Wednesday, July 31, 2013

there's a new blog a-comin'.

Yup. If you somehow haven't heard the news - Simply, Valorie is soon to be no more.

Yes, a moment of silence would be great here.

BUT. BUT. There's a new blog. And I've made it real easy for you to switch. You can do it right HERE:

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via email    OR    rss

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

the July EFF YEAH list

July was a really, really big -- like Big with a Capital B -- month, y'all. Here's what went down.
1. I bought a new blog domain. Have you subscribed in time for the big move on THURSDAY? ::falls over in excited squeals::

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via email    OR    rss

If the gold glitter doesn't tell you a lot about the new blog, well... !!! 

2. I got not exactly a promotion, but a new role at work. And it has to do with goalin'. I'm am the most excite about it.

3. I got ink'd! It hasn't quite finished healing yet so I haven't taken a lot of photos but I'm real excited about this one. 

4. I started doing yoga again! (I had basically accidentally fallen off the band wagon since BiSC. Whoops.) 

5. I got my finances hard core IN ORDER. BOOM. 

6. I started running again which leads to number 7...

7. I SIGNED UP FOR A 10K. Obviously this is not as exciting as RUNNING a 10k, but you guys. The Rock n Roll Brooklyn 10K through Prospect Park on October 12. I'm going to be there. Want to join me? 

8. I signed up for another BPC juice cleanse to start on August 23rd. Remember how much I loved this last time?  This time I'm doing 4 days.

9. I didn't write this, but I was pretty excited to read this article about my company's iced coffee. I didn't exactly "interview" with this, but I did meet with the author back in June, so I was proud to see it finally go live. 

10. I turned 23! I almost forgot this one. Don't know how. Whoops?

11. I remembered all my loved one's birthdays this month and either called or sent a card (or both). 

Have I mentioned the new blog by the way? Because new blog. The links to subscribe by email or by rss only lead to those pages. There will be a link to the new blog on August 1. I AM SO EXCITE YOU GUYS.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Mid-Year EFF YEAH List

Summer is a rough time for me. Not because I hate summer - God, I love summer - but because where I work means my summer is full of 6 day work weeks and a few too many 12+ hour days. Spring? 5 day work weeks and a few 12+ hour days. Fall and winter - somewhat normal. But summer... Man. Summer is where I fell off the wagon with all my goals last year, but it won't be this year.
And I mean, yes, I *DO* realize that it's actually July 21 already. I'm a little behind posting review because I decided to do a bit of a retooling of some of my goals for the year, based on Nicole's pretty kickass mid year review and her 15-step goal-setting formula.

