26 Lessons I Learned This Year

26 Lessons I Learned This Year

Last year on my 25th birthday, I wrote a post called 25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but I’m back with a similar post in honor of my 26th birthday. This time I thought I’d share lessons I learned this past year specifically. It was a year of a lot of change and personal growth, so I found it surprisingly easy to come up with 26 lessons I wanted to share with you all.

So, in no particular order, here are 26 things I learned this year:

  1. I learned to embrace all parts of myself, especially the parts I try to hide, suppress, or deny. In Jungian psychology, there’s something called the “shadow”, which essentially refers to the things we don’t like about ourselves. Those personality traits we wish we didn’t have. This year I’ve finally learned to embrace my shadows and listen to the gifts they are trying to give me.
  2. I learned that putting myself first is not selfish. I finally started looking out for my own best interests, and standing up for myself.
  3. I learned I need to take responsibility for my own happiness. I can complain all I want, and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way, but at the end of the day I am the only person who has control over how I’m feeling.
  4. I learned that not doing something for fear of failure feels much worse than trying and failing. I had my fair share of “failures” this year, but I also had a lot of moments of courage that paid off. I always regret non-action more than I regret trying and failing.
  5. I learned everyone has a different timeline for their life. My life might not follow the exact same path, or timeline, as my friends. And that’s okay. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I will get everything I want in life exactly when I am meant to.
  6. I learned that every year will bring new friendships. I always like thinking about the people who helped me celebrate my birthday this year, versus last year. Each year brings so many amazing new friends into my life.
  7. I learned forgiving others and forgiving yourself can set you free. Holding grudges causes so much stress, and really weighs me down. This year I finally learned how to let go of the past, from things others have done wrong to things I have done wrong.
  8. I learned to use my voice to stand up for what I believe in, and share my opinions. I spent so many years feeling afraid to be vulnerable and talk about how I really feel. This year I finally realized people want to hear what I have to say.
  9. I learned there’s always someone else going through something similar. Talking about what I’m going through (on this blog, social media, or in person) can help others feel less alone.
  10. I learned therapy and life coaching only gets me so far if I don’t make the effort to help myself. I’m unashamed to say I’ve utilized therapy and coaching this year, and both have helped me a lot. But they are certainly not a cure. I have to find ways to help myself.
  11. I learned feeling better on a daily basis is as simple as doing more of what makes me feel good, and less of what makes me feel bad. One of the ways I’ve started helping myself is by doing more “self-care” which just means doing more of what lifts me up, and less of what brings me down.
  12. I learned most things in life aren’t black and white, and most situations and people are way more complicated than they seem. I changed my perspective on a lot of topics this year by being more open-minded and realizing not everything is as simple as it seems.
  13. I learned that a simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way. There were plenty of times this year where I messed up and was worried I couldn’t fix it. But in my experience, just saying sorry was the key, and people are more forgiving than I expected.
  14. I learned past traumas will follow me until I stop avoiding or suppressing the memories. I finally started acknowledging, and more importantly, talking about past experiences I hadn’t been ready to confront in the past. It really helped to stop bottling it up.
  15. I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable. People really appreciated it when I opened up more this year and wasn’t afraid to be emotional or talk about difficult topics.
  16. I learned I can’t predict or plan how my life will go. I have to just live in the moment. I’ve always been a planner, and I hate not knowing what’s going to happen in my life. But I took a step back this year and learned to appreciate the unknown.
  17. I learned my intuition is almost always right, and I need to listen when that inner voice is telling me something. I’m the queen of second guessing myself, but this year I started to get the hang of trusting myself more and not ignoring my gut feeling.
  18. I learned some of the best memories will be the simple moments. This year was filled with game nights, deep conversations at coffee shops, going on walks with my mom, weekly dinners with my dad, happy hours with friends. The simple times are the moments that stay in my mind.
  19. I learned it’s okay to ask for help. I’m the type of person who always wants to figure things out for myself, and I always feel hesitant to admit I need help. I’m finally starting to break that habit.
  20. I learned not every job will be the right fit, and I deserve to find a job that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. Job satisfaction is something I’m still striving for, and this year made me realize I need to make it a priority.
  21. I learned it’s okay to be single. I was single this entire year, and I learned a lot about myself and finally got to a point of seeing the benefits of being alone.
  22. I learned I want to see as much of the world as I can. Travel is such a passion for me, and I’m glad I made an effort to travel more last year. I intend to do the same in 2019!
  23. I learned being my own worst critic doesn’t do me any good. Beating myself up always makes things worse. I might as well be my own biggest supporter!
  24. I learned exercising and eating healthier really does make me feel better. It seems obvious, but I spent a long time avoiding it and finally started embracing a healthier life towards the end of 2018.
  25. I learned everyone else is just as confused and scared as I am. Whatever I’m feeling at any given time, there are countless others feeling the same way. We’re all just doing the best we can!
  26. I learned a year goes by just like that, so I can’t waste a single day. Here’s to the best year yet!

