Blog Archives

WordCamp San Antonio!

Aw, yeah!

Hey there! I’m fresh off a weekend of geeking out over WordPress, so I’m pretty excited to be blogging today.

I’ve had this on my calendar for a few months now, so I was pretty excited when the weekend rolled around. I wasn’t aware of this, but WordPress hold these WordCamps each year, in different cities across the country.

Volunteers come together to make the event very affordable for attendees ($40 got me entry for two days, two free lunches, and a free shirt). It’s a weekend meant to help those of us interested in or who are currently using WordPress – the speakers offered different levels of advice depending where you’re at on your “WordPress Journey”.

I attended several sessions, including: “Start Your Podcast Now: 3 Steps to Launch”, “Marketing: Simplified”, “Get Google to Love Your WordPress Website”, and “Content Ideas for When You’re Stuck”.

I particularly enjoyed one of the keynote speakers, Kori Ashton, who heads a WordPress company in San Antonio. She spoke about how she took her side hustle of building websites to creating an entire team and a thriving business.

I’ll admit, a few of the sessions I attended discussed many things I’ve already discovered – I’ve been using WordPress for almost 10 years. But it’s always nice to get reassurance from other people in the industry that you’re doing something right – even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks – I promise I will write about it soon – but going through the functions of my daily life have proven to be almost too much at times. I’ve struggled to get up, to make it to work, to actually be productive – I’ve been trying to simply get by.

When Friday rolled around, not even the anticipation of WordCamp (!) could get me to San Antonio. I did however, drag my ass out of bed at 5am on Saturday morning though, so I could make it to registration on time.

And it was worth it. Despite a few annoying people who tried to scold me for bringing coffee into all of the classrooms, people were friendly and the campus was nice. Above anything technical I learned, it was a jumpstart that I needed.

I’m able to not only do social media all day for my job, but I get to TEACH WordPress for blogging, and I get to talk to all of YOU through this blog. I don’t know what I would do without it, especially in times like these.

Which reminds me… are you getting the updates on The Bitter Lemon Facebook page? I post links to new blogs and when I have password protected posts, that’s where I’ll post the password. Following me on Instagram (@OrangeJulius7) would also be smart for those reasons 🙂

I’ve still been working in the Etsy shop! I added two new items last week and am working on a few new things this week, so keep your eyes open. I’ll be right back here tomorrow with a recap on “Siesta Key”!

Advertisements

2017 Goals: A progress report.

Just doooooo it!

Just doooooo it!

It’s March 1st, and that means we’re a quarter of the way through 2017 ALREADY! When I set my goals for the year I was thinking about how so many people simply set goals on New Year’s Eve and basically never revisit them, and before they know it, the year has passed.

I don’t want that to be me this year. So, I’m going to hold myself accountable and do some progress reports on the blog. I already think this miiiiight be a little embarrassing, but maybe it will light a fire under my booty to get things moving.

I wrote a list of goals at the end of 2016, which I published here, and today I’m going to revisit this same list and tell you if I’ve made any progress on it.

Here goes:

GOAL: Start With Kindness. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I’ve spend a chunk of my life feeling sour about things that have happened to me, and choices I’ve made. But in general, I wouldn’t classify myself as bitter – I’m actually pretty kind and very giving.

In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about a kindness campaign started by my favorite radio show hosts, Johnjay & Rich. Their campaign, #LoveUp, encourages everyone to do something kind for someone else – whether big or small, and whether they need it or not. I’ve already started my own #LoveUp acts of kindness, and they’ll definitely be making appearances in 2017. 

PROGRESS: I’ll be honest. I haven’t gone out of my way to buy someone coffee or anything. But, I have thought every day about putting kindness first. Sometimes it just means stopping by the front desk at my office and asking our receptionist how she is doing, or making sure I tell someone when they did really great, or asking someone if they need help with anything. Maybe I’m just tooting my own horn, but these little things go a long way.

GOAL: Be a Practicing Writer. In my previous job, much of my day was spent writing. Whether or not it was stuff I actually wanted to write was not the issue, but I wrote a ton during those years. I blogged, I wrote freelance articles, I wrote books, poetry… and I really haven’t immersed myself in my craft since.

This year, I used birthday money to buy books on screenwriting, and I volunteered nearly 20 hours of my time toward the Austin Screenwriting Festival, listened to many podcasts on the craft, and have researched courses to take to learn on it – but haven’t actually DUG in there and started typing! So, I’ve got to do it – whether or not its work anyone sees, its time.

PROGRESS: I’ve totally sucked on this, and I’ll be honest, I’ve barely been able to keep up with this blog. I’m sorry!

GOAL: Just Go For It. I spend a lot of time analyzing situations and decisions, trying to figure out if I should do it or how or when or why, and frankly, it’s exhausting!

When I moved to Austin in 2015, I had basically no money, was living in an extended-stay hotel, and I spent my evenings going on “adventures” – where I’d basically just drive to a place that sounded cool and check it out, so at least I’d learn my way around the city and pick places I wanted to visit later. It was simple, fun, and it really helped shaped the way I look at the city. I’m definitely aiming for more adventures in Austin, and elsewhere, in 2017.

PROGRESS: I’m kicking this one’s ass. I took a new job two weeks into 2017 and it’s working out great! I’ve already performed on stage this year, I’ve booked a vacation, and I’ve signed up to walk for charity (I do still need people on my team). I know there are tons of adventures around the corner for me this year!

GOAL: Act, Believe, & Receive. I’ve spent the last several years really trying to focus on myself. After years of abuse from various places, I lost myself and I was letting other people create my course. It took therapy, time, and lots of self-reflection for me to even begin to build myself up and allow me to just be me, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

In these last few weeks of 2016, I’ve felt it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So, in 2017, I’m going to act more confident, believe in myself, and receive the treatment that I deserve.

