I’ve been listening to many, many podcasts as of late, and one of them recently hit very close to home. Rachel Brathen (From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl) finished a Yoga Teacher Training last month by interviewing all 52 of her trainees about what their Inner Critics and Inner Best Friends tell them. The interview is so long she actually split it into two episodes, and I cannot decide which half I adored more. It got me thinking, “What do my Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend tell me?”
My Inner Critic says –
I am not prepared. I will never be prepared to make any kind of leap into the unknown, and if I leap, I will fail. It says that I will never work in freelancing, that I will never break into publishing.
I am not creative enough. I will never finish writing any of my books because I am not a good enough writer, that I don’t have a big enough imagination.
I will die alone. I will never find the love of my life or build the family I desire.
Others are more qualified. I will never get the job/internship of my dreams because I am not worthy of it. Others will always be chosen over me.
I am too intimidating, or not beautiful enough. I will never end up with that guy I’m crushing on because he will always choose someone else.
My Inner Best Friend says –
I am more prepared than I know. I can see the truth of this every day when I talk to customers at work, or classmates in grad school and drop knowledge bombs that amaze and astound (My Inner Best Friend is pretty full of herself, for good reason. She has a lot to stand up to.)
I am so creative it’s painful sometimes. It’s no wonder I am always daydreaming and cannot stay focused on one story. I keep coming up with more! I dream vividly. After a lot of practice, I can even control what I do in my dreams, and sometimes if I’m woken up, I can return to the dream I left off in. I am creatively powerful, and I will succeed through pure force of will if nothing else.
I am never alone. I have my huge family (just going back two generations I already have over 40 close family members: Siblings, Parents, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Second Cousins, Grandparents, Great Aunts, Great Uncles.), and I have quite a few close friends whom I can call up at the drop of a hat whenever I need them, not to mention my internet friends, who I speak to nearly as much as everyone else and love just a dearly. I just need to have a bit more patience and faith, and God will lead me to my forever partner, my future husband.
I am just as qualified as others. And I have a lot of skills that I don’t know how to put on a resume, which probably means I’m actually overqualified for everything I’m applying to. The right position will present itself, and I’ll know it when I see it because it will be the one I don’t give up on so easily.
While I never doubt that I am beautiful, everyone has their own personal views on beauty. It’s completely possible that the guy I’m crushing on at any given moment doesn’t find me beautiful because his standard of beauty is completely different from mine. I always hear my Inner Best Friend start screaming at me when I think I am too intimidating, because **** that. If a guy can’t handle me on daily basis – my beautiful, smart, strong self – than he doesn’t deserve my best or worst. He’s not the guy for me, and I just dodged a bullet. I need a strong man who is not afraid of being matched in wits, and is also looking for an equal to share a life with.
Other Things My Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend have fought about:
In Elementary School, my Inner Critic told me I would never make real friends. This was in part because I moved when I was eight, and had a lot of trouble meeting new people with similar interests. My Inner Best Friend reminded me that I had built in best friends in my siblings and cousins, and we are all the closer for it, even now that I have close friendships with people who are not related to me by blood.
In Middle School, my Inner Critic told me I was terrible at sports. And it almost won. But Freshman year of high school I had one of the track coaches as my gym teacher, and he helped me find my athletically inclined side.
In High School, my Inner Critic continued to tell me I wasn’t good enough to succeed at athletics, as well as in theatre and in classes. My Inner Best Friend gave me the fortitude to keep running, making my success about beating my own records, not the records of others. I found the courage to go out for the play every year and even had a few line-solos senior year. I studied hard and took each setback as a challenge. I was nearly a straight-A student, even though I wasn’t in all AP classes like most of my friends.
During Undergraduate Studies, my Inner Critic told me I was stupid. That I had taken on too much. That the friends I made in high school weren’t going to be there for me always. That I was in way over my head, and that there was no way out. My Inner Best Friend fought back tooth and nail and finally convinced me to transfer schools and start over. My Inner Critic told me I would be letting everyone down. My Inner Best Friend said this had nothing to do with anyone but myself.
Just after graduation, my Inner Critic told me that I would never get a job I even remotely enjoyed, that I would be unemployed forever, that all of my friendships were terrible and falling apart, that I would disappear from existence, and that I would never amount to much. My Inner Best Friend immediately went into overdrive, found me a job, and made the most of it.
A year after graduation, my Inner Critic told me that I could never move out of New Jersey (where I loved living but didn’t have many job opportunities), and would work soul-sucking jobs while never reaching my dreams. My Inner Best Friend said, “Let’s move to Boston?”
18 months ago, my Inner Critic told me I would never get into graduate school or get the chance to pursue my dream career. My Inner Best Friend said “Hold My Beer.” and did it anyway.
Right now, my Inner Critic is still trying to hold me back, tell me I am afraid, and that I will never get any cool jobs I apply to, so why bother applying? My Inner Best Friend is already in full armor on her white horse, ready to beat my Inner Critic into submission.
