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BBC: ‘Big Magic’.

Hey there! I had a fun little Saturday yesterday – I got my hair done (a slightly new cut and a bold red color), went on my weekly “Food Adventure”, where I try a new restaurant (I went to Modern Market for a Blueberry Pesto sandwich), and did some shopping at Trader Joe’s (picked up some cold brew coffee concentrate)!

Today, I’ve been working on some freelance projects while catching up on “Pose” (I think I have three episodes left). I am going to yoga later and am still debating if I should make a trip to Michael’s today – I have a coupon that I might not be able to pass up!

But the real reason I’m writing today is to share with you the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Before I dive in, here is the official book description from Amazon:

“A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.
 
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration.

She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us.

Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

If you know me, even if only through this blog, you probably can already guess that I LOVED this book! It felt like it was written from the things swirling around in my brain. I have always valued creativity, and I talk extensively about it in my blog class – that we must nurture our brains to be creative, and act upon it when it happens.

I wrote down SO many lines from this book that spoke to me and I’ll share them with you here:

  • Without bravery…they would never be able to realize the vaulting scope of their own capacities. Without bravery, they would never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, their lives would remain small – far smaller than they probably wanted their lives to be.
  • Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
  • The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
  • The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.
  • I am talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • …When courage dies, creativity dies with it.
  • Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day.
  • Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you.
  • I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors or new sounds, or big love, or risky decisions, or strange experiences, or weird endeavors, or sudden changes, or even failure.
  • Your own reasons to create are reason enough.
  • I have dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of creativity, and I spend a lot of time encouraging other people to do the same, because I think a creative life is the most marvelous life there is.
  • You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.
  • I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.
  • Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.
  • Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are.
  • Following the scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.

That about sums up the book, right? I feel so lame that I haven’t read any of Gilbert’s any other books – but I’ll be adding them to my list! I’m recommending this book to anyone looking for a push to live their dreams, whether that be making a career change or picking up a new hobby or even taking a trip off the beaten path.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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2018 Goals: Checking in.

We’re already a week into August, and I have been thinking a lot about the goals I set for myself this year. It’s time to check-in and see what I’ve done and what I’ve got left to do, because I refuse to let another year pass without doing these things!

Raise the standard (In progress)

I wanted to generally raise the standard I hold for my LIFE. I want to do quality things, spend my time wisely, and have quality people in my life, even if that means not very many. And so far, I think I’m getting there. I’ve learned that by cutting less-quality things and people out of my life, I have more time for myself, and more time with the people who support and love me.

Get more involved in ZTA (In progress)

I was really lucky to be involved in a sorority in college, and although I made my mistakes (and there were downsides to it), I think that giving my time and my mind to these ladies could really be a great experience. In April, I took over the position of Judicial Advisor for the ZTA Theta Psi chapter, and am really looking forward to school starting in the fall so I can start attending meetings and getting more involved.

Don’t wait for tomorrow (CHECK!)

Since my dad passed away in February, I have taken this (my friend calls it my “YOLO mentality) to the next level. There are times I’ve felt completely reckless, but we are never promised tomorrow, so whatever it is, I’m doing it today!

Attend an estate sale (Needs Help)

I still haven’t done this, and I don’t even know how to find out about estate sales near me! Help! Do I Google? Pick up the newspaper? What are some tips once I attend? I need all the assistance…

Write, just to write (CHECK!)

Earlier this year, I went to a writer’s retreat for the first time. I have also been journaling almost every day, and it’s really helped me, mentally, and it’s helped me organize my thoughts so I can produce better blog content (it’s a win-win)!

Treat yoself (CHECK!)

This was less of an excuse to spend money and more of an excuse to use things I already have instead of saving them for “something special”. Case-in-point: my Jaclyn Hill eyeshadow palette. I bought it thinking I would use it for a dance showcase, but why just that? I pull it out on random weekdays and wear it to work, because I’m alive, and that’s a gift. I also finally wore a chambray jumpsuit that’s been in my closet for an entire year, never worn. This has been a fun one!

Take a road trip to Marfa, Texas (CHECK!)

I went to Marfa in June, and although the trip took an unexpected turn, I got to see what all the hype was about, and I finally got to pull off on the side of the road and SEE Prada Marfa. Not to mention loads of tumbleweeds! Read all about that trip.

