that time we found out we had bedbugs

I’m pretty sure we discovered them by accident.

For a little over a week and a half I had noticed itchy red bumps covering my arms and wrapping around my torso and lower back.

Oh, it’s poison ivy! I thought.

Nope.

Oh, it’s just some flea bites from my boyfriend’s roommate’s flea-ridden dog long overdue for flea medication!

Nope.

Nonetheless I took proactive measures and washed my sheets. When I took them out of the dryer, a few bugs fell out on the floor.

Gross, I know.

I thought they were dead fleas.

Yay! At least I killed a couple in the wash!

It wasn’t until we went to Walmart to get insecticide for fleas and ransacked Google for DIY remedies safe for dogs when we saw the image of a bedbug on a black and purple spray can. I had never seen a bedbugs in my life, mind you. But here we were, nonetheless, staring at a purple can of bug poison and that’s when it hit me that the picture I was staring at was *not* a flea I had seen on the floor.

Fast forward to arriving back at the apartment and inspecting the mattress and box spring, just for kicks.

Little brown dots and creepy-crawly bedbugs of varying sizes and stages in the life cycle wandered around aimlessly around the rims of the box spring, clearly disturbed by all of the commotion.

“Oh my god,” my roomies and I said in unison.

Well, all of us except one of us.

My other roomie, who is 1000% averse to any kind of bug, was still at work. We had yet to break the news to her. We wondered just how we would do that. She was going to flip the duck out.

We came up with the idea of making her some chicken nuggets and having a stiff drink waiting for her when she opened the door.

We raced around the apartment, tidying up, cooking frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave [because our stove was broken. That’s…another story altogether. There’s a lot of things wrong with where we live], and downing a couple shots [you know, for quality control].

We hung a sign on the front door that said “please ring doorbell” and threw the safety latch on the door so we would know when she was home and so she wouldn’t be able to get in right away. She arrived 2 mins before the nuggets were done.

“UM you have to wait two more minutes!” Liana yelled out as the doorbell rang.

When the nuggets were done [first and fore-mostly] we let her in, and didn’t let her cross the threshold until she’d taken a drink.

It was when we were all huddled in the kitchen, conversing [albeit a bit sloppily—my other roomies and I had already been a few drinks ahead], and me recording the whole thing on my camera, that Liana broke the news:

We raised our glasses in a toast:

“CHEERS TO BEDBUGS!!” yelled Liana.

“CHEERS TO….I’m sorry—what….?”

The look of disbelief on her face was both golden and ultra depressing, and, also a really foreboding glimpse into weeks of terrible communication lapses with our property management, sleepless nights in beds other than our own, and money leaping out of our wallets to cover the expense of pests that don’t even discriminate by level of cleanliness….

…all in time for midterm exams. (-:

this is what it feels like.

I fly

rebellious, jubilant, unabashedly

across four lanes

downhill in an affluent ghost town

the wind races through the hair that is woven tightly, threatening to liberate it

as I throw my arms out

like I’m at the front of my ship

the captain of my destiny, with my own Celine Dion soundtrack.

there is Jack-shit behind me.

Hovering above me are dots: gleaming balls of fire unencumbered by clouds

that I stupidly take for granted every single night

as I waste away

right on schedule

in front of synthetic blue light

searching for all that can’t be found

but I shove my world in my back pocket

until further notice

I am the captain of my time

the commander of my soul

and I give it

a much needed vacation.

hunger.

When I was a kid I love love LOVED the first day of school.

Everything felt new, it was a time to start over, and, believe it or not, indulge in being able to learn after my brain felt like it had conked out over the summer. I loved learning.

The last few years of high school, however, I did not feel this excitement. Especially my senior year. I remember waking up and thinking “do I have to…?” I felt lost in the day to day grueling hours under artificially lit rooms, like I was roaming around on auto pilot sitting for this AP exam, that SAT, that quiz, etc.

I know many people look back at their last year through rosy lenses thinking about all of the fun and seemingly unbeatable memories… While I can’t deny there were some awesome highlights, the majority of that year for me was like a “okay, let’s get this done with so we can move on” kind of thing. I was fed up with the sphere I’d been stuck in for 12+ years and just wanted to break out.

Looking back on it now, I suspect a lot of these feelings were closely intertwined with some depressive symptoms, mixed with all of the stress and unnecessary (at times) pressures that existed within my school/home environment.

All that aside… I feel things changing.

I can feel excitement creeping in, leaking into my life slowly as I realize that in a little over a month I will be back, in my own space, at home, embarking on a course study I’ve been waiting ALL TWO YEARS to be able to do. A course study that keeps me up at night, that nags at me from a distant corner of my brain during the work day, constantly provoking me to push forward, to think forward, to aim higher than I know I have in the past.

And so here I am, still awake at this hella late hour, trying but failing to sleep because I’m just thinking about everything. EVARYTHING.

It feels as if I’m finally able to take the reins I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time… and it feels ah-MAZING. (:

xx

pitching perfection

2018-06-27

I like to live in a Depression mindset.

No, no no. Not the drop-everything-and-dial-a-hotline depression you’re probably thinking of. [Though I won’t lie– those bouts of elongated sadness do rear their heads occasionally. *weak laughter*]

Nah, I’m talking about the historical Depression, the one that booted so many out of jobs, out of homes, out of their comfort zone. The mindset that what you have today may be totally gone tomorrow. The mindset that you need to use everything around you to your advantage. The mindset that commands your attention to details, and the constant use of creativity. My grandmother grew up through this time, and for her, living the inventive, penny-pinching, ingenious life was how you survived.

Luckily, my grandmother passed down her frugality to my mother, which has so obviously rubbed off on me. While I know I’m not as good at these frugal habits as my mother [I’m very impulsive, I’ve got lots to learn, and I have an expensive taste >.<], I do understand the power of using “every part of the buffalo”, having minimal waste, and being forced to think outside box and draw outside the lines.

I thought of my grandmother today amidst my planning for the next month– life has been insane with getting my Etsy shop started, figuring out this hidden treasure trove of skills I want to learn, working two jobs, and packing for a vacation in the meantime. My planning, albeit a bit scattered, is part of what gets the shit done for me. I recently stumbled across a certain strategy in the book The Organized Mind, by Daniel J. Levitin [which I know I’ve mentioned here so many times before, it’s such a good book you need to read it okay end rant].

What you do is take a big board (I use a whiteboard, this could easily be done with cork and made way cuter, come to think of it!) and divide it into 4 sections, labeled
“TODAY”
“THIS WEEK”
“THIS MONTH”
and my 4th category is “MISC”.

In these sections, you’re supposed to put sticky notes with tasks on them, according to when you’d like them completed, giving you a really helpful, visual representation of your otherwise formulaic, overwhelming to-do list (though if to-do lists are your thing, that’s great too!).

I didn’t have sticky notes, though, [and this is the part that made me think of my grandmother] so I ended up cutting up strips of paper I’d written on, fastening the strips to my organized board with the remnant outlines of sticker paper, the sticker paper excess that had come from my recent craft order.

After putting everything together, I admired my handiwork. It was messy, it was disgruntled, it was less than perfect. I thought about re-arranging the notes of paper on the board to look more aesthetically pleasing. I thought about re-writing all of the tasks in fancy calligraphy to make it more “instagrammable” [I hadn’t posted anything yet for my art Instagram so I was looking for something to post!].

But then I stopped.

What was I doing?

Over the past week or so, I’ve been submersing myself into the work of others, the feeds of others, the blogs of others, the copy of others. Unfortunately, my mind would fall into mini-comparisons. Oooh why can’t I have these gorgeous mock-ups? They have so many likes?? How? This Instagram feed is so UNIFORM omg why can’t mine be like that? If only I had that many followers…UGH if only I had this [software/fuzzy white rug/piece of machinery/shiny camera] to better boost my work!] and other relevant chips away at my self esteem, yada yada etc.

…And those naggy bit of thoughts would just race around the inside edges of my head, until I had a sit-down with myself. I recalled a snippet I’d heard from a friend not long ago:

Goddammit, Steph. Comparison is the thief of joy.

I needed to step back and take some inventory. Everything I have right now [artistically, personally, and financially speaking…] at this moment of time…. I made that.

Whether it was with my own two hands, whether it was something I thought up, something I designed, something I just decided to get up off my ass and finally complete?

Yeah, did that. 

So often I think we get caught up in what’s missing, what’s wrong, what we need to change, how we’ve failed. We don’t take a minute to appreciate what’s left behind us in our wake, the awesome creative havoc through any mess that has happened that has led right up to this moment.

Now, the goal of this post isn’t to just rant about success or the path towards it, but rather to remind you [and myself!] to take a minute from time to time to give yourself that pat on the back, that moment of pride. That moment when you look around with a dumbfounded budding grin, like “oh shit, did do that? Something a year, a month, a week or two ago I never thought possible? YEAH I did.”

And I did do it. All teh things.

Like this planning board. It may not look super sleek or super shiny. It may not be killer Pinterest content or Insta-ready. It may not be awed and adored by every person who trips over it, or be perfect in any capacity– but that’s who I am. I’m not completely together [I don’t think I ever will be, LOL!]. I’m not super neat [just ask my roommate *sob* sorry son, I love you]. And I’m sure as hell not perfect.