Because what my Inner Critic will never be able to understand is that courage is impossible without first being afraid. I am not fearless, running blindly into things without a thought to their outcome. I live with fear every day. And every day I have to choose to put on my armor one piece at a time, saddle up my horse, and ride into battle. The prize? Everything I’ve ever wanted.
Maybe I’ve watched too many John Wayne movies, or maybe it was the steady diet of fantasy novels I read as a child, but I believe that with courage, goodness will always prevail.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne
What do your Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend tell you?
Today is a few days after my 26th birthday, and I am sitting in a Starbucks tearing up as I read my old TOTY posts. These yearly summaries serve as such a huge reminder of everything I’ve accomplished, and just how much has changed over the past four years. This will be my fifth consecutive year of blogging, and probably my fifteenth year since I started messing around with the idea of having a blog and playing with Blogger, WordPress, and Wix. I’ve loved long-form writing for a long time, and it amazes me that I have the freedom to do something like this every day. Of course, it’s been a bit of a struggle keeping up here over the last year, but there are some wonderful reasons for that.
I am attending Emerson College for graduate school in publishing and writing. You all helped me get here by reading this blog and encouraging me to follow my dreams. It’s a lot of work, but I am adoring every second of it! I have met wonderful, interesting, inspiring women who I might even go so far as to call bosom friends. I have had some spectacular professors who have helped shape my image of what the publishing world is and is not, and have pushed me to trust my instincts and pursue my passions. I have learned an incredible amount, and that was only the first year! I still have three semesters left to soak up as much as I can, and I am beyond grateful to be able to be here now.
Last September I moved out of my Uncle and Aunt’s house and into a rented room. It’s not my first time in an apartment – I lived in two apartments during undergrad – but it is the first apartment I’ve had where I have my own room and the first place I’ve paid for completely on my own. To pay for it, I took an assistant supervisor position at a large retail store, where I work 40+ hours a week in addition to going to 8 hours of class and doing 6+ hours of homework. I haven’t had a lot of time to look for a corporate job or an internship, but I haven’t given up. There are a couple very cool opportunities on the horizon that I am aiming for!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know that school + work = not enough things to keep me motivated. This has led to me sleeping a lot, which has been necessary with my crazy work schedule, but not productive or overall healthy for my life. I’m hoping to hone my daily schedule this year to make room for what matters most – family, health, and writing.
Speaking of health, mine has been a roller coaster this year. Last June I started Accutane for my acne, and after almost nine months had clear skin for the first time in almost eight years. I had forgotten how good my skin looked when it was clear, and while the acne had never really hurt my image of myself, having clear skin definitely improved my confidence. It’s almost like I didn’t realize how awesome of a woman I had grown into until the acne cleared up. Like wiping off the grime of adolescence to see clearly the woman growing underneath. My acne didn’t make me feel bad, but it did keep me trapped in that ‘not a girl, not yet a woman’ stage of life that I was craving an escape from.
On my first day of work at my retail job in October, I sprained my foot at the bottom of my apartment stairs and ended up at the hospital for myself for the first time since I was born. I was bedridden for a week, had crutches for a month after that, and wasn’t allowed to run or do strenuous activities for six months after that.
I got off my crutches just in time for my first Black Friday in retail, and all of the new germs I was around 40 hours a week finally caught up with me. Thankfully, my store had a very quiet Black Friday, because the cold I caught robbed me of my voice for a week and it would have been a nightmare. I am beyond thankful for small miracles.
My six months without exercise ended just about the same time I was finally in the clear post-Accutane. My foot still aches occasionally, and my alcohol tolerance is crap because I wasn’t allowed to drink on the Accutane. It also took longer to finish the Accutane (about nine months vs six) because I had to stop taking it while I was on painkillers for my foot. Organs are precious, and I didn’t want to put mine at risk by pumping them full of chemicals.
Cut to about a month ago, when I traveled to Boise, Idaho to visit one of my best friends in the whole world, Jordan. This girl was my radio show co-host in college and has since become part of my family (seriously, we bring her on family-only trips because she blends in as one of us despite being the only redhead). She flew up to Boston last September to help me move into my apartment, and I cried when she moved across the country in January. I flew out there to spend the week between our birthdays together, and it was simply wonderful.
We spent most of the week in various pools, waterparks, and rivers because it was topping 100 degrees and we were super pale. For once, we were on our sunscreen game and avoided getting sunburn. I have my first tan in three years. I spent quiet mornings on her balcony reading and listening to podcasts (I’ll share my favorites soon!), and we explored the city with her local friends (who are just lovely and I miss them already!) late into the evening because the sun doesn’t set until 10:30pm in the treasure valley. We rounded off the week with my first hike since moving to Boston, climbing Table Rock (follow the link for trail map!), which is 900ft above Boise’s already 2,600 ft elevation. My poor body is used to Boston’s whopping >50ft above sea level, and reaching the top of Table Rock (3,500 ft) was a struggle. It was worth it for the accomplishment and the views of the city and valley, ringed in rolling mountains, but oh boy did I feel it the next day.