Pay off two more credit cards (In progress)

I have already paid off one card, and I’m really close to paying off a second! It feels so great to finally have a little more financial freedom – in fact, life feels a lot different by making even one or two less payments each month. Suck it, interest rates!

Less time on social media + less social comparison (In progress)

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (both @Orangejulius7), you probably know that I spend a decent chunk of my time using the stuff. But in my defense, it’s what I do by trade, and I enjoy using social media! So, while I haven’t done a stellar job cutting back on time spent on social media, I HAVE cut back on comparing my life to others. I know that we are all on our own path, and everyone’s life looks different – and it may not be actually what we see on social media.

Meditate + show up for yourself (In progress)

I started using the Calm app to guide daily meditations, and although I haven’t meditated every day, I’ve done much more than I expected to! I have also started doing more yoga, and really try to use that time to focus on breathing and spending that hour for myself and my mind.

Don’t try and please everyone – it’s going to be okay (CHECK!)

This is a big one for me, and it gets easier and easier every day. I know that my personality isn’t for everyone, and I truly believe I’ve stood up for myself more this year than I ever have. I’ve learned just how much I can do on my own, and how much I can accomplish, and I can do it in my own way. This will be a forever practice, but I think I’ve nailed it thus far.

What goals did you set for yourself this year? Have you accomplished them yet? What do you need to do in order to cross those goals off your list? We’ve only got a little more than 4 months until the end of the year – how will that list shape up?

Summer Meltdown… to realness.

Pulled out the chambray jumpsuit.

Last night was yet another showcase for my Dance Austin Studio family. This was the Summer Meltdown, Take 2, which was a music video series. It was, of course, different from other showcases Dance Austin has hosted in the past – it was a four-week series followed by a video shoot, instead of a live performance.

The kicker was that no one (except maybe the choreographers) had seen the videos before last night’s premier – I think all of us dancers were a little anxious to see how all of our hard work turned out.

Naturally, all of the videos were awesome! Each of them had a funny twist, and it was cool to see the different personalities come out in each video.

I know that after each dance showcase I perform in, I write up all the feels from the day in what’s become my traditional showcase wrap-up. But, there wasn’t quite that same batch of feelings after last night.

Yes, it was really weird to show up at The North Door and not have to race to the “backstage” area and get ready for tech rehearsal, or find a spot with decent lighting to put on all of my show makeup. Instead, it was a little more leisurely, and there was a black carpet with a step and repeat #fancy

But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have enough emotions swirling around in my mind not to write some sort of something about the state of my life lately.

The truth is that, as I’ve alluded to some in recent weeks, I am struggling pretty hard in the mental health department. I’m chalking it up to grief, and although I’m still not entirely ready to put all of my chips on the table, I’ll offer up what I can thus far.

I’ve experienced loss several times in my life. I lost family members when I was a kid, and when I was in high school, it felt like I went to way too many funerals – those of my peers. It was surreal, and I started to form very small bits of dealing with grief and even just the taste of how short life can be.

In college, though, I suffered a loss that I still cannot talk about without tearing up. He was also my peer, the first person I met when I went to college orientation, we were each other’s dates to Greek functions… I felt a closeness to him unlike any other.

And he was killed while crossing the street.

A good friend told me the news as I was driving, and I pulled off the road to compose myself. I called my dad, and he talked me through it.

Several years later, I had natal reading where a professional looked over the stars during the time of my birth and during the years of my life.

“How does death fit in to your life?” she asked me.

I explained to her that I’d suffered several losses; one particularly difficult. We talked about the photo I have of him and I – framed on my desk at home with a candle beside it. She told me he was my soul mate, and it was likely that we’d met in a previous life, and that he was protecting me from the other side. I could keep his energy alive by lighting the candle and honoring his memory.

But little did I know that even a loss as tough as that one seems like a drop in the bucket compared to losing my dad.

I’ve talked enough on this blog about the relationship my dad and I had to get me in a shit-ton of trouble with most of my family. And even though my dad isn’t around to reprimand me or control the ship, I’ve kept quiet on the home front.

There’s something unsettling about all of it.

As horrible as it sounds, I felt some sort of relief in that my every day, physical life wouldn’t change after my dad died. After all, I hadn’t talked to him in years. We didn’t exchange texts, or cards, nothing.