So why should my content be?

xx

begin.

I’ve been staring at the cover of my notebook since October of 2017 but only now am I starting to realize the implications, the depth, the truth of the message emblazoned on the front of the binding.

I’ve been sitting on ideas for a post like this for about a week now, and I thought I’d take the cover’s advice, right now, while I have the time to make this post.

“The best way to get something done is to begin.

God, I wrote earlier in my relaxed stupor that was last night, has a strange way of teaching us things. And I stand by that. A few weeks ago, I was pointed to an online community full of like-minded self-starting personalities like my own. This introduction led me to take a personality test, which reinforced my knowledge that I am an ENFP-T, through and through. I don’t like mundane routines, I try too hard to please, I’m fiercely ambitious, I hate asking for help, and I’m also a bit scatterbrained. This started a chain reaction of mini-discoveries, mostly ones about myself, some about other people.

And then just this weekend, I was gifted with a conversation from a local mom, who I would not have run into otherwise had I not taken my sister to her all-star [and final] baseball game. I’m not sure how the conversation got started, but we got to talking about life and health and then it clicked– we found that we both despised small talk, we were both in the ENF[J/P] range, and she touched on her experiences living with anxiety and bipolar disorder. All of the sudden I found myself relating.

A few days earlier, I had essentially stepped outside of myself. Things were not going well, I could feel things falling apart, my monthly episode of trains running off their rails and being paralyzed by indecision had come at a really inconvenient time for me, so I had to step back from a lot of things and just take a weekend to rest and re-charge.

I have yet to get multiple opinions [and I plan on doing so] but I came to the conclusion that I’d been avoiding and ignoring something for a bit too long, and a 15 minute exchange of ideas and experiences transformed into the first step of realization. I shared with this baseball mom my concerns, I told her about my research, my screening, my findings, and the helpful and supportive information that followed was absolutely incredible. This mother has since conquered her identity, and has a website and LLC completely devoted to helping others do the same.

But it was that moment. The moment I began. The moment I reached out, the moment I started to sit down with myself internally and do that deeper inventory.

And looking at the words on this notebook today I realize I’ve had so many beginnings in the past two weeks.

I began, again here, in this space, having sorted out the old posts and the old angst and the old everything, and tried to tidy it up for more, for growth.

I began a new habit of letting go, of not obsessing or returning to things [people, rather] that would only be a form of destructive restraint going forward. 

I began investing myself in the research of my passion projects, re-designing my craft blog and doing my best to create new work every week.

I began the process [which, as it turns out, I started months ago but never finished??] of setting up an Etsy shop for said craft blog, and I put my first product into production yesterday. 

During the period of heavy doubt, peak uneasiness and discomfort, deadened optimism and flat out de-motivation… it was so hard to begin. Beginning seemed like a crazy afterthought, something so distant from the comforting idea that I was fine where I was, that I was fine shrinking back. I was confronted with these words:

“There is a saying, ‘the obstacle is the way.’ Sometimes we have to change our expectations and way of thinking to go head first towards the obstacle or difficult path instead of trying to avoid it or get rid of it.”

When I heard this I had to stop for a minute because it was so true. So often I think we find ourselves running, so much of our culture and habits are escapist, “buy this, be happier,” “go here, be happier, find yourself”, “do this instead of that”…when sometimes the best remedy is to stand your ground and fight right where we are.

And I’m trying to do just that, fight right where I am, make a “to-do” list of the problems and watch myself tackle them head on, crossing them off mentally, knowing I can win, knowing that I’ll be stronger and more fulfilled on the other side.

Some beginnings, like the ones above, are small.

Some beginnings like the ones above, were deceptively hard.

But they make room for new ones that will flourish.

xx

 

 

 

the blog purge: to delete or not to delete?

Holy guacamole.

I just wrote a post about risking it  — you know, being bold in your endeavors, jumping off the deep end when necessary, starting over, finding clarity, yada yada.

On a bit of a whim today, I sat down and realized that there’s a bit more that I’d like to do with this blog. And while I’m still floating some ideas and settling into that game-plan, I did realize that I would be faced with a decision:

to keep the old blog posts?

…or to delete them forever?

And I went a bit back and forth on this for a bit. I have seen countless blogs that I follow, and even people who don’t have traditional blogs, delete a bunch of old content because it was either too angsty [me] too cringe-worthy [also me], too personal, [HA ME hands down], or just straight up not really reflective of what they wanted/want to accomplish.