The cold I caught in Idaho was nearly but not quite gone when I flew back east a few days later, and I ended up with an ear infection and just two weeks remaining on my parent’s health insurance. Cue more little miracles. I tried to take it slow, which is why this post didn’t go up on my birthday like it usually does.
Just as I was recovering from the ear infection, I went home for my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower and wasn’t feeling too well. After yet another last-minute doctor’s appointment, I found out I also had strep, so now I’m on medication for that as well. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that all of this happened while I was on my parent’s health plan. To be fair though (in the long list of small miracles in my life) I was able to sign up for my graduate school’s student health care plan until I graduate. God is so, so good y’all.
I’m back from vacation and back at work, which right now is mostly training some new assistant supervisors, but I am trying to appreciate the methodicalness of it all as I prepare for my second year of graduate school to begin. Before classes start up again, I will be moving into a new apartment that includes a real kitchen and living room, and yet somehow costs less than what I am currently paying. How I found it beats me. (again, small miracles!)
I’ll be living with a few of my classmates, and I am beyond excited to be A – living with friends rather than strangers, and B – living with these friends who I can be completely myself with, whether that’s loud, quiet, happy, or sad. I think it is one of life’s biggest gifts to live somewhere you can relax and unwind and be your authentic self without having to monitor what you do or say or worry about offending someone just by living your life. These girls inspire me to do my best, but they also encourage me to take time to process life and be my true introverted self. I am so blessed to have them.
Starting my second year/third semester of graduate school means I finally know what’s coming and can build a schedule around it. I know my general work schedule, and my class schedule, so I can plan writing time around them, and even *gasp* make time for a bit of working out.
In June of this year, my co-worker/friend Patricia and I signed up for a month of Yoga classes, and I fell in love with it. Two weeks ago I met with one of the studio managers where we attend classes and signed up for their Seva program. I’ll be volunteering there a few hours a week to help keep the studio running smoothly! This particular program includes free access to a few classes in exchange for my volunteering, which is just beyond amazing, but I would probably do the program even without that carrot. I always have a craving to help ‘mother’ people and organizations, and I so rarely have the opportunity to feed that craving.
Yoga has been even more life-changing than I imagined. It is simultaneously harder and easier than I thought it would be, but the inner peace that I find in the practise is another one of those small miracles I’ve been experiencing all year.
This brings our total of ‘things Amanda does’ to three. Why stop there?
My theme for this year is Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise like the Benjamin Franklin quote, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I’ve had that quote taped to my childhood bedroom wall for years, but I noticed it for the first time in forever last time I was at my parents’ house. It’s been floating through my subconscious ever since, and it finally occurred to me last month that that’s what I’ve been searching for. During my vacation, I took some time to sit with my thoughts and see what bubbled to the surface, and I came up with a few truths about myself I haven’t been acknowledging lately.
I am a morning person. My days are best when I get up before 7am and go to bed around 10pm.
I thrive on having too much to do because it forces my brain into organization mode. I was at peak working ability when I was working 4-5 positions and attending undergraduate classes my senior year, and again when I had to schedule my writing time around my cousin’s nap schedule as a nanny. I thrive on slim-to-no time, and I am very good when I am down to the wire. When I don’t have enough to do I procrastinate, and things fall to the wayside and get forgotten easily.
I need to mother. Whether it’s a person or a company, I need to get into the nitty-gritty of what’s going on and fix it, whether physically or through advice. I’ve had a ton of people tell me over the last year that I give great advice, so I guess it’s about time I embrace the title of advice giver and own up to my need to fix things. I will continue to endeavor not to smother people, but also to help them be their best selves through self-care and organization.
These revelations led me to create a list of things I want to accomplish this year, each of which falls under healthy, wealthy, or wise.
Under the Healthy category, we have the following tasks:
#1 – Do Yoga Every Day.
I’ve been following Yogi Rachel Brathen for… Well, probably longer than this blog has existed, to be completely transparent, and I’ve always been fascinated by the practice of yoga. My mother has the cold, hard proof in the form of a VHS copy of Yoga for Dummies from probably 2002 that I used to use! It’s taken me sixteen long years, but I’ve finally caught the yoga bug and I don’t plan on letting go of it any time soon.
#2 – Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night.
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for yourself. My current job has my sleep schedule all over the place. Most recently in June, there was a fortnight where I fell asleep between 2am and 5am on any given day. It was trippy. As a morning person, working late night hours isn’t good for my creative side or my health, but until I find something 9-5, my sleep schedule is something I need to be proactive about and focused on if I want to avoid getting sick again.
#3 – Cook Three Nights a Week.
The new apartment I am moving into in September has a full kitchen, so I’ll actually have space to spread out and make a full meal – with side dishes – to fix my diet, which has been minor meal prepping and a lot of sandwiches over the last year. If I get a more normal job, I’ll be home for dinner most nights and can actually take advantage of the new kitchen!
For Wealthy, I came up with:
#4 – Shop Small.
I want to only shop in used and vintage clothing stores this year. Not only will this help confine my spending, but used and discount clothing hunting is a skill I think everyone should perfect at some point in their lives. By hunting for clothes that come from across multiple years, I think I’ll finally start to build a personal style rather than jumping on whatever the current trend is. I’m excited to see where this resolution takes me.
I also want to only shop indie and used bookstores this year. This is a goal every year but at some point, I end up in Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million spending money like water. Canceling my B&N membership card didn’t help, I just pay full price now. To combat my horrible book-buying habit, I am going to attempt to go on a 98% book ban this year. Meaning I will do everything in my power not to buy or acquire any new books and to solely use my library card. Unless there is something I am dying to the read and none of the local libraries will stock it for me.
#5 – Save Money.
As I continue my Master’s program, I can feel my loan payments creeping up on me, just waiting for graduation to pounce. I also have a million other things I want to be able to do over the next few years – weddings to attend, overseas trips I want to take, writing staycations, book conventions, etc. To combat all of this, I am going to attempt to curb my general spending (and my eat-out budget) so that I can save at least $400 each month.
– $100 for my emergency fund
– $100 for my loan fund
– $100 for my weddings fund
– $100 for my travel fund.
If this means I have to cut even my book budget and only get books from the library, I will suck it up. It’ll pay off in the end, right? The only things that make you richer by spending money are books and travel, so I’m just trading one for the other. Library cards let me have my cake and eat it too.
#6 – Pursue Passions.
This year I want to focus on what matters most. In the job sense, that means being aggressive and going after those competitive internships and positions that I’m afraid I won’t qualify for. I need to have courage like the Gryffindor I am and charge at my fears head on if I want to overcome them. I can’t just sit around and wait for fate to do its thing when I have the power to help it along in the direction I want so desperately to go. I can do this by grabbing every freelance opportunity I see and giving it 100%, allowing it to build up my writing resume for more permanent positions. This will also up my ‘things Amanda does’ count, which will help me be more productive overall.
And finally, for the Wise category:
#7 – Write more.
It probably won’t be every day, because I’ve never been able to keep that promise, but I want to write for myself more regularly than I do now. Blog posts, book reviews, short stories off the top of my head, work towards completing one of the numerous longer-form things I have in the works – I really want to have something I can show people and be able to say “Hey look what I can do!” or “Here’s how I write, take a look!”. I spend so much of my imagination in my head that it never makes it onto the page, and people only know I write at all when they read this site or ask me about my writing and I go down a rabbit hole of explaining my characters and their motivations.
I really want to attempt writing short stories this year. I have a habit of starting and not finishing novels, and I think it will be an interesting exercise in editing myself to try a short-form story. I need to learn how to describe things succinctly, instead of letting the world building run off with my plot. I feel like it’s time to start leaving my mark on the world, and this is how I want to start doing it.
#8 – Become more business literate.
Through podcasts, workshops, webinars, and online classes, I want to educate myself about how to run an actual business, so that I can manage my freelancing and my soon-to-be crushing debt in the best ways I can. This includes learning about advertising and marketing, finance, and SEO.
#9 – Pursue Peace, Grace, and Simplicity.
Through it all, I want to focus on cultivating grace, not perfection. I want and need to organize my life in little ways to make a big impact. I’m taking Emily Ley’s advice and running with it. After reading her book Grace, Not Perfection last year, I am inspired to read her A Simplified Life, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect. All three promise to be inspiring.
This year, I want to learn to have patience and grace with myself and others. I want to focus less on what the world thinks of me and more on what I could be doing for the world while taking the best care of myself. I want to reach for the stars but in order to get there, I need to build a solid catapult, or a ladder, or a tower. Clearly, I am not an engineer, but you get it. I can’t get anywhere without a solid foundation, and that foundation has to be me.
Here’s to my fifth year of blogging. I am so looking forward to all of the cool things I will accomplish and experience this year, and I hope you will join me on this journey.
It’s July! Which makes it my birth month, the anniversary of this blog (starting its FOURTH year!!) and also time for a new theme of the year, or as I like to call it, TOTY. If you’ve never read one of my TOTY posts before, allow me to explain. Every year around my birthday, I like to select a broad theme for the next year of my life, to help guide my decision making for the next 365 days. I’ve focused on things like experience, health, and writing. You can find links to all of my previous TOTYs at the bottom of this post.
It’s been one heck of a year. Being 24 was one of those strange in-between years like 19 and 20, where you’re not really sure what the objective is except to survive. I’m turning 25 today, which to 12-year-old me seemed impossibly old, but to be honest I still feel fairly young. Turning 24 helped me to take a little control of my life. I wasn’t so much in my early 20s anymore, and people stopped expecting me to go out and party with them every night, which definitely allowed me to come into my own skin a little more. Now that I’m turning 25 and officially in my mid-twenties, I feel completely free of that party-hard culture that tried to suck me in during college, and people have stopped looking at me strangely when I talk about career opportunities like the important things they are. I’m extremely happy to be out of that age where people say ‘oh, you have plenty of time! Just concentrate on having fun!’ instead of taking my job inquiries seriously.
The last year started off by helping two of my friends plan their respective weddings, both of which were at the end of August/beginning of September, on back-to-back weekends. Cue tons of crazy drama, none of which is mine to share but I was somehow a part of anyway. Let me just say: WEDDING PLANNING IS HARD! Thank goodness I had both of them to bounce ideas off of for each other. I was able to fill in the holes in both plans based on what each was doing to make sure all of the bases were covered, down to vases on the reception tables for the bridesmaid bouquets. At the end of October, I made the huge decision to leave my part-time retail job of 10 months in Allentown, Pennsylvania to become a nanny for my then seven-month-old cousin in Boston, Massachusetts. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, though I do still miss my amazing coworkers.
One of my goals for last year was to write every day. While that didn’t happen, I did do quite a bit of writing, and I’ve definitely adjusted mentally so that writing is at the forefront of my mind 90% of the time. I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and you can find my weekly updates from November here. Besides NaNoWriMo, I’ve worked hard to locate some of my favorite coffee shops in the city where I can work besides my room, and it’s helped immensely.
Another goal was to apply to graduate school, which I was intensely nervous about. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get in right away because of my lack of writing experience aside from this blog, and I would need to reapply a few times before I got accepted in another year or two. BUT I WAS WRONG! I have been accepted to the Publishing and Writing Master’s Degree Program at Emerson College here in Boston, Massachusetts where I will be starting in September! I think because I didn’t expect to get in right away, this all still doesn’t quite feel real. I have to pinch myself a few times a day just to remind myself it’s all happening. Just thinking about it makes me tear up from joy. *as I start to tear up*
My last goal was to apply to full-time jobs. This one has been a little complicated because I took the nannying job in October, and I’ve been pretty happy doing it. I cannot, however, continue doing it once I start graduate school for logistical reasons. So I am back to square one, but with a lot more writing under my belt than I had last year. I’m ideally looking for an Editorial Assistant or Copy Editor position, but I would take something like an administrative job if need be.
Last year around this time, I was contemplating my current nannying position and the general idea of Boston. I had only been here twice, both briefly, and yet the city enthralled me. I’ve now lived here almost nine months, and if possible love this place even more. Sometimes I take a train to a random part of the city and then walk back to my aunt and uncle’s place, just to explore. I guess what I’m saying is, not only do I have to remind myself that I got into grad school but I also have to remind myself that I live here and that I get to go on living here, not leave when a semester or internship ends. It’s an amazing feeling: a mix of freedom and adventure, the world an open book in front of me.
This feeling is fueling my theme for the next year: RESPONSIBILITY I need to continue working things like time management skills, becoming financially literate, and getting better at cooking and baking. General skills all adults should have. Looking towards a future that includes moving out on my own, it would irresponsible of me not to learn these basic skills. So, how do I plan to achieve these things?
To become more financially literate, I’m going to start reading about it. From finance and money management blogs to Finance for Dummies, I’m going to try to read something every day for the next year to help me better manage my money and understand the finance industry (ie, stocks, bonds, bank account types). I also started a spreadsheet to track my spending in January 2017, and starting January 2018 I’ll be able to make fairly strict budgets to help me get the most out of my time in grad school and still pay off my debt in a reasonable amount of time.
To become a better cook, I’m rounding up family recipes to practice. I want to combine these into a cookbook that I can refer back to anytime I need a meal idea, which should take the pressure off of making a full meal for dinner when I live on my own. I’ll probably be moving out of my aunt and uncle’s house and into my own apartment this Fall, so knowing how to make more than Mac and Cheese and Chicken Parm should be pretty helpful.
Fridays this year will consist of a mix of lifestyle posts. Finance posts will share secrets to money management I’ve picked up, and share some cool blog posts to help you with your own money skills. Food posts will share my favorite family recipes. In addition, Fashion posts will chronicle my building of an adult wardrobe appropriate for all aspects of life, Fitness posts will share snapshots and thoughts on how to get back in shape your way, Focus posts will share study and writing tips to help you get the most work done in your spare time, Family and Friends posts will teach you how to deal with your family as a new adult, and Faith posts will share ways to incorporate your faith into your everyday life. Obviously, I won’t have a chance to share on all of these topics every month, since there are seven of them and only four or five Fridays per month. My plan is to mix it up a little, and we’ll see what we get.
If this all sounds like a lot to do on top of grad school, finding a new job, writing book reviews, and continuing work on my novel(s), that’s because it is. But I’m excited to share this journey with all of you! I feel that at the age of 25, these are the things I should know how to do. I’ll be on my own next year for a lot of grown up things (like healthcare), and I think that makes it important now more than ever that I know how to take care of myself in any kind of situation.
What are some things you want to work on this year?