But it’s been almost six months since his death, and I can tell you that I don’t even remember what it’s like to go a single day without crying; or thinking about it; or feeling guilty.

There have been times I’ve wondered why he had to be the one to go instead of someone else – and then I feel horrible because I know that no one deserves to go through what he did.

So many people have said to me, “Your dad must have been so proud of you.”

And while that’s an incredibly nice thing to say, I don’t know how true it is. My dad was TOUGH. He was quick to tell me all of the things I did wrong, and I can’t recall him ever saying he was proud of me.

At the beginning of this month, I felt so alone, so in the dark about how I was really supposed to get back to how things were – even just inside myself. I feel like I can’t pull myself out of this funk. I realized that my normal cures for bad days weren’t working.

Because this isn’t just a bad day. This isn’t a breakup. This isn’t a fight with a friend.

This is grappling with a major loss. It’s contemplating the meaning of life. Religion. Family.

It’s the realization that hindsight is a cruel bitch.

On the other side of this darkness, though, I’m also experiencing incredible success in my career. Not necessarily in my day job, but in my work as a blogger, editor, and digital strategist. I’ve had work literally fall into my lap almost every single day. I lived in Louisiana for 12 years and barely felt like I’d made a name for myself; been in Texas for less than three and I feel like so many people have reached out for my writing expertise, and I cannot explain how much that means to me. The fruits of my recent labor are allowing me to do things I’ve never thought I could do.

Part of me wonders if my dad is helping me from the other side – but then I feel guilty for even thinking that way. It’s a confusing place to be.

I decided to seek help from a professional (which is a chore in itself). So, I got a referral, and my mom helped me find a few options… and now it’s up to me to make the appointment. I’ve done therapy a few times before (for years), but this time, I’m considering medication.

But with medication comes all sorts of questions and worries. What will it be like? Will it change my personality? Will it make me less creative?

I’m still thinking on it.

In the meantime, I decided to focus on what I was putting into my body and how I was treating it. So, I stopped drinking entirely and am focusing on a plant-based diet. The no-drinking thing is a little more of a chore than I anticipated – I’ve been drinking lots of organic lemonade after realizing that non-alcoholic wine was not really a thing I’m going to do (ha!).

I’m doing more yoga (even if it makes me cry) and trying to get better sleep at night. And I’m still dancing.

Which brings me back to last night’s video premier. Our video shoot was 3.5 hours – beginning at 6:30 am, outside, in the Texas summer sun. And the resulting video was less than three minutes.

It was clever, and looked great, and it was funny to watch. But I couldn’t help but notice that we sure did put allllll of that time into just a few minutes – a highlight reel.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. But it’s a lot like life – you spend your whole life living it, no matter how long or short of a time you’ve got – and perhaps it takes you the entirety to realize one thing, or do that ONE thing.

And it all boils down to that highlight reel.

The same could be said for relationships or weddings or vacations. It’s those few moments that stand out.

Last night, one of my fellow dancers said, “You’ve been doing some road-tripping, right?”

I nodded, and explained to her that ever since my dad died, I am going for it, and I’m doing it without much of a second thought. I’m going to the places I’ve never been, eating new foods, facing my fears, and I’m doing it whether anyone is coming along or not.

I’ve already got two more trips planned this year, and I’m eyeing another one.

I don’t know what you dream of when your mind starts to wander, whether it’s dancing on a stage or being in a music video; maybe it’s seeing a Broadway play or getting published in a magazine.

Whatever it is – DO THAT.

At the end of our time here, you’re going to want certain things in that reel, and the time to accomplish them is now.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in the past six months, it’s that we are often our own blockade. So toss the fears aside. Just go for it.

To my dance family, thank you for providing such a supportive environment for me to even think these things. Some days, I struggle to show up to class. Other days, it’s all I want to do. But you’re there, and I hope I can return that favor to you whenever you need it.

END SCENE.

2018, I see you! #GOALS

Tackling goals with flannel in tow.

This is IT – it’s the last day of 2017, and wow, what a year it has been! I wish I had some sort of epiphany to write here, some sort of something to be able to explain to you why I’ve been a little less open about my life since October, and why I’m still not quite sure what “The Plan” is for this blog.

