// forcing habit

It’s been a week!

I guess I can write this now!

So. In my earlier post about saying no to things so you can say yes later and whatnot I referenced a few things I was doing to kind of get myself back on track and pave a smooth way for the semester.

And I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot during that process.

So! A recap!

This week, I:

Said “no” to coffee, and “yes” to water and tea.*
I woke up with a cup/glass/or water bottle every morning this week, because I want to embrace the positive effects a hefty dose of water can have on your metabolism in the mornings.

Some observations, though:

  • It kinda threw off my body’s schedule LOL
  • I’ve noticed a small difference in my ability to focus and in the quality of my skin. [I had headshots taken yesterday so this has been a mild blessing!]
  • It has made me aware how little I drink water now. Because I start my day with it, and because it seems to be a memorable part of my mornings now, I think about it more. And I also seem to have a subconscious thought of “oh, welp! That’s your water for the day!” So I’m hoping to override that.
  • I did break my non-coffee regimen 2 times this week though [1.5 if you wanna get technical about chai tea lattes]. I will say though! These “breaks” were backed with purpose–
    • one “coffee” event was spent getting through a difficult, yet rewarding as hell conversation
    • the other was a purposeful consumption of an espresso iced coffee to power through a video editing session. I totally got in my “flow” state and absolutely reached hyperfocus as a result.
    • [EDIT: annnnnnd whoops technically I guess I also had a break today I totally forgot about–I ordered a Matcha latte at work today because I’d never had one before and I wanted to see if I’d like it. Does that count? LOL]
  • I guess the biggest thing for me with regards to the coffee is that I wanted to consume it more mindfully, and more purposefully, rather than just having it be my “given” for the day. And on that front, I think I succeeded. [:

I said “no” to notifications, and “yes” to waking up more mindfully.
I don’t think I really realized how much my mind raced in the morning until the end of last semester. Over winter break there wasn’t quite as many commitments, so I was able to wake up with notifications and skip the mind racing, *but* I was then able to fall into the trap of endlessmindlessscrolling (I didn’t have a class to race off to, so of course I was able to just sit and absorb. At least, I told myself I could). So. By keeping airplane on all night, I knew for a fact that nothing would be able to get through.

Some notes though:

  • I did violate my rule once this week because we were expected to get a ton of snow, and, let’s be real, I didn’t want to miss the university closure texts.
  • This habit MAJORLY helped in that it gave me a clear mind for the morning to breeze through my other tasks, such as drinking water, making myself a smol breakfast, and getting ready for the day [I should time myself on all those things, actually, just to see how long they *actually* take and now how exacerbated they are when interrupted with screen time! :D]
  • It also just gave me a nice…buffer? I guess? A little extra time between being asleep and immediately “on” and awake.
  • I’m able to more accurately process my mornings!! I am here, writing this post because I *remember* my mornings– not just as a rushed blur of mundane, but as a little more *mindful*! That’s exciting!

Said “no” to “checking in” and working right away, yes to observing my breathing and bringing back my wandering thoughts.
I was probably worried the most about this one.  Mediation, I knew going into this, was going to be the one I was most averse to for this week. I didn’t do that well in terms of setting aside a solid 5 minutes to watch my breathing. Rather, I made some observations:

  • I traded sitting cross-legged on my floor or on my bed for walks to work without headphones.
  • I declined music in the shower, opting instead for a 5 min timer and just embraced the fact that my mind was going to wander and made an effort to enjoy it.
  • I did a few brain dumps. On paper. For me, this is highly meditative for some reason.  I started with a blank sheet of paper and by the end of 10 mins or so, I had built a complete list of thoughts and notes and “to-do”s and by the end my head just felt SO MUCH BETTER. Chris Bailey quotes a lot, “your brain is for having thoughts, not holding thoughts.” That’s what the meditative brain-dumps are for [;

There were a few other things I did pretty consistently this week that I hadn’t intentionally set out to do,  though, and they surprised me!