Which lesson(s) do you relate to the most? What are some lessons you learned this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

Opening Up About Being Single

Opening Up About Being Single

In one of my recent posts, I talked about wanting to be more vulnerable, both in my personal life and on my blog. For me, blogging is all about sharing my experiences and aiming to help others. If I can touch even just one person with my writing, I am happy. Lately, so much of blogging and social media in general has become about this facade of perfection. But that’s just not me. I’m not going to pretend for a second that I’m perfect. I’d rather be authentic and share the real parts of life, in the hopes that someone else can relate to me.

With all that said, today I wanted to write about my experience being single. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I even opened up about it in a Facebook post which you can read below. Yay, vulnerability!

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To give some background, I’ve been single for a little over a year. Before that, I was in relationship that lasted for over two years. This past year I have actually genuinely enjoyed being single. I like having independence and being able to fully focus on myself and what I want. I’m planning to write a blog post all about the perks of being single, because I do feel like there are definite perks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t difficult times too. As I mentioned in my Facebook post, it can be overwhelming to constantly be surrounded by couples. Though I know none of my friend’s relationships are perfect, as no relationship is perfect, seeing all of them happy and in love makes me covet what they have.

Having been in a long-term relationship before, I can remember what it was like to have someone by your side, and I want that again. I want that person who I can call and vent to when bad things happen, or get excited with when good things happen. I want someone to travel with and experience new things with. I want someone who will always support my dreams and help me be a better version of myself. Sunday morning I woke up thinking about all of these things that I want and that I feel like I don’t have, and then it hit me. I do have those things, just not in a romantic partner. I am really lucky to have amazing friends and family. They love me, they support me, they make me feel more confident in myself, and they even travel with me. Realizing this doesn’t diminish my desire for a romantic partner, but it does remind me that love is not absent from my life.

I’m writing this from one of my favorite Austin cafes, Cenote. I was writing outside, but then I got bitten up by mosquitos and had to come inside. I’m adding this in here because I realized it has a parallel to what I’m talking about in this post. Mosquito bites suck. It isn’t fun to have itchy bites all over your legs. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m having a great night at one of my favorite places, enjoying good food and a nice glass of wine. Sure, I could choose to focus on the mosquito bites and let that ruin my night, but I am choosing to focus on the positives.

Being single sucks. It is not always fun. It can be lonely and make you doubt yourself. But if you look around you and take everything in, you’ll realize there are still wonderful things you can focus on. This past year has given me so many gifts and offered countless lessons. I’ve been able to focus on myself and my goals and dreams, and it has lead to some amazing memories. I started a new job, I’ve traveled to three new places, I’ve made many new friends and reconnected with old friends, I’ve started learning to play the keyboard, and so much more. By all accounts, this has been a great year. And it all happened without a boyfriend by my side.

What I want and what I need are two different things. When I see my friends in happy relationships, I want that. But if this year has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t need that in order to be happy and successful in life. It doesn’t meant that I don’t still want it or think I will have it eventually, because I definitely do. But it does mean that I am choosing to focus on the present and what I currently have, instead of being sad about what is missing.

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: Focus on the love you have in your life, not the love you feel you’re missing.

 

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

In my last blog post, I wrote about trying to be more vulnerable. I want share my thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics on this blog, in the hopes that some of you can relate. So with that in mind, today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately, which is the idea of feeling left out.

In the spirit of vulnerability, I’m going to start by sharing one of my most vivid childhood memories that deals with feeling excluded. In fourth grade, I had become very close with a girl in my class. We would wear matching outfits to school so we could be “twins”, and were attached at the hip for most of that year. Then suddenly, my friend started spending time with another girl. I noticed the two of them walking to classes together and playing on the playground without me, and I started feeling jealous and hurt. I was worried I was losing my best friend.

I remember one day in particular, we were walking to PE class. I saw my friend and her new bestie walking in front of me. I tried to catch up with them, but they turned around, looked at me, and walked faster to avoid me. Not only did this make me feel even more sad, but it also made me angry. In fact, I still remember exactly how angry it made me feel, and I would argue to this day that is the angriest I have ever felt in my entire life. I was so angry that when we were running laps in PE class a few minutes later, I ran behind Friend Stealer and pushed her down! Or rather, I attempted to push her down. My skinny, weak self only managed to make her stumble.