I will say this– for the most part, I was against purging all those old posts. I could look back on them, look at my angsty self and see the growth unveiled with every scroll right before my eyes. I also kind of took it to heart as a bit of a badge, a smol medal saying “look, I’m authentic!”

But now?

[SPOILER ALERT: I’ll get right to it, I deleted everything before 2014. LOL]

But. In case you’re wondering [which you very may well not be, lol, I don’t gotta justify myself and you don’t either 😛 ] here’s why I did it, along with some challenges I thought about in the process:

Your post don’t have to be gone. I made the decision to just get them off this space. For sure, they could live in some file on my computer if I wanted [though I don’t really feel like doing that.] However, if you do ever want to go strolling down memory lane, then keeping those posts in a separate place could be a nice alternative.

But what about all those likes/comments/followers etc? Meh. I dunno. Over the years I’ve come to realize that this really is my space, the content I have is reflective of myself, and if I lose a few nice words [thank you to all you beautiful blogger friends, btw ♥ ] in the process… well, I will take a moment of silence and then proceed onward. Plus, I don’t really buy into the whole “how many likes??!!???” chaos that just distorts feelings of self-worth anyways.

You’ve changed so much. Why shouldn’t your blog? I can’t tell you how many re-models this thing has had. That being said, this space, like myself, is evolving. I will get new inspiration, new ideas, new skills [that I can actually put into practice here on this blog *YAY*] that better reflect me and my goals.

…and what about authenticity? LOL. So I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here. This blog, which is now an incredible FIVE YEARS OLD [??!!???] literally used to be a virtual diary about my outings, my dying pets, and struggles with productivity. Not like that’s all non-authentic stuff [it totally is!] it was just so full of bad grammar choices, fluff-words, and irrelevancy. I’d much rather have original, raw content that’s written [at least a little bit correct]  well and not accompanied by 2.4 mega pixel photos, ya feel me? 😛 [Though FYI I did leave stuff from 3 years ago because I got tired of weeding some stuff out, I’ll save that for another day].

There is totally such a thing as blogging baggage. And seeing as I’m in a really, really recent realm of “new”, breaking out of old habits and forming new ones, forging connections and blazing paths I previously thought were out of reach… you better bet I don’t want to be reminded of some of the clutter. I’d much rather sort through the clutter, acknowledge its existence, learn from it, and then promptly send it off somewhere to get recycled and transformed into something new. [:
That being said, I’d like to take a more purposeful [albeit personal!] direction with this blog [leaning towards something more relevant to lifestyle…??], so as I’m zero-ing in on what that is, I would love it if you left some comments with ideas, pieces of your blogging journey, things that have helped you find your place as a blogger, etc.! It’s hard because recently I’ve been working on some pretty big things over at stephaniewscribbles.com and I’m just trying to figure out the role this personal blog might play. It’s five years near-and-dear to my heart so I don’t think I want to abandon it *quite* yet… 😛

Cheers to everyone who has been with me since the angsty days of 2013 [you are all God-sends and blessings through the tumult lol] cheers to those who are still going strong, cheers to those who I’ve just recently been able to connect with and explore with, and cheers to those who, like me, are walking a new path in their blogging journey–because that’s dedication, man. [:

xx

 

 

for the grads.

This is a stereotypical graduation post, I know.

Two of my siblings walked the stage today, and I couldn’t be more proud. It was weird being back in my high school, even weirder to be back in that ceremony. But wow, what an experience. To be on the other side, to see all of these high school seniors bright-eyed, looking forward to their summer before they start college and knowing they’ll do incredible things. I also learned a bit about myself today.

The faculty speaker at the graduation, a dude very near and dear to my heart, had some of the best words [well, more like ideas/concepts] of the whole ceremony, and I just have to put them here because they were so important, in addition to some words of my own. Being at the ceremony made me aware of so much– from my personal growth since sitting there in a cap and gown, to the acknowledgement of the growth that I know I have yet to happen.

So here’s a list of random things that I want to pass along to all those who are continuing on their journey, whether that’s jumping straight into the business world, taking a bit of a life-pause, or continuing on to college.

Remember these “inequalities of life”. [I’m pulling right from the speech of the beloved faculty speaker I mentioned earlier, here]:

EXPERIENCES > POSESSIONS
TIME > MONEY
OTHER > SELF

Fact of the matter is, all of things that are “less than” are not the things we’ll be missing when we look back on our lifetime, when we make the judgement and the statements of regret. So the gift of your time [for yourself or for others], the respect and care for others, and the memories you make are all going to be superior to any tangible thing you could ever want.