PROGRESS: This is slowly coming, although if you have ideas or tips on how to achieve this goal, I’m all for it.

GOAL: Be Intentional. As of yesterday, I started listening to “The Minimalists” podcast, and although I’m just four episodes in, I am hooked and craving for more learning on this lifestyle choice. The Minimalists are particularly two men who left corporate America (and six-figure salaries) to live simply in terms of having less things, but to also live with intention and do everything on purpose – down to drinking one perfect cup of well-made coffee instead of just guzzling another K-cup.

PROGRESS: You may have read my blog post yesterday on minimalism. It’s true, I’ve slowly started to clean out my apartment, but I’ve been really good about NOT shopping (which leaves more money for experiences like concerts and trips), and only buying things I need, when I need them (i.e. not stocking up on coffee when I have plenty at home). It’s nice!

GOAL: Live High. Initially, I was thinking of a fantastically mellow Jason Mraz song titled as such, but then I thought of that moment at the Democratic Convention this year when Michelle Obama talked about her approach to bullies: “When they go low, we go high.” Essentially, I want to give myself permission to do things just for me. I do a pretty good job already of having no shame for watching hours of TV each week (hell, each night), but I want to do a better job of encorporating happy and healthy habits into my life, and not apologizing for them.

PROGRESS: Eh, this needs work. Between adjusting to my new job and to the new president – things are a little rough. But, I have been on a really healthy diet for the last five weeks and I feel good about that.

GOAL: Choose (& Plan for) Your Destiny! This started as kind of a joke between me, and well, myself, because someone told me earlier this year: “Everything that happens to you is because you let it. You choose your destiny.” In the way it was delivered to me, it seemed more of a way to avoid blame, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it in all areas of my life.

Spent my Saturday working? Well that was obviously the destiny that I chose. No more being a victim; no more going along for the ride. We choose our destinies! 

PROGRESS: Yes – I’m still living by this motto, but it’s a constant effort, and I’m sure I’ll be reminding myself of this rule a time or two.

…So, it’s safe to say I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m also doing okay. What are your goals for 2017 and how are they coming along? It’s certainly not too late to jump on them and cross some big items off your to-do list before the year is over!

Introducing my spiritual masters.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they offer a tip you can try at home that might make your daily life a little happier.

In one episode, their tip was to “Imitate a spiritual master”, basically someone you can look to for guidance, or perhaps someone that can inspire you when you need a little push. I’d never really though about having a spiritual leader, but Elizabeth said hers was Barbra Walters.

Uh, yes! I’d always thought it would have to be someone like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama (both would be fantastic spiritual leaders).

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about who my spiritual masters are, especially in these times – I have a feeling I’m going to be looking to them a lot. So, I made a list:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hamilton” creator and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the FIRST person I put on my list of spiritual masters. Frankly, he’s so freakin’ awesome, I think I could have a list of JUST him.

Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced, and Miranda is nominated for Best Original Song. Not only is it just another thing that makes him cooler, but it puts him closer to something only few can dream of: an EGOT – a rare title one gets after winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Damn.

As mentioned in a New York Times article, “Mr. Miranda has two Grammys, one for the cast recording to his 2008 Broadway musical “In the Heights” and another for his smash hit “Hamilton.” He has personally won three Tony awards (and his musicals have collected many more). He won an Emmy for his work on the music and lyrics at the 2013 Tony award show.”

So why is Miranda one of my spiritual masters? Aside from being a wildly talented writer and performer that I can look up to, what I look up to most about him is his attitude. He’s willing to speak openly about his political views, but remain positive on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you’re in need of guidance, just go to his Twitter feed @Lin_Manuel and get a dose of sunshine.

tumblr_o6fi35rfy31v05ed4o1_500

Issa Rae

I first heard of Ms. Issa Rae on the HBO series “Insecure”, which premiered in the fall of last year. I pretty much loved the pilot episode and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Little did I know that Issa was more than just an actress on the show.

After graduating from Stanford and attending the New York Film Academy, Issa had started to build her reputation as a screenwriter and a video producer. She created a series on YouTube, “Awkward Black Girl”, that has more than 200,000 subscribers.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

She later turned her web series into a book (which I am currently on a waiting list for at the library), and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And then HBO came a-knockin’ and she actually was given a budget to turn her YouTube series into a hit on network television.

She da-bomb! Yeah, I just said that. She’s beautiful, hilarious, and sharp as hell – I cannot help but look up to this woman.

“It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t go wrong by writing what you know. Even if you’re a horrible writer, your own knowledge and experience is unrivaled. Nobody knows what you know like you know what you know. The way you see things is pretty unique.” – Issa Rae

Trevor Noah

I know I can’t be the only one that’s basically looking to comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah to guide us through the next four years. I’ve limited my new coverage to 10 minutes of “TODAY” each morning, and then leave it up to Trevor to pick up the pieces each night before bed.

Born in South Africa, Noah comes from a very interesting background which he talks about in his book, “Born a Crime“, and serves as a lense for his unique sense of humor.

One of my biggest concerns in the coming years is how the press is going to handle it all (aside from that whole nuclear thing). We need journalists who are going to be blunt, and check the President on everything. And Noah just so happens to do it with a laugh.

“We get angry about the small things sometimes, I feel, so that we feel like we’re doing something, so that we don’t have to tackle the big things. And it’s fine; let people do that. But I’m not gonna now change because of that. You know? Like, the worst thing that happens to me is you don’t like me. And then what?” -Trevor Noah

Anna Kendrick

I didn’t really get the craze surrounding Anna Kendrick until I read her memoir, “Scrappy Little Nobody” last week… and I loved it. Of course, she was awesome in”Pitch Perfect”, but I had no clue she’s been working her little butt off since she was 12!

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

Not only does she have drive, but she’s hilarious, humble, and has a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to men and dating, which is just the kind of advice I need from a spiritual master.