Moving on to current times, I think social media has only made it easier to feel left out. I recently checked Instagram, only to see some of my friends hanging out without me. Granted, I already had plans that night, but I still got that familiar pit in my stomach when I saw their Stories. Social media makes it so easy to see what other people are doing at all times, so it’s easy to feel left out or get FOMO. When situations like this come up, I notice that my first internal reaction is similar to how I felt in fourth grade. I start to think negative thoughts like, “am I losing my friends? They probably don’t want to hang out with me anymore.”

Now, I want to be clear that deep down, I don’t truly believe those kind of negative thoughts. When I try to take my emotions out of it and just look at the situations logically, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that does not involve people purposefully excluding me. But that’s the thing about emotions, isn’t it? You really have no control over how something makes you feel. The only thing you have control over is how you choose to react. Luckily, as an adult, I have gained the ability to stop myself from outbursts like pushing someone down when they exclude me. I no longer feel the overwhelming anger building up inside me, but I do still feel the sadness.

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When I experience situations where I feel left out, I choose to focus on the positive side of things. I remind myself of all the friends who are making an effort to spend time with me. Instead of letting the negative self-talk consume me, I attempt to change the narrative in my head. I think about all of the fun times I’ve had with friends recently, and remind myself that those fun times aren’t going to end just because a few people hung out without me. Sometimes by just thinking a little more logically about the situation, I’m able to make myself feel a little better.

It’s fascinating to me how, although we undoubtedly mature as we age, we still face many of the same emotional struggles as we did when we were kids. We just learn how to handle them better. Instead of pushing someone down, I’m choosing to get my feelings out in a blog post, and focusing on the positives in life. Yay for being more mature than my fourth grade self!

Do you have any childhood memories of feeling left out? Do you still have moments of feeling that way now? Let me know your experiences in the comments!

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

A little over a week ago I turned 25, and something about this age has made me reflect on everything I have learned in my life up until now. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am still very young in the grand scheme of things, and I have a lot more to learn about this thing called life. But I also feel that I have learned a thing or two on my journey thus far, so I thought I would share 25 nuggets of wisdom today, in honor of the 25 years I’ve been on this earth.

  1. If you’re afraid to do something, I ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” This is what my mom always asks me when I’m feeling nervous. Something about acknowledging what I’m really afraid of helps me think logically about the situation, and often makes me realize there isn’t much to be afraid of in the first place.
  2. If you want to get to know someone better, they probably feel the same way about you. Ask that coworker to eat lunch with you. Reach out to that new friend you just met to see if they want to grab dinner. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  3. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to be judging you. This is something I like to tell myself when I’m worrying too much about what others think of me. If you feel like you made a bad first impression on someone, I guarantee that person is thinking the same thing about himself/herself.
  4. Don’t put things off. If not now, when? I’m just as guilty as the next person of procrastinating, but I always feel so much more satisfied when I get things done. Speaking of which…
  5. Write to-do lists. I write lists of what I want to get done both at work and in my free time. I’m looking forward to crossing write blog post off my list after this!
  6. Try to say yes more. I’ve been testing this out a lot lately, and I’m already seeing positive results. In the last few weeks, I’ve said yes to going on a trip to Costa Rica in April, going to a trivia night for the first time, and attending an event with my coworkers where I ended up making some new friends! But with that being said…
  7. Know when to say no. As much as I am an advocate for saying yes, I have also been working on knowing my boundaries and when I need to say no. For me, that normally manifests when I find myself doing too much for other people and not paying enough attention to my own wants and needs.
  8. It’s important to get “me time” every week. I have a fairly busy schedule between work and my social life, and I’m the type of person that needs time to recharge. That’s where saying no comes in, as I sometimes have to turn down invitations from friends in favor of staying in and relaxing for a night.
  9. The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself. Be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter, and your own #1 fan. When you truly love yourself, others will love you even more.
  10. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. I’ve written about this quite a lot. From my time taking an improv class, to starting a YouTube channel, I’ve been pushing myself to do the things that scare me more and more as I’ve gotten older. And the kicker is, I never regret it!
  11. Don’t ignore your passions. Find ways to do more of what you love. A recent example for me is that I’ve started teaching myself to play piano again, after not playing for many years.
  12. Be selfish sometimes. My first instinct is to think about the other person and how they feel or what they want. This is a great quality to have, but I often need to remind myself I deserve to get what I want sometimes too.
  13. Don’t dwell on the past. In the end, this only brings you more pain, and holds you back from truly appreciating what you have.
  14. Always remember to be grateful. When I’m feeling down, I like to remind myself of all of the positive things in my life. No matter what you’re going through, there is always something to be grateful for.  
  15. It’s okay to fail. Nobody is perfect, everyone messes up from time to time. Plus, failures often teach us the best lessons and help us grow more than our successes.
  16. The logical and emotional parts of your brain don’t always agree. Sometimes your head knows something is a bad idea but your heart doesn’t want to listen. Or vice versa. The best thing you can do is just go with your gut instinct.
  17. Spend as much time outside as possible. Nothing makes me happier than going on a walk on a nice sunny day. Nature can truly feel healing at times!
  18. There’s no shame in going to therapy. You always hear people talk about exercising and taking care of your body by eating right, but we still don’t talk enough about taking care of our minds. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health!
  19. You’ll have bad days, weeks, months, and even bad years. But there is always something good amongst the bad. Focus on the good.
  20. Feelings aren’t facts. Just because you feel one way, doesn’t mean everyone feels that way. At the same time, just because someone feels differently than you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Nobody can control how they feel.
  21. Hindsight really is 20/20. It’s the unfortunate truth that situations and events in life become much clearer when they’ve become history. Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing something in the moment. Be thankful you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
  22. If someone annoys you, they probably remind you of yourself. This is a lesson I learned from my dad. We don’t like to see ourselves mirrored in others, which is why opposites can attract in friendships and romantic relationships. Whenever I express dislike for someone, my dad always asks me “what about that person reminds you of yourself?”
  23. Don’t be afraid to let people really know you. I’ve been trying to push myself to share more of my life with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who read this blog.
  24. Be fearless in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. I truly believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I try to set a lot of goals for myself, both in my personal life and my work life, so I always have something to be working towards.
  25. Never stop learning. I’m sure in the next 25 years of my life I will learn many more valuable lessons. And who knows, maybe I’ll still be sharing them on here!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on these life lessons, and share some of your own!