I made my bed every morning.
Anyone who has seen my room knows I’m pretty scattered. But I’m actually super proud of the way I’ve been able to keep it tidy over the past week. Among my morning hustle, I try to make my bed look made just so I have a good thing to come home to. But also because it’s hard to lay out clothes and spread out what I need for the day on a mangled up tangled ball of blankets :B

I made myself breakfast every morning. 
The routine as of late? Oatmeal + egg and cheese. I whip up the oatmeal [it’s instant, we’re getting there LOL], and then make an egg with shredded cheddar to get that protein in. I cannot TELL you how many times I went last semester [especially towards the end there!] without eating a single thing in the morning. [Well, I did have a single thing– and it was coffee. #yikes] If I was running late, I opted for something more portable [I think that only happened once this week] like a granola bar of piece of fruit. Otherwise, I carved out time for breakfast. And, on super late nights like last night, I did the prep work in the evening so I could be prepared and get the extra sleep in the morning. [I know it all probably works out to be even– the time I spent prepping was taking away from my sleep time, but in my head this makes sense and it *feels* like I get to sleep more, LOL].

I did all of the above with the help of a “Gmorning” checklist! 
I love lists. I don’t know where I would be without them. What started as a way for me not to lose track of all I had to do in the morning turned into a daily event. I would take a piece of paper, write out my tasks for the morning, and write something encouraging on the top of it. The cherry on top? Leaving Lin Manuel Miranda’s book, “Gmorning, Gnight!” right on top of the list so I could flip it open to a random page to be inspired. I think positive self-talk, especially early in the morning, is super underrated. I’m not quite to the point of confessing love for myself in the mirror yet LOL, but I am finding that reading just a blurb of something positive each morning has a really nice effect on the day.

The crazy thing? There were points this week where I felt myself pushing back on all of this. Where I wondered, what’s the point?  Heck, today I saw someone reference today as “Ditch All Your New Year’s Resolutions Day,” as if we’re supposed to just up and lose motivation on the 15th of the first month of the year.

But the funny thing about routines and habits– you come to expect them. You come to think about them during the rest of the day, and even look forward to them. So much so that when you feel like you’re starting to veer off the tracks, you seek solace in them again. And it’s like come on we just spent so much time getting this together. Why stop now?

…And when you see that they’re starting to work, starting to pull you up and help you rise, you’re inclined to give them another chance every time the sun rises. [:

What about you guys? What 2019 energies are you keeping up with?

xx

 

we can be good at math

Between being sick, and trying to figure stuff out for how to re-align my life for this semester, I managed to wake up late this morning…..BUT! I made it 1 minute before my first class started at 8am!! #yay

This class…is a math class.

#notyay #butYESYAYbecause #override #anythingispossible! #readmoretoseewhy

I am in my 3rd year here at university and have avoided it for this long [LOL how]. But like 2019 is turning out to show and teach me every day– there’s just no hiding anymore! ((-:

The last math classes I took was in high school. It was AP AB Calculus in my junior year, and AP Stats senior year. With regards to the Calc, I was in that class because it was the only thing left I could take without stepping down the ladder in terms of math difficulty, and because I was pressured into it by myself (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??” ) and friends (“why not take another AP to impress colleges but also lowkey upholdyour intellectual status at this school and unrealistically inflate your GPA like the rest of us  hmm??”)… and parents (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??”).

Needless to say, I did not want to be there.

This negative outlook stemmed, I think, from a lot of different things, and I really only started to understand it last semester.

This particular bout of introspection came when we were discussing epistemological beliefs within my practicum as I was training to become a digital learning center tutor.

It’s a big complicated phrase [and I may or may not still have trouble getting it out of my mouth without tripping on it somehow LOL] that basically talks about how we as humans conceptualize our own knowledge, and how we think about learning and its processes.

Do we think that learning is about facts and knowing? Do we believe that learning is a continuum that constantly evolves with time and experience? Do we believe that we can learn differently? Are we stagnant in our learning? Are we certain that things can only be a certain way, and that we can’t learn any differently?

In my case, I always told myself I was bad at math. Not gonna lie, I did this because I wanted to assimilate myself with my mother growing up, who had always said she was bad at math.

I have absolutely no issue [in fact, it’s *so* encouraged!] to make mental notes and observations about what you’re good and not so good at.

