Howdy! I’m sitting in my bed (my usual blogging spot), I’ve had two glasses of wine, and I’ve got a mud mask on… and it’s about time I just wrote something.
You may recall that last week, I finished up another semester of teaching Blogging for Beginners at UT – and while it’s a time-consuming additional to my full-time gig, it never fails to teach me SO much about the craft of writing (and blogging).
I have realized lately that my life is so full of words and content – perhaps more full than it has ever been. I’m creating content 40+ hours a week for my job. I have to fill Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and a blog, with fresh content all week – and sometimes every single day (I post around 12 tweets a day for work).
I also have this blog, plus I read, and watch TV, aaaand I’ve been doing freelance editing sometimes on the weekend. That = a TON of words! Which, is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but I realized I haven’t had a chance to get away from the noise to actually think for myself.
One thing creatives can do to keep their juices flowing is to make time for activities that don’t involve words; such as listening to music (without words), taking nature walks, or simply relaxing in the tub without distractions. It’s times like these when our brain actually gets to wander to the places it wants to go – it’s why we often come up with great ideas in the shower or during the night.
But I’ve been a bad creative and haven’t made time for activities like these. Currently, I have no blog strategy, have barely Tweeted on my personal account in weeks, and well, my SnapChat game? It’s suffering.
Truth be told, I worry that I’m coming down with content-overload. Did I turn a fun hobby into something I can only see as WORK by taking a job in social media? It’s certainly possible.
It’s easy for me to say that 2017 has already just been full of surprises! I kicked off the year with a new career, but also with a newfound fatigue – actual physical exhaustion. While I am awaiting confirmation that it’s nothing physical, I have always been able to rely on my creative mind.
But now… now what? I am still trying to get my butt to bed at a decent hour so I’m not dragging the following day, and I’ve found myself without many ideas to jot into my little notebook – I feel… I feel boring!
Pair that with a picture of me in bed on a heating pad this weekend after three hours of dance, and it may start to click: maybe this is just 32? My birthday is in a month, after all.
I know, I know, this probably all sounds so dramatic. But the feeling is real.
And so, I’m not sure how many writers how there read this, but if so, I’d love to know what you do when you’ve reached true writer’s block? Is there an activity or routine that brings light into your mind? I’d love to hear about it!
I know this is a feeling that will pass – I probably just need to take a good walk, or throw myself into an experience that brings out my inner thoughts. It’ll come – but until then, stick with my posts about TV shows, books, and food.
Hey, it’s all part of the journey.
Many years ago, there was a great blog called 2 Birds, 1 Blog, and one of the writers, Meg, used to do “State of The Meg” every so often to write about all the random things happening in her life. It was sort of like the Presidential State of the Union, only obviously way more informative. If you’re looking for a good laugh, go back and read the blog in its entirety. There hasn’t been a post in years, but you’ll laugh your ass off, and given the way 2016 has happened, my guess is you could use a good laugh.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately (perhaps moreso than usual), and with no real plan on how to address it, I’m doing what all writers do and stealing Meg’s format. But it’s a tribute, because she is fantastic.
So anyway, I briefly mentioned that over Thanksgiving, I had a mild anxiety attack. This is not totally out-of-the-ordinary for me, but it’s been awhile since I had one. Although there are tons of things that can cause anxiety, I know I’ve been feeling stressed over a mix of things including (but not limited to) money, my job, my health, the holidays, and my car.
Well, I am really happy to say that I FINALLY got my damn Jeep fixed. After visiting four dealerships, and being on waiting lists since September, I found a place 20 miles away that fixed my car in less than two days, provided me with a rental car, and honored my Jeep warranty. Luck was definitely on my side, and I’m feeling much better now that the ordeal is over. Seriously, why do things like that have to be SO difficult?
There’s also been something else on my mind, and I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but who’s reading this, anyway?
In the spring, I wrote a 6-part series about a…well, I’d say relationship, but I suppose fling is the more appropriate term for what it was. Anyway, the whole thing is still just really bothering me.
The blog series really pissed this guy off, even though I still don’t understand why. I really don’t. They didn’t say anything bad about him; but I suppose he was embarrassed to have people find out that we hooked up (even though I did change his name, and others involved).
He begged for me to remove the posts, and/or stop posting them, and had a friend threaten to sue me over it. I never wrote the posts to hurt anyone, but I also couldn’t agree with him bullying me into removing them – so I never did.
And you know what? His life went on, and he is okay, and he still has a job, and owns a new house, and is probably happily in a new relationship.