Also, I’d love to connect with you on social media! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

I had the pleasure of interviewing another travel blogger, who has a unique perspective on travel as an expat in Canada, a freelance travel writer and full-time travel blogger. Check out her travel blog and get to know her in my interview below.

When and why did you decide to become a travel blogger?

I initially set up my blog five years ago to provide a journal for myself of living in Hawaii, and to show readers the reality of living in paradise. I wrote a post on the things I learned after living in Hawaii, and readers and my friends in Hawaii told me they loved my post and could totally relate to what I wrote about.  This inspired me to share more of my island life.

In the About Me section of your blog, you say: For me, living abroad is the best way to get to know a country. What do you think you learn from living abroad that a tourist cant learn during shorter travel? 

Living abroad has given me an extended period of time to explore my host city and country, and get to know some aspects of a place other travelers are not aware of. For example, after living in Hawaii for a few years, I realized it was not all paradise. It also has many negative sides – too expensive to live, very limited job opportunities, island fever, and has the second worst traffic in the USA (behind Los Angeles). One cannot notice these parts by just going there on vacation. 

Hawaii Kai

Youre a full-time travel blogger and freelance travel writer. How did you transition your passion for writing into your full-time job?

I did not think much, I just decided to do it full-time because it would be the best to combine my profession with my passion for travel and sharing stories. When I just started out, I had no experience in travel writing. I joined the MatadorU travel writing program to hone my writing skills and get myself exposed to the travel journalism industry. There are support groups, valuable resources and work opportunities in the program that helped me transition as well.

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far with your blog?

One of my favorite parts of blogging is being a part of the supportive travel blogging community. I have met many bloggers and we have been very supportive of each other. You know the feeling when you get to know someone and totally understand what you are doing?

What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I still want to finish the MatadorU travel writing program. I signed up for the course three years ago and I am still only halfway through it. It is a huge commitment and it’s easy to get distracted, but I am determined to finish this course so I can step up my career.

What has been your favorite place youve visited, and where do you still want to visit? 

Alaska. It is the best place to visit in the USA if you love natural beauty. I have been to Alaska five times and I still want to return. 

I also wish to visit Churchill Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world with 300 days Aurora Borealis every year and only 3,000 residents. 

North Douglas Island

What is the biggest lesson travel blogging has taught you?

Always be kind and generous. The world is very small and the travel blogging community is no exception. Everyone loves working with those who are nice and easy to work with. 

What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

Having the opportunity to live abroad and travel around the world. I have seen poverty and people struggle with daily life and it makes me feel privileged to live the life I want in a developed country and be able to travel.

Who are some of the women (both in your personal life and famous people) who inspire you the most and why?

Julia Dimon, co-host of Word Travel, gave me the idea for travel writing in the first place. Her travel show revealed that it is possible to travel around the world full-time. She is quirky and practical, and you can tell she is very intuitive and smart.

I am also grateful to have met my travel blogger friend, Emily Luxton, when I just started out. We collaborated with each other and she invited me to her Facebook group where I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other travel bloggers. She offered me valuable advice on blogging and encouraged me to work with tourism boards when my blog was just five months old. Thanks to her, I was then offered a self-organized press trip to Winnipeg early this year despite my blog being so new.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a travel blog?

Focus on creating high-quality content, and try not to look at the numbers and your blog statistics. I used to obsess over social media, blog statistics and comment pods, but I found it very time-consuming and can only get me so far. If you offer something readers really need and write from your heart, followers will come and ask for more.

What is one thing most people dont know about you? 

I do not like most sweet foods and desserts, but chocolate and ice-cream are exceptions.

 

Make sure to follow Julie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to follow along with her exciting travels.

 

Book Review: Why Not Me?

Book Review: Why Not Me?

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I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last book review! I definitely want to write more this year, I’ve just been really busy lately, and I haven’t had a regular reading schedule for myself. But I finally got around to reading this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts.

Mindy Kaling has been one of my celebrity idols for a while now. From writing and acting in my favorite show of all time, The Office, to creating her own show, The Mindy Project, I have been following Mindy’s career for a long time and have been impressed with everything she’s accomplished. She also happens to be hilarious, and very inspiration when she wants to be. Not to mention she is an amazing writer. Mindy, if you’re reading this, I’m basically in love with you. No big deal.

I read Mindy’s first book and loved it, so I knew I would like this one if it was anything like the first. And it was, in all the best ways, while still bringing fresh topics and jokes to the table. It’s also full of great quotes, both inspirational and comical, so I thought I would try writing this review a bit differently. I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book, along with a bit of context. Hopefully this will give you enough of a sneak peek to make you want to read the book yourself.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t got it, flaunt it. ‘Cause what are we doing here if we’re not flaunting it?” 

This quote is from the chapter Unlikely Leading Lady, where Mindy tackles the topic of body image. She talks candidly about her relationship with her body, and the way the media tends to focus on her appearance since, as she puts it “women who are my size are so rarely seen on TV and film.” She also talks about how, although she has had her fair share of body image issues, in general her brain is filled with more important thoughts than what she weighs or whether or not she should eat dessert.

Mindy'sBrain

“As calm as I might be, still, about once a month, I wake up at 4 a.m. and lie in the dark worrying about the same handful of things.” 

This was from a short chapter at the end of the book, aptly titled 4 a.m. Worries. I liked this quote (and this chapter) because Mindy shared some of the real worries that keep her up at night. It made me feel better to know even someone as successful as Mindy still has fears in life. Some of the fears she listed included: what if I have nothing to say? What if I have too much to say and not enough time? 

“Confidence is like respect. You have to earn it.”

In the final chapter of the book, Mindy explains the connection between hard work and confidence. She states confidence must be earned, just like respect. And it must be earned after a lot of hard work. She fights against the idea shown in many movies and TV shows, that working too much is a bad thing. “I have never, ever, met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them.” 

I loved this quote because I think it is so inherently true, no matter where you live or who you interact with in life. As Mindy mentions, “That’s why the show Intervention is a hit, and everyone loves ‘worrying about’ Amanda Bynes.” People don’t like seeing others succeed, because it reminds them of everything they haven’t been able to do yet. Mindy goes on to say it perfectly: “When you’re winning it makes them feel like they’re losing, or worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me. There were so many other hilarious and inspirational parts of the book, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what they were! Comment below which quote was your favorite, and if you have already read this book or plan to in the future.

Table Talk Tuesday With Jessica Short

Table Talk Tuesday With Jessica Short

Another Tuesday, another Table Talk. My next guest is someone who I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with over the past few weeks, and after hearing her answers to the following questions, I realized we have even more in common than I thought! Help me give a warm, virtual welcome to Jess.

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Do you remember the moment you decided to start blogging? What made you take the plunge?

I’ve had three blogs so this is a hard question to answer! My first blog was really more of a journal in high school. My second one was a travel blog when I studied abroad for a semester in London. But I consider Short & Sweet my first “real” blog!

A little backstory for why I started my blog: I got married in January of 2016, and officially moved from my home in Oregon to where my husband and I went to school in California. Many of my best friends were still in Oregon and my husband was still a student, so I felt really lonely. I realized I needed to find something other than Netflix to fill my time, but didn’t really have any hobbies because for the past year or so I was wedding planning, getting ready to graduate, job searching, and then working two jobs, so I didn’t have time for it. I really enjoy processing through writing, so I thought doing a blog would be great, but I had no idea what to blog about. My husband and another friend gave me the idea of doing a blog about trying out different things every month, and I thought that was a great idea since most blogs have only one niche. I launched my blog in June 2016 after lots of prep, and it has been such a great thing to keep me busy!

Can you give me the elevator pitch for why someone should read your blog?