It feels like it was yesterday that I was writing last month’s update. Boy, did that month fly by; I went up to Boston to babysit my cousin, I was in not one, but TWO of my best friends’ weddings and four more couples I love got married that month as well (I didn’t attend them all. I’m not that magical). It was a very long month. and yet, suddenly we’re halfway through September! I’ve been a literal zombie for the past week, recovery from my trips while trying to get back to work as usual. At least I haven’t gotten sick yet (fingers crossed that I won’t!).
This month isn’t too busy, but it is full of planning for the next year. So many exciting things are happening! I’ll tell you all about them soon, but first, let’s check in on my goals for the year.
TOTY 24 Goals: Write Every Day – This is day three! I wrote a book review each of the last two days, and I’m hoping to write another two over the next couple days, while I finish this post and hopefully get some time in on my novel during my day off on Friday. I tried to write last week, but my brain was so dead that only nonsense came out of it. It was painful.
Apply to Full Time Jobs – I HAVE NEWS!!! My aunt and uncle and I have been discussing a potential opportunity for me for nearly a year now, but I didn’t want to rely on it because it always seemed like it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. They had a baby in March, and up until now, my uncle has been a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad). He’s due to start a new job in November though, and that’s where I come in. I’ll be taking care of my cousin for them all day while they are at work. For all intents and purposes, I’m a live-in nanny. If that isn’t a dream job at some point in the life of someone who is maternally inclined, I don’t know what is.
If all of that wasn’t exciting enough, they live in Boston! Which means I’m MOVING there. Like, I get to live in this city that I’ve been mildly obsessed with for ages. Which brings me to Goal number three for the year –
Apply to Grad School – My top grad school at the moment is Emerson College and their Masters in Writing and Publishing program. Being that Emerson is in Boston, I’ll finally being going on a tour of campus and trying to meet some of the professors to determine if it’s definitely where I want to go.
Also, this Friday I’m sitting down to plan out my studying strategies for the GRE. Woop Woop!
This month I decided to let y’all in on a secret. I don’t just have yearly goals! I also make up a set of goals for the month, which filters into my daily to-do list(s). This month I want to:
Read 5 books – So far I’ve only finished two, but I’m nearly halfway through my third, so it’s looking good!
Study for the GRE – As I mentioned earlier, this starts on Friday!
Walk 5 miles, 4 times – I originally had this read “walk 5 miles, once a week”, but after the double weddings I was down for the count. Hopefully, I can walk one of my 5-mile stints on Friday!
Ab workout, 4 times – Another one that read once a week and has since been amended.
Write 3 posts for TCSB – This is the first! I’ll probably fill you guys in on more details about Boston, and I’m visiting a Renaissance Faire on the 24th that should be pretty interesting as well!
Write 4 book reviews – Two down and two to go! Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and The Escape by Mary Balogh are up on CSR now!
Write 10,000 words towards your novel(s) – That’s right, I’m writing a book (or is it ~SeRiEs~?). I’ve been writing it for over 10 years actually. Very few people have read any of it, and those who have, haven’t read it in so long that they probably wouldn’t recognize it today. For one, the characters started out as 11 or 13-year-olds, and they’ve since evolved into 20-somethings. Not like they aged in the book, more like as I aged I found it harder and harder to write young characters. The universe(s) the book(s) take place in has expanded exponentially, to the point where I keep trying to populate parts of it and ending up with literally hundreds of characters. And I love every one of them so much that they all have a background and purpose and a future… And you wondered why I’ve been working on this for 10+ years. My goal for the year (TOTY 24, not 2016) with writing every day is to get at least half of my rough draft of the first book finished. Hoping to dive into this some more this month.
I think that’s all for now ,you guys! I hope you enjoyed this update, and I can’t wait to share more with you about my move to Boston, and my grad school apps, and my adventures in writing!
I didn’t run the 5K on Thanksgiving. Not just because I was lazy, not just because I didn’t find out about the $15 entrance fee until the week before, and not just because I had a severe cold, but because I psyched myself out. I built it up to be such a big thing that I worried if I didn’t perform at a certain level that my family would make fun of me for it. Did they? Nope. Did they pick on me for not running at all? No. Because to be honest, they had all completely forgotten about it. No one mentioned it, not even once. I felt foolish for thinking my athleticism was so important to other people. It does not, in fact, have anything to do with them, nor is it really even any of their business what kind of shape I am in, except how it pertains to the yearly family Football and/or Ultimate Frisbee game.
So now it’s the end of January and I am still out of shape. I’ve attempted to recruit my friend, we’ll call her Big Red (BR for short), to be my workout buddy. She’s getting married in September and I’m her MOH, and we agreed we want to get in shape and look fabulous for it. The only problem is that She leaves for work early in the morning and I work until late at night, so we haven’t been able to find a time to work out together yet. I am determined, however, to make it happen, even if I have to workout alone.
I’m just waiting for all this snow from the Jonas Brothers’ Blizzard to melt…
Just kidding, it won’t melt until May at this rate. We got slammed with around 30″ of snow this weekend and Big Red and her fiance hiked to the grocery store on Sunday because we all ran out of food.
I’m in the middle of planning some sort of routine for working out around 3 times a week to start, and I’ll go from there.
On the Acne front, I finally made it to the dermatologist at the beginning of December and the meds are working! She agreed that we had probably jumped the gun and went too-harsh-too-fast with treatments, so she prescribed a Retin-A cream, as well as an antibiotic to kill off whatever acne I had. So far it all seems to be working! I’m just using a mild face cleanser, Cetaphil, which is surprising available at the local grocery store/pharmacy/etc. and 99.9% of my acne is gone already! We still have to wait and see if it will stay away when I go off the antibiotic, but all indicators point to me being acne free in the future.
I am beyond excited, mostly because people will finally stop asking me about my acne, but also because no acne means I can wear less makeup, and I am mostly not a fan of makeup.
Last week and this week are pretty interesting because I have visitors at my house just about every day. Despite my failure last week to get a run in, I have free time tomorrow to finally do one. In the mean time, I’ve been attempting to catch up on some sleep and do some yoga.
Yoga is always interesting to me. It looks so simple, yet it is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not very flexible, at least not anymore. In 5th grade I used to do those pretzel sits where your feet go on top of your thighs, like this:
and I could ‘walk’ on my knees like that. Not anymore. Whether because I grew another five or six inches in almost strictly my legs (I was already over 5′ at 10 years old. ohhhh the stretch marks), or because I started running and actually built some muscle, I doubt I’ll ever know. My flexibility has been all downhill since 5th grade, and my athleticism has only gone up. So yoga, with it’s focus on flexibility and strength, fascinates me. I would love to someday do the 30 Day Yoga Challenge where I do yoga every day for a month, but I get really wiped out after about 2 days right now.
There are some pretty amazing people out in the world who are living a yoga-centered life and they inspire me all the time to keep at it. Whether I’m able to hold my downward dog for 3 more seconds or get into a deep lunge without tipping over, I’m gaining ground every day.
As I prepare for the Thanksgiving 5K, I decided it was a good idea to update you all weekly about how I’m doing. So here’s the first update.
I ran my first full mile in almost four years today. It hurt a lot, and not just because it was mostly up a hill.
I’ve been rather lethargic the last few days. No energy, brain dead, too blah to even be bored. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. I suspect its an introvert thing. If you’re a fellow introvert like me, you should check out my post tomorrow for tips on how to be an introvert and still interact with the rest of the world.
Anyways, I was feeling yucky, and I recently got over a cold/virus thing that seems to be going around, so I decided to walk the only place nearby that I can walk. It’s a five and a half mile loop of road. Hard, paved, concrete. There are variations I could take to make it six miles, but five and half is usually enough for me, and there are plenty of hills to keep it interesting. To be fair, it isn’t the only place for me to walk, just the most convenient. So, I set off. A mile and a half in, I decided that walking and trying to run various places over the last month had prepared me enough to run a full mile without stopping. So for the third mile of my route, I ran. And by run I really mean more of a limping shuffle. It was pitiful really, but it was also mostly uphill and I couldn’t breathe, so I didn’t really care.
At the end of that mile, I checked my running app: 11 minutes and 36 seconds. Well, it was a far cry from the 7:29 PR I had in high school – not that that was spectacular either – but it was a starting place. Even if I run the whole Thanksgiving 5K at that pace it’s still only 35 minutes. I’ve run worse, and I still have six weeks before the race.
After my mile run, I still had another two and a half miles to walk. My lungs burned something fierce, and my chest hurt (apparently I need to invest in a better sports bra before race day), but otherwise I felt amazing. I haven’t felt runner’s high since high school, and the clarity is something that stays with you forever. I walked the last two and a half miles slowly and in silence, turning off my iPod and just breathing in the world around me. The air was crisp with the scent of Autumn leaves, and I could hear neighbors fixing their four wheelers, mowing their lawns, chopping firewood. It was peaceful… And then it started raining.
All good things come to an end eventually, and I just managed to make it home before the downpour began, which was lucky. Today was just the first of many there, where I hope to eventually add more running and less walking, even if it is hilly. I don’t know what the course will be like on Thanksgiving, but I guarantee that town doesn’t have as many hills as I do. It’ll be rough, but I think I’m up for the challenge.
Too often I find myself saying ‘I’ll just watch one more episode’ while I’m watching Netflix in bed, ‘I’ll run tomorrow’ when I’m feeling sluggish, or ‘what should I have for dessert?’ When I just claimed I was too full to finish my dinner.
These little things quickly turn into big things, which weigh on my mind and make me feel less than fabulous, trick me into not loving myself, and cause me to doubt even my most inherent skills.
My goal for this year is to watch out for the little things, and to address them before they become big things.
I guess you could say that my weight bothers me. Not because of how much I weigh, but because of how I wear it. I’ve allowed myself to slouch all my life, maybe in part because I grew quickly as a child and was always taller than my friends. The more people commented on my height, the more I slouched, wanting to fit in, to hide from the spotlight cast upon me by my physical attributes. But I was also just lazy. Slouching took less effort than sitting up straight. I’ve actually had my doctor tell me during a routine physical when I was younger that I might develop a curved spine because of it. Still, I slouched.
I was never a stellar athlete, but I did run Cross Country and Track in high school. During those years, everyone would comment on how skinny I was, how I ‘should eat more’, how if I got any skinnier it might effect my menstrual cycle. As a runner, I was hungry all the time. I ate nearly as much as my brother did in high school, though we weighed nearly the same and I was taller. I couldn’t gain weight. When I attempted to talk to my friends about it, they laughed in my face or told me to shut up because I made them feel bad. They said I should be thankful I wasn’t like them, struggling to lose weight.
When Cross Country ended my senior year and I had already decided for entirely different reasons that I didn’t want to run track that year, I stopped working out entirely. Typically I gained 5-10 pounds during the holidays and lost nearly all of it in the spring. This time it didn’t happen, because I had stopped running entirely. I was tired of people telling I was too tall and too skinny, so I maintained the extra 10 pounds through the summer, and then I left for college. Being in college was stressful, and in college they like to give you a meal plan that allows you to eat everything and anything you want. It was great at first. People in college are much less likely to comment on your body simply because they don’t know you. This freedom was wonderful. I missed running a little bit, but my campus was huge, and I walked everywhere.
Freshman year I gained 10 more pounds. When I visited home, no one made comments about me being ‘too skinny’. I was happy. I still missed running. Sophomore year I gained another 5 pounds, astounding even myself. I had to go up a pants size, and I no longer needed a belt to keep them up. However, ‘Low-rise’ jeans soon became the enemy. At first I loved them, but as I gained weight and grew out of puberty, my body distributed my weight throughout my hips, thighs, and boobs, and the cut of the jeans gave me a permanent roll.
I didn’t notice it at first, but somewhere between transferring colleges and moving back home during my junior year, it became really obvious (to me at least. I doubt other people really noticed). I started driving everywhere because nothing was in walking distance anymore. I switched to a major where I was sitting in meetings or at my computer all day rather than hiking and searching for signs of wildlife. Between my transfer and my graduation, about three years, I gained another 5 or 10 pounds, making it 30 pounds total since highschool. I had run maybe 5 times in as many years, and I felt it. I developed terrible acne, and I started to see myself as, horrifyingly enough, overweight. Looking at my BMI I could easily see this was not so, but that didn’t stop me from worrying about how my clothes fit.
The first thing I attacked wasn’t my weight or my posture. It was my acne. I had your basic, run of the mill acne during high school, but once I got to college, I started to break out a LOT more. maybe it was the stress, maybe it was my diet, maybe it was my lack of exercise, but I quickly became a pizza face. At first it didn’t bother me. Sure, I had red bumps all over the place because I picked at it, but it was just skin, right? and it wasn’t like I really had time for a boyfriend, so what did it matter what I looked like? When I moved back home junior year, I finally realized that it wasn’t just caused by my stress levels. I spent the next 2 years attacking my acne full-force, trying everything from drug store cures to Proactive, but nothing worked until I acknowledged that maybe I had over reacted. Maybe I had jumped on the medical miracle band wagon before I looked at all the clues. I recently dumped all my acne creams and cures. I’m now washing with just water, using a gentle astringent when I need it, and adding a daily moisturizer.
The second thing I did was tell my aunt I would run a Thanksgiving 5K with her this year. That means I have until November 26th to whip myself back into shape. I am thankful to have an event to work towards and people to keep me accountable for getting back into running. It may be slow going, but I refuse to give up.
Finally, I’m addressing my posture. I am being extra mindful of how I am sitting, making sure I have adequate back support in all my chair and couch choices, and not watching Netflix in bed! I’m looking at starting to lift weights again like I did in high school to compliment my running. There’s a technique called the ‘farmer’s carry’ that looks especially helpful.
I’m increasing my awareness in terms of diet as well. I adore dairy and carbs. I refuse to give up my carbs, and since I still have a high metabolism I’m not worried about my caloric intake, but I am cutting back a lot on dairy because too much of it could be assisting my chronic acne. Not so much pizza and yogurt and cheesy sandwiches for me, and more of what I need, like fruits and vegetables.
The last month has been rocky because of my travel schedule, but now that things have calmed down for a while I can focus wholly on my health and fitness. I have the power to be whatever or whomever I want to be. I don’t want to lose weight necessarily. If during the course of getting shape I lose or gain a few pounds, it doesn’t really make a difference to me. I DO want to scourge my closet of old clothes that don’t fit me right. I want to wear ‘hip-hugger’ jeans that actually hug my hips, not my butt, and I want to get back in shape. I want to be healthy. I want to get enough sleep and have enough energy to keep up with my little cousins and my more active friends. I want to have a nutritious diet so that my brain will function at its best and I can get back to doing what I love: learning new things.
So, now that I am 23, I want to take control of my life. Part of that involves getting an adult job, and part of that involves taking care of my body and my health. I hope you’ll read along and follow my journey as I chase my theme for the year: Becoming My Best Self.