You will never regret being kind. If you have the opportunity, take it. Also, there is a difference between being nice and being kind. Flashing a fake smile is an illusion of kindness; sitting with someone, talking to them and going the extra mile is not only the better way to build connections, it’s more fulfilling.

Do your best to value sleep. If your sleep habits are reasonably good, a lot of other ones will fall into place. You need sleep to function.

Take time to self-reflect. For me, this means writing here. This means keeping a journal, this means reading other things. Often. All of these help me get back on track, whenever I feel as if I’ve gone off of the rails of who I am, or who I used to be.

Turn off your phone sometimes. Being behind a screen all day is more insidious than you’d think. Take a break, go for a walk, or a run, or pick up a book or call someone up [do people even call other people nowadays?] NOT on speakerphone, so you can’t be tempted to multitask while building friendship connections.

Do your best to fail productively. No one likes failure, no one likes rejection, no one likes disapproval. But if you know how to take those things, look at them objectively and see where the wheels came off and even more importantly, look at it from a “what did I gain from this?” perspective, it’ll be a lot more easy-going.

Build tiny routines into your week. That way, when everything feels like it’s falling apart coughespeciallyduringmidtermsfinalsweekcough   , you at least know you can expect to be doing some small things as scheduled, such as making your bed, writing/reading every night before bed, starting the morning with a stretch and/or a prayer, etc.

Drink water. Lots of it. End of story.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. This was mentioned the graduation speech today, but it’s also something I’ve held onto for a really long time that I was reminded of today. Embrace the quirks, the imperfections, and know that it’s okay to be human sometimes. There’s times and places to be serious, like in your work and at funerals. But sometimes, it’s just necessary to be goofy, to fail often, and look at yourself in an honest, candid, not-too-harsh light.

Consume carefully. Be an intelligent consumer. Be thrifty, have a budget. It’ll save you SO much stress and uncertainty down the road. And that’s just for shopping. I also mean be a careful consumer of media. Be reluctant to trust things until you’ve looked at multiple sources. Be wary of the terms and agreements [read them through before checking yes!!]. Consume consciously. Aka don’t fall into auto-pilot mode and scroll for eternity– be mindful about what you’re looking for and consider why you may be looking for those things. AND. In the realm of alcohol… just remember that you have a choice, and that consequences will kick in the moment that drink touches your lips, and you have to be willing to accept those.

Do not rely solely on others for your happiness. This is something that I have struggled with [and continue to struggle with] for a long time. Whether it’s friends, a relationship, or some other source of something– the fact is, if there is unhappiness rooted deep within you, chances are it needs to be addressed where it is–deep within you, in areas you wouldn’t think to look in, in areas that instinct and desire for comfort tells you to avoid. Which brings me to the next one…

Embrace the uncomfortable. Before I left school for the summer, I saw a TEDTalk about how we should be striving to immerse ourselves [when we can] in the unfamiliar, to explore what is different from is. This is how we learn. This is how we find similarities amidst differences we thought we couldn’t see past. This is how we bridge the gaps. Try saying “yes” to things that [situationally] make you uncomfortable. I’m not saying abandon your morals or sacrifice your safety– I mean more along the lines of engaging in [perhaps] challenging civil discourse, making the first move to befriend someone, going to a club or organization meeting just to try it. Whatever you do, there’s something to learn from it.

Take pride in all you do, and don’t be afraid to be a “try-hard”. Trying hard doesn’t have to mean you’re a nerdy show-off. No, in fact, just the opposite. It means that you quietly show up, you get ready for success every day because you did your best to prepare, put your best effort forth, you do your best to meet in the middle, and have confidence in your skill.

Keep up with at least 1 of your passions on the side. Gives you something to look forward to on a weekly basis, as well as a safe space to learn and grow, and further figure out what your interests are.

Speak up when your gut tells you you need to. That’s the only way we’re going to beat an insidious indifference, looming hatred, and other nonsensical injustice.

Whole-ass everything. Your homework. Your friendships. Your art. Your instrument. Your practice. Your relationships. Things change, people change, sometimes it ends in heartbreak but embrace the risk. Embracing the risk in the first place is what catapults you into learning about yourself.

Befriend vulnerability. Whatever that means to you– breaking the small-talk routines and injecting a bit of yourself into daily discourse, admitting from time to time that no, you’re not “fine”, or not being afraid to tell someone how you feel. This one was/is a big one for me. You don’t have to be “on” all of the time, and sometimes it’s great to just be alone with your thoughts and your truth, even if it’s far from “perfect”. Perfection is a myth, anyway.