The Short & Sweet blog is different from any other blog! It is an experiment, a journey if you will, of rediscovering interests and adventuring into new ones. It is about making time purposeful, being adventurous, and having fun! Each month, I choose a new hobby/activity/skill to learn and blog about my experience. It could be a new passion or I could never want to do it again, but this is the time of life to try new things!

I love what you say in your About page on your blog: “I want to prove you can do something fun and meaningful with your time, even if you don’t have much of it.” I think a lot of us, myself included, can sometimes feel as if we don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. What’s your advice for making time for the fun and meaningful things in life?

That is a real struggle I have every day! Two things that have helped me make time for fun things are 1) Make an action plan! Even if it’s just one day or afternoon a month, put it on your calendar and plan something fun to do, either by yourself or with friends. And protect that time! Don’t let other things get in the way. 2) Once you make that plan, tell people who can keep you accountable, who will remind you to take a day off or to spend time on yourself even though it may feel counterproductive. I read a great quote the other day: “I’m learning that to rest is to not be weak.” Don’t feel guilty for spending time on doing things you love – see it as an opportunity to be rejuvenated so you can be the best you you can be!

What is your number one goal for your blog?

I want to show people that they can make time to try new things and that their time is valuable – it shouldn’t be wasted on watching TV all day or doing things that don’t have meaning! (Although I will admit, I’m a huge Netflix fan!)

A lot of 20-somethings battle with feelings of self-doubt and questioning if they are good enough, especially after graduating college and during the job hunt process. How have you managed to stay positive and not be too hard on yourself?

I really struggled with staying positive during the job search after college – it’s rough! I had this idea in my mind that I had to find my dream job right after college and if it was anything else I would be settling (even though I had no idea what my dream job even was). But once I realized that everyone has to start somewhere and that I wasn’t chained to a job for forever if I didn’t love it, that really helped. We have our whole lives to work, so it’s not the end of the world if we don’t find the perfect job right away!

If you had a life motto, what would it be? (Besides “Taylor Swift has just as many hours in her day as you do”, which I also loved on your About page. 🙂

Thank you! I love Tswizzle 🙂 I think my life motto would be Choose joy! I tend to be a little bit of a pessimist, and sometimes the way I feel about things can really shape my attitude. I have two “choose joy” signs – one at home and one at work – to remind me that I can choose something else. I can’t control what happens in my life, but I can control the way I respond to things.

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My husband – he is spending hours every day studying for his MCAT exam to get into med school, but he still makes our relationship a priority and serves me so well.

My church – I have such a great community through my weekly community group and in serving in the high school ministry; every time I’m with them I feel refreshed!

My job – I feel really blessed to have not only a full time job, but a job I truly enjoy, coworkers that are friends, and a company that I can get behind.

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Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have a huge girl crush on Shauna Niequist – she is an AMAZING blogger, author, and speaker. I just got her new book, Present Over Perfect, and it is really shaping the way I view myself and how I want to spend my time and energy. I would HIGHLY recommend her book! Also I love Blake Lively, she is just the cutest.

Your blog is all about rediscovering interests and finding new ones. I’m curious what your main hobbies and interests were as a child, and how they have changed as you’ve grown up?

I had SO many different interests as a kid! I was always really into art and crafty things, and I even went to an art school in junior high. I also did theater and musicals from a young age through high school. I did ballet for 7 years and then transitioned to cheerleading in high school, and I have always been a big reader. But I would say one of my huge passions ever since I was a kid was singing – I was always in choir and in high school I led worship at my church. I wanted to be the lead singer of a band for a really long time, but I ended up doing Communications instead. I still love singing, and I am definitely one of those people who will belt it out along with the radio in the car 🙂 Although I don’t do all of those hobbies anymore, I enjoy seeing other people do them and participating in them when I can!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be?

This is always a hard one for me – I would probably either be a horse because they are so majestic and free, or a golden retriever because they are so loyal and cuddly!

 

Thanks to Jess for being a great interviewee, and thank you to all of you for continuing to read my blog! As always, feel free to email me or reach out on social media if you’d like to be featured on a Table Talk Tuesday. And be sure to follow Jess on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

I can’t believe this is already my fourth Table Talk Tuesday interview. I’ve been having so much fun getting to know other bloggers through this blog series! Hopefully you all are enjoying reading these conversations so far.

For today’s interview, I’m very excited to introduce Imelda. I was immediately enchanted by her blog, which features her creative handmade products, as well as step-by-step guides to creating your own masterpieces. She is definitely an inspiration to me, and I’m sure many others, when it comes to following your passions.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into the interview so you can see what I mean:

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Can you tell me the story of how you decided to start your blog, and what your blogging journey has been like so far?

I was nearing the end of my engineering studies when it finally dawned on me that this was not my path in life and that if I wanted to pursue a creative career. Without disrespect for theoretical knowledge, I think that art and design is a profession that you master mainly by doing instead of pouring over books. So I decided that starting a blog about my creative journey would motivate me to do regular work. And so it has, for over a year.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog?

Know your passion. Blogging takes a lot of time and hard work but that all feels like a game when you write about something you are really fascinated with. If you blog about a topic you only choose for market (or whatever other) reasons, you will lose interest in the end.

You mention on the About section of your blog that blogging helped you not fall into the trap of laziness, because it pushed you to keep creating things. What are some other ways you stay productive and motivated?

The beauty of the creative field is that there are many different aspects of the work I do, so I don’t have to be productive in the same field all the time. Fed up with writing blog posts? No problem, time to illustrate! Been painting for days on end? It’s okay, I can spend my energy on building a community around my blog. But I also allow myself to be unproductive at times, those are the moments when I re-charge my batteries, which is crucial when you are a creative. 

You also talked how you realized during your time at university that you didn’t want to spend all of your life doing architecture/engineering, when your true passions were in design and beauty. What made you finally decide to pursue your passions? 

I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it. For the moment I am doing engineering as well as designing, which is demanding but I find I’m really lucky because I have a comfortable job, which I am choosing to do as well as a designing career, which comes naturally, and which I will eventually do full-time. So I guess I never made a very conscious decision to pursue my passion, I just acted on the natural impulse. 

“I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it.”

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

That is definitely a hard one, as I have a very long gratitude list and I don’t normally rank them, but here it goes: I am incredibly grateful to my grandmother for introducing art to me from a very early age, to my blogger friends who keep encouraging me even when blogging seems pointless and to Mr Mozart for his genius music, which cheers me up in every situation.

What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes?

There is a quote above my desk that I learned from Thomas Frank’s youtube channel: “’I don’t feel like it’ is a matter of choice”. It is very tempting – especially in the creative field – to only do work when you ‘feel inspired’. But inspiration is something you can actually control and the difference between amateur and professional artists is that professionals don’t wait for the perfect moment, they do it anyway. It might not be perfect, but a first draft is always better than an empty piece of paper.

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Uh, that’s another difficult one, I have so many. I’m really thankful for all the things I learned about running an online business from Melyssa Griffin, she is amazing, and I always find artistic motivation when I watch the youtube channel of Holly Exley.   

What is the best advice you have ever received from someone?

Better done than perfect. I have seen/heard this advice so many times and I honestly think that perfectionism sabotages our actions just too many times. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better with time. And better and better…

What is your greatest achievement so far in life, and what is one thing you still hope to accomplish?

I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field. I am hoping to continue this journey until I can run my business full time.    

“I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field.”

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, which would you choose?

Well, I would definitely be grateful for the ability to teleport. Travelling can sometimes be stressful in a big city, especially when it’s cold and dark outside (hello February :). I also have some good friends abroad whom I’d love to see more often at slightly less expense.

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I just loved everything Imelda had t0 say about creativity and how she got to where she is today. My favorite part about these interviews is hearing everyone’s stories. Please be sure to check out Imelda’s blog and follow her on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imeldagreens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imeldagreens/

Pinterest: https://hu.pinterest.com/imeldagreens/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/imeldagreens

Tumblr: http://imeldagreens.tumblr.com

Be Proud of Yourself: Part 2

Be Proud of Yourself: Part 2

I was looking back on some of my old blog posts to get inspiration for what I should write about next, and I came across my Be Proud of Yourself post, which is one of my favorites I’ve ever written. It’s short and sweet, but gets the point across. It gave me the idea to write an updated version, with some of my new accomplishments.

I was in such a different place than I am now when I wrote that post almost a year and a half ago, and though reading it makes me a bit sad to think about how I was feeling at that time, I also feel really happy to know I’ve accomplished even more now and I am much happier than I was back then.

I can honestly say I am really proud of where I am in life right now. I have a great group of friends who I have been spending a lot of time with, I’m continuing to spend time with my family, I’ve gotten more responsibility at my job, and I couldn’t be more excited about where my blog is going. And most importantly, I’ve learned how to stay positive, even through difficult times.

It was fun for me to make this list of my current accomplishments, and I would definitely recommend you try it! It’s a good reminder that no matter how you’re feeling, there are always things to be proud of in your life.