Right now, my plan is to write when I feel I have something to say, and for the first time in the 10 years of having this blog, that means I’ve got no schedule, no content calendar. It’s time to roll with it. But what I DO have a plan for is 2018. My list of goals for 2017 was quite hefty, and it served me well, so I’ve got an entirely new batch of goals for this year. Here goes:

Raise the Standard. I have always strived to live my best life in the things I do and the goals I set, but I have done a really bad job of evaluating those I choose to put into my life. That ended in 2017. I don’t care if my life has less people in it – I want quality over quantity. I’ve been blown away by the amount of cool people I’ve met since I moved to Austin, but I’ve quickly learned that “cool” or “nice” doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be a part of my life. Only I know what (and who) is best for me, and I’ll do everything I can to protect the life I’ve created for myself.

Get more Involved in the Local ZTA Chapter. A sorority sister in Austin was kind enough to invite me to observe a day of recruitment at the end of the summer, and it was really neat to see! It was refreshing to see so many young women coming together for a cause they feel passionate about and I was inspired by their drive and positivity. I’m not sure what ways I can help this year, but I’m willing to try!

Don’t Wait for Tomorrow. In 2017, my motto was “Just do it”, and it really served me well – it got me to schedule all of my medical appointments, take my first blood test (ugh, I know), book flight tickets, and ride a questionable roller coaster. I don’t regret a BIT of it! In 2018, I’m reminding myself to be present, that I only have today, and tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t wait. Just get it done.

Attend an Estate Sale. I have always enjoyed digging through clearance bins for a great deal, hitting up thrift stores for unique finds, and I love spending hours in Goodwill just browsing through the racks. I’ve never been to an estate sale and I just want to see what it’s all about – and let’s face it, see if there are any good jewels or fantastic art.

Write, just to Write. For a few years, I have had a small fear in the back of my mind: if I’m writing for this blog five times a week, when will I have time to write, just for the sake of writing? And in 2018, I’m taking advantage of my need to be a little less public. I suffered a major blow in 2017 when I realized just how much information I was putting out into the world, and it was providing a peephole into my life for people that don’t deserve to see it. Because of this, I’ve started a journal (an actual paper journal) where I can write exactly what’s on my mind and it’s likely that no one will ever see it. I’m writing just to work on my craft, and that’s for my eyes only.

Treat Yoself. I’ve worked really hard the last two years to pay off debts and put aside money to save and money to travel. And I’m finally at the point where I can treat myself some. Part of this means more travel and life experiences, but part of this is much smaller than that. For years, I’ve had issues with buying nice things and then if I do buy them, I never use them! It could be a nice perfume that I never use because I can’t stop thinking about the cost – it’s silly. I’ve finally started “using up” my nice beauty products on my shelves, or actually wearing the nice shoes in my closet. YOLO!

Take a Road Trip to Marfa, Texas. I’ve been wanting to head to Marfa for a few years now – it’s a small town in West Texas known for its art installations. It’s about a 6-hour road trip, and I’m already dreaming of the tumbleweeds and adorable bed and breakfasts. Let’s hit the road!

Pay off two more Credit Cards. I paid off my first (and with the highest interest) credit card in 2017 and I’m on a roll – I’ll be able to pay off another one before March. I’m not going to lie, I have checked my $0 balance at least five times in a celebration of victory. I’m slowly making my way to living debt-free!

Less Time on Social Media + Less Social Comparison. Social comparison has always been a thing. But damn you, social media, now we’re able to see everything about people we knew, know, and DON’T know at all! Parts of it are cool, but honestly, it’s detrimental, and no offense, but I need to be doing other shit with my life. Social media is literally my 9-5 job, so I’m aware I can’t just quit the stuff. But I can stop mindlessly scrolling and wondering about a random person’s vacation or wardrobe. It’s ridiculous. So I’m putting a time limit on my social media use. I’m not quitting it, but I’m also not going to be sucked into it this year. No, no!

Meditate + Show Up for Yourself. I started going to yoga regularly toward the latter half of 2017 and I’ve slowly been able to work on my breathing, focus, and balance. This year, I want to take it a step further and begin practicing meditation. I want to be a little more present for myself instead of just going through the motions. I’m currently on the hunt for a good app to guide me through meditation – if you have recommendations, please share!