TALK IT OUT. I’m thinking more in the realm of relationships here… but. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Letting them in on your uncertainty, your doubts, your fears, your desires, whatever it may be– it’s those often difficult conversations that are going to bridge the gap between separate understandings, separate truths– and it’s ultimately what paved the way for authentic friendships.

…And LISTEN even harder. Good, active listening means immersing yourself in the words of another as they’re saying them, empathizing and showing you care. It’s harder than it looks. But it’s so much better than rapid-firing retorts back and forth and using the other person’s speech as planning time for what you’re going to say right back to the person. Also always be willing to practice this.

Have hope, and dwell in gratitude often. “When life closes a door, God opens a window.” I have never experienced this more than I have in the past year, I’m pretty sure. There’s always a way, there’s always something to look forward to, even if it seems a bit far in the distance or non-existent. Having faith is key. So being able to sit down and look around at what you have and realize that it’s enough, that you’ve been blessed with so much already that you need to put the breaks on chasing unnecessary desires, is a really, really important tool to have.

I could probably go on and on but the truth is I’m still learning how to implement these more fully myself, and I have so much to learn in the meantime.

But for now, just focus on being you and staying true to what you know you want.

xx

risking it.

I’m not a fan of risk.

Not the “ooh I’m gonna run across this log on our nature walk across the stream and Snapchat it all but what if I fall and drop my phone” risk.

Nah, I’m taking about the heart-stopping, heart-shattering, sometimes paralyzing risk. The kind that puts you at a crossroads, the kind that gives you that little annoying pop-up dialogue box that reads: “are you sure you want to do this?” The kind that you know, with every fiber in your being, that whatever you decide to do about it, something, *something* will be inevitably changed forever.

Yeah, I don’t like that. Nor do I like confronting those things.

This past Sunday, I took a risk [albeit tiny]. I went to church on basically no sleep the night before because I thought “why not?” The worst that could happen? I have a bunch of awkward conversations with a bunch of parishioners I don’t know [because I’ve been away for so long and one keeps right on a’moving], I fall asleep, I get frustrated by church politics, etc.

Funny thing, our priest actually ended up giving a sermon about risk. How, in some cases, something had to give and in the realm of self-growth, we should be failing at least 50% is the time. How, specifically in the readings we had that day, Jesus took a risk, to do “work” [working a miracle on a guy’s withered hand] on the sabbath in front of a bunch of supposedly respected, straight-arrow priests, which ultimately resulted in tipping these antagonistic officials off that he was the Son of God, the king of the Jews, The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, etc. Basically disclosing himself as that guy whose face was essentially on a lot of people’s “wanted” signs.

[Not to get all bible-y on you here.] Point being, he found himself facing a risky situation on the Sabbath [sound familiar? LOL not like I’m trying to compare myself to Jesus.] And he took it. He took that risk. If it meant revealing himself to the law and the politicians and the skeptics and his critics in the name of an act of kindness and love, it was worth it. In the name of encouraging reflection, self growth, respect, and humility, it was worth it.

My risks didn’t stop on Sunday morning. Oh no no no. I barreled right down an avenue of risk [because why not], and decided to take some hops towards my uncertainties, my goals, and most importantly, my self growth.

I went with my best friend to see a car for myself [one that I liked and was reasonably priced…!!!] and even though it wasn’t all I’d thought it would be, I did that. I test drove it, I handled the questioning and the research and the price heckling [which turned out not necessary as I didn’t buy but whatever]. I did that.

I kickstarted my own domains for my respective blog/site, with links that so blatantly sit on my now-naked Instagram [I have to be public if I’ve any shot at becoming a Bangs ambassador, more on that later!] and have begun outlining a plan to start *hopefully* creating content on a more steady, consistent basis. I made that happen.

I took the leap and purchased all of my Adobe CC software subscriptions early [I’d need it anyway for school so it’s cool] and started playing with them, one by one to get used to how they work [it’s like learning a while different language, there’s so many tools and ways to use the tools and print/new file specifications and AHHHHHH! Hence the self-help books I mentioned in my previous post!!]

And I finally pulled my thoughts and realizations together regarding some aspects of my personal life recently— I did my best to de-clutter my living space and clean off things, clean out things, keep what I needed…

The things/influences/people I realized I didn’t need? The things/influences/people that I just had for the sake of having them, to lean on at my whim when times got less than manageable? I decided to let them go.

I won’t [and shouldn’t] be holding onto them/keeping them around, even if it’s in the background. Sometimes even when something is in the background it still has a subconscious hold on you that you can’t do anything about until you pull it forward into the light, and scrutinize it there until you know what you’re going to do about it.

And some of these things sound small, but have grown to monstrous proportions in my head, so much so that I’ve been putting them off for so long.

I’ve always loved Eleanor Roosevelt’s words:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” I mean, what better way to check up on your comfort zone than that?

Some of these items were pretty low-risk. Some, I’d put on a level medium. Others, tall [but necessary and game-changing] gambles.

I’d like to think I’m on my way towards making risk more of my friend than a mortal enemy I just hide under a table from. And I know that it also just takes time. Here’s to failing 50% of that time in the meantime, in the name of self-growth.

xx

mugs + musings // behind the screens

I stayed up way too late last night, but for good reason [I think, anyway]. I had finally gotten around to getting my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription all set up [as I’d need it for the coming semester anyways] and was having so much fun getting to know my way around the programs. It’s been a while since I’ve had something excite me to the point of not being able to sleep, especially something “work” related.

This resulted in a bit of a later wake-up time, but I needed the sleep. But one of the first things I did this morning was check out a notification I had received about one of the channels I subscribed to on YouTube. One of my favourite vloggers of all time, formerly @IAmJustaMakeupLover, was announcing something related to her account. Fearing she was discontinuing the vlog, I had to watch. What I witnessed, however, was something much different than I’d expected. Olena, the lovely soul behind the vlog, was talking about her dissatisfaction with some aspects of social media, explaining that so often we just see the “highlight reels” of people’s lives and the “behind the scenes” portion that we may not be comfortable sharing with the world are not something that makes it out into the light. It was a really powerful message overall, but some things that stuck with me were this:

1. while social media can be a really freeing thing, it has the potential to make us feel stuck, to put a filter on us and our activities, and a filter on how we view ourselves and others.

2. When we’re caught up in a sea of highlight reels, it’s easy to start the comparison game, and looking at other people’s accomplishments as if they’re taking away from our own, when that isn’t the case.

She talked about how her username, “IamJustaMakeupLover” was the persona her shy, starting out self hid behind, one she used to gain confidence with behind the camera, the name of her alternate personality. She went into talking about how while it had helped her overcome so much of her shyness and whatnot, she wanted to kind of emerge as herself, remove that label of an account name she’d made for herself. I thought about myself and my platforms. Early EARLY on in my blogging journey, what started off as “stephanie says” has evolved into something that is unique to me, my experience, and all of the things I’m learning and am passionate about. I realize that I am plunging more and more on a journey of self-growth and that I can eliminate some of the labels I inadvertantly accept, put on myself, or hear from others. I also realized that the creation of my own “life-canvas” (as Olena refers to it) is my project, and my project alone, and that seeing other people finish their masterpieces or have all these other great opportunities and feeling less accomplished because of that is nonsense. I realized that perhaps I need to rejoice more frequently on my current place, my current progress, my current state of mind, if I ever have the hope to make myself better and proceed in a way that is true to me.

The second thing resonated with me because, while I look to so many for inspiration and ideas, it’s also easy for me to subconsciously compare myself. So to hear her talk about this, and remind us that the accomplishments of others don’t detract from our own, was a really nice thing to take note of. I have control over myself, my goals, and my feelings toward all that is related to those. It was a great reminder to try to stay positive and play the game of racing against myself, not racing against others.

I also realized that I myself have my various highlight reels. I attribute most of this to the fact that I don’t quite want to spew a bunch of negativity or saddening things on the internet. Over the years I’ve definitely become more comfortable with being real with those readers of my blog. And of course, there are some darker, stickier topics I’d rather not mention, some parts that are within myself that have made me me, that push me to keep going, to keep me trying to be better than yesterday. And that’s okay. It’s just so SO important to know that no matter whose highlight reel you’re viewing, it’s important to think of the person behind it as a multi-layered, complicated, beautiful human being who also has their own obstacles, struggles, and scars. I want to try harder to implement this, and take it into account when I’m looking for inspiration or guidance or when I semi-idolize the people I follow, talk with, interact with on the web, etc.

I change, I grow, I learn new things. And I want my media to reflect that, too, especially as I settle into my passions, my goals, and most importantly, myself.

xx

//re-boot: how to be *actually* productive

I did it. I can’t deny it.

I think I actually hit rock bottom a day ago.

In one of my last posts I talked about how run-down I felt. I had no energy, I felt disgusting [just in time for #nationaldoughnutday, lol], and I was mentally exhausted. The next morning, I realized something had to change. So I set out on a mission to re-fuel, re-energize, and re-orient myself for the day, taking in all of the “productivity” hacks I’ve collected throughout the years and just try to set out and do what I needed to do.

One of my all-time favourite books, The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey [I can’t praise this book highly enough], notes that productivity is not a measure of how we can get the most done, but rather, how much we can get done that we actually set out to do in the first place. 

