g r a d u a t e d. 🎓✨

So 6 days ago I graduated from The Undergrad Experience™.

Today marks the 60-something day I’ve spent in my smol apartment quarantine.

I was blessed with clear skies and a friend with great artistry to help me document the moment in my grad regalia on a barren campus in 49 degree weather. She captured what felt like an hour of “normalcy” — normal grad pics, normal “culminating hoorah”. The bursting forth of joy for all of the love for the people, places, and experiences I’ve been so lucky to have for the past 4 years.

As I watch us all having our own celebrations… at home, with family, virtually… it’s hard not to be filled with a gratitude that extends beyond the normal huzzah hurray pomp n circumstance that comes with this rite-of-passage kind of ceremonial time.

My youngest brother is also graduating high school and I can’t imagine how hard this is. For people in these shoes who had planned for things to go a certain way, only to have the red carpet kind of yanked out from under them. But the joy and resilience and comfort and closeness that this time has brought us… I think, is, in a way, a grad gift of its own.

Not many will be able to tell their future offspring that, during a worldwide pandemic, they graduated anyway. Not many will be able to say that, despite this mass migration to online learning in classrooms over Zoom and WebEx that feel so foreign and cold and exhausting [esp. when you have one after the other!] but yet oddly comforting as you see the faces of others going through it like you… that you did it anyways.

The days feel like mini rollercoasters, blending together in a rush that feels like a lifetime but also a few minutes– some days are better than others, more creative than others, more positive than others.

And some are days where you just want to roll up in a ball and not do anything but binge watch your favorite series on Netflix for all 8 hours you’re awake.

Taking time to write down and document the present moment helps. Taking time to look around at all the *new* things, the new concepts and ways of life, the habits that you’ve come to cultivate, the practice you’ve had at giving yourself the time and space to actually heal with good habits, with a focus towards turning in & tuning in to what’s really going on.

This time has been a gift, and continues to be so— even as people throw around talk of “returning to normal” or “re-opening”– we’ve spent so much time re-doing, re-learning, re-imagining… I don’t think it will ever truly go “back to normal”. Which is a blessing, I think. So much of all this has transformed the way we think about public health, about the Internet [as a FRICKING UTLITY!], about our work-life balance, about how we treat eachother, how we “show up” for one another even if we can’t do it physically.

I think all of us graduated this year.
We’ve graduated from our old lives.

We’re walking across a stage that’s intimidating and scary with the fear of stumbling.

But we’re walking towards something greater than ourselves.

xx

we did it (:

may.

And just like that, I’m done.

When I say done, I mean primarily done with school. Exams have come and gone and BOY am I so thankful for that. This year kicked my ass (in a great way) and I’m ready for a new perspective, especially this summer.

I’m now toggling between life at home and packing up an apartment and it’s been pretty fun so far.

You don’t really realize how stressed you’ve been until all of it is lifted almost entirely at once. Sure, it hasn’t completely gone away, and there are a new genre of stressors to worry about (all the prep for going out of the country, etc.), but for some reason these are *insanely* preferable that those of academia.

read/reading // Finishing Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey, one of my all time faves. For a time that requires energized focus now more than ever, this book is getting me back on track.

writing // down my packing list. And trying to come up with a reasonable plan for what this space will hold in the coming months.

learning // that it isn’t going to be 100% all the time. You can’t be on all the time, you can’t be hot *all the time*, you can’t expect perfection. Sure, there are spikes of highs and lows, but what’s important is to be ever cognizant of where you are and how you’ll connect your current step to the next, and how you can do the best you can with what ya have (:

doing / working on //

  • packing! [my life up at school and bringing it back home, then from home for abroad]
  • doing design for an upcoming conference in October about teaching learning technologies!
  • PACKING for my STUDY ABROAD IN IRELAND THIS YEAR!! 😁😁😁🎉🍀
  • Going outside more and trying to be healthy
  • shaping up my portfolio
  • Recording instrumentation and vocals for the first time ever in studio for a university project [!!] I was able to work with such talented, committed people and I am so proud of the work they put forth and how it turned out!

eating // too much gelato [can’t complain!] Not enough actually healthy things. Can’t wait to get back into the flow of things before I ship out, cuz we all know that Europe may not put on the Euros but will put on the pounds *weak laughter*

drinking // yikes  Not enough water! Again! Wow! Surprise!, Peach (and lime) daiquiris, milk, and my favorite local mochas (((:

listening // to a whole host of things! Please see below: [*Disclaimer: I put the new Taylor/Brendon song on here almost ironically, let me know what y’all think, but it’s just too gosh darn catchy and I don’t know what to do now that it’s in my consciousness]

being inspired // by the weather, the art my friends are creating, and travel blogs [!!!]. Also by the athletic/fitness ventures of some of my people ^_^

laughing // at the weirdest videos I used to make as a kid.. just last night my best friend and I found some really OLD shit that I had created [for school and otherwise] and WOW what a trip down memory lane HAH.

thinking // that “life is far too simple to be complicated”. So I’m thinking that I need to simplify more. De-clutter. Drink more water. Eat less complicated things. Spend less time on social media. Not let people unworthy of your time live rent-free in one’s head. The usual. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

trying // get down to it! To re-align the goals, and focus on the positives ahead. There is so *so* much bounty right in front of me! Why let the past creep up all obnoxious-like if it’s just gonna be is detrimental to growth, to seeing the bigger and better that is the here and now [huh crazy]? And with a whole summer program and senior year ahead??

Come on Lily, get your head out of your ass.

We ain’t got time for that.

There’s a line straight out of the Compline prayer that has traversed my lips countless times:

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

It’s like John Lennon stepped into the book of common prayer y’all and slapped some sense into the evening meditation, whispering words of wisdom:

We’ve been there. We know what we know. We saw the warning signs.

We know the patterns that will likely follow (sending prayers in advance), where the line of tolerance is, where facades of character broke down, what better looks like, and the better that lies ahead, and what we need to get *done*.

Letting it be is peace.

Letting it be is freedom.

hoping // to have the time and patience to amend my taxes, finish some leftover coursework, get some more time in outside running, get back into a blogging regimen and spend more time in the sunshine (:

loving // this somewhat consistent warm weather, the absence of academic deadlines [!!!] I’ve been able to run a lot lately and it feels. So. Good!!

praying // for my friends and family, for those who are in transition right now, for those going through a tough time, for safety as I embark on these next few weeks, for patience, for those watching, for motivation and a renewed sense of purpose, for tact, and for resilience.

Here we go, May. 

Damn, I’m excited.

xx

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

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

 

 

 

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

hello, june

I completely missed May. But it’s fine. May was a mess.

But now it’s June. June is full of newness in my book. I can’t wait to get started.

read/reading // flipping through self help books on the following:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign

And to have a real book in there that I’m *trying* to make progress through:

Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom by Henry Emmons, MD, and David Alter, PhD.

Oh, and the Bible. Lol.

writing // THIS post [god bless] and also about trying to rejuvenate, productivity, and staying true to myself and my content [even amongst social media turmoil >.<

learning // Adobe Creative Cloud!! 😀 [I am SO so happy about this.], how to best combine my soft skills with my hard skills, more design related things, and how to make Instagram do my bidding.

doing / working on // 

  • all of the babysitting!
  • crafting! [insert image]
  • OBTAINING DOMAINS [whaaaa???!!! yep, you guessed it– I’m now the proud mom of not one, but TWO new domains, my beloved strictlystephanie.com and stephaniewscribbles.com!
  • cleaning out my life before I move back to school!
  • working
  • running

eating // cereal, oatmeal, pasta, doughnuts, more unhealthy things, sourpatch kids, pork

drinking // water [!] coffee/lattes, adult juice

listening // to THESE RAD TUNES for JUNE! – some new, like Panic! has new songs out! But other stuff I’m re-discovering [:

laughing // at how much coffee I’ve had today

thinking // about all of the possibilities that lie before me. I literally can’t get that one song from The Greatest Showman out of my head either, the “every night I lie in bed // the brightest colors fill my head // a million dreams are keeping me awake”…. and like, it’s super cheesy but I’m trying to think about how what I’m doing fits in with where I am right now and what I’ll be pursuing this fall and I’m so. flipping. excited. [Better than sitting around at my own pity party, eh?] [;

trying // to stay positive. I will find a car that I like that is reasonably priced. I will find a car that I like that is reasonably priced. I will. Find a car. That I like. That is also reasonably priced. This whole thing is f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-n-g. [For those of you who do not know, I am on the quest of my life to find a new [used] car that won’t break the bank. My heart is set on a Volvo wagon, because I’m mildly in love with the aesthetic, there’s a shit ton of space in the back for ALL of my things, and they’re built like tanks. Fingers crossed and prayer hands folded.

hoping // …that I can find a car that I like that is reasonably priced  that I can plan out my goals in a more organized matter. I’m a bit of a hot mess right now.

loving // the recent weather [70 degrees and sunny?! After like, 2 weeks straight of rain?? *gasp*], my personal progress with this blog/other website. OH, and the fact that I just got FALL OUT BOY TIX FOR SEPTEMBER ♥ ♥ ♥ *joyful tear*

praying // for patience, understanding, focus, the motivation to sit my ass down and get real with myself and my summer goals. Oh, and that the Caps take home the cup. [;

My countdown informs me that there’s only 54 days until I move back to school.

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

// the mosaic district + ignited passions

I couldn’t have asked for better weather today, nor could I have asked for better company. I had the privilege of spending a day with one of my original amigas who now goes to school very far away from me in NY.

But she is here for a breath of summer and I couldn’t wait to go hit up this cool shopping district. She picked me up first and greeted me with a hug and a belated birthday present [she’s got killer taste and should probably be a professional gift giver because I was truly delighted but you know *shrug* (: ]

We combated lunch-hour traffic and finally found ourselves in the parking garage under the Target.

I’ll start by saying they had the most aesthetic Target I think I’ve ever seen, with an escalator for the shopping carts, so many windows for a stunning vista [over the mini cityscape] and a very established Pride apparel sections. It was fantastic.

We realized that we were starving, and decided to hit up the rustic-looking Italian place across the street. They had a great pizza deal going on there so we scored that.

Next was a pit-stop at the gelato place down the street– we mixed some chocolate flavors with lemon and passion fruit and it was surprisingly summery and delectable!

To nurse our food pregnancies we strolled around some more and eventually ended up at a PaperSource store and OH. MY GOD. It was a boutique basically for crafting and paper making related things, and seeing all of the paper and the envelopes and the writing tools and the journals and the ribbon…ETC… it just made me feel like I had to start crafting again. Which sent me on a binge a couple days later, to re-vamp my portfolio website, and create a couple new items in the meantime! So, super pumped a about that.

The sun was pretty high in the sky at this point, on the verge of its descent so we left the district to go home.

It’s so great how, even after being so far away from some people, you can literally just be in the same room, jump in the same car, and then everything just picks up as if no time had passed.

xx

a reality check brought to you by the universe

It was about 3pm.

I had been up since 6:30am, miraculously I beat my alarm awake.

I had a final exam at 8am [I spilled coffee EVERYwhere at my seat upon walking in but walked out confident that I had ACED that little bugger of an exam] and had my next one at 1pm [I tripped up the stairs with the rest of my coffee to that one] and felt utterly miserable taking it [both of these had been writing intensive exams, I wrote a total of 4 essays so my hand was DEAD].

So when I was out, done, fed up, and waiting exhausted at the stoplight on my way home [my coffee thermos was now officially empty, no more accidents for me, hopefully] I almost didn’t register as the girl next to me started talking in my direction.

“Lovely weather, isn’t it?”

“Yes, honestly it is.” I wasn’t sure she was talking to me but I answered her nonetheless, taking a moment to look around at the pear and cherry blossoms making their way across the intersection caught in mini-wind gusts.

“You heading home?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m exhausted and I haven’t eaten since 7am. I had two brutal exams today.” I was still angry that they had us take these on a Saturday.

“Oh man,” she said. “I’m a senior and I just got done with stuff too– I can’t believe I’m graduating next week.”

I told her she was lucky, that relaxing must be nice, and that I wish I were graduating so that I didn’t have to take anymore exams.

“What’s your major?”

“Media arts and design and German. What about you?”

“Oh, that’s cool! I’m a math major. Minor in English, though. I’m Katie, by the way.”

I told her it was a good convo of logic and art and was about to politely end the conversation, eyeing the light about to change, when she sprang this question on me:

“What are your aspirations in life?”

I paused, partially because I was trying to make sure I heard her right. But what the heck.

“To be happy,” I said after a few seconds. “And to make some sort of a difference, if I can.”

“That’s a pretty good aspiration,” she said.

At this moment the pedestrian man lit up, telling us to walk. We split at the middle of the intersection.

“Well, have a nice life,” she said, turning to walk the other way.

“Thanks, you too– and best of luck with graduation!”

I thought about how I would probably never see her again.

I thought about how I had answered her sudden question, and what that meant for me in terms of how I was going to proceed, that moment forward.

I thought about how cool it was, that the universe had granted me that moment, a brief, subtle reality check that forced me to think about all the ways I was hitting the walls between me and my own happiness.

My eyes followed her posture, her confident strides as she diminished down the sidewalk. Smiling, I followed suit back to my apartment.

xx