My goals for 2013 looked kind of like this:
The Future
  • Apply to grad school for Fall 2014. [Frankly decided that this is not going to happen. I want to spend a few years teaching English and saving money first.]
  • Take the GRE [Welp. Don't need to take this yet.]
  • Study French four times a week. [I FEEL ALL THE GUILT. This hasn't happened. It's my number two priority for the next six months though {#1 - new blog}.]
The Relationships
  • Visit everyone in my family and several friends [I've seen everyone on my mom's side and took a trip to see my BFF in Ohio, so half done! Now I just need to schedule trips to see my dad's side and go to Texas.]
  • Remember birthdays. [It took some struggling, but I've finally got a system in place that gets all my friends birthday cards somewhere in the week of their birthday. Let's be real - day of is just too tricky.]
  • Make time for phone calls/Skype. [This had to go on because my closest friends are spread across, you know, A CONTINENT (GOD YOU GUYS)... And it hasn't been going well. I try though. Thank God for texting.]
Health & Wellness
  • One "Spa Day" per quarter [1/4 I need to be better about this - I need at least a mani/pedi and to drink champagne at noon once this month.]
  • Yoga three times a week [I was really good about this until May... And now I can't remember the last time I rolled out my mat.]
  • Build meditation into my life [Yoga was helping this, but when the yoga stopped the meditating stopped. I also find that thinking of meditation AS meditation infuriates me. Am I the only one?]
Explore! [This is my favorite bucket, and along with relationships is the one that's definitely getting done.]
  • Leave DC once a month [6/12 -- California, sailing in the bay, Ohio, Vegas, Rehoboth Beach. I need to figure out where I'm visiting in July still. Suggestions?]
  • Make a schedule of museums/exhibits in DC and hit them all [I literally didn't realize what a huge task this would be. I've started this list, but it keeps growing. And my time to see this exhibits keeps dwindling. I've been to a few favorites though!]
  • Save $150/month to start traveling. [Not a huge number, but living in one of the most expensive cities, it's what I can spare. It's going... okay. Expenses came up, life happened.]
  • Start a Dancers Photo Project [On hold. Mostly a time issue, and a lack of clarity on what I really want the project to look like.]
  • Read 2 books a month [?/12 Have completely lost track of how many books I've read when... but I'd guess I've read at least 8 this year, which is close to 12.]
  • Make writing a habit. [I did okay with this for a while, but I haven't found a way to reconcile my work schedule that can have me working until midnight one night then back up at 6:30 am the next day with any sort of timed habit, like writing.]
  • Submit to 10 lit mags. [Nope. I haven't even found a lit mag I'd like to submit to. Haven't written anything to submit to it if I did!]
  • Start a Writers' Blog. [Actually did! Then decided I wasn't a fan of the idea anymore, didn't have time to dedicate to it, and scrapped it before I really even announced it. This is how life goes.]
  • Spell 'miscellaneous' correctly on the first try without thinking about it. [I actually just added this to the list but FUCK I'm proud I just did that.]
  • Start my new blog. [This is in the works. Finishing up the header after this, actually. GOAL SMASH.]
  • Barista Certification [This is something that will happen in October.]'
Over all, I feel pretty good about the past six months.  Did I get everything done? Obviously not. Are my upcoming goals the same as the past six months'? Nope. I got in touch with a lot of Things I Actually Want instead of Things I Just Think I Want, which is really the best thing that could have happened. So here's to the second half of 2013. Ready, GO.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's my birthday, and I'll blog if I want to.

Remember that time I went to a blogger's conference, then totally stopped blogging? 

Yup, me too. My disappearance was part emotional hangover, part lack of time (summer at work is busy and exhausting), and part Beginning of a Relationship Syndrome, when the other person is the only person you want to talk to and see and the rest of the world doesn't exist anymore sorrynotsorry. So even when I had time, I didn't really make time. You know?

And, I mean, normally I wouldn't blog on a Saturday because omg no one will be around to read it, waaaahhh. But you know what? Today's my birthday, and I'll blog if I want to.

Basically this whole post is to say that I bought myself a new blog domain for my birthday - not like I haven't been talking about doing that forever or anything. I've been spending all my spare internet time over there prettying that up. It'll be live by August 15, barring all major catastrophes.

As for my actual birthday - I'm not sure what I'm doing tonight, honestly. Will it be fun? Oh yes.

I have a pretty good feeling about being 23.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I have an emotional hangover. Because Vegas.

I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for Bloggers in Sin City. I mean, "I knew" because there was an itinerary and you know, all the #BiSC tweets from last year and the year before that, so on, etc. But I was nervous - would I fit in; would I have fun; are these people all going to think I'm too young or too weird or too not-a-serious-enough-blogger to be here?

 I feel like I make this face 99% of the time.

But then I moved in with a fellow BiSC-uit, and through a few brunches met several other BiSC-uits, and suddenly the overwhelming nerves tempered down to only some kind of nerves and by the time our limo arrived at the Flamingo, I was just BELLIGERENTLY EXCITED.

What happens when you put a bunch of bloggers together in a limo? They instagram it, of course.

I don't know what it is about BiSC that creates deep emotional bonds between so many people who were basically strangers before the weekend. Is it that it's four days fueled by debauchery and laughter, or is it because it is full of the type people who would sign up to spend 4 days with a bunch of other strangers and LOVE IT? What combination of awesome people and awesome circumstances makes me cry at a brunch listening to wonderful people say even more wonderful words about all their feeeeelings?

Whatever magic comes together and makes it happen (I'm thinking glitter + 8 second hugs + Nicole & Doni's sheer willpower), I have never walked into a group and felt so instantly comfortable and loved. Between all the 8 second hugs and ALL THE EATING and all the photos together and whiskey tasting (whiskey! tasting!) BiSC was easily one of the best weekends of my life, and some of the most fun I think I've ever had. 

To go margaritas, beautiful weather, and some of the most fun people on the internet? I'm all about that life.

Pool day is the best day.
4 of the many DC bloggers. Reppin' the District in style, obvs.

