Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Days.

Today is (fingers crossed and everything goes well) my last, first day of school! It is also getting to be the end of one of the best summers I have had in a long time. I don't think that I've ever been able to look back on the last few months and seen so clearly how much my life has changed and I have changed with it. All corniness aside, it feels awesome to know that the first step to change really is to just make the decision to change. (Gah, look at any motivational quote, blog, website, whatever and they will the say the same thing, dammit it's cliche for a reason, it's true)

I am so happy that I made the decision to finish Grad school early. Originally, I was going to finish next spring. I ended up taking a class this summer and enrolling full-time for fall semester because I finally feel ready to be done with school. I think that I held on to being in school as some sort of security blanket for a long time. If I was still in school, it didn't matter that I worked at an unrelated law firm job. That wasn't the real me and I would do what I was supposed to do in some undefined future time. It was a way to hold off taking a dive into the real world, which means putting myself out there, vocalizing my wants, asking myself tough questions, getting uncomfortable, and finally actually acting on those wants.

I was waiting to act instead of just ... doing it.

Now, I'm anxious and excited to be done with school! I am determined to have the best last semester in school and to transition into the next stages of my life. Instead of biding my time and expressing disdain for what I am doing in anticipation to some distant "future," that only vaguely exists in my mind, I truly am ready to enjoy my last semester, to use it for all its worth, and to really live in every moment. I also realize that the future you want doesn't just "appear," you have to build it. These past few months have helped me realize that, so I already have nostalgia for the past few months. They have been wonderful!

Anyway, in keeping with my "last days," theme (obviously not to be confused with the Gus Van Sant movie) I thought I would share some good summer 2014 memories.

Favorite Moments from the Summer: 


1. Swimming in our "Secret Spot," in Harper's Ferry
Our "Spot"

Mike and I were so proud of ourselves because we packed a picnic, drove to Harper's Ferry, WV, hiked down from our car to the river and actually found a generally secluded spot to hang out for a few hours. I got into the water with the intention of swimming for awhile. The water was freezing and I decided that taking a quick dip in the water counted as "swimming." After awhile we heard something in the trees, both a tad freaked out, and this man decked in fishing gear walked by us with his dog. We were never quite as alone as we thought, but for awhile it felt like we were which was pretty awesome.

Me, freezing. 

2. Outer Banks 


We try to make it to the Outer banks, North Carolina every summer. With our busy schedules, we were only able to stay for a few days this time around. That was kind of a bummer, but we still had a lot of fun. The ocean was beautiful, we ate crabs, spent time with family, and had great nights.




3. Running 

I finished my first run (5k) in May! A 5k feels so distant and short to me now, but there was a time not too long ago that the prospect of running one mile made me sick with anxiety! Now I have my sights set on a half marathon. I look back fondly on this first "fun" run.



4. My last "first," day: 

No more education in the traditional sense for me after this! After this last semester of graduate school, I don't anticipate doing another program, like a PhD, or something similar. I can see myself taking a few classes here or there in the future. Here is me when I graduated high school! I look like such a baby and can't believe it was six years ago! It feels equally like a million years ago and like yesterday. So is life!

Older me would like to know where I got those jeans. 
5. The MANY other things that I did not have a camera for

I'm so bad at remembering to take pictures! I don't ever want to overdue it with the picture taking, but I do wish I took more time to capture moments. It's something I'm trying to work on. :D

-----

I am very happy for the wonderful memories from this summer and for the ones I am determined to make this semester and beyond. I hope everyone else had a great summer and has great plans for the fall.

Fall is my favorite time of year and Halloween is my favorite holiday. I still haven't figured out what to dress up as this year. Typically, Mike and I will spend October trying to watch as many horror movies as we can, marathon-month style. It can even bleed into September because we simply can't wait to start watching movies!

Anyways, as the summer is not yet over, we still have a few more "summer," activities planned for September that I am looking forward too: hiking, camping, music-camping festival. September will hopefully be a really awesome month and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully with it comes cooler temperatures as well.