So I made a list.

I had to babysit that day, so that would take up a fair amount of my time. But while the amazing baby was sleeping, I sat down and pressed “go” on a bunch of buttons I’d been waiting around to push.

I know there’s TONS of productivity tips out there– it’s almost overwhelming, and sometimes it’s almost too easy to get lost in just reading about all this productivity instead of actually doing something about it! So. Without further ado, these, I find, are my favourite tips that I’ve been able to put into practice successfully, and will continue to do today because boyyyy do I have a lot of work to catch up on!

//MAKE A LIST. A realistic one. Before you set out to do what you wanna do, make a list. From what I’ve read, it’s recommended that you only have 5 things on the list– this is so you don’t get overwhelmed by a list that’s longer than your arm. It’s okay to take baby steps. Remember, productivity is all about getting done what you set out to do. And checking off 5 reasonable tasks is a whole lot easier than attempting 10 bigger ones. That being said, if you finish all 5, make another 5-item list, and keep chuggin, man!

// TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Or at least put it on “Do Not Disturb”. I like to put mine off, or on do not disturb across the room from me, so I’m not tempted. All that buzzing and notification noise for who last liked my Instagram post is just going to derail the productivity train.

//GET COMFORTABLE. This includes settling into a comfortable chair, bed, etc. Also do not forget the importance of good posture and hand position [especially when your work often involves your hands slaving over a keyboard, like mine does!] It’s a lot easier to focus once you know you’re physically well taken care of and you’ll be able to stay at it a lot easier.

//DRINK WATER. All day, preferably. Have it next to you and sip often. Your brain needs it to function. As I type, I’m drinking coffee. You can also drink coffee, don’t get me wrong! I am a coffee lover from way back but always make sure to sandwich the coffee break with a water break!

//SLEEP. I feel a bit like a hypocrite because I only JUST got my sleep back on schedule. I’ve been trying to go to bed between 11:30pm and 12am and wake up at 8:30AM so I know I’ve gotten my 8 hours. Honestly though, it’s such an overlooked part of productivity and general wellness. I used to be that person who bragged about “I was up til 4am finishing this blah blah blah”. Yeah, well I also conveniently forgot to include the part about being so sluggish and down-and-out the next day…

 //MUSIC. This one’s a bit of a hit-or-miss for me– some days I’m feeling it, sometimes I’m not. But when I AM FEELING IT NOW MR. KRABS   am feeling it, I try to stick to something that I can have passively play in the background. Unfortunately, this rules out discovery playlists on Spotify, unfamiliar songs, and stuff that’s super lyric-heavy. I can do classical music [that’s gotten me through MANY finals studying sessions!] and I can do some music with lyrics as long as it’s stuff I’m familiar with and can kind of tune out easily. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of active listening, especially because I love being mindful about what is going into my ears but sometimes I just need noise. And, if music’s not your thing, no problem! There’s this nifty site called “Coffitivity” that literally just lets you play background noises/buzz from inside a coffee shop. Pretty awesome, right?

//EXERCISE! The first thing I did when I woke up besides getting dressed? I went for a run. After being almost a week out of commission I decided I needed to be active and pronto. I finished about 3.11 miles and felt deliciously sore afterwards, and didn’t feel my usual afternoon-sluggishness later! It’s really true what they say, that baffling mystery about how exercising actually gives you more energy. Weird. Gonna keep doing this one, even if I only go for a brisk walk or do some pushups in my room. Anything that gets the blood pumping is worth it.

//TAKE BREAKS. Oof, I’m low-key the worst at this one because I: A) forget to plan breaks into my work regimen OR B) take my breaks for faaaaaaaaaarrr too long lol this post was supposed to happen during a break and it’s taking me a bit longer than expected but it’s fine cuz this is truth that needs to be SPOKEN amirite? But honestly, it’s a lot easier to sit down and focus your mind when you know you’ve got a break coming up wherein you can satisfy your cravings. My breaks include eating sourpatch, doing personal things [like blogging or educating myself on the importance of SEO, taking a sketch/design break, getting a real food snack, a nap, stretching, etc.] ALSO IMPORTANT: give your hands a break. Right now, I can feel my left wrist is a bit tense from typing this post so intensely! Be kind to your hands and give them a break as well when you take a break.

It’s hard because I’m really stubborn and often have to try things before I realize their value, but these are the things that I find help me the most and my productivity throughout my work day, and I hope they do the same for you! I challenge you to try at least one of these [the water one is definitely probably my recommendation (; ] today and see what happens. Or you could also take a break and go order The Productivity Project off Amazon for like, $12. 

Happy productive-ing!

xx