Don’t try to Please Everyone – It’s Going to be Okay. I know I pissed some people off in 2017, and well, that’s never going to change. I cannot please everyone, and frankly, that’s not what I was put on this earth to do. Next? But really, I put a lot of pressure on myself to smooth things over as fast as possible, when sometimes, it just can’t be done. And that’s going to have to be okay.

…And I’ll be livin’ this dream with you. 

-Khalid, American Teen

…So, what goals are you setting for yourself in 2018? I’d love to hear them! Happy New Year everyone!

2017 Goals: A progress report, III.

The end of the year isn’t too far away!

I know everyone is saying it: OMG it’s already August?! That’s right, 2017 is flying by! And another shocker, I feel like I’ve come nowhere on my goals. So, I’m revisiting them today to see if I can’t accomplish something or get back on-track, somehow.

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: The last time I wrote this progress report, I’d purchased a snack for a fellow dancer after class when he was short on cash. Since then, I’ve purchased Starbucks for a few people in line behind me. It’s the simple things, y’all.

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 for ALL of 2017. The last time I looked at these goals, I was struggling to even write these blog posts. But, I’m happy to report that I am, at the very least, getting my grasp BACK on this blog, and am also working to carve out more time to W R I T E – ’cause that’s what writers do, right?

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 still kicking this one’s ass. I’ve flown to two places already this year, and am about to book trip #3. I’m also trying new things, and doing new things, because JUST DO IT. This is the best advice I’ve given myself this year. Taking on this attitude also encouraged me to JUST get a blood test, JUST get my eyes dilated, just do things – all things because YOLO.

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: On a recent trip to Indiana, I got smacked in the face with some weird truth from friends and family. Frankly, I haven’t felt the same since. But, it’s all good. It was time I learned a few lessons, and now? I move on with confidence; ask, believe, and receive!

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: I’m still packing up clothes and books after cleaning out my apartment, and I’m also taking a look at my GIANT stash of beauty products – using up the remaining ones before I buy new. But, I’m also intentional about small, daily things. I get up early and enjoy a slow morning before work; add a few slices of fresh lime to my soda water before I go sit on the porch. It’s small, but it’s those details that make things a little more special.

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: I think I’m doing pretty good on this one. I am back to eating healthy (mostly vegan) foods to reward my body for all of the work it does. I do a face mask almost every night and still treat myself to pedicures, which feels especially great when I hang out at the pool! There’s no harm in rewarding yourself for all the work you do!

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: I live by this hardcore. This guides my daily course, helps me to avoid toxic friendships and loser dudes. I choose my destiny and I know it’s going to be great because that’s the kind of taste I have!

So, I still have a little work to do before the year is up, but I’m feeling pretty good about the way things are rolling. What about you? Or perhaps you’re already looking ahead to 2018 – I know I’m starting to think about possible goals for next year. I’d love to hear yours!

Is my single life… boring?

What is life?!

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve been suffering from extreme fatigue lately. As promised, I spent the weekend, and each night this week really making an effort to get quality sleep in hopes of pinpointing the problem (you can expect a progress report next week).

Part of solving the problem involves taking a solid look at how I spend my time, and if I can devote any extra time to rest. The conclusion thus far? My life is… kind of plain.

I know I sound like Coolio (see: “Gangsta’s Paradise”) right now, but I’m starting to wonder if this is it for me. I’ve been religiously watching this season of “Girls”, and Sunday’s episode involved a laundromat, Hannah’s mom, and a giant bag of weed gummies.

After choking down several of said gummy worms, Hannah’s mom is trying to set the record straight on her future: “I’m alone. This is it. For the rest of my life.”

I swear everything but that line was ringing in my ear for the next hour – hell, I’m still thinking about it. Because this is the most single I have ever felt.

Ever since I can recall, I’ve had some sort of guy in my life – even if only in “crush” form. And it’s been a long time since even that has happened.

My new job has come with several opportunities to travel, which means I’ve had lots of time to bond with my coworkers. “Holly, why don’t you date??” They ask. “You’re cute!”

As flattering as it is, that’s part of the problem. A majority of the men I’ve dated haven’t seen beyond that – and it’s resulted in a lot of relationships that aren’t trusting or healthy. It’s left me so cold, that at times, I don’t even want a male waiter.