“Maybe I am stepping up in the world. Pretty soon I’m going to be 30 and making dope carrot soup and will have my sh-t together.” – Anna Kendrick

JohnJay Van Es

I can’t have a list of spiritual masters without including JohnJay Van Es, co-host of the best radio show ever, “JohnJay and Rich”.

While I know cohosts of the show, Rich and Kyle, would get a big kick out of my trusting of JohnJay with my spiritual guidance, but I’ll explain. I started listening to the show years ago, during a time when my job was pretty rough.

JohnJay Van Es.

JohnJay Van Es.

I found daily solace in listening to their jokes, phone pranks, and the simple chatter of small problems. Little did I know, I was about to lose my job, and when I did, I kept listening to the show. It was sometimes the only thing I looked forward to each day.

Years later, I am still listening every day, and I love laughing along with JohnJay as he tells the stories from his insane life. He’s also the creator of a kindness movement, LoveUp, which promotes random acts of kindness of all sizes, each and every day. It’s changed how I look at the world, and I can’t thank him enough.

There you have it! I’d love to know who your spiritual masters are these days – who knows, maybe I’ll add them to my list!

How to make the most of it.

The world is your oyster!

The world is your oyster!

A big part of this blog is me figuring out how to make the most of any situation. People say it all the time, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” But no one ever talks about HOW we’re supposed to make the most of it.

So, I’ve taken a look at some typical situations and attempted to figure out how to make the most of them, or at least try to.

How to make the most of your time.

In high school, I had a history teacher that asked us what we would do if we could do whatever we wanted in 24 hours. I don’t remember what I said I’d do, but I do remember calculating that in order to do everything I wanted, I needed 26 hours.

I’d say most people probably have that issue: there’s never enough time. And then someone snaps back with, “Well Beyonce has 24 hours in a day, too!” Yeah, she does, but she also has a staff.

Instead of wishing for more time, you’ve got to look at the time you DO have, and then figure out how you’re already spending it, what things are sucking up your time, and how you want to utilize your newly found free time.

Start by looking at the time you have: everyone does have 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. Take a look at how you spend your time – and subtract it from your 168 hours, just as you would a bank account.

Of course, there’s things you have to do – like work 40 hours. But do you always work through lunch when maaaaybe you don’t have to? I’m guilty of this, but even if you vow to take one lunch break a week, that’s an hour you could read the book collecting dust on your nightstand.

Once you track where your time is going, pick things you can remove – maybe your time is being taken by checking Facebook several times a day or watching too much TV when you’d rather be doing something else.

Even if there’s an extra 15 minutes here or there you can find – that’s time you can devote to something on your to-do list, or something you’ve been putting off. Cheers to finding hidden hours in your week!

How to make the most of your workout.

I know a lot of people made 2017 resolutions to lose weight or to work out more. But in the essence of time, why not just make the most out of your workout?

When I lived in Baton Rouge, I spent a few years really getting into fitness, and I worked out several times a week at a boxing gym. All I did was go to a boxing or kickboxing class for one hour 4-5 times each week, and it was the best I think I ever looked and felt.

Sure the workouts were tough as nails, but in one hour, I burned a ton of calories and got strength training. I even met some awesome friends while I was at it!

I take a similar approach to my workouts now that I live in Austin. I take dance classes several times a week (I took 7 last week), and even though it may not burn as many calories as the boxing classes, I’ve gained confidence, built physical strength, made friends, and get to express myself creatively – all while burning fat!

So, find a workout that’s going to work for you in more ways than one: maybe it’s something you love, maybe it’s a chance for you to see a friend each week, or maybe it’s just seriously intense (hi, pilates) and you’ll see results quickly.

Whatever you do, don’t just go to a gym and mindlessly do the eliptical, because that burns about 0 calories and you’re going to be wasting your time.

How to make the most of your weekend.

If you work Monday-Friday, 9-5, then you probably rely on your weekend to really get things done, or possibly to just party and let loose. I used to use my weekends to clean and cook, and while I felt productive, I also felt tired on Monday mornings.

So I started doing my household “chores” during the week. As shitty as it sounds, it’s not bad. I made a list of all the little things that need to be done: litter box, sweep, mop, trash, wipe mirrors, etc. Then I bought a dry erase calendar from the Dollar Tree and stuck it to my fridge and put one or two chores for each night of the week.

Of course, doing chores after I’ve worked all day and gone to a dance class isn’t really a party, but most of these chores take maybe 5-10 minutes, so if I want to watch TV, I can usually get it done on a commercial break.

It also helps if you spend just 5 minutes picking up before you hit the sack; then when you wake up in the morning, you’re not greeted by a giant mess.

So, if you get your chores done – or a majority of them done – during the week, you can use your weekend to do something more fun, or work on a bigger project you’ve been wanting to do.

How to make the most of your sleep.

I used to be a very troubled sleeper, and if I’m not careful, then I will have a shitty night’s sleep and that pretty much ruins everything.

Of course, different things work for different people but this is what’s worked for me. I started by finding an all-natural sleep aid that I like (it’s called Rest EZ and it’s from Melaleuca). It helps me relax when I’m ready for bed and helps me stay asleep without feeling groggy in the morning.

Secondly, I stopped drinking during the week, and honestly, I cut back on drinking in general. Date an abusive alcoholic and that’ll all but ruin drinking for you. Sometimes, a glass of wine seems like it will help you relax and sleep, but for me, it made for a lesser-quality sleep and often led to really weird nightmares.

Next, I set a bedtime for myself. Sounds silly, but it helps me get to bed in time to actually sleep enough to function the next day. I use the bedtime app that’s already on my iPhone, and it has a little alarm that goes off when I need to go to bed. If I don’t go to bed then, I am consciously making that decision to be tired the next day.