In my brain, I know I didn’t do anything wrong. But everywhere else… I feel pretty messed up over the entire thing. I still feel really betrayed by what he did to me prior to me even writing the posts, and then he’d told me that if I stopped publishing the posts, we could go on being friends.
Since I didn’t do what he asked, he’s cut me out entirely. I tried reaching out to him months ago; I wasn’t ready to apologize, and I still am not sure if that’s really in my heart. But, we’d been friends for like, half our lives. Is this really the end of that?
Obviously, he ignored my call and later blocked my messages, and has blocked me on all social media. Even his friends told me he probably will never talk to me, ever.
Sure, I’ve cut people out before… but it was like… when they wanted to kill me. Is what I did really worth that type of punishment? I don’t know.
And that’s the fucked up part. It’s like, I really feel like I just nailed myself onto Karma’s bad side by blogging about what happened between us. Even though it really is what happened between us, and that’s what this blog is: my life, unedited (for the most part). I’ll be even more honest here; there were some things I purposefully left out of the blog posts because I knew they would be hurtful, and I wasn’t trying to do that.
Some days, I really wish he would reach out to me and we could just resolve this and say, hey we could all use someone to lean on and let’s just call it even and wish each other the best. But other days, I know I was just standing up for myself and sharing an experience that happened to me, and he just happened to read it, so fuck it.
But this whole feeling of “fuck it” – I’mma do me… it’s only empowering for a few seconds, because I feel like a person that spends their life saying “Do you” or “I’ll just do me”, ends up in a deserted cabin, alone in the mountains eating canned soup a la the “Dexter” series finale.
Amirite? Like obviously we can’t all just do ourselves or we’d be a globe full of loners.
And hey, part of this mass of thoughts about this situation are because it’s the holidays, and last year around the holidays, we were actually talking and spent New Year’s Eve together. So, please send cases of booze to Austin, Texas in preparation for this NYE party of 1, because I’ll be fucking miserable.
I know, I KNOW you’re saying, but Holly, just get with someone else! And sure, there are days I think of that, too. Like okay, it’s time to stop this whole bitter gig and give a little. But then I hear stories from my girlfriends about dates they’ve been on – stories of bird carcasses hidden in kitchen drawers, “hang outs” instead of actual dates, and hour-late arrivals.
And then I cut myself another slice of chocolate pie, loosen my drawstring pants, and say, “Fuck it, I’mma do ME”. Because, no.
But the truth on that matter is, I am not mentally equipped to move from guy to guy. I have done that, and it ended very poorly for me. It’s taken me years to learn that I have to give myself time, no matter how long the fling or how serious, I need time.
If I don’t allow myself time, I’ll pick a guy out of needs that aren’t fit and I’ll end up more hurt than I am now. And that’s not a place I want to be.
On the good side of things, obviously I have a future in placing my head on other people’s body in photographs, so I can probably make a career change in 2017.
Several months ago, I heard this little tidbit on a podcast about the “As If” principle. The As If Principle started with philosopher William James and his theory on actions vs. feelings.
James believed that instead of our actions resulting in feelings, our feelings resulted in actions. This lead him to his conclusion: if you want quality, act as if you have quality.
Apply to all that matters, right? This really got me thinking (as most things do), and I’m not the only one. Psychologist Richard Wiseman took his thoughts to the next level and wrote a book on the subject, showing others how we can apply this principle to our daily lives in ways that actually work.
The book, “The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life“, talks about applying this principle to your life in even the small ways, such as:
- Smile to become measurably happier
- Wash your hands to drive away guilt
- Clench your fist to increase your willpower
- Eat with your nondominant hand to lose weight
- Nod while speaking to become more persuasive
- Act like a newlywed to rekindle your marriage
I’m skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard versions of this principle before, and in some instances, I do think it works. I think a big part of life is your mindset, and I know times when I’ve been frustrated at work I can just think of other things or tell myself that it’s okay, and it reduces my immediate stress level.
But it didn’t really solve any long-term problems. Eat with your nondominant hand to lose weight? Never heard that one, but I really suck at using my left hand for anything, so I would probably drop every single thing I tried to eat and would actually starve.
An article in “The Guardian” explores this idea – that thinking changes the situation – further, with examples from previous studies:
In one study led by Lien Pham at the University of California, students were asked to spend a few moments each day visualising themselves getting a high grade in an upcoming exam. Even though the daydreaming exercise only lasted a few minutes, it caused the students to study less and obtain lower marks. In another experiment led by Gabriele Oettingen from New York University, graduates were asked to note down how often they fantasised about getting their dream job after leaving college. The students who reported that they frequently fantasised about such success received fewer job offers and ended up with significantly smaller salaries.
On the other hand, there were many studies conducted surrounding feelings of confidence, strength, sadness, and happiness, where groups were asked to force smiles or frowns, or sit with great posture vs. slouching. Groups often tested feeling the same way they’d forced themselves to look.
I’m definitely not discounting this theory. Several years ago, I completed a “30 Day Breakup Guide”, and one of the days required me to wear something pink. Even though it seemed like a really simple task, I realized I never wore much pink, and wearing the one pink shirt in my closet helped me feel more feminine and bold that day. Ever since, if there’s a day I’m feeling particularly low and just want to wear black or my sweats, I’ll force myself to wear something cute in hopes it will life my spirits.
So, what do you all think about the As If Principle? Is it something you’ve already implemented? What methods work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
It began with tears on the drive home. “It” meaning the realization that I was, indeed, losing my shit – the meltdown itself probably started two years ago.
But, there I was, uncontrollably crying on my drive home from work Wednesday night; attempting to hide behind a pair of aviators I’d purchased months before at the Dollar Tree. I don’t enjoy wearing sunglasses, but I also don’t like thinking about perfect strangers staring at me ugly-girl crying in 5:30 traffic.
As the tears fell, I was thinking about the stories I’d heard on the news – that someone was throwing rocks at vehicles on I-35, and perhaps one of these drives would lead me to my ultimate “Final Destination”-type of end, with a rock shattering the only thing in front of my face.
Yes, I had just had a pretty shitty day, but of course, it wasn’t just about that. Because it never is. Before making it home, I had to stop by Walgreen’s to refill my prescription for birth control. And every time I go to pick up said birth control, I remember that it’s pretty pointless to keep refilling it, when it’s been a solid seven months since I’ve even talked to a human with a penis.
I’d venture to say this meltdown probably started when I unexpectedly lost my job in late-2014. What followed that event was a series of mini-meltdowns, because let’s face facts: my life was shit. I was working my ass off, and still had no clue how my bills would be paid, how I would eat, and not get evicted.
I was going on job interview after job interview, and if that doesn’t test your confidence, I don’t know what does. After eight months of that, I was offered a job, and moved seven hours away to accept said job. I was flooded with a mix of emotions – this was cool! Exciting! A fresh start!
But now, today, nine months after that, I’m here, and my emotions have packed their shit, and moved to Mexico. And not Puerta Vallarta, either. They’ve migrated to the bowels of the boot where there are illegal drugs and warm tequila.
Moving to a new place has proved itself to be tougher than I expected. I’ll admit it, I haven’t really made any friends. And that’s embarrassing. It’s difficult, as an adult, to get out there – even just for friendship’s sake. Sure, I have made a few acquaintances in my dance classes, but that’s about it. And I’ll accept fault where it’s due; I’m probably not the most social of people, and that bad habit of mine is only getting worse as I travel deeper into the comforts of introversion.
Also, nine months in, my finances are still incredibly fucked up. I saw this opportunity as a chance to clear the slate, and actually STOP working on nights and weekends – I was no longer going to be so financially strapped. But, I soon figured out that even my new salary was not enough to survive in Austin, let alone make a dent in my credit card debt from the prior year.
So, a few months ago, I made a spreadsheet, and a budget, and I got back to hunting for side jobs. Sometimes, I’ve been lucky, and have gotten a few well-paying ones, and I’ve at least been able to start paying things back. And then it came time to file my 2015 taxes.
I quickly calculated that in 2015, I made around $20K the entire year – the least I’ve made in my entire adult life. Sitting here, right now, I cannot tell you how the fuck I ate last year.
But having a low income does not skirt me from having to pay taxes. In fact, I owe more taxes on that money than I have ever owed: $2,100. I couldn’t pay it all in April, so I sent what I could: a check for $300 and an application for a payment plan, offering to pay $300 each month until it was completely paid off.
And two weeks ago, the IRS responded, denying my request for payments. I owe the remaining $1,800 on July 4. In the two weeks that I made my promise to pay $300/month, I’d also lost two regular-paying freelance gigs, both of them together paying me $400/month. So, on top of being denied a monthly plan, I was also short on my budget – my budget for regular bills, gas, and food.
Money stress is the worst for me, I know it’s bad for everyone, but it just kills my buzz. I took a hard look at my finances, and found a few things to cut out: I cancelled three of my monthly subscription services, vowed to stop shopping online, and would no longer treat myself to my weekly burger and fries at P.Terry’s. I questioned cutting out my Tuesday night hazelnut latte ($4.28), but have yet to opt out.
I also decided to drag out my box fan, clean it, and go easy on the air conditioning. I know it sounds insane, but this is my attempt to do anything, when I felt completely hopeless. I have been cooking all of my meals at home, and made all of the portions extra small, to stretch every possible dollar.
I also kept applying for freelance jobs; searched online for publications that may be willing to pay me for my writing; entered a few writing contests that had prize money; and toyed with the idea of selling Melaleuca memberships.
I had originally planned to travel to Indiana in a few weeks to see my friends, and to go to a Dave Matthews’ concert. It’s a trip I’ve been dreaming about for almost a year. But the flight prices were a minumum of $500 – money that I know should go to my taxes. So, no trip.
And honestly, I know this is a first-world problem. Boo-hoo, I can’t take a vacation! It’s not about that; it’s about the fact that I’ve had about zero communication with anyone in-person since I moved here, and I don’t like my job, and I want to see my friends, and my birthday is Saturday and I’m going to spend it with my cat, and even at 31 years old, I still can’t fucking afford to do things I want to do because I am an entry-level data monkey with no end-game!
It’s fucking embarrassing to admit when you can’t afford things. I feel like everyone my age, or even 5-10 years under my age, is living it up, going on exotic vacations, when my passport is coffee-stained and about to expire.
So, after I came to this sad realization about the trip, I was still sitting at my desk at work on Wednesday, attempting not to cry. When I relayed the message to my mom, she told me to throw myself a pity party.
In truth, I do not want anyone’s pity. I don’t want anyone’s money (unless I’m doing fair work to earn it). I was merely looking for an OUNCE of compassion. A recognition that despite the fact that it’s been almost two years since I lost my job, I’m still – STILL – cleaning up the mess from it. I’m still budgeting my income down to the last dime, and hoping to God that when I open my mailbox, there is not an unexpected bill waiting for me.
Yes, I am still working nights and weekends, and still hoping that maybe one day I won’t have to; maybe one day I’ll make money from this blog, or not feel guilty when I take a long, hot shower, or maybe ONE day, I won’t have to use a calculator at the grocery store for fear of overdrawing my bank account on organic eggs.
As I drove home from Walgreen’s that night, I saw a plane flying over Metric Blvd. It was leaving the Austin airport, and I wished I was on it, no matter where the fuck it was going.
I had skipped dance class, despite knowing damn-well that it’s one of the only things in my life right now that brings me a little happiness. Instead, I did exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do in times like these. I went home, cried to my cat, got my quilt, and watched hours of TV in the pitch black.
I wokeup in the middle of the night when my apartment lost power. I wondered if I’d remembered to pay my bill. Yes, yes I did. I used my phone to make my way to the patio to find that there were no lights for miles. It was dead silent, and hot as hell. I secretly hoped the power would come back on soon, if only to make sure the food in my fridge didn’t go bad – I can’t afford to refill it.
On Thursday, this blog became a warzone with comments. Note to self: don’t talk shit about Beyonce. Queen crap aside, the commenters made sure to let me know that I am a nobody; I haven’t been in a relationship in forever; I’ve never been married; I am in fake relationships with celebrities via SnapChat; I am not self-aware; I’m not good at arguing; I overreact; my blog is full of my dirty laundry; I’m not consistent – blah, blah, blah.
And what the fuck do you want? Do you think I don’t KNOW that I’ve never been married? You think I don’t fucking know that I haven’t been in a relationship in a very long time? That I don’t find myself goddamn pathetic for dreaming about dating celebrities?
How many times have I had to remind myself that this blog is not meant for you? It is a place for me. It is a place for me to document my life, and if you don’t like it, then stop fucking reading it. Do not act like I benefit in any way from trolls reading my words, and then leaving comments cutting me down. That’s the kind of shit that makes me want to drive into the ocean.
Maybe I’m not self-aware, maybe this blog is full of shit, maybe I do suck at arguing – and you know what? Maybe I am a terrible person that doesn’t deserve shit in this life. And if you knew a thing about me, you’d know that I take things hard. That I’ve been in therapy. That I only have two friends I talk to on a regular basis. That I haven’t talked to my father in years. That I’ve had an abortion. That I live with guilt and shame, daily. That I fucking know, that I will probably never be in a relationship. That marriage is not going to happen for me. That I struggle with things most people find easy.