But I was telling myself I was bad at math like it was some genetic issue, not because I had legitimately tried time after time and fallen on my face repeatedly during my math courses. I mean, there’s no doubt I fell on my face in a variety of math classes, but I also had to step back and look at this in itself: “falling on my face” meant getting slightly lower grades than my peers.

At no point was I ever legitimately “failing” math. I think the worst grade I ever took home was in the high D/ C range. But no matter what grade I received, there was always a tiny voice that seemed to just ramble on without any real precedence, “I’m just not good at math”.

In the practicum it hit me. My learning, especially as of late, thank the Lord above, has been anything but stagnant. It’s been anything but “you’re just not good at X”. Hell, these past few years? I’ve been telling myself “how do we make X happen?” and then I just…do it. [A lot of this refers to procrastination issues but LOL that’s a tale for another time.]

Putting limits on the way you learn is such a sad thing to even think into existence. There’s almost *always* more than one way to do something, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised when I walked into my 8am math class today.

Not only was the professor so nice, so spritely, and passionate about the subject matter… she made it very clear to us that she loves teaching, that she’s an adjunct, that she gets a personal thrill every morning at 8am to be here in her ripe age of 65. Add in the fact that she’s very blunt and candid and brash with a southern twang?!?

LOL.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed math more. She reminds me of my mother and my father’s mother all rolled into one and LOL it’s a fantastic combination.

But as I was sitting there, I was reviewing concepts that had fallen by the wayside, that had gotten rusty, that were a bit fuzzy on the edges. But I did the stepping back and was honest with myself. It’s been what, 3 years? LOL. Time to read up!

And it wasn’t bad at all! Stepping back to look at everything objectively, with confidence in myself [and a bit of hyperfocus**], I was able to think about how this was totally doable, and totally in my reach.

Malcom Gladwell has made the statement that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. Who says that something can’t be totally new? Or totally foreign? Or something you thought you were terrible at, but now have the courage to revisit?

**I refer to [surprisesurprise] Chris Bailey here. Another reason I think I did so “poorly” in math in middle and high school was because I was *not* in control of my attention at all. Phones and other tech at that age had… a bigger impact on my ability to focus and do well than I ever thought at the time, and so being able to see how to reign in my focus for things that are important to me, for things I want to succeed in, has been *such* a help.

What are *your* epistemological beliefs?

Better yet…How can you flip them upside down?

Onwards!
xx

the courageous task of saying “no”.

Ahahah so it’s crazy. This post [rather the thought of writing on it] has been taking up a lot of headspace recently. So here we go.

I am an ENFP [“the campaigner”], my Enneagram puts me as a “Helper” as my paramount personality trait. [If you’ve never heard of this or tried it for yourself, I highly encourage it! It’s very cool to see the results.]

I love challenges, I love helping people, I love being busy.

I don’t like inconveniencing others, I don’t like living up to expectations, and I definitely don’t like confrontation, and things like saying no. 

Oof.

If there’s anything that 2018 taught me, it was that it was busy.  It was packed. Why?

Because I consistently didn’t say “no” to things. 

I like feeling like I can do and give for everyone but WOW that’s so mentally taxing, and emotionally exhausting. I think I only realized this in the past 3 months. Taking time for myself was still a foreign concept, and I couldn’t fathom “letting people down”.

What I’m learning, however, is that part of the time it’s like being on an airplane. When shit’s going south and things are nosediving, you do have to put the mask on yourself first in order to help others.

I don’t like thinking about this, partially because it feels like I’m neglecting others by doing so. But it’s true. Sometimes, you just have to barge forth and make that call to take the time for yourself that you need.

Chris Bailey [YES I KnOw I reference him so much he’s my idol sue me] suggests this pretty golden rule for determining whether something is worthy of your “yes”. You can think about how every “no” you throw out is actually a “yes” for something later on, or you can think about how every “yes” you commit yourself to is a “no” to something else later on.

It is this train of thoughts that makes me think about all I’ve said yes and no to. Some things are an obvious yes– visiting with family I haven’t seen in 5 months or more over the holidays when I could be working? For me, this is an obvious “yes.”

Following up on flaky plans when the other person has no real interest in making time for aforementioned plans? Tough. As badly as I’ve tried to make this work in the past, it just doesn’t. It also has led me to start thinking about the fact that I actually may be someone’s “back-up plan”. Yikes. That’s gonna be a “no” from me, dawg.

[I’m still in the works of trying to release some big things in the next weeks related to this specific topic of money and stufffff buuuut….!] Spending money on impulse for the instant gratification and to feel “one of the group”? So so tough. But it’s gotta be a no, because I have to think about the “yes”s I want later. Like paying tuition. And my rent. And being able to afford food and gas.

And it’s crazy! I kind of stretched out writing this post across two days– the second day I’ve spent on this post has actually found me feverish, throat sore, and chilled to the bone even with masses of sweaters, coats and blankets [greetings from my blanket cave, as I do my best to balance under all this weight on my chair and just get thoughts out].

After the trials of today, I get a text. One of my friends asked to hang out.

My brain immediately said yes. Yes! I leave to go back to school in less than 48 hours of *course*! But my body put the brakes on that. It was all I could do to get up this morning, sit like a potato at the DMV, and then drive to my nanny gig. When I got home I was *robbed* of energy.

I revisited my brain’s talk. Come on, it’ll just be for a bit, you need to see her before you leave, you can sleep and finish work later! Enticing, right?

But alas. I’ve been *super* super harsh on my body in the past month [one of my 2019 #DoThings I’m working on yike] and it was screaming at me to stop. And also not to get my friend sick *sob*

So I listened. And promptly made some mac n cheese and green tea and headed for the blanket cave to embrace the minimal arm movements I use for work and for writing here.

And this handy-dandy “no” thing doesn’t just apply to seeing friends! My goodness– these “no”s apply to *EVERYTHING!*

It’s 2019, I’m trying to start new, and make micro improvements to my lifestyle.

I picked 3 to concentrate on this morning [bold, I know!] and they were, essentially, 3 little “no’s”:

No to coffee, yes to water. The first of those micro-improvements was waking up and immediately downing a glass of water. Sometimes my desire path is quite literally down the stairs and to the coffee, without the notion that maybe, just maybe, that’s not what I actually *need* right now.

No to notifications, yes to waking up more mindfully. The second of those micro-improvements happened the night before, actually, and I honestly *need* to keep doing this– I set my phone to airplane mode **NOTE: NOT “DO-NOT-DISTURB”, I repeat, not that little moon setting that’s so handy when you want to ignore people lol]  The reason why is because I use my phone as my alarm… [I’m actually thinking of going back to my old-school alarm clock with actual buttons and dust on the unnecessary sound ridges atop the faux wood casing] …and I wake up and I shut it off and I am immediately aware and flooded with notifications.

Like ugh it’s like rush-hour just seized my brain and I can’t enjoy those blissful moments of removing myself from sleep. I also have this really bad habit of scrolling, mindlessly and like the wind through Instagram [*addict right here, raises hand*], and lingering for *far* too long, and then proceeding to do that Social Media bounce between apps to catch up on what pretty much is non-existent because most of my pals were sleeping.

No to “checking in” and working right away, yes to observing my breathing and bringing back my wandering thoughts. The third micro-improvement I tried today included a brief bout of mediation. Last night, I woke up randomly at 3am because I had crested over into being feverish and then decided to take medicine and then I think the medicine was doing weird things…..so I decided to read. [Can you guess my book of choice? LOLOL] In said book *coughTheProductivityProject* , Chris writes about how focusing on your breathing for a certain period of time can do *wonders* for strengthening your “attention-muscle”.

So I woke up [to no new notifications! #orgasm], drank a whole thing of water, stretched, and sat on my bed to breathe for 5 mins. [I think I may revise this to doing it in the middle of my working hours, cuz I realized at the end it seemed kind of silly to go from a really relaxed state [sleep] to another. Noted for tomorrow, I guess. [; ]

Being disconnected, away from the urges to check and reply […and check and reply again] and wakening my metabolism with the water was such a radical thing in my morning routine, that I remembered it. Lol maybe my memory is just bad but this is yuuuge for me guyyyss okay

But seriously. How often can you not remember your morning before you start your commute and the routine of the day?

For me, it’s definitely something I just hurry through, and then scramble late away from, and forget for the rest of the day.

So this? This feels nice.

Until after airplane mode,

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

 

 

 

On Life, The Present, and Stuff

…And this is why I can’t do blog challenges XD

I lack persistence! And just… stuff gets in the way. *sigh*

Well

It’s been a while… and I am continually surprised at how quickly things change. Too quickly, it seems…

I think one thing that brings me to the computer tonight is the very recent death of a classmate of mine.

Just now a freshman at UVA and 18 years old, he was destined for success. Recipient of both academic and swimming accolades, he was very intelligent and loved by his friends.  He sat two seats away from me in AB Calculus last year, and also dated one of my close friends.

I learned last night that he died in his sleep due to a seizure.

Though I was not close with him, my friend was, and all she could seem to do was replay the last not-so-nice parts of their relationship in her head and wish that she had let him know she meant none of it.  She wondered if he felt sad, that he would never go to college, never marry, never have children.
I felt her sadness.
She told me she attended church last night and one of her close family friends who she ran into by chance asked her what she was doing there and at that, she broke down. She told me she and her family friend ended up praying together and that somehow she knew, the guy would be all right. “He’s getting a front row seat to Jesus’ birthday party,” she told me on our way to work today. I agreed, saying that heaven had indeed gained another angel.

But her thoughts lingered in my thoughts.  I got to thinking about life and death, the before and after.  Can the dead feel disappointment? Do the good that do die young feel sadness that they are no longer with their mortal lives and loved ones? Do the departed get a chance at a holier, even better life with the Big Man Upstairs?

When I was younger I was fascinated with stories that proclaimed people had seen heaven. It’s a mysterious place, and, depending on one’s religion, it’s sometimes hard to buy into.

There are times when I wish I had an answer– What exactly is there after death? Why even do the good die young? Better yet, why must the young die?

What ever the answers to those questions, I do know one thing. Sometimes, we get caught up in the “stuff”. The things, the bling, the clothing, the work, the time.  I am… probably the biggest hypocrite and probably shouldn’t be preaching this…. but I’m serious.
I want to slow things down, make the connections that are important.
With family.
With friends.
With strangers, even.
Because sometimes, all to fast, it’s gone. And with my classmate, it wasn’t his fault at all– it’s unfair that he passed. Completely. But it just goes to show how fragile life is, and how we shouldn’t trade, sell, or pass up any moment for anything.

This holiday season, do something for me. Love a little greater, laugh a little harder, thank-you a little genuine-er…  I can bet you I’ll be doing the same. ❤

 

[deleted.]

So today I decided to take the reins.

I deleted all of the social networking sites off of my phone, barring one: Snapchat.

My reasons behind this?

I got tired. It was beginning to get to me. I mean, research has even proven that social media is a trigger for depression. After watching people day in and day out… post their lives, take pictures just to post later, sit on their phones with other people around {guilty as charged…}

It just
Made me realize what a huge lying trap it is.

I have felt so unhappy lately. And while part of it may not be directly related to social media, I think subconsciously, some of it was.

And I just grew sick of everything being so fake. On my Instagram, I’ve tried to keep it real… I posted pictures of what I loved, things I found funny, people I loved, and capped them off with clever captions. I detested “basic” posts or the “typical” Instagram routine, but I was just falling into it. The same went with Twitter.

But then it hit me.

Why on earth
Do I have to prove my life to people?

What is this, a competition?

I want friendships and connections, not likes on a screen.

So I just decided to let it all go.

Deleting things was easier than I thought– A few taps and temptation vanished.

Afterwards I decided to clean my room, and get rid of all negative and cluttered energy within my space that was subconsciously causing a booby trap of a life style.

It was funny– On Halloween I went with a group of German students for a state-wide organization meeting at Busch Garden’s Hall-O-Scream. I ended up losing my phone.

LOL I recovered it though, by some miracle… But even when I got it back, I didn’t take pictures or use it all that often. Mostly because I was lacking space on my device.

However, it made me realize
how much better it is to just experience. You don’t have to record/snapchat/post EVERY FRIGGING THING around you.

It’s soooo much more enjoyable that way.

Another reason I decided to abandon Social Media ship is because of excess expectations and judgement.
It’s like
Dude, I’m on my own track of life now.
I don’t need you
Or anyone
Judging
My life decisions
My favorite things
My dreams
My goals.

So I quit.

And I was left with Snapchat. I was debating whether to delete it when I created a 4 minute long Snapchat story basically illustrating my lack of time for things I love anymore due to a social media vaccuum. {I may post that story here once I figure out how to convert it to a usable vid file….}

***{I think I got it!}***

 

But anways.
Because Snapchat is fleeting in nature and not permanently hanging around for people to see forever, I think I’ll keep it. But everything else? Gone.
It’s the free-est I’ve felt in a while, and honestly, I think I won’t turn back.
xoxo

[deteriorating]

Ever feel like your head is about to explode?

That’s me as of late.

I don’t know why everything decides to crash in all at once, but it does.

I haven’t written since August… that makes me sad ): I just wish I had time. Well, I do have time.  I just… spend it elsewhere. It’s always elsewhere. When I wish I could spend it here. Sometimes I wish I could just take a breather from all the deadlines and the grades and the activity and just come here, and pour a bit of my tension and soul here on the screen.

Right now, it seems like a conflict of interest. College applications (early action, anyways) are due at the end of this week, rehearsals won’t stop, homework won’t either… I’m plagued with social issues that I wish I could get over, I feel like I barely talk to J, and my mother seems to be guilting me every chance she gets. (typical teen girl thing to say, right?)

And it feels like one more sleepless night, one more breakdown of the outer shell, one more person criticizing my every move may do it in for me.

As much as I try to stay afloat, my life preserver drifts away from me. She says I never smile any more. I’ve noticed, and it’s like I’m losing touch with all I used to love. This year is bear, and as I write this I dread waking up tomorrow.

I should sleep, I need to be places early.

But I can’t.

I feel like going on a rampage through my assignments, completing them with little care and throwing them aside in a massive DONE pile. But when the TO-DO pile is larger than I am…

And re-reading this I feel like a messed-up, angsty teenager. Rebellious and nervous and angry and jealous and sad and unworthy and reckless.

I just got home from a night out with friends. On a Tuesday. *insert mother criticism here*. I should be happy. I was happy.

What happened?

Since when do I spend more time in solemn silence than in laughter?

I just want to know that this numbness isn’t permanent, that it’ll go away, that I’ll be able to leap over it and turn around and laugh at it later.

Is that too much to ask?

~

Honesty Hour: Free of Filter

Hi guys. So I’m thinking I may do this feature… just because let’s be real, the world does need more honesty.  I’m… feeling that more than ever.
A few minutes ago I watched this video of a makeup tutorial… but it was so much more than that.  I personally am not much for makeup tutorials, mostly because I don’t have time for such extensive makeup in my daily life… nor do I find it that interesting to watch other people do it… but this one was different.  (I’ll give a shout-out to VICKYLOGAN, you can check out her YouTube channel here) The vlogger, Vicky, touched on a ton of topics during a “get ready with me” vid, (which you can watch here) But I just got to thinking about some of the things she said about confidence, society’s expectations, loving yourself, and imperfections. She starts the video tutorial with no make up on at all and I have to say… I appreciated that so much.  To see someone in their natural beauty, to see that not all people are somehow china dolls all the time, to see that someone is comfortable in their skin and that they only pop into another one out of personal preference and not pressure or obligation….. It was inspiring.
And she’s totally right about the fact that our imperfections make us…well, us. And that “perfect” isn’t, and should never be, a standard.
So where am I going with this?
To be honest (ha, get it? Cuz it’s honesty hour) I don’t really know. All I can say is that I have felt myself… get caught up in all of it.  It’s so easy to just hop on Snapchat, or Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, see the filtered snapshots of the seemingly perfect lives of others and just feel really, really down about yourself. Or, to just go out there and make you want to be like someone else, or someone you’re not. And, once you do feel that push to go out and completely change yourself… once you have, maybe, what you feel like has been “for the better”.. You can’t help but blast it out there for others to see.  The pictures flow, freely, leaking out to all the platforms screaming “hey! I’m normal!” or “hey! I’m cool!” or “hey I look good!” “wow I’m stylish” “wow I’m this” “I’m healthy” “I’m happy” “I’m in love”…
It all builds up.  To the point where it’s a bit much.  It’s hard to know what any followers think… They’re judging only on pictures.  Your analysis becomes geared towards likes, follows, and favorites. And your perceptions of reality are, well, filtered.
Why is social media such a monster sometimes? Does anyone else feel like it has robbed their soul in one way or another?
I do.
I have to admit, I love Instagram.  The pictures are so pretty and I like how they’re perfect squares and how the feed can be so colorful sometimes… But what I don’t like is that it’s so unrealistic at times. There’s a level of superficiality that comes out and just takes hold and makes it reaaaally easy to compare yourself to other people…

I used to hate “selfies” with a passion… (Just the word makes me cringe…still..) My first reaction is that it was kind of a vain thing to do.  But what do I say now when I post them myself? And even more, when the filters are just piled on?

I compare my older pictures with some from now… they’re different.

And somehow, in one way or another, they’re tailored to other people.  Which shouldn’t be the case.
Why do people seek perfection? Call it artsy or whatever with all the filters (though I can’t judge because I love filters because they can twist a photo so many different ways) but life isn’t… filtered.
And I think you can eventually become addicted. Not just to the platforms, but the content and the content posted to said platform.

I say this, because I think I am.

As much as I don’t wanna be like “oh, I’m addicted I need to stop…” When it gets in the way of my productivity or when it just starts to change your views on things just a bit… it’s a bit much.

That being said… while I don’t wanna take a hard-core hiatus (though that’d probably be a good idea with all of my unproductive-ness as of late) I do want to try something.
Similar to my waaaaaaay long ago post about going “Unmasked” for 3 weeks or so, I’m gonna go unfiltered.  All posts, no matter where, will be free of a filter  Just to gain an appreciation those things that do not need a filter.  Friends, family, nature, and importantly, yourself.
Like Vicky says, everyone has something or some things they don’t like about themselves.  But the crucial part is learning to live with them, embracing them and being aware of them. Because like she says

“…All of that [makeup, clothes hair, imperfections etc.]… at the end of the day, it don’t matter because we all go to sleep in the dark. …Well, most of us– some of us use night-lights…. But when it’s dark and no body sees you… Do you love you?” ~Vicky

She’s very funny and down to earth, I highly recommend her channel.

So, my friends! Head out into this filtered world and just rip the filter off.  Love you, what is raw, what is real, what is most important to you… And I shall do the same. Again, I’m not hating on filters or anything, I just… sometimes I wanna view the world without one for a while.  To keep it in check.

And you’re invited, too! Feel absolutely free to follow me on my unfiltered journey and join me in my #freeoffilter endeavors: @stephaniesaysxo on Instagram & Twitter.

Love always,
Steph xoxo

Decisions, Decisions.

Let’s just talk for a moment about these little demons, shall we?

I mean, if life is about choices, I might…be screwed.  I think I had a New Year’s resolution in there somewhere about prioritizing… In fact, I should just go look at my resolutions list,  come to think of it…

I feel like this whole summer for me has tested me with choices. Go to gov school or don’t go to gov school? Do homework or don’t do homework? Spend this money or save it? Hang with these people or avoid them? Think about the future or live blindsided in the moment? Just… a couple of the choices I’ve been facing.

I’ll start with the fact that for the first time in (foreverrrrr– thanks, Frozen..) about 17 years I won’t be going to the beach with my family this year. No sun, no waves, no boardwalk… No Thrasher’s fries… ): Thing is… it was my decision.  And it feels crazy, but also right…

I missed a lot while I was at gov school. Two jobs, time to do homework, friends, you name it I missed it.  I even missed gay marriage getting legalized in all 50 states. Soooooo I made an executive decision to stay home and use these two weeks I would be at the beach to make bank for college, and finally get my stubborn nose to the grindstone with these summer assignments.  It’s the first day in of my WOO LETS GO DO IT regimen and I have done barely anything… which is killing my “AHHH LET’S BE PRODUCTIVE” vibe. If any of you guys have tips on how to motivate yourself and be super productive… please share.  I could sure as heck use it.

Love always,
Steph xoxo