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

imposter.

It feels fake.

It’s funny— I just watched the respective parts of the Tati/James Charles stuff and it left me mentally and emotionally exhausted on their behalf.

And I just got to thinking about loyalty, respect, reputations, expectations, kindness, etc.

More importantly I got to thinking about what I want for myself in all of that.

I was lucky to have left my phone at home all of yesterday while I enjoyed Mother’s Day with my favourite people. There was a lot of clarity, heightened sensation, and just an overall sense of calm I hadn’t felt in a while.

Stark contrast with this morning, which featured me basking over my feed of my personal grids, featuring highlights and moments I’ve captured since the fall and beyond.

I look at past photos centralized around scapes, food, people and animals

And compare what was, with what seems to be, and what is

And it makes me disappointed.

To know that I felt like I was compensating

For not “being enough”

For not “offering enough”

For not “having enough value to pursue”

For not being the sweet end of some transactional deal and feeling a pressure to be “okay” with transgressions towards me that I know will probably just repeat themselves down the line, toward someone else.

And so my posts, I feel, have gravitated towards myself, my appearance, etc.

Vain, self-centered, overfiltered, disgusting. You can’t win.

Part of it, I tell myself, is that I went so long neglecting myself for others, and only now am I emerging from behind the camera.

Part of it, I partially want to admit, is part of an unabashed, grand, flex-scheme, like something out of Legally Blonde.

Part of it, I inwardly fear, is that I have taken on a new obsession with a desire to “prove myself” [something I very clearly do not have to do but feel like defaulting to anyways].

But all of it—I know—is all wrapped up in a burning desire to move forward, full force, full speed ahead.

I feel it tug on my conscience every day.

Why, oh why, am I so wrapped up in a mess of square by squares that do nothing but enable FOMO, provoke comparison, and steal joy, all wrapped in hits of serotonin and a need to feel seen?

Great question.

It’s social media not antisocial media.

And yet, sometimes I feel like it’s nothing but the latter.

…But.

When I re-examine, once I’ve dropped my temporary, overt pessimism, I see a host of memories, a collage of moments so near as dear to me that having them all in one place to peruse through from time to time fills me with so much love for the things and people and memories I’ve been able to accumulate in my time here, none of which are forced into an aesthetic “theme”— rather, raging with vibrancy and color, to mirror how I perceive them.

And I want to hold on to that.

But the other thoughts loom, still.

I guess it’s just a matter of finding a balance of the two.

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

// 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

// losing *power*

I tried to do work.

But my work involves a computer and the internet and so when the whole house exhaled with that depressing bzzhhhhuurrr sound that mainly only happens in the movies when a monster is on the loose or something, I was a bit disappointed.

But it was fine.

Being cut off from all that, I sat down with myself and realized “……oh wow.”

I had recently watched a video from one of my favourite vloggers/YouTubers and this one really spoke to me.

Financially? I feel stressed because the one paying my tuition/bills/etc. is me, myself and I. I’ve worked 2 jobs in addition to going to school full time to help offset this, and will be continuing to do so, adding on a TA position this fall. We’ll see how this goes. I’m also

Mentally? I feel exhausted, because I know there’s only so many hours in the day and sometimes I just spend them on the wrong things, or doing something the hard way when there’s an easier way that I didn’t see coming. This blog series has also [not gonna lie] started to cause me stress, as I felt pressure to kind of document *e v a r y t h i n g* and I know that that’s just not realistic. [In case you’ve noticed I’ve removed the day counts from the post titles and such– dream big, then realistically downsize, right?]

Physically? Oh lordy I’m so behind. I think it’s been 2 weeks since I last worked out, my eating habits may have hit rock bottom, and I haven’t been sleeping as well as I should be, I know for sure. I should probably shower after I finish this post.

BUT ANYWAYS.

What I set out to say is that the lack of power gave me a bit of quiet time. I looked at what’s flowing in [and what’s flooding out *sob*] and then sat down to try to make a realistic budget. This also included me obtaining two new *pretty awesome* financial apps, one is called PocketGuard and the other is Mint. Between trying to scrape up funds for the summer and tuition ALL in the midst of a new [used] car hunt, it’s been driving me crazy. But it was a really good time to just sit down and think on this for a bit, a nice bit of a reality check.

Later, I went on a bit of an outing with one of my friends here and she had a bunch of clothes and stuff that she didn’t need anymore, so we took it to the local Plato’s Closet with hopes to sell it to the store. I love and hate that store. I love it because it’s such a cute selection of clothes at EXTREMELY discounted prices. I hate it also because…it’s such a cute selection of clothes at extremely discounted prices and I could do some serious damage. Luckily, they had a sale going, buy one dress get one for $1 and I walked out of there with 4 dress/things for under $20. A STEAL. It really is one of my guilty pleasures. >.<

But it also made me realize that I honestly will never buy new clothes [for the most part, anyways.] Thrifting for me is so much more fun, at a fraction of the price.

A lot of the grievances against include statements like: “ew, but that’s someone’s old clothes. They’ve like, worn that before,” the disdain oozing out through their words like the clothing is diseased.

People, I own a washer and a drying machine for a reason.

But anyways.

That being said, between scoring this awesome deal [hopefully not completely nullifying my budget in one fell swoop] and taking the time to reflect upon everything, I was able to kind of re-gain that lost power. For me, I know it has to be in my head. The positivity, the hope, the willpower– I have to be mentally psyched to move forward, and I hope I can continue to do so.

xx

adventure a day // kick-off…!

My last post, I think, was a bit jarring—both for me to write, but also to sit down and re-read. Since, I’ve done my best to adjust to the “culture shock” [I’d say] between where I am now and when I’m away from home. I also realized something. Between having a count down on my phone and my over-sized, erasable, magnetic calendar propped against my wall decorated with slashes through every passing day, I noticed that it feels like a race to get back, to get over with, to move on.

I remain conflicted.

Of course, there’s so much to look forward to when I get back to school and I honestly can’t wait for that to happen but on the same token—I don’t want this to be a throwaway summer. By any means. Part of what keeps me going is the game I play over and over with myself, day to day, year to year. The “game” consists of two questions: What do I have right now, and what can I do with it?

Right now, I have time.

Right now, I have jobs.

Right now, I have the desire to improve my design skills, to translate some German.

Right now, I can visit with friends, get some driving practice in, look for a car, visit family, eat great food, craft to my heart’s content, and surf the internet for ways to decorate my new apartment in the fall.

Right now, I have this gift of a blog and the ability to write down all of the amazing aspects of the things listed above.

It’s so tempting at times to feel trapped, lost and wandering in what I don’t have, instead of taking that necessary step back and realizing: look at all of this right here.

So.

In an attempt to shift my perspective, I’ve come up with a make-shift solution that I hope will help/allow me to practice mindfulness in the little adventures that occur every day. And so, I’ve decided to launch a bit of a blogging series of short[ish] blog posts that will *hopefully* get my fingers flying over the keyboard on this space again, get those creative juices flowing, my trains of thoughts, and allow me to share a bit of the beautiful that I have left of this summer time.

[adventure-a-day]0

I know that I’m a bit behind, [and you can bet to bajeezus that I’m going to have scheduled a ton of things and continue to schedule things but that’s just the way this adventure is gonna work itself out *shrug*] but I’ve been laying the framework for this for the past few weeks and now it’s time to take the plunge and put up all I’ve been saving [so brace yourselves.]

!!!

Needless to say, I’m excited.

There’s an adventure every day, we just have to look for it.

xx

// a quick, midnight escape

…well, a little longer than quick.

I got hardcore SURPRISED, y’all.

It seemed like I was just going to be sitting in front of my computer working all night but nope. Instead, I was whisked away to my second home by a knight in a grey Honda who drove 2 hours to see me [I mean who does that?? that’s awesome??] and spent the weekend relaxing, failing at Dark Souls, eating food, and watching The Office.

The night turned into morning and more coffee and good weather and spontaneous food trips.

I’m getting better about leaving but before we did, we celebrated the break in the rain streak and hit the university arboretum. It was gorgeous. There were turtles. It was also hot, and we ran out of water.

But what a lovely end to the day. My heart felt so full– I do love walking along in nature as is, but to walk along in nature with the people close to you and just talk honestly, unabashedly about life, about love, about skepticism… that’s what makes it for me.

I know I often like to be alone but this is one thing I know I thrive with.

xx

// a run between the raindrops

Today felt yucky.

I was putting in lots of hours and I was basically at my computer all day, stressing myself out, so I decided. I decided enough was enough and I just got up in the middle of what I was doing and got ready.

Tennis shoes. T-shirt. Jacket. Headphones.

And before I knew it, I was out the door, embarking on a run for the first time in weeks, in cool [finally!] temperatures.

Thing was, it was still raining. It had been raining like, all week, in fact. But at this point I didn’t care. I just needed to be OUT, to move my body.

I opted for my favourite running trail and ugh. Watching the trees unite in a canopy above me, their new-leaf green radiating even as the leaking clouds blocked the sun…

Something about using nature to escape [as I often do], something about coming home slightly drenched, legs sore… Something about hearing the trickling of raindrops through levels of leaves but leaving the pavement dry below you… it’s really flipping hypnotizing.

I’d love to do it again soon.

xx