How was everyone else's summer? Any awesome fall plans? What should I dress up as for Halloween? (hahahaha)



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turning Comparison Into Good



There is that saying that, "misery loves company," and I get it. When I am stuck in a rut and feeling pretty crappy, I find myself in this bitter state, looking around me and picking out bad qualities in people. It is like I will latch onto anything that I can. I will turn something that is not even negative into a negative quality or trait. Or worse yet, I will get into this nasty, out of control, comparison spiral of oblivion that's just full of self-hatred.  It's like I focus my energy on pointing out someone else's flaws instead of facing the issues I am so obviously having with myself ... like maybe I just had a bad day, or I am tired.

Does anyone find them selves doing this?

The thing is, social media makes the whole comparison deal even worse. I've found myself sitting at my computer, seemingly for hours, just scrolling through people's profiles (whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs) When I come around to someone's profile and they have done something that I have always wanted to do, have a job I love, went to a country I've always wanted to visit, etc, I'm at a point where I can make a decision:

-Get jealous and begin dismissing any of their accomplishments
OR
-Try and find out how they achieved what they have.

There was a time when jealousy would have been my default reaction. I did not even think that there was necessarily anything bad in that, because I was so used to just dwelling on those negative thoughts like it was normal and okay.

But there are a few things that I now know a few things to be true:

1. The only thing you can control is your reaction
2. You are in charge of building your life to your desired specifications 

With these in mind, I have been in the process of training my brain to not go to the negative first. When I see someone that has accomplished something awesome and I have the chance to speak with them, I am ready to ask them the steps they took to achieve this dream, the lessons they learned along the way, the unexpected things they had to do.

Not only can you actually form a blueprint of success for yourself, you don't end up feeling all negative and jealous.

Sometimes I get into ruts, still (and honestly I probably will for the rest of my life). I may feel negative or that none of my ambitions will come to light or I just feel plain lazy. It reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which everyone should definitely read and I have talked about before) in which Pirsig talks about gumption and gumption traps.

Essentially gumption is what keeps us going along our tasks and yet we can fall into "traps" in which we are no longer being productive in these tasks. I love Pirsig's common-sense suggestions of how to come out of one of these traps, drink some dark coffee, take a nap, whatever works for you. Pirsig is an incredible writer and spends pages upon pages describing something I could never fit into a few words. Suffice to say, just go check him out and procure yourself a copy of ZAMM!

I think that having healthy comparison can be a good thing. I think that it can be productive.

In a world where the stereotype of professional women as "Bitchy" persists and  the image of Lady Bosses as unhelpful (and even harmful) to other women starting their careers persists, I think re-framing comparison is especially important. Women should help each other be successful in their careers, and their own accomplishments can be a guide.

I am definitely not perfect when it comes to comparison and occasionally find myself envious. But I am constantly evolving to be a better person and I hope that one day I can help someone else achieve their aspirations, whether by example, advice, or by being a mentor.





Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thoughts that inevitably go through my head while I am running

1. This is not bad at all, I could probably go like ten miles today. Why do I think this is so hard?
2. I totally look like a bad ass, I bet people are thinking that I look like a bad ass.
3. Oh, look a tree! I love nature, why don't I spend more time in nature?
4. I can definitely go a faster pace, I am strong!
5. Okay, don't get too crazy and trip.
6. Do I normally breathe like that? I feel like I'm breathing strange today.
7. That person run by me ... what a showoff.
8. Why is it so hot?!
9. I hate nature.
10. Maybe I'll just go a half mile more and then turn around.
11. My leg hurts. Is my leg supposed to hurt?
12. Shut up brain! Focus on something else.
13. A Stone! Dirt! Tree! A bird! Look at that nice couple walking!
14. I am thinking too much about not thinking about running and how I want to die.
15. Okay, you can do it, you have ran longer than this before.
16. Pain is good, pain is good, pain is good.
17. (Whatever corny motivational phrase I recently read becomes my mantra)
18. Push push push!!
19. This is it, I am am probably going to die.
20. Only a little way longer!

Seriously, I can't believe the roller coaster my brain goes on while I run. They say that running is all about mindset and I can totally understand that. I find it so easy to convince myself that I am too weak to finish a run, yet I finish it and I feel great afterwards!

