TOTY – 25: Responsiblity

 

 

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A+ self-confidence here, letting you know that this photo is 100% makeup and filter free. Wheeee!

 

 

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?

 

 

Check out some of my other Theme Of The Year (TOTY) posts:
TOTY – 22: Why Soul Searching is not my Theme of the Year
TOTY – 23: Wellness and Becoming My Best Self
TOTY – 24:  Me Doing Me
TOTY – 26: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

May Update – 2017 Goals Check-In

Update - 5 - May

Long time no see, everyone! It’s been a bit chaotic around here for the past eight weeks or so while I was working on the new layout and format. There was no monthly update in April due to the site being down for rebranding, and I was surprised by how muddled my life became when I didn’t have you all to check-in with. It’s definitely time to reinstate the monthly updates!

April, as you know, was full of website building and logo designing. I honestly had planned to wait until July for the official re-launch, but I got really excited and carried away into web design, and before I knew it I was at the point where I needed to take the site down to do the actual redesign. Curio Street Reads has now been rolled into The Curio Street Blog, and they’ve been rebranded as Highlights and Hot Chocolate. I’ve been keeping up with the weekly book reviews, but I’ve also been debating a little with how best not to back myself into a corner. The focus of this site is writing and literature, but it’s not necessarily a ‘book blog’. I’d call it more of a lifestyle blog with an emphasis on writing, editing, and reading. This self-definition allows me to play around with other things, like film/TV reviews, recipes, and D.I.Y. bits if an idea strikes me. And that’s what makes blogging exciting: I’m the boss. I get to decide how, when, and what gets published.

May has been quite interesting so far. I signed up for NetGalley, an online book review site that connects beta readers with publishing companies. So far I’ve been approved for four ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), and reviews for those will be coming soon! It’s all thanks to you guys that I’m able to get these advanced editions because availability is all based on audience size, so THANK YOU! Y’all are amazing.

In other life news, I spent last weekend in Maine celebrating my sister’s college graduation. It’s been an amazing four years watching her excel in classes and Timbersports competitions, and I’m almost sad it’s over. But I am so SO excited to see where life takes her next, and I am incredibly proud of everything she’s already accomplished. She’s definitely more prepared for the real world than I was at graduation. The idea of job hunting scared me to death, but she’s right up there in the fray, chipping away at the mountain of possibilities, looking for a piece big enough to suit her. I know it won’t be too long before she lands somewhere fantastic.

While I’m definitely tired from all the driving this past weekend, I’m not letting it get me down. I signed up for a free 10-day trial of oneOeight, a yoga and wellness site based in Aruba, and I’m diving into meditations and some basic yoga to boost my energy levels. I was on the fence about this program back in March, but I’ve been doing a lot of research on it, and I think it’s worth the $14/mo. Many of the yogis are among my favorites, and I am definitely someone who needs guided practices. Besides oneOeight, I’ve also been tuning into Yoga With Adriene, who’s based out of Austin, Texas and has some of THE BEST beginner yoga lessons. Both websites are amazing, and I’m not really sure what I would do without them.

Writing has been interesting. My cousin, whom I watch during the day, is just over one-year-old now, and he’s decided he only needs one nap a day. Great for him. Bad for my writing. With what time I’ve had, I’ve mostly been stewing on the next scene I need to write and realizing that I don’t know my secondary characters well enough to write it. My story tends to be very involved, especially for me, though I’m sure 90% of what I’m writing will get cut from the final copy. I’m the sort of person who needs to have an entire family history back to the beginning of time for everyone. Even the characters who have no names have names, you just don’t need to know what they are for the purposes of the specific story I’m telling. So I’ve been working on some of my more prominent secondary characters, those who make prolonged appearances and need to have coherent personalities. I’ve finished four of the six people I need in order to write this next scene so far, and I think that’s pretty good. Writing backstories also tends to color in bits and pieces of country history and helps cement my world together, which always makes me feel like my work is worthwhile, even if it often seems like I’m procrastinating on the actual scene writing.

 

I think that’s all for now, so let’s take a look at how I’m doing on the goals side of things.

 

 

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day: 
I’m definitely not writing every single day, but I’m definitely brainstorming every day, and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Apply to Full-Time Jobs: As my little one-year-old cousin prepares to head to daycare this summer, I am beginning my search for a full-time salary job that will allow me to get a place of my own and save copious amounts of money for graduate school.

Apply to Grad School: ACCEPTED INTO THE EMERSON COLLEGE M.A. PROGRAM FOR WRITING AND PUBLISHING, BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 2017.

2017 Goals:

Stick to My Budget: This is still going much better than expected. I’m saving but not feeling like I had to cut off my arm to do so.

Pay Lots of Student Loans: Also going well! I might be able to pay off $5,000 worth by the end of the year.

Build Savings Account: My little savings account is growing! I’m pretty proud of myself, even if it’s still a relatively small amount.

Spend Less Than $500 on Books This Year: This is still a struggle, but I think I might just succeed.

Only Buy New Clothes Seasonally: CHECK!

Get 8+ hours of sleep/Go to bed by 10 pm: HA.

Only Watch Three Movies/Five Episodes Per Week: I’ve been doing so much reading that I have completely neglected my TV watching. I only watched one more episode of Stranger Things, and while I’m not really excited about it yet (maybe because I’m pretty sure I know where it’s going?), it’s still relatively interesting without being too creepy. I was also watching Chesapeake Shores, but it was only on Netflix for a month and I didn’t get to finish it. At the end of March, I speed-watched six seasons of Bones because they were being taken off of Netflix the week after the series finale aired on Fox, but I was only able to do that because I’ve watched 85% of the episodes already and just needed a refresher on the larger story arcs. Lat but not least, I discovered a show that was originally on SciFi/SyFy called Wynonna Earp and it is WICKED GOOD. I mean that. There are wicked demons from Hell. Seriously. Wyatt Earp’s family is cursed to have to kill the same people over and over again and only the heir that kills them all can break the curse. It’s a modern western/police drama and the cast and storyline are beyond diverse and it’s just amazing. Once I finish Stranger Things and Wynonna Earp, I’ll finally move on to The Last Kingdom, which there are now two seasons of. If I don’t watch Girlboss first.

Finish Craft Projects: I haven’t made any progress at all over the last eight weeks. I’m disappointed in myself.

Post Regularly: Getting a little better at this!

Keep Up With Book Reviews: So far, so good!

Plan Monthly Post Schedules: Also going pretty well!

Read 50+ Books: I’m currently sitting at 24 books, but I’m looking to hit 30 before the next update goes live!

Get In Shape: Now that it’s finally warming up outside, I might stand a chance at completing this one!

Walk 40+ Miles Per Month: April = 50.7 Miles. So far this month I’m right around 30 miles, and we’re only halfway through! I’m doing a lot of driving over the next couple weekends though, so it’s all going to come down to weekday walks instead of weekend exploring.

Finish Everest Draft: Not even close.

Write 20,000 Words Per Month: My ‘much smaller’ goal for this month is 4,000 words of manuscript, but that’s only going to happen if I finish these character backstories. Someday I’m probably going to release all the histories in some sort of character dictionary. I can’t wait to see people’s heads roll with the amount of information I have on every living thing in this universe. It makes me happy to know that someday I’ll get to see the awe on their faces. There’s definitely more history than manuscript at the moment, and no matter how much of the manuscript I write, I think it’s going to stay that way.

Run a 5K in under 30 Minutes: Someday.

April/May Goals:

Walk 40+ Miles Each Month: YES and ALMOST YES!

 

Run: Nope.

Yoga: I’m supplementing this with Meditation, and so far, so good!

Read Lots of Books: (* indicates finished)
April:
*Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
*Double Down by Gwenda Bond
*Searching For Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
*The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
*Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

May:
*Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond
*The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable
*The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower
The Waterless Sea by Kate Constable
The Tenth Power by Kate Constable
Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson
Molly Bell and the Wishing Well by Bridget Geraghty
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Write 5+ Book Reviews in May:
*Double Down
*Cotillion
*The Singer of All Songs
Triple Threat
The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate
Pretty Happy
A Conjuring of Light

Write 8,000 Words of Everest: My brain just keeps up a refrain of ‘Backgrounds first. Backgrounds first. Backgrounds first.’ It’s exhausting.

 

 

So, those are my goals. What are some of your goals right now? Are you working for a promotion? Getting ready to graduate college or high school? Working towards a summer beach body? Join the discussion in the comments!

Until next time,

Amanda

September Update – 2016 Goals Check-in

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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!

September Goals:
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!

 

Until Next Time,

Amanda

TOTY – 24: Me Doing Me

Here we are again, the beginning of summer. This July I’ll turn 24, and we’ll mark the 2nd anniversary since I began writing here. I’m so proud of all the writing I’ve done here on Curio Street, over at Curio Street Reads (formerly Vinca Books) Highlights and Hot Chocolate, and elsewhere on the internet.

In my first year of writing here, I experienced everything I could. I traveled to Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Both were incredibly amazing. I also held a number of executive positions in the organizations I was a part of in college. I was the Program Director of my campus radio station, President of the newly revamped television production club, and Vice President of Public Relations in our chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. The icing on the cake, though, was graduating Magna Cum Laude last May after 5 years of higher education. I felt happy and fulfilled, ready for anything that was thrown my way.

In my second year, my plan was to step back a little and focus on myself. I had planned to get fit and work on my physical well-being. I did start seeing a dermatologist and addressing my acne problems, but otherwise, I could not have been more wrong about how the year would go. I had assumed I would get a grown-up job and the grown-up apartment and life that came with it. Instead, I am working part-time and living with one of my friends. I haven’t run over 6 times this year, and my posture is still terrible. Yet in not fulfilling the goals I set, I have discovered SO MUCH about myself.

I said that this year wasn’t going to be focused on self-discovery, but in a sense it was. I went out on a limb to apply for a job in retail that I really had no experience doing, and I got it. Now I’m working in a bridal shop with some of the loveliest people. Other highlights of the year included my parents and my aunt and uncle buying a lake house together in Maine, and that same aunt and uncle welcoming my newest baby cousin, 2 months old at the end of last month. I am in the midst of helping two of my closest friends prepare for their nuptials, and I am beyond proud to get to stand up with them on their special days. In the last month alone, I got my ears pierced for the first time and my first tattoo. Sure, I had some sad and frustrating moments over the course of the year, but I feel a sense of self now that I didn’t have before. I had the outward confidence and leadership skills, but I lacked the self-awareness and understanding to believe in myself and to have the courage to stand up for my dreams, however unattainable they seem to everyone else.

In my third year, I will surely continue applying to full-time jobs, but I will do so with a significantly larger amount of assuredness that I know what I’m getting myself into and that I am prepared for it. I will reach farther, for jobs that interest me and will challenge me. I will apply to something I know I can do even if I don’t have all of the outlined qualifications because I believe in myself and in my ability to learn.

In my third year, I want to focus on writing. I am going to write every day. Even if it is for 15 minutes in my diary, I am going to write. I am going to write posts and book reviews for Highlights and Hot Chocolate. I am going to write all of the books and worlds that are in my head, I am going to write about anything and everything that is affecting my life or just making a brief appearance in it. And I am going to attempt to publish at least some of those writings somewhere people will see them. Not just here on HHC, but out there in the expanse of space that is the internet and even print media.

In my third year, I am going to apply to graduate school. I want to get my master’s degree in publishing and writing. It’s something I’ve always felt I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to put it into words or go about it. I have my bachelor’s in communications, but the more I learn about society and how we communicate, the more I yearn for the simple days when long-form writing was the main form of communication. The more I read on the internet, the more I want to contribute to it. I don’t want to simply be a consumer. I want to be a part of the product. I am no longer happy as a bystander. I need to be a participant.

I have no way of knowing what the next year holds, but these are the things I think I need to do to be an even better version of myself. Never stop growing, never stop learning, never stop creating. This next year is about ME, doing ME. I am digging deep and letting my crazy writer flag fly for the world to see. Because only by doing so can I grow into the woman I know I am destined to become.

Here’s to year 24,

Amanda

 

Check out some of my other Theme Of The Year (TOTY) posts:
TOTY – 22: Why Soul Searching is Not my Theme of the Year
TOTY – 23: Wellness and Becoming my Best Self
TOTY – 25: Responsibility
TOTY – 26: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

TOTY – 23: Wellness and Becoming My Best Self

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.

 

Sincerely,

Amanda

 

Check out some of my other Theme Of The Year (TOTY) posts:
TOTY – 22: Why Soul Searching is Not my Theme of the Year
TOTY – 24: Me Doing Me
TOTY – 25: Responsibility
TOTY – 26: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

TOTY – 22: Why Soul Searching is NOT my Theme Of The Year

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Source: Favim.com
     Every year as I near my birthday, I try to think of a ‘theme’ for the next year of my life. When I turned 20, my theme was Organization. I got my crap together and managed to transfer from a school I was drowning in to a school where I now flourish. This past year, my 21st, my theme was supposed to be Health. I took a weight lifting class and a horseback riding class, and I’m pushing myself to start a workout regimen that I can continue once classes start up again in September. In truth though, this whole last year has been about Soul Searching more than it was about Health. I wanted to learn about myself and how I felt about different things in my life. I am only just now realizing that this is not going to be a short process. Soul Searching is something that I am going to be doing for the rest of my life.
     So far, I’ve learned that I absolutely LOVE the beach. Way more than I ever thought I did. I love the sun and the sand and the smell of it. I love the sound of the waves, even if I don’t love nearly drowning in them all the time. Maybe it’s just because I was a Summer baby.
     Reading is my passion, but I also really enjoy writing, editing, and organizing, whether its a major event or just my desk. I love when everything has a place. It makes me feel powerful and at least somewhat in control of my life.
     I can’t live without sunshine and orange juice. Again, maybe its something to do with being a Summer child.
     I found out that I really need to get back into shape, and I love the idea of Yoga and Pilates, but I don’t know if I will ever really get back into running like I did in High School.
     After looking at everything I decided that just because Soul Searching is going to be a long process, that doesn’t mean it should be my only focus for the year. So, my plan for my 22nd year is to experience as much as possible before I graduate next May. I’ll be doing a work study in the Audio/Visual department of my University, and I’ll be serving as an officer on three different club boards: Program Director of my university Radio Station WESS-FM, President of the Television Production Club, and Vice President of Public Relations for my university’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I am completely stoked to have been elected to these positions and I can’t wait to work with all of my fellow officers to make this year amazing. I don’t want to stop there though. I want to go a step further, push myself to ace my last 30 credits, and at the same time find new ways to learn things, whether through shadowing professionals, attending conferences, making new contacts and friends, and reading books on new subjects.
     Am I going to make myself a little crazy? Maybe. Am I work-a-holic? Probably. Do I wish I was Hermione Granger with a time-turner so I could learn even more and still get enough sleep? Absolutely. But where is the fun in life if you don’t keep challenging yourself to reach higher and higher goals? I honestly can’t wait for September.
     What are your plans for the next year? Let me know on Twitter @Amanda_HHC!
Until next time,
Amanda
Check out some of my other Theme Of The Year (TOTY) posts:
TOTY – 23: Wellness and Becoming my Best Self
TOTY – 24: Me Doing Me
TOTY – 25: Responsibility
TOTY – 26: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise