Monday, February 27, 2012

job requirements, magical universe shenanigans, and how I'm probably turning into Phoebe Buffay


I don't eat my hair or sing songs about malodorous cats, but the older I get, the more I identify with Phoebe Buffay (from Friends? Come on, guys). That is to say that now more than ever, I have a strong belief in putting things out there in the universe. It's more than what you give is what you get (though that's a good start). Instead I've started to notice the value of picturing what you want and making it come to life by just believing that it will.

An example: When the boyfriend and I were looking for a place to live here in DC, I immediately fell in love with the third one I saw: A reasonably priced basement apartment with a backyard, great indoor lighting, and a lot of space. He was afraid we wouldn't get it, but I was so sick of looking at apartments and wanted this one so badly that I just decided it was already ours and I stuck to that story, even when it wasn't looking to be the truth.

Spoiler alert: We live in that apartment now.

When people would ask me, "Oh, are you looking at more places?" I would say we weren't because I "knew" we were moving into this one. I had no effing way of knowing that, but I was trying to put it out there in the universe and see if it worked out.

I'm not trying to say I have magical powers (though that would be cool). It's more that once I decided that this was the apartment, I started treating everything like that. I talked with the landlords like we were already friends, establishing a good rapport with them. Other apartments I saw? I told them that I'd seen a better one that I'd probably move into, and would only consider others if they could give me a better price.

And I think that whenever you really want something, that's an important step to take. You're not just going to be handed whatever you want because you want it. I think we've all learned that by now. But really making decisions about what we want (as opposed to "yeah...I guess I want that..." thoughts) are the first step in a good action plan. Decide you want it. Picture it clearly. Tell other people you want it. All that will help you get to the last step: Make it happen. Talking about it helps you figure out what you need to do next to make it happen. And then all that's left is to do and to have.

I talked the talk, and now I walk the walk. Or, you know, something slightly less gangster sounding. And now that I have the apartment and I'm settled in, I'm talking other talks.

One is that I'm a wedding, portrait, and travel photographer. I mean, I am; I have a photography website, now I sell prints from photos I've taken around the world, and I've taken photos of people for their engagements, for their senior portraits, etc. But I haven't done a wedding *yet.* But I will soon, and I know that because I know it, just like I knew with the apartment. A bride will hire me, soon. And soon, I'll start making enough money through photography to quit my day jobs.

Until that day? I'm going to quickly find a job that can replace my current part time job (which I'll talk about in a whole other post). It will be a job that gives me some flexibility with my hours, and that will incorporate my natural creative talents. It may not be THE BEST JOB EVER, but I won't go home crying or feeling dejected most days I work. I will like the people I work with, and I will feel at least a little useful.

Are you listening, Universe? As Phoebe said, I'm putting good vibes out right now. You do your half, I'll do mine.

What are you guys asking for from the universe? Tell me about it in the comments and we can all put out good vibes for each other, and take that next step toward making it happen. *cue acoustic guitar*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oh hey, it's almost March. That's cool.

Holy wow, guys - its almost March! And true to my list of goals for February, I've decided to offer up sponsors spots here at Simply, Valorie for the month of March. I really believe that putting up a few ads out here in the blogosphere can dramatically up your readership and your subscribers; I believe that because it has absolutely happened to me. My views per day has skyrocketed in the last few months since I started putting up a few ads, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

In the spirit of transparency: The money I make doing this will go directly into me advertising on other blogs (ads for both Simply, Valorie and Valorie Clark Photography). I think everyone likes to know where their money is going right?

So here's what I've got going on:

Sponsor spotlight posts will go up on the 15th of the month (or the Monday directly following). And your ads totally don't have to be pink to go up (but if they are, props). 

Sound like something you'd be interested in? Sweet.  Get in touch with me here: valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com.

Also? I'm always available for guest posting and writing reviews! Just email me if you're interested.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Valentine's heart shaped cakes, invincible summers, and how much of a bitch our internal voice can be


Back in 2010, I talked a lot about the Darkness. I went through a pretty rough time back then, and even though I did again this past fall, I didn't want to talk about it as much to my friends, to my family, and to you guys.  That was a bad decision. I should have opened up. I should have made it clear how much I was hurting. I should have asked for help.

There was one person I turned to. In September, I started seeing a therapist. It was hard, because my family had always seemed like a strictly don't-need-outside-help family. But by turning to a complete stranger, I discovered something I probably never would have found out otherwise: I was not the first person in my family to see a therapist, and I won't be the last.

But those stories aren't mine to tell.

It was such a relief to know I had my family's support behind me though, because what I learned next made me realize that I needed, and still need, all the support available to me.

As my therapist got to know me, he sent me to a psychiatrist. He dropped hints for why, but it wasn't until the psychiatrist said "Do you know what Bi-Polar Disorder is?" that I realized I was being diagnosed with something significant and long-lasting.

I didn't tell anyone what they told me immediately. I needed to digest it on my own; I didn't want anyone else's opinions influencing what I thought. A couple weeks later, I started reaching out to people, but abruptly stopped again. I was told, by a well-meaning individual, to stop sharing. That this disorder was something no one else should know about me, because it would change what they thought of me.

Well, to hell with anyone who's opinion has changed. Because, frankly, this is who I've been for a long time; longer than most people have known me.

I will be honest: learning that I have Bi-Polar scared the hell out of me at first.  BUT when I thought about it, I realized it explained so much:
  • The writing sprints I went on during  high school where I didn't sleep for nights in a row but instead stayed up writing then went to school the next day, not tired at all.
  •  The crushing weeks at a time when I didn't want to have friends anymore and only went out because I felt obligated.
  • In college, my total inability to get out of bed for anything for weeks, followed by weeks when I would not only go to class but would participate, would do all my work for the whole semester, and still find time for friends.
  • My weird habit of making tons of friends and keeping up with all of them for a while, followed by pushing them all away and cutting them out by any means possible.

So, I'm not really any different now, except that I know what's going on, and I know why. Though BPD is scary (and anyone who has it knows why), it's such a relief for me to know, because now I feel like I can handle it.

In late September, I hit a low point. I came out of it by late November/early December but I knew that it would come back for me soon because of the stress of moving. I hit an up cycle in early January, and it lasted until the crushing frustration of not having a real place to live and feeling a little unwelcome in DC. After weeks of seeing ALL THE APARTMENTS, there were several days when all I had the energy to do was sit on my friend's couch, watching reruns of Bones, and eating Valentine's heart shaped cakes.

Now that I have a place to live and a little furniture to sit on, I'm doing a little better. I'm still a little lower than normal, mood-wise, but I can make myself get out of bed, and I'm not going through a box of cakes a day. My feelings are still hurt more easily than normal, and I'm incredibly sensitive to rejection: two symptoms that I know mean I'm not doing well.

But I know things will level out soon. I'll feel better as spring and then summer comes, and maybe I'll hit a manic stage where I want to DO ALL THE THINGS and GO TO ALL THE PLACES, but things will chill out again. And now that my boyfriend knows, a few of my friends know, and my family knows, there are people who can bring my attention to what's going on when I don't notice it myself.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is this: Acknowledging that something is going on is hard; seeing a therapist for the first time was hard. But it's harder to do battle on your own. Because when you have depression or bi-polar disorder, it is a battle -- it's a daily battle to not listen to the voice in your head that tells you that you're not good enough, to just give up, to withdraw or to do something stupid. It's feeling like you're stuck out in the cold alone, with only the terrible things you tell yourself when you're at your worst to keep you company.

That voice in your head is a bitch some times. And frankly, a liar.

So you need your back up. If people tell you not to tell, don't listen to them. Always tell. Tell someone what you're feeling. Even if you think they won't care. Even if you've never met them. Hell, tell me. In fact, I'd love for you to tell me, because then we can fight this together.

And if people's opinions of you change, fuck them. Chances are, this has always been part of your personality, at least a little. Don't let the fear of judgment stop you from taking care of yourself. As Albert Camus once said, "In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer."

Find that invincible summer. And if you can't, let someone help you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fill in the _____ Friday - 2.17.2012

1.  The love of my life is    myself. For now. If I get married, that my change, but if I'm being honest, I love myself more right now - I think we all have to love ourselves before we can truly love someone else.

2.   Falling in love is    finding someone who loves to coddule on the couch and watch movies as much as I do .

3.  Marriage is    something I look forward to (someday), but it makes me nervous. I guess I take the idea of marriage very seriously, and I don't want to screw it up. I want to be sure, you know?

4. The longest relationship I've ever had was   all at once? A yearish. I did the on and off game for like four years with one guy, but there were such long gaps between ons and offs, it felt like several different relationships .

5. The key to a good relationship is   being open and honest with each other .

6. I feel loved when    he does something nice that I don't expect - sending me a sweet text message, buying me flowers for no reason, etc .

7.  My favorite quote about love is   ...huh. I don't actually know that I have one. Maybe Marilyn Monroe's: "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best." I think that's good way to put every relationship in perspective, for everyone .
Did you guys link up with Lauren? If so, let me know! I want to read your blanks this weekend!

Also, if you missed it (hmm, new readers?) I promise to be back Monday Tuesday with a new REAL post actually written by me. It's been a long time coming, and while I'm nervous about unveiling it I can't wait for you to read it. So see you Tuesday! 
Have a great weekend. Enjoy your Monday off, Americans. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger! Miss Amanda Jill & The Windy City

Hey guys! I want to give a big thank you to everyone who helped me out by contributing as a guest blogger while I was moving, as well as all the wonderful people I've gotten to exchange emails with as they've been introduced to my blog for the first time through these great bloggers. I've enjoyed reading all the comments, and hearing about a lot of my friends' coolest adventures. So seriously, thank you. You've made this move a little less crazy and a little more fun. 

That said, I will be back starting next week. Actually, starting tomorrow with Fill in the Blank Friday, but I've got a good post coming up for you guys next Monday that I've been working on for a while - so come back to check on that. 

ANYWAY. This last guest post is written by one more fellow Aggie (I've already had Jacob and Amy) - Amanda Jill. I never got to meet her in person while at A&M because it's such a huge school, but I've enjoyed reading about her life, her take on College Station, and now her big move to Chicago. I hope you guys love her just as much. Drop her a line, why don't you? :)

You know that song, "She's gone country?" My life is just like that, except completely opposite. I'm a twenty-two year old designer from deep in the heart of East Texas that made a journey to the big city of Chicago. Here's a sliver of how I ended up here and my thoughts thus far. enjoy! 

It was a question I had become all too familiar with. "What are you going to do after graduation?" Well, you know what, I didn't know -- I still technically don't and I've come to realize that it's okay

I recently graduated from Texas A&M University (as well as miss Valorie) and had no clue where my life would take me. I had gotten so tired of people asking my what my plans were. I almost made a shirt simply so I didn't have to answer that dreaded question ever, ever again. 

Well here it is guys, I graduated from a prestigious university to move to an unfamiliar city and... work at a bar. Yeah, you heard me. I moved to the big city of Chicago from the middle of nowhere, Texas just over a month ago to serve people food and beverages. I love it so far. The first couple of weeks of city life were overwhelming. I only knew a total of one person and had never even been to this city until stepping off the plane. 

What might you ask caused me to pack two suit cases and take off on a plane to a city I'd never even been to? Good question. I'm still not really sure, but I can tell you that I'm glad I did. Although I'm a college graduate living as a "struggling artist," I'm learning more than I'd ever imagined. It's times like this that matter most. When I'm 45 years old and telling my children about my life story I can't wait to tell them about my adventures in Chicagoland. 

When I'm not working at the bar, I'm freelancing from home. It's a nice balance. I get to meet new and interesting people, which is always an exciting experience, but still get to design.  

If someone asked me 6 months ago (maybe even 2 months ago) what my plans were, i'd have never  said, "Oh I'll be a graduate and working in Chicago at a local bar!" With that being said, I wouldn't change it for anything (okay that's a stretch… there are some really awesome things I might trade it for). I have no idea how long my journey in Chicago will last, but for now it's what I've come to love. If you find yourself in the city, hit me up! 
 i'm amanda jill. i'm a recent college grad from texas a&m. i'm a big design nerd and have learned to openly admit it. i love bright colors, shiny things, ampersands and straws. check out my blog and design work at oh and i tweet (sometimes about random, stupid things) but follow me anyway -- @theamandajill. who doesn't love new friends? plus i'm awesome. 


Thanks again to all my guest posters. I appreciate the crazy out of you guys. :) <3

In case any of you missed them, here they all are again: Amanda from Teasingly Diverse on starting over in Tennessee; Jennifer of Chaos Wrapped in Chocolate-Covered Grins talking about her move to England; Amy, the author behind Crazy Random Happenstances talked about keeping courage in the face of hard decisions; and Jacob from La Vie Quotidienne dropped by to write about his big move to CHINA that happened YESTERDAY. Again, it was all great stuff and I love them all for it.

See you kids on Monday. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Blogger! Jacob on moving to China!

So, you guys remember my adventures in China, right? I moved there for three months? It was crazytown... Any of this ringing any bells? No? Fine, here.

Anyway. This was written by my good friend Jacob. We went to school together, we've traveled a lot together, we studied Mandarin together, and now, he's going moving to China like I did! He's leaving today and won't be back until May. Crazytown! Anyway, give him some love and support - if he's feeling at all like I did when  I moved, he's going to need it!
I've recently come to the realization that you don't really fully consider a move until right before leaving. The last move I made to another country occurred when I was 8 and moving with my family to the Netherlands so that my dad could take an international job assignment with his company. Not only was I too young at that age to understand what was going on, I also had my family with me, which defrayed the fear of it all. Now, at the age of 21, fully able to comprehend the results of my actions, I have finally reached the last week or so before moving to Shanghai all by myself for 3 months. It is both extremely empowering and utterly terrifying.

While most friends I know study abroad over the summer, I decided to study abroad this semester in China because I was ahead of my degree plan and didn't want to graduate a semester early because I have no idea what I'm doing with my life (I don't want to grow up if you aren't able to tell). I first chose to go to Shanghai rather than Beijing because I've already been to Beijing and have contacts there. I wanted the opportunity to branch out and create a community in another Chinese city. You never know when it will come in handy. I leave on Valentine's Day (I know, depressing), and will be working at Shanghai Family Health Hospital and Clinics. I have the exciting tasks of research, preparing and participating in fundraising events, and speaking with NGOs that work with the hospital to write program proposals for their needs. Pretty cool, right?

I saw this opportunity to go to China as a blessing, a chance to experience a change of pace from the usual college life I was used to. I was still surrounded by my friends every day, taking classes, and living my life when I made this decision. This internship is going to look so good on my résumé, I thought to myself. I'd gain some experience, then be back with my friends in Texas in the blink of an eye. It wasn't until everyone went back to school for the spring semester and I did not that my tune changed. This period has acted as a transition before moving; I'm not in a foreign country yet, but I am having to deal with life without my friends. As much as I hate to admit that I am afraid of anything, this has been a scary process. Having to leave friends that I just met this semester has been difficult because our new relationships will have to be temporarily disrupted. Leaving my close friends has been even harder. I've been haunted by thoughts like, what if I can't find friends in Shanghai, or even worse, what if my friends back home move on without me while I'm gone? I've even wondered if, on the flip side, I'll want to come back when my 3 months are up. It has been an incredibly trying time for me. But at the end of the day, I'm going to China, there's no denying or changing that. There's no use freaking out about what if's when they'll only create even more fear. I've accepted the fact that in order to grow as a person, I need to go to China and experience life on my own. There will be hardships, but there will also be great achievements and adventures. After countless sleepless nights fretting over my insecurities, I am ready to pack my bags and get on that plane. I am ready for whatever these 3 months will hand me, and even more ready for the period of self-discovery and progress that is waiting for me. 加油!

Jacob is a student at Texas A&M majoring in International Studies. This is mainly how he and Valorie met. But the real essence of their friendship can be summarized by their mutual experiences with 13 hour delays in Hotlanta, pub crawls, and rants over ineffective language instruction. Oh, and New Girl. Jacob blogs at La Vie Quotidienne. You can also follow him on twitter @olivezzzz. He loves cooking, traveling, and meeting new people!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Blogger! Amy on Keeping Courage and Remembering the Good

Amy is one of the first people who ever went from blog/twitter friend to IRL 
friend for me. She's a twenty-something that's married to herhigh school 
sweetheart and she's one of the most genuine and funny women I've ever met; 
I'm so glad she wanted to guest blog here today! You can find her blogging at
 Crazy Random Happenstances, or  on twitter as @AmyReneePowell. Give her some 
love too, guys! 
{And I promise I'll be back for real soon!) 
The end of school marked the biggest move of my life.
Me with my family on "the day"
I had already gotten married before graduation. I'd even already began my post-
graduation job. But when I actually got to that fateful day where I was to walk 
across the stage, I couldn't believe it. I was about to stop going to school - 
something I'd been doing for my entire life.

I know this isn't a new or unique feeling. Everyone sees graduation as the start 
to something huge. The problem is, I'm almost 2 years out and still haven't 
figured out what that something is going to be. I had to put my life on hold 
because I was married, my husband had to finish school, and I wasn't quite sure 
what I wanted to do next.

But now... My husband and I are both finally finished with college - and have to 
decide where to go next. I'm back at the same place I was at right after 
graduation. Except older.

We're juggling with questions like, "Do we keep our jobs?" and "How  close to 
family do we want to be?" or "What do we actually want to do  with ourselves?" 
We have graduate school and student loans and starting  our own businesses to 
think about. And the "kid question" is coming up  much faster than I thought it 
would. I know we'll find an answer for it all. It's just frustrating at times to 
find myself back in the same place.
I've even resorted back to MySpace-backward pictures of myself
But then I remind myself that literally thousands and thousands of people 
before me have not only faced these same questions, but have  found answers to 
them. And reminding myself of that makes me feel a  little more secure.

So I'm trying to remember that big moves aren't all bad. Sure, they are scary. 
But they are also exciting. I can pursue that job that I'm really passionate 
about, or move to a city I've only dreamed of just because. I'm also lucky, 
because I have a partner to help make decisions.

I have no idea where I'm going to be living in 6 months. And for now, I'm 
learning to be okay with that. Big moves don't come with clear answers all the 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fill in the _____ Friday - 2.10.12

As always, these lovely blanks come from Lauren's blog over at the Little Things We do! Check her out :)

 1.  I started my blog because   I loved the idea of finding a community of people who were going through what I was going through; namely, being in college and trying to discover who you wanted to be.

2.   One thing I love seeing on other blogs   are stories with real, raw emotion, in which people are being open and vulnerable. It's not easy to do that and I seriously respect it. Plus, it makes it so much easier to feel like I'm getting to know another blogger and not just learning a craft.

3.  Something I love about blogging   is just how great and kind people can be - I've gotten so many lovely and supportive comments throughout the years that I've been blogging and I just can't be appreciative enough for them.

4. A favorite blog post of mine is probably going to be impossible to narrow down! There have just been so many that impacted me. Let's see: The Nouns is one of the sassiest things I've ever written, which is great; in this one (it has a stupid title that I hate now), I examine what love means to me, which got me so many responses from readers (and still does!) that I can't help but love it; The Darkness is the most raw and vulnerable piece I've ever written ever; and finally love, loss, hope, repeat means so much to me that I still feel my heart clench a little when I read it.

5. Something my friends in real life know about me that I've never before mentioned on my blog is   that I'm actually pretty shy! I withdraw from social interactions of five people or more (which is probably why I haven't been to single blog conference yet - soon!). It's awful. I'm trying to get over it.

6.  My new favorite blogs to read are  Exile Lifestyle, Colin Wright travels around the world and writes about it - that's his whole "job" and I'm jealous, Ashalah's blog - she just moved from a big city to some big mountains; and No Ordinary Rollercoaster, which you've probably heard of because Ben is rather well-known in the blogging world (and deservedly so).

7.  Some things I tend to avoid doing on my blog are   being too negative or too political. As you can imagine, I'm actually pretty political by nature (I did move to DC for a reason), but it's not something that translates well to blogging. I feel like it alienates people. Or would you guys like to hear my opinion on politics? Let me know. 

As you guys know (or don't, hmmmm? New readers?), I'm in the middle of moving and getting settled into my new apartment right now (on top of working six days a week...ugh). I didn't plan on having time to blog today, or for the next week really, so I've got some wonderful guest bloggers lined up for you guys to check out. On Wednesday, Amanda told us about her move to Tennessee, and today the lovely Jennifer is here telling us about her big move to England. Give them some love
Now, I've got to get back to my working-six-days-a-week life and then go home and crash on my air mattress in my unfurnished apartment. Weeee!

Have a great weekend! :)

Guest Blogger! Jennifer on Adventures in England

Hey guys! I'm still settling in and moving, so today I bring you another guest blogger - Jeniffer from Chaos Wrapped in Chocolate Covered Grins. What a precious name, right? Jennifer has been one of my most loyal, sweetest, and supportive commenters for a long time now and I love her insight on life that I haven't quite gained yet. Show her some love, okay? :)

I am a planner.  I weigh options and consequences and more often than not, get caught up in and overwhelmed by the planning process and never act. I like that which is comfortable and familiar and always seem to be afraid of change.
That is why it took a total leap of faith (and a major step outside my comfort zone) to bring me to the place that I am today.
Thirteen years ago, after a month-long visit to England to see my then-boyfriend who was stationed in East Anglia with the Air Force, we decided to get married.  I returned to my home in Texas and began preparations for the wedding to be held four months later.  Just five days after the wedding, we were on a plane, with everything I could stuff in two suitcases, headed to England.  I left all that I knew behind- my family, my friends, my home, the area where I had grown up and lived for the past twenty-five years, in order to start my married life.
Ten hours later, we landed at London’s Gatwick Airport, collected our luggage and boarded a shuttle to the military base where his car was waiting to take us to the home he was already renting off-base.  The next nine days were a whirlwind of taking care of all the basics- getting my military ID, enrolling me in the system for healthcare, completing driver training and obtaining a driver’s license to drive overseas.
Nine days after my arrival in England, my husband left for a rotation to Italy for thirty days.  I was left behind in a house that can only be described as “single guy chic” with the two dirty hand-me-down chairs  I wasn’t entirely sure he didn’t pluck from the garbage, a television and bedroom furniture.  I had made acquaintances with the neighbors on my previous visit, but I didn’t know them that well. I was lonely and scared- and about to spend my first Christmas away from my family and friends- alone.
I won’t say that it was easy. It was very hard but I learned more about myself in those thirty days (and subsequently the entire past thirteen years I have spent as a military spouse) than I had learned in my previous twenty-five years.
I slowly began venturing out with my neighbor at first and then on my own.  I fell in love with England and it’s culture and eventually, I became the friend that would pile people in my little English car and navigate the small, winding roads that led us to the beach  (aka “the seaside”), the local village market days and to shopping, the movies and restaurants in Cambridge.  A trip to London was just an hour and a half away, Paris was an easy weekend trip and we even went on a weeklong tour by bus to Italy. 
I lived in England for two years before we received an assignment back to the U.S. and I loved every bit of it- even the parts that weren’t so great.  It was an incredible learning and growing experience that I believe helped me gain the necessary skills for dealing with the quirks of being a military spouse.   I would not change a single thing about it (well, I would have visited Rome one more time before leaving).
“What did you learn?” you ask.
I learned that I can step outside of my comfort zone and everything will be okay.  I am much stronger than I think I am. I have a level head when I need one. I can figure it out on my own. I can adapt to new environments and blend in. I can be one of the crowd.  I can also stand out and be me. I can learn from every experience the good and the bad and take a lesson away from it.
“Would you do it over again the same way?”
Absolutely!  I was incredibly lonely and sad the first six months, but that was necessary for me to grow and become who I am today.  I feel my entire outlook on humanity, the world and politics is different because of my experience living in another country and getting that different perspective.  I know that even now, when times get hard, I have it in me to persevere.  I can get through it and be a better woman because of it. 
I would go back to England in a New York… er… London minute!
About Jennifer:
I am a military spouse who currently calls New Jersey home (until Uncle Sam tells me otherwise).  My major in college was liberal arts with a concentration in elementary education and a minor in music, which pretty much just makes me a big ole nerd.  But I like me that way.  I have an eight-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter that simultaneously, fulfill me, entertain me and threaten to steal my very sanity.  Most days I can be found reading or writing, but some days I can be found rocking in the corner with a bag of Doritos.  It’s just how I roll. I blog at Chaos Wrapped in Chocolate-Covered Grins.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Blogger! Amanda on Starting Over.

Hey guys! I've been in DC a little while now, but I'm currently trying to settle in my new apartment and not go crazy with all the packing and moving, so I've asked a few blogger friends to come over here and let you read a guest post from them about their moving experiences. Today is Amanda, from Teasingly Diverse, who I've bonded with over our shared 101 in 1001 adventures and recent graduate status. Enjoy!


Sometimes in life, you have to step out on a limb. Other times, you have to take a flying leap of faith. 

Growing up, we moved around a lot. In elementary school, my family moved from California to Oregon and at 10 years old I had to learn how to start again. New state, new town, new culture, new friends. I thought my life was over. I didn't want to leave my friends. The only life that I knew. My entire extended family. Yet, looking back on my life, I don't even remember the details of those early years so much as I do growing up in Oregon. What I thought was ruinous to me actually turned out to be a blessing.

I think the seed of a wandering spirit was planted in me with that move (even if against my will at first). Following high school graduation, I packed up and moved 2,000 miles away to go to college in a state I'd never been to before at a school where the only person I knew was my admissions counselor. Those were the best 4 years of my life. In 2008, my life crammed into one suitcase and a backpack, I stepped off a plane in Paris, France to try my hand at living abroad for a semester. It was an incredibly difficult and extraordinarily beautiful six months. I returned, and promptly drove myself cross-country to move to California for law school. My home state, yet a city I'd never been to and yet again - not a single familiar soul. 

As I settled into life there, I thought my wandering days were behind me. Finally, I was putting down roots that I thought would stay planted. But life is full of surprises and new adventures. As 2011 drew to a close, graduation behind me, I felt strongly that a new chapter awaited me and it was going to take a lot of bravery, risk, and pluck to navigate it. 

I took that flying leap of faith, packed up my car again, and headed southeast.

My destination was Nashville, Tennessee and after nearly 3 weeks calling this city home I can already tell that it's winning over my heart. New beginnings aren't guaranteed to be easy, and this hasn't been. It takes awhile to wrap up the loose ends behind you and begin building new relationships. But looking back over the past few years I can say with certainty that openness to new things, to a new story, has never steered me wrong. I'm finding my way here, slowly but surely. I can't wait to see what the rest of 2012 holds.

Thanks for having me, Valorie! I wish you nothing but the best on this new adventure and if you need a recommendation for a great farmer's market in DC let me know (my uncle has one there) :)

Amanda is a 26 year old recent law school grad learning to love Music City. A Pac-12 girl now in an SEC world, she can't quite bring herself to root for any of their teams. Yet. Amanda blogs at Teasingly Diverse about the adventures and challenges of trying to complete 101 Goals in 1,001 Days. She's also got a slight Twitter addiction (@amandalou01)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Evaluating January and the February Goalsteps


As I mentioned in January, I want 2012 to be awesome, I want to live as loudly and voraciously as I can, and I want to skid into New Year's Eve looking back and saying "that. was. awesome."

To do that, I got organized. I made buckets that together define my life: Creativity, Exercise, Friendship, Romance, Self-Improvement, Career, Photography, Internet Everything, Do Uncomfortable Things, Finances, and Travel. Yes, 11 buckets.

In each of those buckets, I set three big huge goals that would make me thrilled to accomplish. In a couple buckets, I actually set 4 goals (oops).

Will I accomplish all 33 35 goals? Maybe. But probably not. Priorities will change. I'll realize it's not something I actually want to do. Some won't be possible at first and will have to wait. Some I've already finished. But I'm already liking this system, even though it was hard to do this month with all the moving.

To get these 35 goals done, each month, I sit down on the first (today!) and I write down one goalstep to do that month. Why 'goalstep'? Because it's the step I'm going to take that month to make something happen. It takes a little pressure off and keeps me moving forward.

My goals for January went okay. It was hard doing a lot while I was trying to find apartments and living in someone else's space. But I think I got a lot done, and while some had to get rolled over, it's been a wonderful process. And now, I want to share some of my February goals with you guys. Partly to keep me accountable, partly so I can't lose the stupid piece of paper I write my goalsteps down on (I did this in January and it threw me for a loop), and partly because I know seeing other people's goals inspires the heck out of me, so maybe I can help someone else out that way too.

The Exercise Bucket
Get a gym membership
Become a yoga studio member
Lose 1 pound (I want to lose 12 pounds over all this year, so 1 pound a month)

The Friendship Bucket
Make all my Skype dates with KJ and Cyndi (I miss you guys so much!)
Make and send a birthday gift for two friends back home
Move into a dog-friendly apartment (this is so I can get a greyhound!)

The Self-Improvement Bucket
Get an apartment (this is so I can set a cleaning schedule and keep to it)
Set up a handwriting template (my ultimate goal is to be good at calligraphy to address letters)
Stop biting my lips

The Photography Bucket
Do a staged bridal shoot (if any of you know a good thrift store I can pick up a wedding dress, or anyone who would be willing to model for me, email me at valorieclarkphotography {at} gmail {dot} com!)
Be a second shooter for a wedding
Save $50+ dollars toward this lens.
Find a few photography contests to enter

The Internet Everything Bucket
Hit 100 followers on this blog (if you've got tips or want to help out, shoot me an email!)
Start selling ads in March (for now, I'm doing button/ad swaps! If you're interested, email me!)
Find out how much it would cost to get my blog it's own domain

The Creativity Bucket
Pick one novel to start working on again
Make this 2012 memories jar
Read A Prayer for Owen Meany

The Do Uncomfortable Things Bucket
Find a place in/near DC to either free-fall or bungee jump (Anyone know of a good place?)
Take good care of my hair (this is so I can donate it in May!)
Sign up for the Color Run in September! (Sign ups open today!)

There are other buckets (Finances, Romance, Travel) but those are more private and/or boring, so I didn't share them. What do you guys think? Anything on here you're doing? Anyone want to sign up for the Color Run with me? It's only a 5k and I need the encouragement!

Also - I'm still looking for guest bloggers and still thinking about that advice column idea. Tell me your opinions!

Ready? Go!