Other things you may consider doing: using essential oils to help you relax and sleep, making sure electronics and lights are off while you sleep, or maybe even investing in nice sheets or a more comfortable mattress.

Want to get shit done while you sleep? Get one of those facial masks that works to improve your skin while you sleep – I’ve also seen other skin creams you can apply before bed that work while you sleep; or maybe go to bed with the lotion socks or gloves on.

How to make the most of a shitty situation.

Whether you’re stuck on a bad date, had a terrible day, or are running late to something super important, there’s a few things you can do to make it suck less.

One thing I always try to do is figure out what I can immediately learn from the situation so it either doesn’t happen again, or I can prepare better for it next time.

Then, I try and put it into perspective: is this something that’s going to matter tomorrow? In a week? In a year? And react accordingly. Try not to beat yourself up over something small, or something that’s out of your control.

And finally, it sounds cheesy, but find the good in the situation – even if it’s something small. I spent the last 15 months of my life pulling data and dumping it into spreadsheets, but I got to listen to about 45 hours worth of podcast material every week and I kind of loved it. So, there’s that!

…And there you have it! If you’ve got additional tips for my list, feel free to leave them in the comments.

1021266_us_sports_nyny_traffic-drivers_associate_300x250_v5

Yeah, Nike has it right.

New motto.

New motto.

Good morning! You’ve heard me talk about a big change that’s happening in my life these days – I’m starting a new job. And guess what? Today is my first day!

As with any change in my life, of course I’ve been thinking about the past. Many of you were reading when I announced my first day of my last job – the one I left on Friday.

When I got that job, I’d been freelancing and working retail for about nine months, and had applied to easily 200 jobs. I had so many interviews at different places, and when I finally got the job offer, it was as if the stars were aligned.

I’d nailed a job in a pretty cool city, it offered enough pay to cover my bills and there was paid time off and benefits. It was also a bit of shift in my career – I was going from content development and social media strategy to strictly search engine optimization. And it was an agency. All things would be new to me, not to mention a new city, new apartment, the works.

When I started the job, I was living out of an extended stay hotel for two weeks because my apartment wasn’t ready. I had no money, lived off frozen meals, and would you believe the shower didn’t even have a curtain? I was roughing it a little, but I wanted to kick ass at this job. I didn’t want them to regret taking a chance on me.

In order to learn SEO properly, I went through a 90-day bootcamp at the agency, which was polished off by me giving a presentation to the CEO that basically decided if I could stay or go.

I got to stay, and was actually told I would go far – I’d worked my ass off. And in all honesty, things were looking great. My coworkers were so cool! We worked near downtown! Our agency valued learning! There was free beer in the fridge!

But as the months rolled by, things became a little clearer. This #AgencyLife that colleagues had warned me about for years was coming true – it was a culture of late nights, early mornings, and lots of spreadsheets.

And the benefits? Well they’re not really beneficial if you don’t use them. It’s like a car salesman selling you on the optional third seat when you have no kids. Turns out, I don’t give two shits about free beer if the free beer means you have to skip happy hour and work late to drink it.

I came to see that many tech startups have these same perks – offering free food and drinks instead of a bigger paycheck; housing pool tables and bean bags so you’ll stay later. It’s appealing if you’re interested in working in a frat house long after it’s socially acceptable.

It wasn’t long before people started quitting; one-by-one. When coworkers left, the clients stayed – meaning more work spread between less employees. With every employee that left, agency management was 100% sure it was not any fault of the company’s. Put that in your spreadsheet.

Over these months, I grew tired and stressed. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. There were many conversations between me and management – they wanted to know if I was job hunting.

The truth is, I wasn’t. I didn’t know what I wanted and I didn’t want to quit. I am a fixer and I wanted it to work. I’d done too damn much to just leave.

But one Thursday night in early December, I made the decision to skip the company Christmas party. I’d worked until 1am nearly every night that week and was dead tired. I wanted to work a few hours and then crash.

Choose your destiny!

Choose your destiny!

Giant mistake. The next morning, my boss and the CEO laid it out for me, that since I didn’t attend the party, it must mean I didn’t like my coworkers, and if I wanted to leave, that was okay.

“Everything that happens to you here is because you let it,” they said. “You choose your destiny.”

To them, I’d chosen to work and sleep over going to the party, and apparently, that was a giant mistake.

But they were right – I do choose my destiny. And I knew my destiny was going to have to change.

Just a few days later, I saw a job posting for a digital marketing position with a woman’s healthcare provider that specialized in abortion aftercare, and also served as an advocate for woman’s reproductive rights.

I applied, and had two interviews. The conversations I got to have with the employees were eye-opening. These were women helping others who needed it, while fighting for the healthcare rights of all of us.

As some of you may know, I had an abortion when I was 23. It was not a pleasant experience, and I spent years being ashamed of the choice I made. I am still working through some of these issues, but to be able to share my story in an interview and be able to think that I can help women that may find themselves in a situation similar to what I was in, was refreshing.

I was offered the job about two weeks from when I applied for it. Honestly, I only had the two quick interviews, didn’t really do much research on it, but I took a night to think it over, and took it.

It was the perfect storm. All of these bad things kept happening at work, and nothing was being done to fix them. I probably wasn’t as passionate about the work itself as the agency needed me to be – and that’s something I can’t change. And to top it off, some of upper management had accused me of lying over a task I’d been stressed about.

You can call me lazy, weak, and disconnected, but one thing I am not, is a liar. And just an FYI, I graduated from high school almost 15 years ago. I’m so done with the Mean Girls’ schtick.

In 2017, I vowed to just “go for it”, and that’s what I’m doing today. It’s a job that utilizes my writing and digital strategy skills to help women across the country. It’s also a small way I can make a stand in my political views, and try to help make a change in the world around us.

In all honesty, I thought I was going to stay at my old job forever. I don’t want to be a job-hopper; I want to stay and grow with a company and climb the ladder appropriately.

