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    My Five Fun Facts Explained From Instagram

    There is this tagging dare happening on Instagram and I participated yesterday. Basically, you have to say things about yourself that you don’t think your readers would know. Truth be told, I’m on my third life. Or… I guess I should say that I am on my third version of myself.

    1. Before 16
    2. Between 16 and the day I married
    3. The day I became a mom and beyond

    If I had to break it down, I would say those are my phases. I’m not the same person that I was in phase one or two, but living through those versions truly defined me. For my “5 Fun Facts”, I focused mostly on my earlier days.

    There’s only so much you can write in an Instagram Story. So, I figured that I would elaborate a bit on my blog and tell you the details behind each post. Let’s get started!

    I’ve spoken about this many times before, but I am proudly first generation American. My mother was born in Luqa, Malta and came to the States when she was very young. She was raised in Manhattan and returned back to the island when she was in High School only to run away when she was old enough back to NYC again. Growing up, I would spend my summers there with my grandparents. We would go for two months at a time and I would literally HATE IT. It was so hot. We had no air conditioner or phone or television! My room had one fan and I shared it with a family of lizards. Some nights I would sleep on the balcony just to catch a breeze. But as I aged, it started to become super fun. I would go clubbing with my cousins and stay out until all hours of the night. One summer, I even dated a boy who didn’t speak a lick of English. Whatever – it worked! I have the FONDEST memories of Malta NOW as an adult.

    I met my husband in 1998. My grandmother and I had already booked our trip for the year.  I started dating him in April and I left for Europe in June. I was gone for two months and I was a romantic MESS. I was just dying to get home. My cousins wanted to murder me. When I returned, I never went back and I started traveling with Bill instead. Talk about a TRAVEL GAP.

    My mother had her high school reunion two years ago and she didn’t want to go alone. So, it was finally time to return! This time with my kids and husband in tow.  They LOVED IT! We even stayed at a hotel that had a pool and everything. BLISS!!! We will definitely return to Malta and soon.

    I have a business degree in MIS. I am PROUDLY a computer nerd.  Yup. Coder. Programmer. That’s me. I snagged my first official gig when I was a junior in college. I interviewed for all the huge consulting firms in NYC, but ended up taking Ernst and Young’s offer. Out of college, I made $52K. WHAT!!!? Early 20s and I was rolling in it. It only lasted a few years because I had a nervous breakdown after 9/11, but that is a different story for another day. For a while, I traveled all over the East coast from one financial firm to the next and worked on whatever buildouts they needed. Think of a financial firm around Broad or Wall Street. Can you name one? I probably worked there for a few months.

    But prior to that… I was in college and silly and super skinny and… fun. So, yeah. I took on the craziest jobs including a ring girl. I was also the chick that walks around the stadium throwing t-shirts out of little cannons during sports games to fans. You name it – I did it. Oh to be young again!

    Speaking of being young and ridiculous – I used to have a tongue ring. I got it when I was a sophomore in college and ended up taking it out while I was interviewing for my future “real” job. Once I secured employment, I got it pierced again and kept it in until the summer before I officially became an adult. My best friend and I traveled all around Europe once we graduated. When we made it to Venice, we jumped on a gondola, said a few words, and I tossed the piece of jewelry into the canal and forever said goodbye. I wanted to leave that part of me somewhere that I loved and BOY did I love Venice. Prior to visiting Spain, that was my favorite city in the world. The man who was taking us around on the boat thought we were crazy. I’m not sure if I cried or not but I did get emotional because I understood what it all meant. I was letting go of the “wild and crazy me” and saying hello to a lifetime of responsibility. That’s phase three by the way and I am knee deep in it.

    I hope you are sitting down for this one because it is the craziest story EVER. I should be DEAD. This is no joke. So, I took a cultural immersion tour around China. This isn’t a luxurious vacation where you spend most of your days in the spa. We were walking down dark alleys and truly feeling the experiences of a local. On one day, we were told that we were going to take a little hike. Off we went on a bus and into a random town. In order to get to the foot of the path, we had to walk through a village and when I say “THROUGH” I literally mean through backyards and side streets. It was a maze. But my guide obviously knew where he was going – so we followed.