Largest whiskey collection in the US. I want to go to there... again.

Our sampling. Blackberry whiskey? Delicious. The Knot? Like a warm Christmas hug in my mouth. 

And now? Now I have this bizarre emotional hangover in which I can't believe I'm not in Vegas anymore surrounded by 68 of the most amazing people ever and I just CAN'T DEAL WITH EVERY DAY LIFE, Y'ALL.  It's more than missing the planned all-you-can-eat brunches and gift bags full of goodies from Firmoo, Vega, and others and playing in the pool and using our badges to bypass the line at Pure (though those things I'll definitely miss). I can't find the words to explain the magic and the warmth of BiSC that makes people feel like they are free to be the most honest and wonderful versions of themselves -- because that's definitely true. Four days of completely genuine, lovely people all telling each other how genuine and lovely everyone is.

Sometime when I wasn't looking, I learned a lot this weekend. But the biggest takeaway I've got to offer is this: If you want to be part of amazing things (like BiSC), you've got to be brave enough to sign up for them. The moment you open yourself up to the possibility of amazing friendships and experiences, they're available to enjoy. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This post exists only to say that I leave for Bloggers in Sin City tomorrow night, and I'm so belligerently excited that I just spelled 'belligerently' wrong approximately ten times because my brain is moving faster than my fingers can type.


That's all I've got. How am I expected to work when this is all my brain can think about?


Thursday, May 9, 2013

15 Things You'll Never Hear Me Say


1. Travel? No thanks, I'm content to stay in one place forever and ever.
2. I've had enough chocolate chip cookies.
3. Ew, keep dogs away from me.
4. I love it when people interrupt me.
5. Let's never do anything outdoorsy.
6. I hate Friends.
7. I would like to live in an apartment free of books.
8. Rick Perry is my favorite.
9. No, I don't want another hug.
10.  RyGos coloring book? Lame.
11. What? I never obsess about things.
12. I want to spend the next 50 years in a cubicle.
13. Coffee is the worst thing on the planet.
14. I would totally rather watch this movie than read the book it's based on.
15. But really, stop giving me hugs and stop inviting me on cool trips around the world.

Not sure where I saw these lists start, but it was too fun to pass up.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

on perfectionism.

I am a perfectionist. As one, I can be pretty negative, pretty prone to "Welp, fuck it!" moments, and when I fail, I fail hard. Because perfectionism is not just a relentless drive for better, better, better and more, more, more; It's a mentality of varying degrees of extremism.

Perfectionism is finding myself hungry and stranded without a sugar-free option, so just eating a Butterfinger for lunch because, well, I have to have sugar no matter what so WHATEVER.

Perfectionism is wanting to quit my job because it's not going exactly how I'd like it to, even though really, it's pretty good.

Perfectionism is convincing myself that because I wasn't successful right out of college, I never will be.

Perfectionism is giving up on dating entirely "for the rest of my life" because one relationship ended badly "and I like dogs better than humans anyway!"

Perfectionism is setting goals that are obviously unrealistic but assuring myself that I'll "find a way to make it work." 

Perfectionism is not writing all month because I already didn't one day so I mean, obviously that 'write every day!' goal is in the toilet.

Perfectionism is not taking a step forward because I feel like if I can't do it the completely right way, I shouldn't do it at all.

Trying not to be a perfectionist -- to be nice to myself, to forgive myself when I make mistakes, to allow room for mistakes in the first place (as well as time to relax, breathe, and not be doing something) -- is a battle.

Combating perfectionism (for me) is yoga. Because in yoga each practice is simultaneously imperfect (I will fall out of a pose, I will lose track of my breathing, there is always a more advanced pose my body isn't ready for), and perfect because I showed up on the mat, I am trying, and that is freeing.

Perfectionism is the most self-defeating mentality. And fuck that, man.

Monday, April 29, 2013

the internet rabbit holes, good influences, and 31 days of DETOXY HELL, PROBABLY

I joke with my oldest friends that I've spent the better part of my life "broken" somehow - I always seem to have a cold, or a stomach ache, or knee pain, or a head ache or some other minor health annoyance. And while it was always annoying, it somehow ended up being a funny joke. (YEAH YOU'RE SICK ALL THE TIME, HA. HA.) Then at some point I woke up and said - surely this isn't how all people feel all the time? BECAUSE THIS SUCKS.

I've tried various changes to combat this. Stop drinking milk! Take ALL the multivitamins! Give up ALL the meat! Nope? Okay, give up ALL the bread! Eat ALL kindamore fruits and veggies! Juice cleanses! ALL organic hippie food ALL the time! Drink ACTUAL ~60 oz of water each day!

Each change had it's pros and cons (except being vegetarian - it was all cons, all the time, starting and not ending with the crazy amount of weight I gained and haven't completely lost since). But none of them really changed anything about how I felt day in and day out.* At some point I gave up on the experiments and while I still eat mostly organic foods with a little more balance than when I was a kid, I also still feel like crap.

Fast forward to more and more people I know giving up sugar. Not just like, no longer adding sugar to their coffee, but taking all forms of non-naturally-occurring sugar out of their diet. And feeling great. And sustaining it for the actual rest of their lives.

Cue the moment when I finally clicked a bunch of links to articles and videos like "Is Sugar Toxic?" and "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." Cue me quickly ignoring those tabs as they sat open in Chrome for weeks, because I wasn't ready to learn that something delicious I had everyday could possibly be the root of many of my problems.

Find me with nothing to do one night and finally reading the articles, watching the video. Falling into the rabbit hole of researching sugar-related health problems. Learning about links between sugar and joint pain. Joint! Pain! Wondering why no one has described processed sugar as an "addictive mind fuck" because that's sure what it seems like.

Get to a point where I'm sitting in front of the computer, not sure I can give up sugar for the actual rest of my life (no more Nutella? Ever? THE HORROR) but knowing I can do it for one month. Knowing that it'll be hard as hell and a detox-induced emotional rollercoaster (during the same month as BiSC! when I work somewhere that serves gelato!!) but knowing I can commit to 31 days to see if it actually helps. If anything changes. If I feel any better at all - if my knee pain, and the sluggish feelings, and the headaches, and and and... will get better.

May 1. Sugar free for 31 days. Ready go.

*Except my three days with BluePrintCleanse, which made me feel crazy awesome but wasn't financially sustainable for, you know, EVER AND EVER.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Anyone who has ever met me ever would tell you that I'm a sensitive person. It's okay, it's not always a flaw.

So when I was at work yesterday and heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I felt as if I'd been punched in the gut. I told my coworker over and over again that I thought I was going to throw up. I stepped away for a few minutes to get my head on straight. I gave in to my concern for the city and our nation when I got home by watching CNN for three hours straight and crying. On a day that was far from routine for our nation, this reaction was completely routine for me.

I think every blogger contemplated saying something, the only question was what? What is the right thing to say when some of us - like me - have no words, just feelings? And lots of them?

Now is the not the time to place blame, to speculate about who did this and why. Now is not the time to be partisan, nor for jokes. Now is the time to take care of Boston and to take care of our loved ones who were affected by this, both directly and indirectly.

At a time when it's so easy to wonder what the world is coming to, to be afraid for our safety, to fear our neighbors, and to lose faith in humanity it is so important not to. Don't listen to the voices that tell you to give up, that there's no hope. Remember that yesterday afternoon, directly after the explosion, professional first responders, runners, and spectators alike ran TOWARD the wreckage to help in any way they could. Remember the runners that continued running past the finish line to the medical tents to donate blood. Remember the people that opened their homes, that fed the uninjured runners.

In the aftermath of this senseless act committed by a person or persons or a group, please remember that there is so much good in this world. There is more good in this world than there is evil. And while evil is often more flashy, good conquers evil all the time.

Do something good today. Do something good tomorrow too, and the day after that. Be part of the good that conquers the bad.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What I'm Reading When I'm Not Refreshing Twitter #2

I promised this post wouldn't be a weekly feature, but I never said it wouldn't happen again. Here's what I'm currently reading on the internet when I'm not refreshing Twitter.

"After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right? Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's," then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with."         -I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why.  By Kyle Wiens.

"I don’t want more than I need, of anything. I want enough. Enough to be healthy, and safe. Enough to share with everyone. Enough for everyone everywhere to eat, sleep in warmth and safety, to learn freely, to express their ideas, to choose their partners, to believe what they choose. I think most of us have forgotten what enough even feels like."          -Enough! By Marianne Elliot (emphasis mine.)

"In the past, I have sought to understand "men" instead of the person right in front of me. And I have expected myself to be "woman," ignoring my very own heartbeat, my very own Self."          -The Most Difficult but Greatest Lesson I've Learned in One Year of Marriage from Lauren Dubinsky  
What are you guys reading these days? Share some links in the comments - I can always use something new to read!
(Also - did you guys know that is a thing? Because, oh yeah - that's a thing. No, I was no paid to tell you about this. Jeez, internet police.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

we went strolling and drank lemonade.

It's seemed like summer the past few days in DC. Hot and sunny, not too muggy. I know this weather will end because it's too good to last and we'll get a real spring soon - it will get rainy and humid and I'll wonder why I forgot AGAIN to invest in a good pair of rain boots.  But for now, it's been perfect weather for shorts and having a beer outside with your bare legs propped up, on a boat if possible. Yesterday was my first time seeing the East Coast shoreline from somewhere other than a plane and my first time sailing. (And, let's be real - my first sunburn of the season.)

This summer, I want more of that. More days sailing and hiking. I want day trips to the beach and nights out with friends. I want to wear flip flops and sunglasses everyday. And lots of sundresses. I want those freckles I get on my face every summer. I want to think a little less and laugh a lot more. I want to cool off in museums or by pools. I want picnics on the Mall and reading in the park and a hand to hold. It's been a while since I had someone to laugh with late at night and I want that again too.

Here's to the next few months of hot, muggy days and warm, summer nights.

(I also want to find this movie on DVD. Grease forever!)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

moving out is moving on is moving forward is moving toward.

I just finished my last solo dance party in my first DC apartment. In the thirteen months I’ve lived here, I’ve had a lot of those. It’s one of those things that reminds me that, oh yeah, I am only 22.

I hand back my copy of the key to my landlord this week. And while I’ve already been living with my new roommate Maxie for a month and my stuff hasn’t been here for a while, it’s just hitting me that moving out means leaving this apartment behind. 

The thirteen months I’ve lived here have been a little turbulent. I moved in with a significant other, loved it, hated it, and then watched it all turn to hell. I realized that the college major I’d picked – while fascinating – wasn’t the right career field for me. I struck out on my own then realized I wasn’t ready for entrepreneurship either. I took what was supposed to be a temporary job while I “found myself” and ended up finding myself loving it. I realized where my real future is – in teaching.
I did a juice cleanse for the first time while in this apartment. I started caring about what I put in my body, cut out a lot of processed trash, started eating mostly organic foods, and decided that not all green things are terrible. I found out that I actually kind of like running, and finally, finally got into a yoga routine. I got “too busy” and too obsessed with my job to take care of me then reclaimed that time for myself that had always been built in during school. 

While living here, I found a few friends I don’t think I can ever give up, strengthened friendships with some people back home and have watched some of those other bonds start to fade. I dated a much older man, cared too much for someone else – someone I shouldn’t have – and I completely broke someone else’s heart. For God’s sake, I even gave life-long celibacy some serious consideration while I lived here.

I lost someone very close to me while living here: a beautiful, strong woman that helped raised me. And while I’m still not ready to talk about it, I know that my mom is who my grandmother raised her to be, and so every time I speak with her, I’m speaking with my grandmother too, in a way.

I learned two very big lessons while I lived here: The first is that it’s okay to be wrong. I’ve always held myself to ridiculous standards and I hate being wrong. But celibacy? Wrong. Career in politics/non-profits? Wrong. Getting emotionally involved with someone I shouldn’t have? Wildly, ridiculously, borderline-anxiety-attack-inducing-what-the-actual-fuck-was-I-thinking? wrong. And you know what? Everyone may not make the same mistakes, but we all make mistakes. And that – while horrifying in the moment – is as important as it is forgiving.

And the second lesson? I learned to stand up for myself while having solo dance parties in this living room. I learned to stop taking shit from people, and to say no when it needs to be said. I’ve just barely started to grasp the meaning of the phrase, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I’ve spent a lot of time fighting with myself over the kind of love I think I deserve. (And I’ve read Perks of Being a Wallflower a hundred times.)

I’ve done a lot of crying and a lot of drinking in this apartment. (Sorry, Mom.) But I also learned that finding the bottom of a bottle doesn’t make me feel any better. And tonight, as I walk out and turn off the lights for the last time, I think a little part of me will want to cry again, both for the memories of what transpired here and the freedom to have a dance party whenever the fuck I want.

But that’s what moving out – and moving forward - is, isn’t it? Leaving some things behind to accept and embrace the new things that are coming. We have to hold on to a positive perspective in order to make it through without always looking back. Leaving this apartment and the freedom of living alone means I get to have the company of a roommate (and an adorable cat!) and the financial freedom to save money for grad school. 

 And hey – I am only 22. I don’t think I’m ready to give up dance parties in my living room yet, if ever.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

habits, things that work until they don't, and time for the things that matter.

{Even Gmail gave up on counting my unread email - I don't blame 'em.}

Here's the thing about systems: They work until they don't. But if they never worked, they never will. You can't just close your eyes and cover your ears and whistle and then poof! Zero inbox, organized desk, schedule that works for you, clean apartment, healthy body, etc., etc., INSERT WHATEVER GOAL HERE.

I've fought against the ideas of systems, habits, and routines since I was a kid - I thought that since I'm all a 'free spirit' and an artist, I didn't need routines and deadlines and systems because, you know, I was above that. Habits and systems and routines were for Wall Street and "boring people."

And then? Then I found myself drowning in my email - I still have ~300 unread emails as we speak. I had all but completely stopped blogging, and reading others' was all but impossible. Learning French was NOT going well. Writing became a rare privilege instead of a daily thing. I rarely used my camera - and I was supposed to be running a photography business! I was losing contact with my friends. I was forgetting little things at work. My apartment looked like it had been ransacked and robbed, regularly. And I don't even want to talk about my finances.

Every once in a while I would sit down and spend time "catching up" and never really "getting ahead." It was exhausting. And it was taking up so much time - taking away time from the things that really mattered.

So I'd cover my ears again and sing to myself some more and close my eyes really tightly and hope - HOPE - I'd stop receiving emails or would just magically have time to do ALL THE THINGS. But as I've even talked about before, our time is limited

Slowly, I've started admitting I need systems to help me out - 2013 marks my third year with an Erin Condren planner. (And this year mine is color coded for different responsibilities!) My gmail inboxes - oh yes, plural - now all forward to one catch-'em-all email address so I don't have to log in to multiple accounts to check my email. I have discovered the Archive button - how did I live without it?

I'm admitting that you know, habits? Some of them - like folding laundry - ain't so bad. With them my apartment doesn't become a clusterhell of clothing and shoes and dishes and hey-is-this-clean? Like the Archive button in Gmail, now habits like immediately writing things in my planner are things I can't believe I ever survived without. And I think that's the best sign of a good habit.

I've still got some a lot of bad habits. (Damn you, Netflix 15-second auto-play feature!) But I keep coming back to three things that help me find the strength to work on replacing bad habits with new more helpful ones.
  • The first is this article from the Harvard Business Review: If You Don't Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will. McKeown talks about how to start framing moments in our lives as choices instead of obligations, which can make it easier to make the right choice for our priorities.
  • The next is the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I haven't even finished it yet and it's making me look at the relationship between success and habit wildly differently. Duhigg shows readers how we create habits, how we can replace habits, and how habits can lead to a happy, more successful life.
  • Asking Why the fuck? over and over for every commitment I make.
Listen, routine doesn't have to be bad. We can't change everything and start a million new routines that will simplify our lives all at once because - hey! starting a million things at once is effing complicated. But if you're feeling how I was, pick one thing and start there.

I started with just writing in a planner. When I started goal-setting, I learned that I needed to actually schedule action steps for myself. Eventually, I started to print my monthly goals off and frame them so I'd see them without opening the Word doc. Later, I started using Chrome exclusively so I could have the Any.Do to-do list extension to sync with the Any.Do app on my iPhone. Then, I forwarded all my email into one catch-all inbox that is organized with labels, then unsubscribed from a whoooole lot of email lists.

Notice though - Started. Eventually. Later. Then. It's taken a long time and I'm not done. (Next up is limiting how much time I spend checking/responding to email.) Building systems that work for you is sort of always "in the works." Because, to come full circle, your systems will only work until they don't. Having Reeder on my iPhone used to work for me for reading blogs, but now that I have a car and don't take the bus as much, it doesn't work for me anymore. I need to find a way to replace that system, but maybe it will work for you.

Do you guys have any good habits or systems that help you simplify your life to make room for the things you care more about?