But I also don’t want to be the person that hits snooze a million times because I dread the day ahead; I don’t want to just wish for Friday on a Monday. After the 15 months I’ve had, I know that I can get through just about anything. And at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I’m working for a cause that is very personal to me.

About two days after I’d put in my two weeks’ notice, I was listening to “SandyLand” with host Sandra Bernhart and she was talking to her guest (of course I don’t remember who), but she said something along the lines of, “No paycheck is worth having to stifle who you are.”

PREACH! I feel like that’s all I’ve done for the last nine years, and finally, just finally, I may have found a job that is willing to utilize my snap-back wit, my passion for equal rights, and my brain full of digital goodies.

And yes, I was very sad to leave my coworkers – some of them were so sweet in their goodbyes it nearly brought me to tears. But good people want the best for other good people, and I appreciate their support. I wish the best for any of them, and I hope they stay in touch.

I’m not going to be that person to sit here, and tell you to run out and quit your job. I know it’s not an easy task. Hell, I was so nervous to turn in my two weeks, and almost thought about not doing it just so I wouldn’t shake the waters.

But I am going to say that my old job had something right: you choose your destiny. You’re going to hear this a lot from me this year (my friends and family are probably already sick of hearing it), but it stops you from playing the victim in any situation.

Hate your drive to work? Find an alternative route, clean out your car, invest in Sirius radio or find some great podcasts to listen to. Change what you can.

Sick of always cleaning your house? Get rid of unnecessary things. Find a spot for all the good stuff. Implement daily habits that will make weekend cleaning easier.

I’m saying all of this to say one thing: take control of your life. Decide what’s important and make it happen. It’s like President Obama said in his farewell address, “If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.  Sometimes you’ll win.  Sometimes you’ll lose.  Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you.  But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire.”

So, here’s to just going for it!

amazon_home_services_bounty_300x250

2017 reading challenge!

What will you be reading this year?

What will you be reading this year?

One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to, “What Should I Read Next?” mentioned a reading challenge for 2017. When I went to the website, there’s a complete challenge with checklists and everything!

In the podcast, Anne (the host), often asks her guests if there’s anything they want to change about their reading life. Because of this, the challenge is set up the same way. There is a specific checklist if you’re looking to add “oomph” into your reading life, or a list for growth, for example.

The website also has free templates you help you track your reading – sometimes I find myself wondering, “Wait, have I read this?” So I’m looking forward to checking out the templates.

It’s free to sign up for the challenge, and once you sign up, you’ll get a free kit! While I’m not really sure I’m looking for my “reading life” to change, I do have a mental list of some books I want to read this year. Here are a few titles I’ve been eyeing:

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell – Wanna know something NOT so secret about me? I love memoirs about overcoming addiction. Always have, always will, and this one from Cat Marnell sounds basically perfect. Here’s the scoop from Amazon:

Love this cover!

Love this cover!

From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs.

At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her. But she hid a secret life. She was a prescription drug addict. She was also a “doctor shopper” who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists for pills, pills, and more pills; a lonely bulimic who spent hundreds of dollars a week on binge foods; a promiscuous party girl who danced barefoot on banquets; a weepy and hallucination-prone insomniac who would take anything—anything—to sleep.

This is a tale of self-loathing, self-sabotage, and yes, self-tanner. It begins at a posh New England prep school—and with a prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder medication Ritalin. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise from intern to editor through the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky. We see her fight between ambition and addiction and how, inevitably, her disease threatens everything she worked so hard to achieve.

From the Condé Nast building (where she rides the elevator alongside Anna Wintour) to seedy nightclubs, from doctors’ offices and mental hospitals, Marnell shows—like no one else can—what it is like to live in the wild, chaotic, often sinister world of a young female addict who can’t say no. Combining lightning-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg – I love food. I love cooking it, watching shows about it on TV, taking pictures of it, tasting it, and of course, reading books about it. So, Molly Wizenberg’s earlier book, “A Homemade Life” ranks among one of my favorite reads ever! And so, I’m hoping her second book will be JUST as good. Here’s the description:

Looking forward to this one!

Looking forward to this one!

The New York Times bestseller from the author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette about opening a restaurant with her new husband: “You’ll feel the warmth from this pizza oven…cheerfully honest…warm and inclusive, just like her cooking” (USA TODAY).

When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, wooden boats, violin-building, and ice cream–making. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive—not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn’t think he would. Before she knew it, he’d signed a lease on a space. The restaurant, Delancey, was going to be a reality, and all of Molly’s assumptions about her marriage were about to change.

Together they built Delancey: gutting and renovating the space on a cobbled-together budget, developing a menu, hiring staff, and passing inspections. Delancey became a success, and Molly tried to convince herself that she was happy in their new life until—in the heat and pressure of the restaurant kitchen—she realized that she hadn’t been honest with herself or Brandon.

With evocative photos by Molly and twenty new recipes for the kind of simple, delicious food that chefs eat at home, Delancey explores that intimate territory where food and life meet. This moving and honest account of two people learning to give in and let go in order to grow together is “a crave-worthy memoir that is part love story, part restaurant industry tale. Scrumptious” (People).

Balancing in Heels by Kristin Cavallari – I will be a fan of “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” until the day I die. And although I love LC, I also love K-Cav (I especially love her style), and I want to read her book! Here’s the scoop:

For the first time ever, entrepreneur, designer, and TV star Kristin Cavallari shares how she juggles all facets of her busy life with style and grace. From outlining health and wellness, food, fitness, fashion, and her success as a businesswoman to more private matters of family, motherhood, and her relationship with her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Kristin leaves no stone unturned to give fans of Laguna Beach and The Hills all of the answers they’ve been looking for.

Tracing her journey from reality stardom to real life―the good, the bad, and the ugly―Kristin digs down to the most personal of relationships in her life and discusses how they made her who she is today. She also talks about the amazing effects of her healthy diet and exercise, which have made Kristin and her family the happiest and healthiest they’ve ever been. Kristin shares the family’s favorite recipes and even reveals how her food philosophy has drastically improved Jay’s type 1 diabetes.

Balancing in Heels is a behind-the-scenes, in-depth look at who the real Kristin Cavallari is―unscripted.

This one looks like a goodie.

This one looks like a goodie.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – On New Year’s Day, I was wandering around a used book store (I sold a stack of DVDs I never watch and was looking for a splurge from my $6.50 in earnings) and I saw tons of copies of this book, so I at least picked it up and read the back:

From New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a “heartbreaking…very human novel” (Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves) that does for Huntington’s disease what her debut novel Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-three-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure, and each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder – I saw this on a reading list for Lauren Conrad’s book club. You know I’m all over that! It looks so sweet, so I added it to my library list. Here’s the scoop:

Cutest heartbreak ever.

Cutest heartbreak ever.

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken…

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard – I saw this title on a list of books said to be read “in one sitting” because they’re just that great. And who doesn’t love to curl up and read a book from cover to cover? I took a look at this description and two words got me hooked: true crime. Here ’tis:

Bring it on...

Bring it on…

As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.
But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.
As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.
First in a new series by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Pretty Little Liars series, Sara Shepard, The Amateurs is packed with the twists and turns, steamy romance, and stunning revelations that her fans have been waiting for.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae – I was introduced to the fantastic Issa Rae late in life, through her show on HBO late last year. But I was obsessed, and basically want to get my little fingers on anything she’s putting out. I was D-E-Lighted when I saw she’d written a book! Here’s the deal:

Cannot WAIT to read this!

Cannot WAIT to read this!

In this universally accessible New York Times bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, Issa Rae—“a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne” (Kirkus Reviews)—waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.

I’m awkward—and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst things anyone could be. That someone was right. Where do I start?

Being an introvert (as well as “funny,” according to the Los Angeles Times) in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert—whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this New York Times bestselling debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown – An Instagrammer I follow posted about this book, and she really enjoyed it, despite its sensitive topic. So, I’m interested. Here’s the description:

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

…So, there you have it! Of course, I’ll be reading a variety of books this year, and you can keep up with all of them by keeping an eye out for Blanche’s Book Club, which usually reads about a book a week. Got a book you think I should read? Let me know – I’m always looking for new titles.

In other news, I’m back on Pinterest (Follow me here)! I never really left, but it’d been a looooong time since I logged in. I’m hoping to use it to find more creative ideas to keep things fresh, and as a place to store all of my reading lists and style ideas. I’d love to see you there!

Tackle your passion!

PASSION in 2017!

PASSION in 2017!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m so excited about this being a new year, I feel so fresh and rejuvenated, and overall I’m just ready to really tackle my life and my dreams in a way I haven’t felt before.

When I got my first day job, I remember my coworkers were always so shocked at how much I had going on in my life outside of my job – at times I was bartending at night, I was always maintaining my boxing regimen, I wrote and published books, kept up with this blog, taught my blog classes, and did freelance editing work.

There were times I hated being so busy, but the truth is, when things are slow, I really don’t know what to do with myself. I may ALWAYS have a life like this, and that’s how I like it (within reason, of course).

In reality, I’ve sought activities and side jobs outside of my 9-5 job because there was always something my day job was missing. And I think no matter what job you have, it won’t be perfect. Even if I was being paid enough by simply keeping up with this blog, I would still be at the dance studio every night, I’d still be attempting to learn how to write a screen play, and I’d still be doing freelance.

My struggle is really staying focused on my passion, which is writing. Period. I always want to be writing and want to be perfecting my craft. And in order to be a great writer, I have to be a great reader. So, aside from finding quality time to write, I’ve got to find time to read! It’s the great balancing act.

Now, I’m not sure if any of you are working on tackling a passion project this year, and there are many methods out there that can help you get things done, but I came across one way that sounded interesting: the 90-90-1 rule.

The 90-90-1 rule is this: for the next 90 days, spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning, on your 1 passion project. Sounds cool, right?

I would consider myself a morning-ish person. I always get up earlier than necessary so I can have extra time to get ready or to write, or whatever I need to get done. So the 90-minute thing would probably work for me each morning. But maybe you’re an afternoon person, or a night owl – I say do it whenever you feel your mind is going to be the best for whatever your passion project is.

Several weeks ago, John Mayer (swwooooon) was on Facebook Live doing a Q&A session before releasing his first single off an upcoming record. He was answering a fan’s question, about what I don’t remember, but he told the person something along the lines of, “Go too far with it…go crazy…those are the people that succeed.”

Preach! It takes a lot of time, and work, and guts to succeed, and that’s why some of the most successful people (whomever you consider that to be) are probably a little weird – because they are SO passionate about what they do.

I have this daily struggle of being super regimented in order to “succeed” at my day job – go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep, work through lunch, work late, etc. But then the weekend rolls around and I’m dead tired, and I have to cram all of my leisure reading and blog writing into two days, and it hardly works.

I have always wanted to live a life that’s full of variety – where every day feels a little bit different. Maybe it means, going to a coffee shop before work instead of just drinking from my little coffee maker, or maybe it means checking out a new place to eat lunch, or even just staying up late on my couch on a Monday night to finish reading a good book, at the risk of being groggy at work the next day.

The latter sounds more fun, right? If you’re tackling your passion this year, I’d love to know what method you’re using, or how you’re planning to go about it. Let’s support each other as we work to live our dreams!

‘Mariah’s World’: Mimi’s Anniversary.

Mariah is baaack...

Mariah is baaack…

Happy New Year! Can you believe it? 2017 is finally here! I wokeup yesterday around 10, and while I was getting my morning coffee going, my smoke detectors blessed me with a glorious ring because their batteries were low! It took me a solid 16 minutes to drag out my ladder and at least get the noise down to a tolerable chirp until I could get to the store.

I then went to the store (I had to get my bean soup prepped first) in my pajamas and slippers and bought batteries and a Cherry Coke Zero. I didn’t even know that existed! I love Cherry Coke, but only allow myself such a treat on very rare occassions. So, I can honestly say my first negative experience of the year was totally overruled by a great one.

So, on to last night’s episode of “Mariah’s World”… well, first, let’s talk about Mariah’s performance on New Year’s Eve. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch any of the countdown specials – instead I was watching a marathon of “Tiny House Nation”, which we can talk about at a later time. But, I first heard about poor Mariah’s performance while watching Kim Zolciak’s SnapChat feed.

When I checked Twitter yesterday, it was allll I could see. Oh, boy. So, I watched a video of it… if you want to see it, you can Google it. I mean, it wasn’t as terrible as what I expected. Is it a shock to know she was planning to lip sync the performance? Not at all. I’m not really sure what the right way to handle something like that would have been – I actually thought she handled it pretty well.

Having now watched half the season of “Mariah’s World”, I can say two things about Ms. Carey: 1. she has surrounded herself with many people who don’t really know what they’re doing, and 2. When they mess up, she fires them.

So, I can assure you, that whomever had the bright idea to skip the soundcheck on that performance is probably job hunting today.

Anyway, onto last night’s episode!

So, it’s Mariah’s birthday, but she calls it an “Anniversary”, and the staff wants Tanaka to jump out of her anniversary cake.

But before this happens, Stella’s assistant Molly, decides to dress up as the Easter bunny and she looks ridiculous and scary, simultaneously.

Mariah’s anniversary falls on Easter, and to commemorate the day, she’s wearing a rose mini dress that’s completely beaded. Because why not?

Meanwhile, Tanaka is feeling pretty nervous about jumping out of Mariah’s cake – which very oddly makes me nervous about it, too.

At the gathering, Mariah agrees to prank-call Molly, and she instantly picks up a fantastic Jersey accent. Mariah tells Molly to pick up mozzerella sticks, and asks her what she’s wearing. It’s actually pretty funny; probably just because Molly was squirming.

So, they load Tanaka into this cake… where he waits for at least an hour and is sweating as he waits for Mariah. But then he jumps out of it and is like “Magic Mike” up in there – I think Mariah blushed a little.

But, everyone in the room is starting to feel awkward… because remember, she’s engaged.

Later, Stella’s kids get sick and Molly is nowhere to be found, because she’s out getting a tattoo of “the globe emoji” to remind herself how lucky she is to have the job.

Needless to say, Stella is piiiissssed and we all know what happens then. She ended up firing Molly, but it was no easy task, mainly because she wouldn’t come out and say it and I wondered if it was for unemployment reasons. Stella just kept saying, “I think this job is just too demanding for you…”

Awkward.

In the preview for next week’s episode, it appears things are getting heated between Mariah and Tanaka, and there is also talk of the wedding… oh man.

In other news, much of America has one decision to make today: whether or not to watch the season premiers of “The Bachelor” or “Celebrity Apprentice”?

Let’s start with “The Bachelor”. I used to LOVE watching “The Bachelor”! I also liked watching “The Bachelorette”, but not as much as “The Bachelor”. I stopped watching it a few seasons back, though, for many reasons. For one, I was getting pissed off that the main contestant always picked someone that just wasn’t right.

It was also becoming painfully obvious that the season was more scripted, and very fake. I mean, why was there no diversity in the people on the show? Not only in terms of culture or race, but I felt like even the women contestants were all the same – they all had great jobs or trust funds, they were all unbelievably gorgeous, and I noticed during the hometown visits, they all came from happy families that lived in large homes. Only recently did I see a divorced family featured on the show.

And in a way, all of that made the show appealing. I get it – pretty people make great TV. But come on, now!

The other thing that’s really tough about “The Bachelor”, is the time committment. Every episode is two hours long, and sometimes there are additional specials and tell-all epsiodes – it’s a huge time suck. So after you’ve invested 35 hours into the show and your person doesn’t pick the one you’ve been rooting for all along, yeah, you want to throw your case of wine at the television.

The latest season, season 21 (can you BELIEVE that?!) of “The Bachelor” premiers tonight, featuring Nick Viall as The Bachelor. Here’s the season preview:

Wow, ABC sure made him look like the coolest guy at the party, didn’t they? But Nick Viall is probably the least cool guy that has ever been featured on this TV show. Here’s why:

We first met Nick on “The Bachelorette” during Andi Dorfmann’s season. He won her over with handwritten poems and he even made it to the final two, but he was dumped.

And then we were #Blessed when he appeared on the “After the Final Rose” special and told the entire country that they slept together in the Fantasy Suite – BASTARD!!! It was horrid.

Then the little weasel appeared on yet another season of “The Bachelorette”, when Kaitlyn Bristowe was the main contestant. Little did the audience know they’d been chatting online before she began filming the show, so he swoops in mid-season, and is all “Hey dudes, I’m about to win this bitch”.

So, he joins the cast, sleeps with Kaitlyn, makes it to the final two, and then gets DUMPED. So, he gets an invitation to appear on “Bachelor in Paradise”, where he makes his comeback, and chooses not to propose to his girl on the show. And ta-da, now he’s The Bachelor.

Will you be watching “The Bachelor” this season? I don’t think I can stomach it, but we’ll see.

The other show premiering tonight is “Celebrity Apprentice”,  which used to be hosted by our now-President Elect, so the new host, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be taking over. Le sigh.

I have ALWAYS been a fan of “Celebrity Apprentice”. I have loved it for the celebrities it features, the challenges they have, and I loved the slight inside look at the Trump family and their business. Of course, this was before I knew how gross he was.

But now, I still know Trump is a producer on the show (weird), and I am not really a fan of Arnold. So… do I watch? Here’s the promo:

…There’s a few contestants on there I want to see, so I very well might be watching this tonight.

What about you? Will you be watching anything new tonight?

Okay 2017, let’s DO this!

Let's set some goals!

Let’s set some goals!

You guys! The next time I post a blog,  it will be 2017! I feel like just about everyone is ready for this year to be over, and I’m including myself in that bunch.

A friend on Facebook posted this article, I think it was from NPR, yesterday, and it was basically saying that everyone was naming 2016 as a sucky year because of all the celebrity deaths. It also said that if you’re complaining about a year because of celebrities you never even met passing away, then you’re already privileged and shouldn’t be whining about it.

Ehhh, I don’t want to spend a lot of time arguing these points, but whatever happened to being able to have feelings for whatever we want? I say in 2017, maybe NPR should come up with a more substantial content calendar. But what do I know?

I do know that as each year comes and goes, it becomes much more clear to me what I want out of this life and in order to get it, I continually have to set goals – big and small – so I can reach my dreams!

I never really did like the term “resolution”, because I feel like when people set resolutions, they’re vague like “lose weight”, and they hit the gym religiously until January 14, and then it’s over until the following year. I try to set goals that are reachable (although challenging, of course), specific, and at least somewhat measureable.

So, here are some of my goals for 2017:

Start With Kindness. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I’ve spend a chunk of my life feeling sour about things that have happened to me, and choices I’ve made. But in general, I wouldn’t classify myself as bitter – I’m actually pretty kind and very giving.

In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about a kindness campaign started by my favorite radio show hosts, Johnjay & Rich. Their campaign, #LoveUp, encourages everyone to do something kind for someone else – whether big or small, and whether they need it or not. Many of these little moments of kindess are shared on air during the show, and they are very touching.

I’ve already started my own #LoveUp acts of kindess, and they’ll definitely be making appearances in 2017. They can be as small as holding the door open for someone, helping out a coworker, or as big as helping someone financially, or fostering an animal.

Be a Practicing Writer. In my previous job, much of my day was spent writing. Whether or not it was stuff I actually wanted to write was not the issue, but I wrote a ton during those years. I blogged, I wrote freelance articles, I wrote books, poetry… and I really haven’t immersed myself in my craft since.

This year, I used birthday money to buy books on screenwriting, and I volunteered nearly 20 hours of my time toward the Austin Screenwriting Festival, listened to many podcasts on the craft, and have researched courses to take to learn on it – but haven’t actually DUG in there and started typing! So, I’ve got to do it – whether or not its work anyone sees, its time.

Just Go For It. I spend a lot of time analyzing situations and decisions, trying to figure out if I should do it or how or when or why, and frankly, it’s exhausting!

When I moved to Austin in 2015, I had basically no money, was living in an extended-stay hotel, and I spent my evenings going on “adventures” – where I’d basically just drive to a place that sounded cool and check it out, so at least I’d learn my way around the city and pick places I wanted to visit later. It was simple, fun, and it really helped shaped the way I look at the city. I’m definitely aiming for more adventures in Austin, and elsewhere, in 2017.

Act, Believe, & Receive. I’ve spent the last several years really trying to focus on myself. After years of abuse from various places, I lost myself and I was letting other people create my course. It took therapy, time, and lots of self-reflection for me to even begin to build myself up and allow me to just be me, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

In these last few weeks of 2016, I’ve felt it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So, in 2017, I’m going to act more confident, believe in myself, and receive the treatment that I deserve.

Be Intentional. As of yesterday, I started listening to “The Minimalists” podcast, and although I’m just four episodes in, I am hooked and craving for more learning on this lifestyle choice. The Minimalists are particularly two men who left corporate America (and six-figure salaries) to live simply in terms of having less things, but to also live with intention and do everything on purpose – down to drinking one perfect cup of well-made coffee instead of just guzzling another K-cup.

They do things because of the joy it creates, or the meaning it brings – not because it fulfills the old school cliche of the American Dream. The more I learn on living minimal, I’ll let you know, of course!

Live High. No, I’m not planning on smoking more weed in 2017, but if that’s your goal – call me. “Live High” comes from a multitude of places. Initially, I was thinking of a fantastically mellow Jason Mraz song titled as such, but then I thought of that moment at the Democratic Convention this year when Michelle Obama talked about her approach to bullies: “When they go low, we go high.” See the video at 2:45 for the exact moment, but you should probably just watch the entire thing because, let’s face it, it was one of the most hopeful moments of the year.

Essentially, I want to give myself permission to do things just for me. I do a pretty good job already of having no shame for watching hours of TV each week (hell, each night), but I want to do a better job of encorporating happy and healthy habits into my life, and not apologizing for them.

Choose (& Plan for) Your Destiny! This started as kind of a joke between me, and well, myself, because someone told me earlier this year: “Everything that happens to you is because you let it. You choose your destiny.” In the way it was delivered to me, it seemed more of a way to avoid blame, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it in all areas of my life.

Spent my Saturday working? Well that was obviously the destiny that I chose. No more being a victim; no more going along for the ride. We choose our destinies! And you know what? Destinies need to be planned. So, I bought myself a gorgeous new planner for 2017 – this one is nearly identical to the one I got – and I’ve already started filling it! It has inspirational quotes, folders, pages for notes, and lots of fun stickers to keep things organized.

So, there you have it! I asked my Facebook friends about their goals for 2017 and I heard all sorts of good things – from living simplistic or getting outdoors more to lowering debt and taking more pictures. I’d love to hear what your hopes and goals for the New Year are.

I’ll be right back here on Monday, and until then, have a safe and very happy New Year! Cheers!