My Recent Accomplishments:
  1. I’ve somehow become an interviewer, and I’m loving it! I started a new series on my blog, Table Talk Tuesday, where I interview other bloggers. It’s been so much fun to talk with other like-minded people, and hear their stories. I also recently got the chance to interview Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe of The Bachelorette, and celebrity personal trainer Erin Oprea at the CitySTRONG event in Austin.
  2. I am the organizer of a blogger Meetup group, which I wrote about in a recent blog post. We had our second meeting yesterday, and once again I was blown away by everyone’s stories. There are so many awesome bloggers and aspiring bloggers out there! Check out these two who I met today: http://www.delayedsleeper.com and http://www.mycontrolexperiment.com
  3. While I was excited to have 40-something blog followers in my last post, I am now even more excited to say I have 200-something followers! It just goes to show that hard work and perseverance pays off. And I am so flattered and happy so many of you seem to enjoy reading what I write.
  4. Unfortunately after I wrote that last post, I started to work out less and less, and I spent most of 2016 not exercising regularly. However, I am proud to say that the last few months I have been going to a yoga class once a week, walking around my neighborhood with my mom at least three times a week, and hiking in the greenbelt with my friends a couple times a month. Like I said in the last post, I’ve noticed a positive change in my moods since putting fitness as a top priority.

Having two more things to be proud of compared to the last time I wrote this blog post feels pretty great. I’ve decided I am going to keep track of accomplishments like these regularly, because it really does make a difference to actively tell yourself how proud you are, and to take note of the small victories in life.

I hope you enjoyed this update on an old post. Let me know in the comments what your recent accomplishments are!

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest this week: Jenn from the lifestyle blog The Art of Better, where she helps women live their best lives, and The Art of Better Blogging, helping others along their blogging journey.

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I’m so impressed by what you’ve built with both Art of Better Blogging and The Art of Better. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, how you got to be where you are today? 

Thank you! It’s been a long, winding path, for sure. I’ve been blogging on & off since 1999, way back in the day where I would hard code my sites in HTML from a blank page. A few years later, I had a fledgling graphic design business that I had to put it on the back burner for my corporate career. Can’t maintain a side hustle while working 60hrs every week!
Luckily I started my blogging journey back up again not long after because I just couldn’t seem to exist without writing. The Art of Better came first with The Art of Better Blogging coming about a year later when I started getting asked so many questions about blogging that I decided to segment them out. I blogged on the side for a few years and then finally got to the point where I was able to go full-time in 2015 and leave my soul-sucking corporate career!

A lot of people struggle with feelings of doubt, fear, and worrying about not being good enough when trying to accomplish big goals in life. Do you have any advice for pushing aside those negative feelings and going after what you want?   

“Impostor Syndrome” can be crippling, but everyone grapples with it from time to time. The way I help my blog & business coaching clients through it is through helping them recognize that everyone has a unique story and angle because no two people have the same background, path or life perspective. Well, that, and making it clear that fear is just a feeling, an emotion. You can choose to acknowledge it, set it aside, and move beyond it.

You seem to be an expert in all things blogging, social media, and just life in general. What was your process for becoming so knowledgeable? Do you have any tips for someone who wants to learn more about blogging, social media, etc? 

Well, I don’t know about life (I’m kind of a self-development junkie!) but I’ve been around the blogging & online business worlds for so long that I have seen nearly everything. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to know more is to read everything you can get your hands on (but take everything with a grain of salt) and find some bloggy besties that are slightly above your skill or experience level. Hanging out with people who are more advanced will cause you to stretch your skill set more often.

What is your life motto?

Hustle 24/7? Hell no!
Everything I do is dedicated to better… and that includes rebelling at the idea that you need to grind away all day every day to have a successful blog or online business. It just isn’t true! Do you have to hustle with purpose sometimes? Of course! But not all the time.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog, like The Art of Better, or a business, like Art of Better Blogging?

Consistency is imperative for success. A lot of people start blogging and seem to have this idea that you can just write and they will come. I wish!

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

Oh! I love this questions. I do a daily gratitude practice and it has truly changed my life. Keeping it down to just 3 is really difficult!
1. My family (including our 4 dogs & close friends!)
2. My ah-mazing clients!
3. True red lipstick

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have so many! Of course, the usual suspects like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Marie Forleo, but also women like Rose McGowan & Ani Difranco who are so unafraid to speak out for what they’re passionate about.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Learn to meditate much, much sooner.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?   

I’m most proud of becoming legal guardians for my niece a few years back. We didn’t have any kids prior to that time and we’ve managed to learn very quickly how to become good parents. I think in a few years we might want to have a baby- that would be a big accomplishment for us since we thought we’d never want kids!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d have to say either an eagle or cheetah. I like to go fast!
Hope you enjoyed my interview with Jenn and learned as much from her as I did! For further inspiration and education, grab her free video training, How to Kickstart Your Blog’s Growth in 2017and join The Art of Better Blogging FB Community.