    We made it to the foot of the path… aka Mount Everest … and I stopped the entire group and said I wasn’t going to participate. I KNEW that if I attempted such a feat that I would have DIED right there in China. This is no joke. I am not physically fit and that mountain was a straight up… mountain. The guide was adamant that I stay with the group. I said “peace out” and turned around to find my way back to the main street. Their path ended at some monastery. So, I told the guide I would just find my way to the monastery. Even writing now this I can see how stupid my plan was!!!

    I found myself alone in a town where not many non-Asians visited and in the backyards of strangers’ houses. Stray dogs were fighting in the street. People were peering out of their windows watching me – as they should! What is this random girl doing on my lawn?!!

    I made it to the street by a miracle of the LORD and stopped the first cab that I saw. I showed them a pic of the monastery and the cab driver nodded so I assumed we were understanding one another. However, as we were driving, he passed it and I started to flip out because I watched one too many horror movies and I was convinced that I was going to be sold on some black market later that afternoon. By God’s grace, we passed a Starbucks. I mean we were in the middle of nowhere – you don’t understand what I am saying here. In the middle of NOWHERE and then there was a FLIPPING STARBUCKS. I started screaming at the top of my lungs for the man to stop! Like I started to yank at the door because I was going to roll out of the car. He pulled over immediately and started to yell at me in Chinese. Naturally, I had no idea what he was saying. I paid my fare and gave me an extra $20 in American money to thank him for not killing me. He wasn’t going to ever kill me but at the time I felt very blessed. I think I made his year because he started kissing my hand. I ran into Starbucks and paid a million dollars for International Wifi and used What’s App to text my group to tell them where I was – some random Starbucks passed the monastery. I had no idea where I was! I waited for three hours. THREE HOURS. The hike was insane. They all threw up at one point on the trail – or most of them did. I don’t remember at this point. It’s been several years. When they found me… I almost collapsed. We now laugh about it all the time but let me tell you … while I was at that Starbucks I was NOT laughing!!! I was praying to Jesus for three hours straight. And he heard me!! 🙂

    OK, here is another doozy. I used to listen to 92.3 on the radio. When I was a teenager, it was an alternative rock station. I always tried to win their contests because my mother used to rack up by entering whatever Z100 hosted. She won all the time! So, if she could win then so could I, right?

    So, there I was with my friend, Sylvia, and we were calling like crazy for these tickets and I WON. Two tickets to Smashing Pumpkins!!! I was screaming like a maniac. You know when you are listening to the radio and there is some nutjob that is losing a lung over winning something and you can’t believe anyone would ever get so excited about anything? I was the lung loser. Sylvia was the disbeliever.

    They took me off the air and told me the concert dates and where to go to pick up my tickets. At the time, you had to go down to the station to claim your tickets. It wasn’t so easy! When they told me the dates, I realized that I couldn’t go. I was depressed. I LOVED Smashing Pumpkins in a MAJOR WAY and I was “this close” to seeing them live and for FREE.

    I wished that there was some way to get the entire concert to move. I kept saying it – PLEASE MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN TO MOVE THE DATES!!! PLEASE, I REALLY WANT TO GO! DON’T MAKE ME MISS THIS!!!!

    That’s when I woke up to find out one of the members of Smashing Pumpkins DIED of an OVERDOSE. They ended up having to postpone the concert until they found a new drummer. I almost passed out. I know logically you are reading this and thinking that I am absolutely insane. But I feel like I killed that MAN with my wishing or I don’t know WHAT?! I was so freaked out about the whole thing that I didn’t go to the new concert when I was offered the updated dates. No, thank you!! Sorry, all Smashing Pumpkin fans.  The genie is back in the bottle and no more wishes will be made – EVER.

    So, that’s it! My 5 fun facts. I tag you to share your fun five on Instagram now. Be sure to tag me in the beginning of your story so that I know that you wrote them!! Would love to read!

    Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of She is considered one of the top female digital influencers in today’s social media space. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel.