the quarantine diaries: day 18 // whipped joy

In between the hiding behind my computer screen lectures and assignments, work and projects… It feels like all the days blend together and it is up to *me* to make them interesting! Which is both an amazing and…interesting concept.

So. I saw this recipe for Dalgona coffee (or whipped coffee) on the Internet and put it in the back of my mind to try out the next time I was making my daily coffee.

It was super easy and super fun to make. I only needed:

– 2 tbsp instant coffee
– 2 tbsp HOT water
– 2 tbsp of white granulated sugar or brown sugar [I liked using 1 tbsp of each]

And then?

1. I whisked vigorously by hand 🙋‍♀️[i did it with a rubber whisk, you could use a mixer if you had one] until light brown & frothy— when you dip your whisk/mixing blades in, it should form stiff peaks.]

2. I poured the mixture over an *aesthetic* glass of cold milk [almond milk / coconut milk works too!] and the whipped coffee, if whipped thoroughly, should float delicately on top.

3. I stirred it together and it was lovely, and slightly diluted & not as strong.

o o o h pretty

And I noticed something.

By bringing forth this lil cup of frothy caffeine into existence, something I’d never done before, it was just a little slice of joy for me. A tiny joyful distraction from the pressures and unknowing of this time.

A small reminder that creating joy daily is possible, that it’s more important than ever, and that this time, while complicated and busy in weird ways, is using us. It’s using me. And we’re using it. We *get* to use it.

To move, to breathe, create, to rest, to recharge, to connect.

xx

the quarantine diaries: day 15 // birthday edition

Years from now I’ll be able to tell my kids or the kids of my friends about this…weird time.

The time I wrapped a string of green christmas lights around a one of our living room lamps and cut out palm tree leaves to tape around the lampshade.

The time I baked my own cake to look like a sunset, dressed with “sunflowers” of pineapple and maraschino cherries, adorned with black script proclaiming my aging.

The time my roomies and I sat 6ft apart from eachother in our pitifully tiny “backyard” and “patio”, with the speakers blaring, enjoying tropical drinks within our #doomsdayluau themed festivities.

The time we recreated a picture of ourselves for three semesters in a row because we’re cheesy and dig continuity.

The time we made jello shots in a baking pan, and proceeded to cut them up like brownies and serve in individual bowls to make sure that nothing & and no one was unnecessarily touching each other.

The time we turned the aggressive news cycle off to live, breathe, and laugh in the same space– to temporarily shift the collective sadness at a senior year pulled out from under our feet, to the back of our minds as we smashed each other in continuous games of Quiplash

The time we connected creatively, separate yet together.

the quarantine diaries: day 7 re-framing "social distancing"

Ever since COVID-19 hijacked the news cycle, our lives, and our daily conversations (is it novelty? Is it a giant, shared relief that we all have this collective, deeply felt human struggle now…?), the words “social distancing” , “self-isolation”, and “self-quarantine” (chiefly “social distance” and “quarantine”) have been thrown about, splattered among headlines, and prescribed by the experts. It was a very real concern, the way to flatten the curve, the surest way to a quick return to normalcy.

And so we throw the words around in our Instagram posts, our daily fitness live-streams, our virtual family reunions, perhaps unaware of the weight they carry. I saw some others point this out, though, and wanted to look at it myself.

“Social-ness”, is intrinsic to being human.
Merriam Webster has the word tied to our institutions, our society, and our ability to be in relationship with others:

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There is scant, if at all, mention of space. Of distance.
Rather, it’s about welfare, relationship, organization… mutual benefit, even. In times like these, as we watch the workforce crumble, our institutions come to a screeching halt, our lives uprooted, and our capacity for solitude stretched and tested– it’s these things that remain paramount: welfare, relationship, organization, & mutual benefit.

I came across 3 alternatives, 3 suggested replacements for the term “social distancing” (which has, seemingly invaded our cultural lexicon and shot to the top of Google searches overnight), and hope that we can use them to more accurately label our situation and what we hope to achieve; that is, to cling to that relationship and caring and interaction and mutual benefit that is so distinctly human, if only from a distance:

Physical distancing: Straightforward and literal. Physical knocks out the societal ramification and narrows it down to your kinetic sphere– your body, where it’s placed, in comparison to others. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between you and someone else.

Holy space: Encroaching into theological soothing territory. My campus minister held a virtual service today, where she talked about how it’s wild that this pandemic and all of its massive changes are happening during the season of Lent…how it’s a time of “holy pause”, and that “…if you haven’t chosen a lenten discipline, that’s okay because maybe it’s been thrust upon you” [lol]. How it’s a time of “fasting from being strong… at time of vulnerability and tenderness” and a time of “softness for the soul” as we “fast from anxiety…with radical trust in Jesus Christ, with abundance of the heart rather than the scarcity of the things.”

And then, there’s my personal favorite as of now:

Distant socializing: Again, emphasis on physical distance. We. Are. So. Fortunate to have all of this technology that enables us to get face time with our friends and relatives. I was on a FaceTime not so long ago with one of my friends and…I could just feel my mood improve, and my anxiety kind of dull to a low hum. ^___^

Staying connected is everything right now, and I hope these alternatives are something we can sub out for what the media has fed us ✌️



the quarantine diaries: day 6: COVID-19 and online learning.

The day is boneless. No bones, no structure. I have to fill it in myself. I oscillate between my to-do list and talking to my refrigerator (…I wish I were kidding. We’ll skip the part about filming embarrassing short film dry erase stop-motion animation on the smooth fridge surface).

I didn’t realize just how many emails landed in my inbox until I was not distracted all day enough to notice them all come rolling in. Half of them, it seems, are university emails, asking for student input (which is great), updating us with revised schedules, or simply words of consolation as the semester seems to be singlehandedly imploding.

Professors (some of them who hate touching computers) are scrambling around feeling helpless not knowing how to best help their students, and trying to wrangle their courses into a neat, digestible package for online use.

This is wild to me, partially because now that “online learning” is thrust upon it, it doesn’t have this glowing, golden halo that a lot of people says it does. Is properly curated online learning a great way to have content without walls? Absolutely. Does it give people who are unable to travel a way to participate and learn and discuss? By all means. But it feels like, as of now, there are holes– gaps, which leave out the nuances of face to face instruction. I just saw an instagram account: @dontwasteyourcollegetuition (haHAA too late) that put out a post re: “how to stay focused in online classes”. There are a lot of vaguely good tips in there, (“create a structured schedule, be clear about deadlines, keep in contact with peers and professors on a chat/video platform”), but nothing really related to our attention spans, blotting out actual distractions, plus the effects on mental health and social relationship building.

It’s crazy to me that so many people are making this transition practically overnight…including those who don’t learn that well in an online learning environment. I am personally frustrated about this change, and while I wish it could be different, I know that this is how it has to be for a bit, and so I’m seeking a way to make peace with it. In a way, part of this process is taking it apart, looking at it and its implementation, and treating it like a learning experience, like an experiment.

And when our university (and subsequent universities) made their big announcement the decision to do this, it hit me. And since I’m trapped inside with much time to stew and speculate, I can write about this realization: this move to Online Learning relies on 2 bold assumptions:

  1. That students have access to a reliable, fast (enough) internet source while they are self-quarantining.
  2. That those in quarantine have devices capable of handling online class environments

I remember how THRILLED I was at the dawn of 2020, knowing my fam had *just* made the switch from DSL to Fios, and the upgraded speed being so much faster than it had been before… I can only imagine, had we not made the switch… relying on 1 modem to handle the bandwidth usage of the entire family, who also need to be online for school. Our system definitely would not have been able to swing that. But I know in my county back home there are those who definitely benefitted from the school’s internet connection, from the library’s internet connection, who will most likely be struggling through this time of online conversion.

Last semester, in one of the most fascinating classes I’ve ever taken, we spoke about the digital divide and the ideological battle for a free, (perhaps mildly regulated) internet. There are so many posts about how this pandemic is, in a way good, because it’s forcing us to reckon with the institutions we’ve built, the outdated systems we have in place, and “the way we’ve always done things!” And part of this is exposing the issue of people’s ability to access the Internet in a way that doesn’t make them bankrupt, or break their backs and sell their souls to tech giants and broadband moguls.

What institutions need to realize is that they are putting the spotlight on the digital divide — the gaping hole between those who have ready and ubiquitous access to the Internet, and those who don’t. This isn’t new. People’s access to the rapidly expansive internet relies, unfortunately, on education, & income, and even race & gender (a product of socioeconomic status), and even attitude concerning technological adaptation. It’s just wild to me how, every day there seems to be a part of the machine that has fallen apart, or broken in front of our eyes. It makes me wonder why we’re not building our own Internet infrastructures, being self-reliant to avoid these system-imposed boundaries and just doing it ourselves, like many successful communities have done.

Some are saying that once this is all over, everything will just go back to the way it was like nothing happened…but I hope for my life that that’s not true.
We’ve learned so much. There’s too much been unearthed now for us to turn back.

covid-19.

I’m sort of at a loss.

And this is WEIRD.

5 days ago I was leaving spring break in South Carolina in a big white van with my mission trip members with so much in my mind, so much unknown, and so much weighing on my shoulders.

…I’m now Day 4 in COVID-19 quarantine, unable & not allowed to return home, and the gravity of everything is settling in. A week ago, I don’t think we really knew what was going on, the scope of this whole thing, how important the distancing was…

Classes have been cancelled. They’re moving courses online. Graduation has been postponed until further notice (which I know has hit hard in the hearts of the ones I know who’ve spend the past 4 years looking so forward to this.

So we take time, and we process it all). Family, friends and I are having to create our own routines, avoid going crazy, fighting boredom with ingenuity, and we are still trying to wrap our minds around everything.

Professors, some of whom hate touching computers, are running around in a frenzy wondering how the heck they can help us from a distance. And everyone is just out here, doing the best they can with what they have. (Including myself. Let me know if you want my Saltine-Cheddar nacho recipe…)

I had a work call a day ago with my boss and the first 30 mins felt like a friggin therapy session, talking about how nothing is certain, that yes, I will graduate, commencement ceremony or not, and that the accomplishment is not something they can take away from you. This is all true. And she is very wise and I know that the cloud of feelings I felt during that time d e f i n i t e l y impact how I feel.

Point is, I don’t think any of us pictured it like this. My heart breaks for family and friends, medical workers, patients, & The Helpers across the nation—for their health, for their isolation, for the feeling of having closure and perhaps your “lasts” & culminating evidence of your accomplishments pulled out from under you…

But this…is our reality now. Our eyes are open. To ourselves, to others, & our society. And we get to trail-blaze, slow down, invent, laugh, make messes, and try new things…and hold on to hope in the meantime.

Some fave words I’ve seen around recently:
Faith is not cancelled.
Hope is not cancelled.
Joy is not cancelled.
Love is not cancelled.

Amidst trying to flatten the curve, this pandemic has uprooted the lives of so many.
We’re called to rest, to slowing down, to creatively problem-solve, to be with ourselves, to sit with ourselves…

And that’s not to say that we have to immediately jump into positivity or optimism right away.
I, among many, am heartbroken for those infected, for those suffering, for those who are out of work or isolated or having a tough time. We need time to process, and that is okay.

But there is freedom, I think, in this time, and in knowing that with this uncertainty comes all this space, an open door of possibilities, even if we don’t see it right away.

We have an opportunity to open up, to relax, re-examine, re-prioritize, and reevaluate the way we do things, to pray, to go within, to break free of routine, to reinvent ourselves, clean, create, and care in novel ways. I’m so thankful for all who are doing their best, helping with all that’s going on, even at the risk of their own health (stellar healthcare workers we’re looking at you!)

Some things I keep seeing and reading and trying to internalize for this time apart:
• Check in on your friends & support em!! (DM me on social media because my phone # be broken!)
• Tell them they’re loved
• Know that *you’re* loved, if even from a distance by people or your Creator
• Get creative & weird & annoying!
• Make things unabashedly & fearlessly (screw perfectionism!!)
• Be smart! Wash ur damn hands!
• Take it easy on yourself!
…Because this rollercoaster of feelings of uprootedness & isolation can be pervasive & massive, but *VALID*.

I hope everyone’s staying safe and healthy… and know I’m sending good vibes your way.

When nothing is certain, anything’s possible.
This too shall pass.🌿

♥️ much love

hello, march– [in like a lion indeed]

I am consistently amazed by the pace of life
How quickly things change, in what seems like inch increments.
I feel like I start these posts the same way buuuut that’s just how it be sometimes, I think.

I was telling a friend earlier today that I have been broke for the majority of February and definitely the start of march. And yet, I feel as if I’m not missing much at all. my sustenance consists of friends, work, inspiring words, food I purchased at the start of January that has managed to last until now, projects, good news, hard conversations, and, in some cases, a renewed sense of vigor and willingness to not take the easy way out…

//

I have risen from the dead.
I find myself returning to this drafted post, with a restless & mildly cynical resolve to finish a post of this sort [created on the 2nd day of March before the world fell apart—] because I haven’t written in this space in what feels like ages, and I’d like to get the ball rolling again while I’ve got “all this time” on my hands to seize.  I went on a mission trip earlier this month and halfway through it, got news that our university has cancelled all classes til further notice in April…

I think I’ll just dedicate a separate post to the Corona virus drama…

In the meantime, here’s March so far, happy St. Patrick’s day! [[[[[:

read/reading/re-reading // Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and I just started reading Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow.

writing // This post. Potentially a Media Law paper. My manifesto. A massive to-do list Who knows.

learning // to hold and sit with a variety of inevitable truths in my head at one time. I am cognizant of the fact that there are only 9~some odd ish weeks in this academic journey of mine… all of those 9 weeks are uncertain.

doing / working on //
deferring my student loans
– meal prep
– mission trip happenings
– painting
– making things out of paper

eating // cumin-herb rice, beans, broccoli, oatmeal, whatever is left on my shelves

drinking // coffee, water, tea, wine, & tears

listening // to a lot of new things. Check it out:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDDGjxXjOrU6VIfRV_pBqLkMawhMomJwK

being inspired //  by the artists and creators and helpers around me in this time… people who are refusing to let this weird time get to them and instead make the most of every moment!

laughing // at the fact that I keep getting ads that insist that I download TikTok and how I relentlessly refuse to do so

thinking // about the gravity of this situation. About those affected by all of this. About how I may not be having a graduation. About being quarantined for the next few weeks. About my wellbeing and the adaptations I’ll be making.

trying // to engage in activities that “fill my cup”, that keep me engaged, and keep me going.

hoping // that this too shall pass, that we innovate with love and consideration.

loving // the gentle upswing in the weather!

praying // for healing, for hope, and for all those affected, and all that is happening… honestly rather speechless at this whole thing.

xx

steph

dear you

dear you
you found the small, double hoops she gave you
you tried them on
and found that they were too small
this winter, you upgraded
this year, you upgraded
moved out
moved up
to slimmer, more delicate, bigger, more zesty hoops that have this thing about them that just
make everything complete
dear you
oh, dear you
look at you, being caught up on your homework
sending letters to your future self
meal-prepping
clock-checking
and not side-stepping
the important conversations
dear you
yes you, dear
welcome to your now.

2.0.1.9. // a look back

 

…And just like that, I find myself back here, at the end of yet another year. How crazy. If there’s anything this year taught me, it is to write it down. Take the photo. Notice how it feels. Because then you can look back on it all, which is such a critical, beautiful thing.

It’s been hard to be active in this space with my demanding schedule in school, but I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully long break to rest, recharge, and reunite with the important people and things in my life.

I feel mildly like Billie Eilish in her year to year interviews, which I [shamelessly] love watching because it’s literally like an interactive time capsule– you can see the fruits and labors of the years, the growth and the change practically *unfold* before your eyes– which is probably the reason I’ve loved doing these sorts of wrap up posts over the past few years.

*NOTE: I realize that it’s this time of year, and with every recap and win and humble brag, it may be easy to play the comparison game, to feel stressed about where you are, feel like you’re “not doing enough”– but oh my goodness you have come this far. You woke up today, and you are here, alive, reading this. And *that* is enough.*

This year has been beautiful, humbling, and life-changing.

…shall we?

If you had to describe your 2019 in 4 words, what would they be?
Surprising. Frantic. Adventurous.

What new things did you discover about yourself?
I discovered that I am more of an omnivert more than ever now– though I am generally extroverted, I am more in touch now with my limits and when I’ve had enough, when I need to step back and sit out.

I discovered that I am not fundamentally broken. At all. That “needing to love yourself before you love someone else” is not… it’s a flawed trope.

I discovered that I *love traveling* [even more so than I already did] and that I want more of it!!

I discovered that I am capable to making and sticking to a budget ^__^ [and that when my financial life is a mess, I’m a slight mess.]

I discovered that I cannot, to my chagrin, do it all. That saying no is something I can do and get good at, that asking for help is good, and that being open about your struggle is not a bad thing.

I discovered I like hand-washing dishes– it’s cathartic and a lovely, productive way to let the mind wander.

I discovered that I am, and always have been, enough.

I discovered that I actually love broccoli [my 10 year old self would be horrified]

What single achievement are you most proud of?
Loving myself. That’s not to say the journey is anywhere near complete, but it’s an achievement. Loving what I am, what I can do, where I can take myself when I put my mind to it… all cause for celebration, tbh.

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2019?
IRELAND. As a whole, really. But if we’re gonna be specific….:
the Cliffs of Moher, Malin Head in Co. Donegal, and Galway! Such stunning places of charm and personality… they call it the Emerald Isle and I understand. I understand fully now why.

Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
My creativity. To create something from nothing, the ingenuity that has helped me make it through many paychecks, meals, and projects.

My persistence. Probably annoying to some. But if *you* don’t speak for you, who will? Being assertive and going after the things I want for myself was a huge goal for me for 2019, and I like to think that, if I went down, I went down trying.

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
My mom. ❤

Which new skills did you learn?
I feel like I’m blanking a lot… there’s no way this list is limited to just 6 items, but here’s the ones off the top of my head:
How to give a diabetic cat insulin injections, lol
How to set boundaries.
Some bits a pieces of Japanese!
Adobe Lightroom!
How to go to the gym and not be self-conscious
How to Bachata & Salsaaaaa

What, or who, are you most thankful for?
This past semester, I started adding a few things to my to-do list– before I set up my tasks and my meetings and my obligations, I take a second to answer the following:

“TODAY, I’m thankful for…”, “TODAY, I will focus on…” and “TODAY, I will let go of…”

Looking back on those, I found I was most thankful for:

my roommates, my close friends, projects that demand my creativity and passion, the people and experiences that teach me who I am, the ability to travel, my health!, community building, coffee, a new week, a new start, my breath– my life, my university, music, catching up with friends, my BODY and all does and CAN do for me, strong friendships, patience, stellar group mates, moments of clarity, my work, choir rehearsals, the love and support of family and friends, the peaceful passing of my grandmother…

keeping a physical list of these things daily make it quite clear to me all that I have to be thankful for in this life. I am so blessed, and I want to carry this habit with me into the new decade!

If someone wrote a book about your life in 2019 what kind of genre would it be?
It would be a self-help/free verse poetry book– kind of like if Malcom Gladwell, Cleo Wade, Chris Bailey, and Nayyirah Waheed had a book child [wow what a foursome…..!!]

What was the most important lesson you learned in 2019?
I hate singling out a single lesson for this one, so I’ll cap it at 4 for now:

1) I am, and always have been enough. Point blank, periodt.

2) My happiness is up to me, not someone else.

3) You cannot change the minds of others, their biases, their conception of you, their prejudices, their opinions, their character. All you can do is simply live out life unabashedly as yourself, let that other shit remain detached from you, and let that speak for itself. (You could be the tastiest apple in the orchard but there will STILL be that someone who doesn’t like apples.)

4) Communication is the key to everything. People aren’t mind readers. How can you expect someone to know something if you haven’t effectively communicated it??? If you don’t like something, speak up. If you are feeling a certain way, speak up. If you aren’t feeling it, speak up. If you feel like you need to clarify something, clarify something. Because the “worst thing that can happen” is always so much worse in our heads, in the imagined scenarios we think up for ourselves and play on repeat until the fear outweighs the simple action itself.

Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
Mental block 1: That you have to have to love yourself first before loving someone else.

I feel as if I used to buy into this trope. Yes, self love is so *SO* encouraged. But this also seems to say that you have to perfect that one step before you even consider receiving love from someone else. In reality, love is all around. You’re worthy of it, always. Not just at the end of an “if, then” sentence.

Mental block 2: It has to be perfect the first time.

As a perfectionist who felt like they lived and breathed by this rule I have exhaled *considerably* throughout this year. Sometimes it just has to be “good enough”. Sometimes it’s just going to be unfinished. But the most important thing, no matter what “it” is, is that it gets *started!* That you spend time bringing it into existence, in all of its progress and all of its imperfection and all of its learning.

Mental block 3: The idea that you are responsible for the happiness of others.

It pained me this year. Pained me to the CORE. When you care so much for other people and want them to be happy, it’s easy to just ignore the fact that the circumstances aren’t right, or they’re downright toxic, or that you can put *your* happiness on hold [or flat out ignore it] for the sake of others. It’s a delicate balance. And you can do all you can, you can try your hardest, and it *still* may never be enough. And that’s okay, because it’s not your battle to fight. You can still show you care without burning yourself out.

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Practically being one of 2 people to run a digital consulting program

How did your relationship to your family evolve?
Holy crap. A year ago I probably would have been continuing on that “stagnant but improving” bullshit, but. This is one thing that kind of did do a 180 this year. From setting boundaries, to getting closer to my parents and my siblings, to being cognizant of the fact that we’re always, always a team and can get through anything together. I marveled at the fact, two weeks or so ago when my grandmother passed away, how it seems like the only time extended family and immediate family get together is for weddings, reunions, and funerals. Grieving in a group is something else, let me tell you. My heart breaks for my mother, who is taking it hard, but her strength and grace through and despite it all inspires me so much and I want so bad to take those lessons, that strength, that simple, clear, pure, and sure outlook on life…. with me forward through this year.

What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
OOOOH I have a few to put here, mostly books but if I think of movies I’ll letchy’all know:

1. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson [bought this and burned through it in Ireland… def a monumental book for me and 12/10 would recommend.]

2. Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

4. Four Seconds by Peter Bregman

5. How to Be Here by Rob Bell

6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

7. G’morning & Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun

What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
The coffee. Walking into work and seeing smiles of the people I love working with. The greeting of my own dogs and the dog of my roommate. The naps! My daily, deafening jam to classic rock in the mornings on my way to class,

What cool things did you create this year?
– A video promo for a new learning technology within my workplace!
– A pretty enthusiastic personal brand aesthetic
– Promotional postcards for our campus ministry
– A professionally recorded song to accompany a university module for Ethical Reasoning
– A website that gives information/background to the issue of Food Waste in local communities in Galway, Ireland
– A lovely branded hypothetical design content solution for a local-farm-to-table food delivery co-op
– A cool music video featuring/promoting the patients and staff of a local Health Care/Rehab center in my university town
– an updated portfolio with some updated portfolio pieces!
– some new logos for some clientsssss woo!

What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
I would say a mix between excited and stressed. Manic, almost sometimes. LOL
Come to think of it, I spent way too much time being stressed this year. Time to just sit back for a bit sometimes, and take it *E A S I E R* sheesh.

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?

  • See Brendon Urie in concert!!!!
  • Used a dating app [with some nightmarish, some wonderful, some bizarre results]
  • Studied abroad/visit Ireland! (fly internationally alone, etc…that whole trip was LOADED with firsts!)
  • found a $100 bill on the floor of a bar LOL
  • designed a program for / attended a Mindfulness in Higher Education conference
  • Use false lashes! [they’re all the rage for evenings out in Ireland and I wanted to try them!]
  • Went camping in the pouring rain!
  • Visited a gin distillery!
  • Dyed my hair a crazy blue teal at the recommendation of one of my treasured and adventurous friends <3. Working on a progress vid for it, actually!
  • Got in a minor car accident [literally like 2 days before I finished this post– didn’t think I’d be adding this one on here but ): here we are…]
  • Applied to jobs [!!!] wow, shit’s real now!

What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
I can’t name just a favorite– so I’ll stick with the top 3:

My 22nd birthday celebration
Seeing Panic! at the Disco in concert
all of the film-related things I’ve gotten to see with friends/roomies!!

What major goal[s] did you lay the foundations for? 

  • Ireland!
  • Weekly workouts!
  • obtaining student loans [w/o a cosigner!!! it’s possible y’all] I may write a post about this later, actually!!
  • pursuing a Service Year in Seattle
  • recruiting the heck out of freshmen for our campus ministry [with much success!! (,:]
  • de-cluttering & downsizing my living space!

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

  • Having enough $$ to cover tuition for fall/spring
  • fearing that I would miss my international flights
  • Insecurities about myself and my abilities as detailed by other people ahah

What experience would you love to do all over again?
Ireland. Hands down. Such a loaded, rich, and eye-opening experience, and I did my best to document the *shit* out of it, all here:

What was the best gift you received?
Gonna drop everything and be wholesome for a sec… but the best gift I received this year, by far, has to be the friendships I’ve come to know and love and cherish. Y’all know who you are and DAMN I am *SO* so lucky. Coming in 2nd would be the blessed donations of coffee over the past 12 months by friends and fam ❤  (:

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I think it has only positively improved, and I’m so thankful for this constant evolution of my outlook through time. I think about years past where, in a hard time, it’s been so quick to say that everything is terrible and that everything sucks, that I will never find love or happiness and blah blah blah when that is SIMPLY not TRUE! My goodness. If there’s anything this year taught me, it’s this brighter outlook. That there continue to be people who WILL love and cherish you, and put effort into doing so. There are so many places to explore and things to do. There exists so much beauty in the mundane, and part of seeing it is appreciating it. That life is short, time is fleeting, and if you have something to say you better say it, before it is too late. That true friends are hard to come by, so when you find them, fight for them. Hold on to them. Tell them you love and support them and that you’re thankful for them every day.

What was the biggest problem you solved?
HMMMM I’m torn between somewhat conquering the constant struggle/battle of balancing my bank account and managing my time [I had to say “no” to a few things this year because, much to my chagrin, I definitely *cannot* do it all, despite my desire to.], and then literally duct-taping/tying the front bumper of my car back on. I may or may not have used my engine oil stick to “thread” the rope through the inner workings of my engine but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

that’s life, shoulda been an engineer, I guess.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Looking back… there’s so much but one sticks out in particular– I was leaving my old apartment for summer break, and I’d asked if I could leave a piece of furniture behind at my friend’s apartment, as she was staying there for the summer and had room I didn’t have. In the process of moving said piece of furniture into her house, a bird flew in her front door and there is video footage of me chasing the bird around the living room, trying to get it out. My good friend and I *D I E D* laughing and she just has to start the first few seconds of the vid to get me cackling [and even as I write this I can’t help but smile].

What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
My MacBook Air! Purchased it literally *the day before* leaving the country to study abroad and it has made my life… indescribably easier. So portable, so convenient with the software I need, so sleek, so light— no cables to fuss with like I did with my desktop and tower for *years* of my college experience. A bit pricey but I feel as if it’s paid itself off twofold.

What’s one thing would you do differently and why?
I would put a damper on my spontaneity [where appropriate] as well as my tendency to make rash decisions. I would say “no” more consistently, investigate true intent more thoroughly, and spend more time living in the present and not drowning in worry or anxiousness for what is [or isn’t] to come.

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Not failing my philosophy course in symbolic logic. I swear to goodness. Between a rather annoying professor and content I was ill-prepared for [apparently there were 2 pre-requisites for the class that I hadn’t taken and somehow still was able to take the class…??], I am proud of the grade I took away from that class. But I think it goes beyond the grade, too. That content slapped me in the face and there were many times I had to sit down with it for hours and force myself to do it over and over again until I understood it. That class taught me to take ownership of my needs [to over-compensate when studying], and to not be afraid AT ALL to ask many, many questions in the middle of class to seek the clarification I needed, instead of just brushing it under the rug and moving on like I knew what was going on when perhaps I didn’t.

What activities made you lose track of time?
Spending time with friends, editing video footage for a community member, designing for fun, cooking,

What did you think about more than anything else?
Hate to say it, but finances. It was a really hard year and though I made some good strides in terms of trying to get my shit together, there’s still plenty to do. Let’s just say I can’t *wait* to make that a d u l t  m o n aaayyyyyy $$$! 2nd in line would have to be myself, and my ongoing struggle to get the work-balance thing right. There’s a lot going on, and I just have to stick with it, create routines that work for *me*, and ask for help when I need it.

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
The entirety of my New Media & Society class — how we as humans interact with & create & use and perpetuate new technologies, how it impacts our institutions, the price we’re paying for it (monetarily and otherwise), privacy concerns…. you name it. Such a monstrous, fascinating [and slightly depressing!] topic that’s really opened my eyes to my digital hygiene and what I need/want to alter in the coming year.

[FREE PRO TIPS real quick tho so you can start right away:

1. Back up your system often onto external hard space!

2. Use a password generator [I use Dashlane presently, but thinking about making the switch to Bitwarden, an open-source alternative. Apparently, you can import from Dashlane too if you export as an unencrypted spreadsheet thing of some sort!?! cool]

3. Go into your privacy settings / location settings on your mobile device and wipe that shit clean often

4. Throw your Google Home and/or Alexa *AWAY* [non-negotiable].

What new habits did you cultivate?
Good and bad, here we go:
– Going to the gym with my roomie 2x (sometimes more) times a week!
– Drinking a whole glass of water right after waking up (14/10 would recommend!)
– Integrating a gratitude practice atop my to-do list
– singing in the morning every morning on my way to school
– using tupperware, reusable straws and cups
– going to bed rather consistently
– reducing my tendency to be late to work/class [by a small, yet sizable percentage!]
– more consistently putting my phone on silent or airplane mode when necessary
– sending lots of memes to close friends
– keeping library books for too long >.<
– scrolling through instagram even after my “30 min limit” expires

What advice would you give your early-2019 self if you could?
Dear bright, bushy-eyed, early 2019 steph:

First of all, thank you. For being you. You have survived and you will survive. Even on your darkest days you have gotten out of bed and experienced the day. Sometimes, that’s enough. Be prepared! Hunker down! LoRDy change is coming, and you need to be ready, flexible, adaptable!! You have settled more into yourself and I love that– keep on keeping your sense of humour about you.

Slow the HECK down!! My goodness. You toggle between not worrying about anything [and not planning, and procrastinating, and saying “it’ll all come together somehow!”] and obsessively needing to know what the outcome will be. Be stiller. Your time will come, and it will make sense.

Speak up more often. I know it feels like, in the heat of it, like your mouth is glued and words will not come out but those are the moments when your words *do* need to come out. You can clarify, modify, and apologize as needed but please, when you need to say something, do not stay silent.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to say no. You’ll get a lot better at it, I promise, but it still takes practice.

I see that you’re *still* procrastinating on your homework. I don’t know if there’s much I can say to convince you to do otherwise, especially because yourself right now knows that the homework-less, beautiful life-balance that comes with adult career life means that you will have freedom after 5pm… but try to do better, k? Also work on showing up to places on time LOL.

Take more time for yourself! Working out, reading, writing, blogging, doing things with friends– all those things that fill your heart and soul and life with joy? You need a heavy dose of that. You can sleep, slave over your GPA when you’re dead. [But sleep is important. Please continue valuing your sleep!]

Take more chances. Trust your instincts. Go on dates. Be open, up-front, forward and confident like you are. Be easy. Have faith. Be open to the possibilities, and trust the process.

Cherish your friends every day, hug often, give freely, and laugh as much as you can. Look forward, look past and/or smile at others who try to cringe-shame you, humiliate, or belittle you–such attempts are mirrors of their character. Besides, you have more important things to look after.

I know you are stubborn as fUNK and you literally chase what you want into the ground but… try, this year, to give it a rest. What you need will find you, and what you want will make itself clear. Trust that instinct, and show gratitude always.

Show love, always– regardless of the circumstance. Have faith. Be bold. Be brave. Seek truth, seek healing. You’ll be just fine.

all my love,

steph

Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
For sure. I’d be disappointed in myself if that weren’t the case. From relationship statuses, to realizing what I need and want for myself, to coping with loss/grief… it’s just shown me that all we really have is the moment we exist in *right* here, *right* now. Nothing past that is guaranteed.

What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
These may seem cliché– but it’s true– but going abroad with new experiences and a completely different environment was so *SO* good for reasons that I’m still uncovering still, quite honestly. There’s something to be said for 6 weeks *away*, anytime, anywhere. I’m not one to be too specific on here or delve into too much detail BUT. I feel as if the entirety of my most recent relationship had one of the biggest impacts on my life this year– it was a beautiful, overwhelming, and just… a really eye-opening, and positive look into what *can* be. What I want for myself, what I deserve, what love is, and what it certainly isn’t.  As if I were watching a metamorphosis form the outside, wrapped in friendship and warmth, good humor and patience, deep caring and understanding. An an endurance, a bravery, a bittersweet; to work through the hard, to speak up, to feel heard. For all of it, I am so, so thankful.

Well anyways. Here’s to reflection on the old, and embracing the new– new hopes, new joys, new possibilities.

[:

Have a blessed New Year’s, everyone ♥

xx

a breath rehearsal

we sit

feet on the floor, flat

heart fast, mind fast

the goal, he said
is to manually override
the breakneck speed of the feedback loop
that courses through the brain
wrapping itself around the heart
tagging the stomach
and chasing it back

now

put your hand on your stomach

gather
___your
_____breath

on the count of three

like the gently fizzing bubble clusters
in your coveted, glimmery #selfcare bath
adorned with rose petals and rosé
that are immediately discarded
after your Story is posted–

notice your mind

it’s beautiful
and complex detours

if this, then what?
if I had only
if we had only
if he had only
if I had only

tug it back
take its hand
smile and nod
at its beautiful
and complex detours

on a count of three

gather

___your

_____breath

I have to
I must
I should have

give them a small wave

and let them go
on a count of three

notice your mind

heart slow,
mind slow.