Monday, March 11, 2013

the question of framing.

On February 26th, my grandmother passed away at 87 years old. She had been diagnosed with cancer a little over a year before - an aggressive cancer that had sapped her strength and left her exhausted soon after her prognosis.

I'm sad she's gone, of course, but I'm also relieved she's no longer in pain. I'll miss her and I regret that I hadn't seen her since September, but my desire to see her again is tempered by my relief that I never saw her when the pain got really bad, when she got really sick. My memories of her will always be ones full of health and happiness.

The only thing I'm struggling with though, is the framing of it. As society, we see cancer as a battle. "She's fighting cancer," we lament. Sometimes, we rejoice: "He beat cancer!" It's supposed to be empowering. And for many people with cancer, I think (hope?) that helps.

But what about when they don't beat cancer? I don't want to think of my grandmother passing away as her loss in a battle. I don't want to frame it as a "defeat."

My grandmother left El Salvador at the beginning of their civil war. She raised three kids - a son and two daughters - mostly on her own. She put them through school, my mother through UCLA, without having gotten a high school diploma herself. She hadn't learned English before moving to California, but she worked hard as a nurse to put food on the table, clothes on their backs, and create a life for them here.

She was strong. One of the strongest women I've ever had the fortune to know, let alone be related to. She worked hard, protected her family, and in many ways fought a lot of battles so my mother and her siblings wouldn't have to.

The idea of her losing to anything? Now? I'm not okay with that. I can't - won't - see it that way. But when someone isn't sure of Heaven and doesn't see death as "going home," and therefore a "win" (so to speak), how do you frame it?

No matter the answers, one thing here is clear - Don't miss out on a chance to go see someone, especially if they're sick. Hug your loved ones today and tomorrow. There may not be a day after.

And also? Screw cancer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What I'm Reading When I'm Not Refreshing Twitter

I'm not even going to pretend that I'm ever going to do this again, that I'll ever make this list again, or that this will become a weekly thing. But, for this Sunday, I'm sharing a few things that I've been reading when I'm not mindlessly refreshing Twitter.

"There isn’t an audacious type. We’ve all got it, the audacity to do the things no one believes we can, we’ve just got to unearth it."
-I Wasn't the Exercise 'Type' -- Until I Was by xo, Jane

"Growing up, we were told by guidance counselors, career advice books, the news media and others to 'follow our passion.' This advice assumes that we all have a pre-existing passion waiting to be discovered. If we have the courage to discover this calling and to match it to our livelihood, the thinking goes, we’ll end up happy. If we lack this courage, we’ll end up bored and unfulfilled — or, worse, in law school."
Follow a Career Passion? Let it Follow You by Cal Newport

"Those of you who walk around telling everyone how busy you are, get a grip. Make some tough choices and calm down. There’s a big difference between a busy day and a full day."
Don't Tell Me You're Busy by Penelope Trunk

"At 41, she’s the youngest woman to join this year’s Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list without help from a husband or an inheritance. She is part of a tiny, elite club of American women worth ten figures on their own, including Oprah Winfrey and Meg Whitman."
Sara Blakely: Youngest Self-Made Woman to Join the Forbes Billionaires Club

"So write... Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker."
by Sugar

And now, I'm off to catch up on episodes of the Daily Show, do a little journal-ing, and write (like a motherfucker). What do you guys do when you're not refreshing Twitter?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

the mayans were wrong, so where does that leave us?


Real talk: I'm a little bit superstitious. Since the day I heard about the whole Mayan prophecy, a liiiittle part of me always kind of expected it to happen. Maybe not in an apocalyptic fire and brimstone kind of way, but you know, maybe.

So, naturally, I wasn't surprised that as December 21st got closer and closer, I got more and more reflective over my (short) life - successes, failures, regrets, plans unfinished, ideas should the Mayans be wrong... And now that we've survived and know they were in fact wrong about the whole End-of-the-World thing, I've been feeling a little more free. It's like there aren't any deadlines anymore.

And maybe this is just the thrill of the new year and a "clean slate" (and a new planner to fill!) talking, but it feels good. I feel like the opportunities are innumerable, like 2013 could go anywhere I want it to, and like any goals are possible to accomplish.

What are you guys going to try to do in 2013, since the Mayans were wrong and all?

And Happy (super belated) New Year everyone!