What do you guys think about when your running? Working out? How do you push yourself to finish?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Busy summers and doing what's best for you

Do you remember when summers used to be that awesome time of year that you would spend your days carefree and unplanned. Hours spent outside with your friends, making forts, playing games, getting scraped up and unknowingly tanned. The beginning of the summer library trips and huge "summer stacks," piled up in the corner of my room, waiting to be consumed. What I miss most about summer as a kid was how little I cared about planning out my time and how little reflection I gave to if I was spending time doing something productive or not.

I honestly don't know if I'd rather be young again, or if I prefer the independence of being an adult. Sure, its crazy but it feels really cool to be able to actually control your own life and destiny and all that corny junk.

I've come to the end of a crazy busy schedule (Whew!) and have found that the summer is almost gone and I've barely looked or touched this blog! I would have loved to have been able to write something but life has amped up in the past two months at an alarmingly speed. Well, I should say that I could have made time to write on here but instead chose to spend my extra time watching Netflix or mindlessly surfing the web, and generally being lazy.

Since I finished my classes in May the following have happened:

-Got a job that I was very excited about
- Heard back from an internship and accepted it.
-Finally heard back from a dream fellowship after sending my application into the big black hole that is job searching on the web.
- Had to quit said job which incited inner turmoil.
- Started fellowship and internship.
- Signed up for summer class so I can finish graduate school early.
- Juggled fellowship, internship, condensed summer class, and volunteering.
- Tried to make the most of time off.
- Slept well every night.

I feel like a jerk for insinuating that my summer activities have been a burden, because they have not been at all. I have been happily busy and loving learning how to juggle it all. I have also found that I have learned a few things about working in general.

For one, I had the worst time quitting the job that I got only after accepting it/working for less than a month. I still feel crappy about it. During the month that I was at this job, while I liked the work, I definitely found myself distracted and bored. I enjoyed the mission, but it didn't' feel like my mission or passion. When I was offered the fellowship, it was in something that I had hoped to get into for quite awhile. I think I knew it was the right thing to do, to quit, but the whole thing made me stressed out and unsure. I even Googled, "How to make a hard decision," in the hopes that the internet could make my decision. On one hand, I knew that in either position, I wouldn't be making a ton of money. If I quit the job I had just taken, I felt like I would screw the organization (or I thought). I just didn't want to seem like an asshole. If I took the fellowship, it would be in a field that I felt passionate about and an area met with equal passion. When I finally spoke to another person at my internship about it the answer seemed kind of obvious, I had to take the fellowship. Their advice:

                                                            "Shit happens"

While crass, it's true. It's life, and its messy, and things don't work out how you planned and in or in an orderly manner.

My next move was to take the fellowship and to quit my job. My supervisor was out of the office for an extended amount of time so I did what any other confident person would do, I emailed her with a meek excuse and a lame apology. Inner me shakes still shakes my head at doing that because I know that's not what you are supposed to do. You are supposed to be upfront and confident in your decisions. The worst part of this whole experience was that I got a really bad stomach bug which took me out for a few days. One of  those days happened to fall on what was supposed to be my last day at work. My stint at the first job ended so badly.

My fellowship has so far been exactly what I expected and so much more. At its core, my fellowship is with an organization I believe in, a topic I am passionate about, and it is the right amount of challenging and fun. There really is something to this whole, love your job and you will never work a day in your life saying because I haven't felt like I have had a job since I have gotten this position, when technically,  I do.

I was able to complete an internship with my free days, which fulfills some graduate requirements at my school. With the completion of my internship and my summer class, I am all set to graduate this coming December.

I am thrilled. I am ready to take on the challenge of a full-time semester and I am happy that I had the energy and foresight to push through this challenging summer.

This summer has also been fun. I've been able to visit with family and friends, go camping, kayaking, hiking, spend time in the water, and complete plenty of jogs. I've been lucky enough to have a few adventures.


                                                             Harper's Ferry

Enjoying the River and doing outdoor summer crap 

Before the heat disappears I want to make sure I go kayaking and camping again, perhaps at the same time. I still haven't figured out where or when.

This summer and year has definitely been one of the better ones of my life. I wouldn't have expected saying that in January, but it's the case now. Its been full of challenges and self discovery and I appreciate all of it.










Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Freer Gallery --- A Little Known Gem?