Yes, I know that the last person I slept with was so utterly embarrassed that we hooked up, he had to lie about it to save face. And yes, I know, that not a single fucking man I have ever slept with will ever talk to me again. Because I’m insane, chubby, and insecure, or all of the above.
I know, that every day, I put on an act, and pretend not to hate every thing that happens to me; not to despise every moment I live in. I have to listen to podcasts for eight hours each work day to avoid reality; dance each night to pretend that maybe I can shake out my sadness; blog what’s on my mind so that I don’t slap graffitti all over my apartment complex.
But thanks, thanks for pointing it out; thanks for reminding me that I am alone. And it kills me a little inside to know that a bully, a troll, has someone to go home to. I hope you consider yourself really lucky. In fact, anyone that has a partner, a group of friends, or even just insurance that covers therapy and a prescription for Xanax – you’re really lucky. #goals.
And I know this all sounds nuts, but mid-meltdown, I don’t really give a shit.
I don’t know what’s next for me; and I don’t really know how to properly handle my feelings at the moment. I assume there will be some sort of light at the end of this. But for now, I’m just going to play this on repeat and hope some inkling of positivity gets into my pores.
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Friday evening marked the start of spring and after this winter, I know a lot of people across the country have been celebrating the coming of warmer weather.
As I mentioned yesterday, spring-ish weather in Louisiana doesn’t last long. But it’s the mark of a fantastic season that means baseball, crawfish, and all kinds of festivals. It’s a fantastic time to be here!
Over the weekend, I joined my friends for the annual Zapp’s Beerfest, perhaps one of my favorite events of the year — 2.5 hours of unlimited drinking and all-you-can-eat Zapp’s chips. Not to mention the abundance of delicious home-brews (I had a banana split porter that was delicious).
It was a cool, overcast day, complete with a shower, but not to worry because I was stomping the grounds with my new rubber boots (pictured above). It’s amazing that I’ve lived in the South for more than ten years and just now got some boots worthy of puddle-stompin’. They kept my feet nice and dry.
I’ve mentioned before how I’m more likely to set goals for myself around my birthday (in July) than I am around the start of a new calendar year. This year, I’m feeling pretty excited about spring. It’s a season of renewal and fresh, new ideas.
With each day, I’m moving closer and closer to making my own business a reality. I’m getting new clients, drafting business proposals and plans, having meetings, listening to podcasts, doing research… It’s a lot of work, but it feels right.
There’s a lot (a TON) of learning in this process, and it’s not always easy. I had a meeting a few weeks ago with a fellow creative and he was telling me about how vulnerable we all are — every time we craft something and send it, we are being judged. Most of the time, I don’t think of it in that way, but there’s definitely some truth to it.
If you’re following me on Twitter, you definitely know that last week, I spent almost four days Tweeting my first book, “How I Fell: Love, Lies & Cocktails,” 140 characters at a time. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it all the way through in that I had no idea it would take me so long.
I spent a majority of the week staying up, typing. Not only was I lacking sleep (and living off beer and takeout), reading and remembering about such a terrible part in my life was emotionally draining. So, why did I do it?
I never want to put myself into a box. I don’t want to strap myself into a 9-5 schedule. I don’t want to lose that creative edge. Some of the most successful things that have been done, were successful the first time they were done. I want to use all of the tools I have — my brain, my computer, and free marketing services like Twitter, to get my ideas out there.
The consequences? I thought a few people would be annoyed and unfollow me on Twitter, but instead, I gained quite a few followers (score!). But, I also got a text message from someone I’ve known for 11 years. He told me my Tweets were scary. He said my behavior was scaring him and it would be best if we never talked again.
I’ll elaborate more on this and who told me this in a later blog post, but the gist of it is: I may not always been understood. And some of the most successful people aren’t understood. As a writer, most of my work is done alone. I spend a lot of time at my desk, and a lot of my work is introspective.
As sad as I was to lose this “friend,” I know that I can only afford to surround myself with people who support me. That does not mean they agree with everything I say or do. It means they won’t drop off the face of the earth when I think of something out-of-the-box.
In the last month, I’ve spent a lot time wondering if this life, this career will stand in the way of me ever finding love. But, instead of worrying about it, I’m just going to roll with it. I can’t change my brain to please the world.
And so, cheers to spring — bring on the new beginnings. I sure could use some fresh ideas (and flowers) ’round these parts!