Monday morning, a guy called me. I was washing dishes and missed the call by accident; but when I saw it on my phone, I thought certainly it was a mistake. I hadn’t talked to a guy on the phone in six months (yes, six months), and I didn’t even know if I’d have anything interesting to say. After all, I was cleaning my kitchen at 7 am on a Monday morning.

I took a leisurely drive across town Sunday morning and I got to thinking about dating. Most of the people I know who are my age are married, many of them have been married for years, and have children. I look at their lives from afar and sometimes it seems as if they’ve lived entire lifetimes while mine is just strolling along, very similar to how it was three or five or even ten years ago.

Maybe once you hit a certain point in life, you just end up single, I thought. Because the thing is, I don’t ever put myself in situations to meet a suitor. I’m very aware of this, partially because I don’t think I’m ready to date, and partially because my hobbies: dancing, reading, blogging, and cooking aren’t really conducive to meeting straight men.

Every week, I go to work, the dance studio, the library, and the grocery – give or take the laundromat, and that’s pretty much my life. And I have a feeling I’m not alone in that routine (or rut, you make the call); we’re not in college anymore, not really hitting the night scene, or not putting ourselves in new social situations on a regular basis.

Obviously, I never planned on being single at this point in my life. I honestly thought I was going to be married before I was 25. I’ll be 32 in July. However, I have always believed that my life can be fulfilling even if I don’t have a partner.

But what exactly will that life look life? You know when you first start a relationship and everything is so exciting and nearly perfect? I definitely miss that feeling.

The sad part is, much of the excitement I’ve experienced in the latter part of a relationship is the fear of losing it entirely. The last relationship I had was turbulent, I hardly slept, and it thrived on abuse of the alcohol, sexual, and verbal variety.

I’ve never really known what a real, healthy relationship looks or feels like, which leaves me to often associate dating with a sense of weakness within myself. That if I even have the desire to date, then I must be feeling weak, as if I’m not enough on my own.

Somehow, I survived watching every minute of Nick’s season on “The Bachelor”, and in the finale episode on Monday, Vanessa had a heartfelt conversation with Nick’s father. She asked him if love was enough to make a marriage last, and he told her no. That outside of love, it takes sacrifice, compromise, and the realization that you will no longer come first.

I am certain that show is scripted, but DAMN. #TruthBomb

Maybe that’s it – maybe I’m just not willing to put anyone else first just yet. But I have always imagined being in a relationship where I get to do things for my partner; even if it’s just the little things like bringing him coffee or baking his favorite dessert.

Sure, I’ve done those things. But they went unnoticed and I was often taken advantage of.

There are days I feel really strong and proud of myself for building a life where I’m generally happy, and I’m making things work. But I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t very, very cognizant of that fact that I slip into bed each night alone; with no one beside me, no one on the phone, and often, no one on my mind.

There is no path, or standard, for how a single person lives a fulfilling life – because everyone is just waiting for your “Save the Date” card to arrive. I suppose this is a path I’m going to have to make, on my own, of course, and I’m probably going to have to stop for naps along the way given the current state of things.

Don’t worry, I’ll make my own coffee.

Life: Is this where you thought you’d be?

Time flies...

Time flies…

I mentioned on Monday (in my review of “What Alice Forgot“) that I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. I was thinking about it before I read the book, although I’m not entirely sure what brought it on – it very well may be the fact that my 31st birthday less than one month away, or it could be that I just have this feeling that time is going by so, so fast.

And I don’t say that in the whole… conversational way of saying, “omigosh I’m just soooo busy, time flies!” It’s more as if, the days just go by soooo fast. One day it’s Monday, and before I can even realize it, it’s Friday. And then, Monday again, and the next thing I know, it’s 9 months later, and my lease is up, and my one-year review at my job is coming, and here I’ve lived in an entirely new place for legit almost a YEAR, and I still get excited when I don’t have to ask Siri for navigational assistance.

Like, what the hell is that about?

I know part of this whole time thing is Facebook, and I’m also fully aware that I blame Facebook for most of the world’s social problems, including but not limited to, cyber bullying, interpersonal communication skills, dating and relationships, and self-esteem. I sort of hate Mark Zuckerberg, and I kind of like hating him.

But anyway, I think Facebook is what’s brought to my attention just how fast time is passing by, and it’s made it hard and clear, that I’m getting older by the hour.

Many of you, my readers, have connected with me on Facebook, and I’m very thankful for that. But because of our online connection, I’ve literally been able to watch your lives from afar. I’ve seen you graduate from college, get engaged, married, have children, perhaps gone through divorce or relationship turmoil, and now, your children are not babies anymore, they’re actual humans who look like you and speak the same language we speak.

And me? I’m still sitting behind a laptop (the same exact one I was nine years ago), writing about the same things (my hatred of all men aside from John Mayer), and posting pictures of my cat anywhere I can. And I just have to wonder, is this where we’d all be if we’d asked ourselves ten years ago?

You know when you go on an interview, they’re likely to ask you where you see yourself in five to ten years. I’d venture to guess that 90% of the answers to that question are complete bullshit, because most people don’t have a fucking clue. Sure, we’ve all got hopes and dreams – where we’d like to see ourselves in five or ten years.

Ten years ago, I was going into my senior year at LSU. I had to take summer classes in order to graduate in a decent amount of time. So, I took classes from 7-12 each day, I had a two hour break to eat lunch, study, and crank out any writing (I was a news stringer for the university paper). Then, at 2 pm, I had a shift at the mall,  at Abercrombie. My shift was 2-10, Monday through Friday, and that’s what I did every day. On the weekends, I studied.

If you would have told me that in ten years, I would have changed careers, working an entry-level job with a bunch of 23-year-olds way smarter than me, I would have dropped dead. I would have never believed that I’d moved to Austin, a place that ten years ago, I’d been to twice: once for SXSW, and once to meet up with a guy I had a crush on.

I also would be saddened to hear that ten years later, I’m still not at that point where I feel like I’ve got it together. While I am lucky enough to have a salary and benefits,  I’m not financially organized. My apartment is rarely clean, and I spend every other Friday night at the laundromat. I’m single, and have grown quite fond of doing most things alone. I’m not well-traveled; instead, I teach night classes at the University of Texas.

Honestly, what on earth led to this life? It’s not a bad one, I’m not saying that; it’s just not the one I thought of, or planned for – I kind of feel like things just fell this way. And I wonder that about all of you – the ones I’ve seen over the years. Is this the life you created? The one you’ve dreamt of? Planned for?

My current job is tough – the toughest job I’ve had yet, and I think it’s also a big reason I’ve been thinking about time. I do more work in a week now than I think I did in a month at my previous job. It’s more high-pressure, very fast-paced, and I think it’s part of the reason why the weeks fly by as fast as they do.

The nature of my life right now makes me think a lot about who I am. Am I cut out for this environment? Was I meant for this job? Am I meant to be involved in something more creative? Given that most things in my life haven’t changed over the last decade: my relationship status, my checkbook,  passport, available free time, etc., I kind of wonder if I’m living in the past.

Should I have given up this blog when it proved to not be a smashing success? Should I have stopped writing books when none of them sold? Should I stop pitching publications when I’ve yet to get a piece accepted? Should I stop taking dance classes when even the beginning ones leave me breathless and sore?

I mean, of course not. I am still very much navigating this life. It’s certainly not where I thought I would be – but I mean that in both good ways and bad. I know I was led to Austin for a reason; even if I’ve yet to discover it. And I know there’s a reason I’m still hunkered behind this ancient laptop (my last visit to the Genius Bar claimed it’s “vintage”), clacking away on a blog that, to a data analyst, would be worth nothing.

Tonight, I’m teaching my last blog class of the summer semester at UT. It was my first semester teaching in Austin, and I was refreshed to find my students were very eager to tackle the blogosphere. Last week, one of my students raised her hand and asked me the truth about being successful in blogging.

“It takes someone really extraordinary to make it,” she said.

I suppose, in several cases, that could be said about most hobbies and professions. But just like there are hundreds of thousands of food bloggers and mommy bloggers – there’s hundreds and thousands of doctors and authors.

The difference, I told her, is you. No one has the same outlook on this world as you. You have something that no one else has. As cliche as it sounds; that’s what it is. It meaning drive, passion, opinions, style, ability; whatever makes you the cream of the crop – that’s what determines your next ten years; your next twenty.

So, what is it? I’d love to hear from you about where you were ten years ago, where you hope to be in the next ten; twenty, and perhaps what you’re doing to get there. Let’s do it, and by it, I mean… something extraordinary.

PS. UT has already asked me to return for the fall semester. Cheers to the future!