A bonus of living in the DC metro area is that there is an abundance of free museums and monuments that are available to see anytime you want. It surprises me still when I talk to people who live on the outskirts of DC and rarely, if ever, travel into the city. First, there is a ridiculous amount of museums and sites to see. Seriously, you could never see them all. Secondly, I'm a student and I don't make a ton of money, if it is free my interest is sparked and my eyes light up in delight. 

Finally, and personally, it annoys me so much when people stick to their suburbs like some kind of security blanket. 

"But there is a Giant right on the corner and I know where everything is, why would I go to the city where its scary and I have to take the METRO?" 

Why would you put yourself through this torture? Here's why: the suburbs can be boring. Yes, its nice that there are all of your favorite stores close by but literally the nation's capital is just a few metro stops away. And if you are really brave it's only a stress induced drive and abysmal parking experience away. 

I have noticed from the people that do go into DC (or visit) that the Freer Gallery doesn't get much love. I mean you've got your main places: Air and Space, Natural History, Archives, Art Museum, American History, Holocaust, and the monuments. On the one hand, I understand that if you are visiting and have limited time, you should go the the "main" sites but I still think Freer should be on that list. 

The Freer Gallery has got to be one of my favorite museums in DC for several reasons: 

-You can get to it by metro. 
-The building is unique. 
-Its content is an eclectic mixture of Asian, Islamic, Ancient Egyptian art, and American Art.  
-It's small enough that you can get through the whole thing in an hour or so. 

Art dedicated to the fish's form ... how wonderfully Japanese. 
Try and mimic this guy's expression



























My recent visit to Freer reminded me why I love it so much. I would recommend it to anyone that has not already gone. Maybe I am crazy but I really think that it gets overlooked in comparison to its famous neighbors. It's a small building compared to the Air and Space and Natural History Giants that surround it. I mean, the Smithsonian Castle looks like Hogwarts compared to Freer so of course you are drawn in that direction. The mall might be packed with visitors, but the times I have gone to Freer, it has been dead ... even on weekends. 

You must be this tall! 




I believe these guys represented the different directions of the wind, but then again, I may be totally wrong. 
The room. . . 

I don't know, am I crazy, do you think people give Freer enough love? 


In other news, I'm super excited for DC Pride starting this weekend to next. I am not sure how much I will go to, especially since I am trying to save money like mad, but I am definitely trying to go to the Parade. It should be fun. 










Monday, May 26, 2014

Brow Transformation

Phew, I've been a tad manic lately, starting a hundred and one projects, my mind all over the place. The momentum of being busy with work and school pursuits have bled into my personal life and I have kept myself busy with many projects. One of these has been going through a storage box with old family pictures, clips, patches, etc. That said, I have come across many awkward pictures from my past!

One of my favorite subreddit's on reddit is /r/MakeupAddiction/. If you ever go on it (and I recommend it for helpful tips and inspirations) they feature brow transformations. You know you were a teenager and given tweezers, left to your own devices, and ended up over zealously plucking at your brows. Then you grow up and grow in wisdom and realize the error of your young ways... Some of the pictures that people post are so incredible.

I thought that for sure my eyebrows had NEVER suffered such over tweezed madness and I was utterly mistaken.


























So many awkward feelings right now. I mean the hair, the brows, the makeup, the braces, my swim suit ...

I'm still growing out my brows and I keep telling myself that someday I'll be at Cara Delevingne status. If I think hard enough, I will will my eyebrows to grow thick and shapely ... right?

Well that's my small awkward high school blurb for today. I have some what I believe are some major life stuffs coming up this summer (and beyond). I still haven't decided if I'll blog about it just yet, so I'll keep my tiny audience here posted on that.

Happy Memorial Day Interwebs!!





Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Simpler Times

I wish I could be as amused by simple things like dolls stuck in those wire maze doohickeys (what the hell are they called anyways ?!) as I was when I was this little.


I'm still not sure why my parent's insisted on dressing me like a little boy, but what can you do?

It's hard to believe when you go through old photos that you used to be so damn SMALL. Also, the late 80's and early 90's fashion is kind of wonderful. 

Does anyone else feel like we lose something by not having film cameras anymore? I feel like pictures meant more to take back then, so we waited until the most opportune moment to snap. I'm probably talking out of my ass but I physical family albums are a dying thing and its a bit sad. I sound like a total old fogey reminiscing about the good ole days so I'll quit while I'm ahead.