Blogtember

Just like I was late in discovering Jenni’s Blog Every Day in May Challenge , I was also late to the party on her new Blogtember challenge. I came across it last night, and I’m going to join in!

Blogtember

Her goal is to get back to the basics of blogging. Writing every day, just for fun. Sounds like a good enough reason to me.

Today’s prompt:

Thursday, September 5: “Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.”

I’m going to cheat a little bit and use the same quote I used during the Life Lessons post from the May Challenge…

Probably my all-time favorite quote:

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

-George Sheehan

It’s still at the top of my daily to-do list, because I like to see it every day. Sometimes I forget, and I slip into taking a pretty passive role in my own life. But then I remember that it’s me and no one else who decides who I’m meant to be, and only me who can get me there. If I have a goal, I have to have the courage, determination, and will to see it through. I have to be the force that makes things happen in my life; otherwise, I’ll stagnate.

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Archive Dive!

Day 21 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge is “A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.”

BlogEverday

There aren’t all that many posts in my archives. When I click “Publish” on this one, it will be #92. But I’ve tried to find a few favorites. They all kind of center on a theme: doing what makes me happy with my one and only life.

On Christmas Eve in 2011, I summarized the state of my life and rededicated myself to the effort of blogging in the post a purpose-driven blog.

In November 2012, I left my first “grown-up” job and started my second. I wrote on interviews, and what I’ve learned to summarize my interviewing experience. It also nicely sums up the things I got out of my first real job experience: both good and bad. Also in November, P and I transitioned into a long-distance relationship. That forced me to do a great deal of scrutinizing my life’s choices and reprioritizing the things I want out of life. That’s when I wrote my Manifesto.

In February of this year, I took a few weeks to do some serious thinking. Then, I wrote  about a change I was planning to make, which included a list of the things I wanted (and still want, for the most part) in a future career.

On May 13, 2013, I blogged about the 2013 Charlottesville Design House, for which I volunteered from December through May of this year. In the hopes of getting a few central Virginians to see my post and want to visit the house, I was the very first commenter on YHL the next day. It must have worked: that post earned me 674 pageviews (which more than doubled my total pageviews at the time), AND earned my blog a link from the Design House Facebook page! I doubt that I’ll see traffic like that again any time EVER.

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the things I’m currently struggling with.

It’s funny: it wasn’t until sitting down and reviewing my archives to compile this post that I realize that I’ve actually been cycling in and out of the same problem for two years now. The issues I’m currently struggling with aren’t new. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m not happy with what I’m currently doing. I want to try something new, but I don’t want to fail, or lose my life’s savings, or wind up lonely in a new place, or anything else that’s decidedly bad. The difference lately is that I’m actually doing something about it. (More on that to come…hopefully!)

5 of my favorite blogs

Day 19 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge is “Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.”

BlogEverday

I’ve been reading DIY and interior design blogs for a long, long time. I’m an expert blog-reader: it’s the blog-writing that I’m new at! Even though I like to blog about life and my personal adventures, when it comes to reading blogs, I go for design. I’ve only very recently started branching out and discovering that a whole wide world of non-design blogs actually exists!

With that said, these are my all-time favorites.

#1: Young House Love

YHL was the very first blog that I ever started reading, and I still read them every day! (And twice a day on Mondays and Wednesdays!) I first discovered John & Sherry through a news article that was featured on the welcome screen on AOL Instant Messenger (yup, old school) during my senior year of college. I love, love, love the passion and dedication behind their blog, and I’ve always been inspired by the fact that they’ve managed to take their blog and turn it into a full-time business for the two of them. They offer great advice for anyone who wants to tackle a DIY project, and they have fun along the way.

#2: House of Turquoise

I check in on House of Turquoise every evening after work. I love that Erin is able to find new spaces that feature all shades of BLUE every day of the week. It’s gorgeous eye candy. Interior design + blue = a winning combination for me.

#3: Answering Oliver & Dev on Running

Devon used to blog about her life at Answering Oliver, but now has switched over to Tumblr, where she focuses on running. I stumbled upon Answering Oliver once and read her entire archives over the course of the next few days. Devon’s outlook on life and the transformation she went through after college and a breakup really resonated with me, and she’s a seriously inspiring girl. When she quit her job to go on a round-the-world trip last year, I cheered more than I should have for someone I’ve never met. Now I read Dev on Running daily to follow along with her various training cycles. She’s taught me a lot about what it means to set a goal and then go get it–no matter what.

#4: Running off the Reese’s

Cely publishes her posts in the early morning, so reading her daily posts are a part of my morning routine (right after breakfast, before I brush my teeth). I first discovered her blog a few years ago when she was training for a marathon, and I enjoyed following along. Cely is sarcastic and hilarious, and tells the truth about how horrible running (and lots of other things) can be. In the present, she’s settled into a set blogging routine (i.e. certain types of posts on certain days of the week), but I still get a kick out of her daily humor, and actually often rely on her “WTF Wednesday” and “15 Thing Friday” posts as some of my major news sources of the week.

#5: Bower Power

Katie Bower has been blogging for what seems like forever! I actually don’t know whether she or YHL got started first, but they’re both powerhouses for DIY and home design. I like Katie because she’s quirky and funny and not at all embarrassed to let her freak flag fly. She makes grammar and spelling mistakes aplenty, but I really think she has an amazing eye for design and an uncanny ability to re-purpose everyday things in an unexpected way.

Honorable Mentions: Chris Loves Julia, yellow brick home

I’ve been following Chris Loves Julia and yellow brick home for a much shorter time than the rest listed here, but these two girls SERIOUSLY know a thing or two about design. I would LOVE to move in to either of their homes. In terms of design aesthetic, these two have nailed my style on the head. I like to check in on them every so often just to see what they’ve got going on, and they rarely disappoint.

beach week

This week, I’m at the Outer Banks for my extended family’s annual vacation. It might be a much-needed vacation from work, but I’m going to try to use it to get me on track as far as the whole blogging thing goes.

I’m going to try to do some back-fill posts to catch up on things that have already happened, and I’ll try to settle upon a manageable posting schedule for moving forward. This is something I want to do–I just need to remind myself of that and prove that it can be done.

Another item of interest: I’ve only got 3 weeks and 6 days until the first day of my fall half marathon training, and I’ve only logged 5.5 miles in the past 4 weeks. This isn’t going to be pretty.

a purpose-driven blog

I’ve been thinking about making a real, honest effort to begin blogging for some time now. I set up this account back in the middle of the summer, when I was unemployed, relatively newly single, and struggling with questions about what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I’m a salaried employee, in a relationship, and still sort of wondering what exactly it is that I want to do with my life–both professionally and personally.

Last New Year’s Eve, I was supposed to go to a party with my then-boyfriend and a whole host of people we went to high school with; 99% of whom I had not seen since high school. At that point in my life, I hated drinking, I hated parties, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to spending the evening with a bunch of pseudo-strangers, either. I was in a resentful mood all evening, and when it came time to walk out the door to leave, we got into a huge, explosive fight that resulted in him going alone and me staying home. We had had fights over my lack of interest in college-kid-style partying (and his seeming dependence on it) before this, and had many more for several months following this one. We broke up for good during the first week of March.

The point of that recap is this: It was only after breaking up and several months of recovery (we had been together for two years and nine months) that I began to realize the depths of my unhappiness while with him. I had always written the little things off as ‘normal’ problems that pop up in relationships, and was convinced that if we loved one another, that was enough to get us through to happiness some day. I was constantly waiting for him to change, while he was constantly hoping for the same from me. I’ve since realized that this was idiotic–that the two of us were never once right for one another–but it was an important lesson for me to learn firsthand.

After we broke up, I was able to rediscover things about myself that I had long forgotten. Little things, but they started coming back. Surprisingly, there were also things I had never known in the first place. And then there were the things that I could categorize as things I decidedly do not like, and never want to have in my life again. (That list is quite specific.)

Fast forward a few months, and I graduated. I had earned a Master’s degree at 22, I had reestablished friendships that had long laid dormant, and for the first time in a long time, I awoke each day with the sole goal of doing only exactly what I wanted to do. This past summer was the best time of my life. I went out dancing, I drank heavily, I began exercising for the first time in years, I spent time with friends and with my family, and I put myself first.

I began running after the break up because I needed something to do with my body and my mind. I continued running because I enjoyed the challenge. It’s never easy and it’s never perfect, but every time I finish, I know I’ve accomplished something. In September, I ran my first-ever 10k, in October, a 6k and another 10k, and in November, I completed the Richmond Half Marathon and a 5k Turkey Trot.

I met a new guy over the summer, and I was completely up-front with him. I explained very early on that I had just gotten out of a long and hard relationship where I constantly had to compromise myself in an effort to keep someone else happy, and that I wanted no part of that ever again. I told him I didn’t want to be someone else’s girlfriend any time soon, and startlingly, he said “okay,” and that he was willing to wait to see what would happen. As we spent more time together, I started to realize that he might be exactly the opposite of that list of must-not-haves I had been so carefully crafting. After a few months of careful observation (of him) and continual evaluation of my own feelings, I told him that I was ready to be his girlfriend. That was September. It’s now December, and I’m still as happy with my decision as I was then.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past year thinking about how exactly I want to live my life. For the first time in a long time, I’m happy with where things are going, and I’d like to stay on track. I recently came across Devon’s blog (http://www.answeringoliver.com/), and in reading about her decision to quit her job to travel the world for a year, I’m realizing that there are still many, many things on my life’s to-do list. There are things I’ve always thought I wanted to do, and things I’m sure I’ll want to do that I’ve never even thought of. So I’m going to start holding myself accountable. This blog will be where I record those things, and it will be what reminds me to live my life the way I want to.

blogging

I’ve come to the conclusion that all bloggers only start blogs so that they will gain followers who think that they are as witty, hilarious, and awesome as they find themselves. I am no exception to this rule.

The problem? I have nothing witty, hilarious, or awesome to say about 98% of the time.

I have important questions to ask of the world, but if I post them here, no one is going to respond. So until I become internet famous, I’ll just write each of these posts as though I have an audience other than myself.

One benefit of being unemployed: I can go to the gym every single day if I feel like it. Which I don’t. Ever. But I still hope for a total personality transformation when it comes to working out–one morning, I’ll wake up happy and excited for all the sweaty possibilities that the day holds, and I’ll leap out of bed, throw on a sports bra and some tennis shoes, and burn calories all day long. I don’t know if there’s a magical weight or BMI that causes this transformation, but I’m on my way! (I hope.)

Today (aka day #37 of unemployment), I went to the gym thinking that I would only run. The deal I made with myself was to push past the mental brick wall I’ve built when I reach the impervious threshold of 2 miles/20 minutes. I see the mileage click from 1.99 to 2.00, and my brain and body shut down. I’m convinced that I will die if I go one step further, and then I hop off the treadmill and 30 seconds later think, “hmm…I feel like I have the energy left to run another mile or so.” So today my goal was just to break through the 20 minute barrier. And I did. I ran for 25 minutes straight, and I didn’t die. So I did an ab/free weight rotation to celebrate.

Another problem with running on a treadmill for more than 20 minutes? I get BORED. So bored. I have my iPod ready to go with my “gym” playlist (loaded with Ke$ha and Britney, obvi), and then I get doubly excited when one of the TVs is on and someone has the subtitles up and running. The best running days happen when I’m jamming to Britney while reading whatever show my fellow gym-toilers have chosen. I am sad on days when the TV isn’t on. Even if it’s CNN or something that might help me become more in touch with the world. One day I’ll be interested in current events and politics and other people and becoming a better person. One day.

Until then, I’m satisfied with the knowledge that I ran for 25 minutes today and felt like I had a little more left in me when I was finished.

Unemployment

I graduated from UVA 33 days ago. In other words: I’ve been unemployed for over a month. Since beginning my job hunt (all the way back in January), I have applied to 32 different jobs. 6 of these had absolutely nothing to do with the field in which I spent the past year (along with about $15,000 out of my pocket) fully immersing myself.

Part of the problem is that since returning to Charlottesville (heretofore referred to as ‘home’), I have decided that I’d like to remain here for a while. It’s a cool enough place when you’re young, but Charlottesville is a pretty awesome town once you’re of the legal age to drink alcohol, enter clubs, and actually appreciate the culture. So therein lies my problem. I’m not ready to leave, because I’ve only actually begun to explore my hometown in the past 12 months or so.

At the advice of a hiring consultant with whom I had a completely confusing exchange over coffee, I have decided to enter the world of blogging. I’m not sure that I’ll have anything profound to share with the world, but as he pointed out, at least it will keep me writing. So here goes.