with anxiety out there. With this book (and if you’re holding a copy or eBook in your hands, mama I made it!), my goal is to provide context for not only people in my life who have both understood or misunderstood me – but also to enlighten those with anxiety.

If you read this book and can take away that you are not alone and that anxiety comes in all shapes and forms – and realize that you should be patient with yourself, even when you are the most frustrated.

To those who have no experience with mental illnesses, but might be reading this book to understand someone who does have one, I hope that you might find yourself with insight into illnesses that might not be visible, but are very much real in every way.

La Croix is for Millennials

La Croix is spamming my Facebook. Everyone is drinking this seltzer-like beverage and posting about it on social media. But why?

NPR says La Croix (pronounced /la croy/) is having a moment among millennials, who are looking for a healthier option than soda. I have been contemplating reducing and/or giving up Diet Coke…so I thought that if I liked La Croix, it would be a good replacement.

I had to investigate La Croix for myself, and honestly, I’m always down to try the latest fad. Now considering I don’t like seltzer water, I wasn’t sure that La Croix would be something I would like to drink.


Image courtesy of Giphy.


I asked my friends what the carbonation of La Croix is like. I wanted something similar to soda but not as sharp as seltzer. I don’t like seltzer, even though it’s a staple in my family’s household. Our fridge may as well dispense seltzer since my parents go through multiple bottles a day.

My Facebook friends recommended I try lime, coconut or peach-pear. I ignored them all. I tried strawberry pineapple since those are two flavors I like.

The flavor was not right, nor was the carbonation. But I bought a case of eight and mama didn’t raise no quitter, so I drank the case. I was underwhelmed and I knew that it wasn’t going to be a Diet Coke replacement.

So again, ignoring the recommendations (sorry friends), I tried cherry lime. DING DING DING we have a winner. I started drinking a can of the cherry lime La Croix with my dinner and slowly I phased out the caffeine-free Diet Coke I allowed myself at night.

I started drinking La Croix in August. Flash forward to October and I realize I have gone months without drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke. MONTHS!

Months, months, months. I’m trying to wrap my mind around that because I never thought I’d be able to give up one of my two daily sodas. One regular Diet Coke in the morning and the caffeine-free at night.

Let’s not discuss the morning soda. It’s not something I’m ready to part with – I get my soda caffeine fix before my coffee at lunch. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.

I do occasionally get a craving for the caffeine-free Diet Coke, but every time I have ignored it and it eventually goes away.

Apparently, I’m just your average La Croix drinkin’ millennial – trying to give up soda.

A day in the life

Routines are important, which is something I learned in college. I did not have a good daily routine in high school because I never consistently went to school at the same time – which I 100% attribute to anxiety and insomnia.

College was an amazing learning experience for me, and not just from the classes. I learned how to manage a routine that took some flexibility. My first semester of college was at the local community college, and I was stuck with a 4:10-7:30 pm history class on Mondays, a bunch of random afternoon classes, and then Fridays I had a 9 am math class. I had Thursdays off, which were days I never used to do work.

Despite hating the three-hour classes, dragging myself out of bed to make a 9 am math class, I figured it out. It wasn’t always great, but it worked out.

Then my second semester of college, I transferred to George Mason, which was a whole new campus, new people, and new schedule. I learned that 10:30 am classes didn’t necessarily agree with me, which was something I figured out a little late in the semester (combined with a bad teacher…but that’s really another story). So I took afternoon and early evening classes and almost always had no classes on Fridays.

The last few semesters at GMU, I learned that if I really wanted to graduate “on time,” I probably had to take a few 10:30 am classes to get the rest of my requirements done. So I started taking a few 10:30 am communication classes and French at 11 am. Having my best friend in the classes helped encourage being on time (and going in general, to be honest).

By senior year, I had my shit together. I got on a better schedule, I was able to make it on time to classes and I worked harder than ever before. I graduated cum laude and on the dean’s list for the last few semesters.

Everyone always speculated how I would manage a 9 to 5 job. If anyone ever doubted me being able to function in the adult world most, it would’ve been one of the assistant principals at my high school. I proved him wrong by graduating high school, taking 10:30 am classes and graduating college. His “no, she can’t do it” attitude stuck with me in the back of my mind. Now I just had one more time to prove him wrong.

Flash forward to my first full-time job at the Victorian Motel. My schedule is 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I like to prepare everything the night before, so in the morning I really don’t have to do much before I walk out the door. And I also like to stay in bed until the last minute possible.

7:30 am – The first of my many alarms start. I get out of bed anywhere between 7:50-8 am. Get dressed, make my lunch (I pack everything but a sandwich the night before) and be out the door by 8:23 am.


Many alarms with sayings to remind me to hustle.


8:30 am – Arrive at the motel and begin working. My daily routine is signing in housekeepers, checking guests out and in, rebooking reservations and replying to emails as well as answering phone calls. I act as a concierge and I try to be as knowledgeable about Cape May as possible.

4:30 pm – I leave work and go home. What I do next depends on what other jobs I might be working that night. First thing I do at home is usually let my housemate’s dog, Nabs, out to do her thing. Sometimes I lie down and watch YouTube or TV. If I’m in the middle of an interesting book, I will read on the porch with Nabs. I catch up with my housemate Max. Sometimes I wander around the backyard, checking out what is growing in the greenhouse or in the gardens.

If I’m covering a meeting for the newspaper, I tend to eat dinner on the earlier side. Usually, my meetings are anywhere from 5-7 pm. Sometimes they are short, sometimes they are long. I never do any writing after the meeting – I like to let what I’ve just heard soak in overnight – so when I’m at work I can write my articles.


Taking photos of the migrating monarch butterflies after work.


I often go to the beach after I relax at home. Nothing is better than going to the beach after a day’s work. One of the reasons I moved to Cape May is so I could go to the beach after work. Anytime I do that, I really feel like I moved here for the right reasons.


fall beach
Relaxing on the beach on a Fall day, where it was cool enough for a sweatshirt.


9:30-10 pm – I start thinking about going to bed. The goal is to be asleep by 11:30 pm. The last month I have had a hard time going to sleep before midnight, which means I don’t get enough sleep. For someone who used to typically not go to sleep until 2 am, it’s an improvement – but I know I can improve upon that even more.

I have been afforded such wonderful opportunities since I moved to Cape May. I got to live in my family’s beach house for a few months before finding my fantastic room with my housemates.  I have a great full-time job and I am freelancing weekly for the local newspaper, the Cape May Star and Wave.

But the thing I am most grateful for is that I get to live in the town that I have spent so much time in, for every year of my life. I love getting to tell people that I’m living the dream I’ve had for a while now and that I’m writing along the way!