Monthly Reading: April

I hopped right back on the reading train this month, and even finished both before the end of the month. I did kind of take it easy, though. I read two books that were pretty light and didn’t involve a whole lot of mental work.

The first book I read was Lara Casey’s Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. Lara Casey is amazing, if you haven’t heard of her. She is the genius behind Power Sheets and Southern Wedding magazine. She is such a positive and has the most beautiful personality, and I really enjoy following her on Instagram–seriously, she has the cutest kids.

 

Anyway, I first heard of her through one of my sisters who uses Lara Casey’s Power Sheets every year. Power Sheets are a tool for you to plan out your goals for the year. I tried them for the first time this year, and I went a little more in-depth about them in my resolutions post.

Her book was very uplifting and made me think, “hey, maybe all my dreams can come true.” So if you want to take a deep-dive into discovering what it is you really want out of life, you should check out her books and maybe even order some Power Sheets because they are seriously life-changing.

The next book I read was one that I had started almost a year ago, but never finished. I feel kind of stupid talking about it, because I feel like this person’s audience base is, like 12, but I’ve been a fan of his since I was that age, so I guess it’s alright.

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I read Shane Dawson’s book, It Gets Worse. I seriously love him so much, and have been watching his videos since I was in middle school. I’ve always enjoyed his twisted sense of humor, and I relate a lot to his body issues. This book really allowed me to see a whole other part of him that I never get to see in his videos. It’s definitely not what I would call a “light” read, but it isn’t a difficult read; it just takes you to some dark places. But at the heart of it all, it is Shane in his truest form, and I loved every page.

That’s it for this month’s reading! I hope you enjoyed. I’m ready to dive back into some long fiction books next month, especially because I WILL BE A COLLEGE GRADUATE!

Keep reading, guys!

 

Photos from: (http://laracasey.com) and (amazon.com)
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The Importance of Storytelling

Hi. I’m sorry. I’ve been kind of MIA, and to be honest my last blog post was a little lackluster (tbh I hate that word, but there’s not other word for it).

Two weeks ago, I went to a conference put on by Lee University’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) club in Chattanooga, TN. Their Social Innovation conference was so enlightening and educational. It was targeted towards professionals in the social media landscape, but going as a student on the brink of adulthood was incredible.

The conference was just a one-day event, and as I mentioned above it was in Chattanooga, so me and a few lovely ladies from my school’s PRSSA group got up early and drove there for the 8a.m. check-in, so by the end of the day, we were pretty much dead.

I went to several different sessions, and each one was better than the last. Until we got to Google Adwords because I feel like it takes a special kind of person to understand a 45-minute accelerated session on that. My biggest takeaway was something that I already know and something that I am passionate about in all aspects of life, which is the art of storytelling. No matter what industry you work in, the content that you create and share needs to tell a consistent story that is true to your brand and the brand of your company.

The first session I went into was Instagram Accelerated where a few ladies from a local social media marketing firm talked to us about the ins and outs of using Instagram for your company. Storytelling is especially important for Instagram because there are so many themed feeds. If your page is a cluster of random pictures without a common thread or identity, it will feel less connected. And for a company, this can mean careless or even ingenuine.

“Social media is ephemeral.”

Basically, it is fleeting. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention before they scroll on past and forget about you. This is why it is much more important to create quality content over a large quantity of content. You could post 10 times a day, but if that content isn’t saying something or adding to your story, it is essentially meaningless.

Another great session was called “Brand-Building Through Social Media.”

Branding is “any perception your audience has of your organization” or what your audience notices. A brand is not defined by just a logo or a catchy tagline; it is your content, your photography, or even the smallest of details like the kind of font you use or whether you broadcast hashtags as opposed to hiding them in the comments. Representation is key.

No matter what you do, make sure you find your focus and stay consistent because at the end of the day, we are wired through storytelling. So make sure your story is a good one.

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Getting Back into the Swing of Things

So if you couldn’t tell by my past couple of blog posts, I am putting a lot of effort, thought and time into my goals. And I feel like I’ve made decent progress in all of them, or at least put more intention into them.

However, there is one goal that I am STRUGGLING with. Like it feels like pulling teeth trying to get motivated. That goal is writing. I’m trying to be a writer this year. I have trouble giving myself that title because I don’t feel like I’ve deserved it. To be a writer, you have to write. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I have not written in several years. I’ve journaled, I’ve written blog posts, but I miss writing. In high school, I wrote novels. Like I had written three whole books in high school. Sure, they sucked, but I did it. I finished them. And they had decent plot, a few interesting characters.

Now, though?

Nothing.

I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for 5 years. And I can’t get it out onto a page to save my life. There are just too many uncertainties. I can’t get all the pieces to fit together and it is beyond frustrating. Because it could be so good.

And just like so many other things in my life, I know what I need to do, I just can’t make myself do it. I don’t know what’s stopping me. I’m not afraid. I know I’m capable. I think I just put too much pressure on it to be good. All the real writers always say that the first draft is going to suck. The first draft is the worst that it will ever be. But, with my writing in the past, I’ve always written in one fell swoop. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have an outline. I had an idea, and I created a story.

But that is gone now.

I seem to have lost that ability. But I am also stuck feeling like I don’t know any other way to write. When I try to just write, I feel aimless. At this point, I’m just venting in the form of a blog post. Because I’m not looking for anything. I have the answers. I need to just do it.

Anyway, thanks for reading if you do. Hopefully this is something I can look back on at the end of this year and laugh at. Also, hopefully by then I will have another first draft to add to my collection of Books That No One Will Read.

Monthly Reading: January

As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I want to read two books a month in 2018. I’m currently subscribed to Book of the Month, which I love, but I’ve gotten a little behind with my reading so it is on hold for now until I catch up. Both of the books I read in January were BOTM books and so far they haven’t disappointed.

The first book I read was Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.

https://www.npr.org/2017/07/12/535799520/goodbye-vitamin-is-sweet-but-not-sugarcoated
Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

It was kind of a coming-of-age story but about a young woman named Ruth in her twenties instead of pubescent teenagers. Ruth is at a junction in her life where she is dealing with a recent breakup as well as family issues that lead her to move back in with her parents. It is one of those books where you don’t realize the big picture until it’s over. I had a firm grasp on what was going on throughout the book, but it wasn’t until I finished it that I was like, oh shit, I get it now. It was a beautiful story and nothing at all what I thought it would be when I first received it.

The second book was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

http://www.afomaumesi.com/2017/09/08/eleanor-oliphant-completely-fine-review/

This one was definitely my favorite of the month. Recently, Jessica Knoll has become one of my favorite authors (I wrote about her debut novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next novel) and this was a book that she had recommended, so when I saw it as an option, I went ahead and ordered it from BOTM even though I already had an impressive stack of novels yet to be read.

Eleanor is such an interesting character, and I loved every second I got to spend in her head. She is complex and endearing even though I’m certain I would dislike her very much if I ever crossed paths with her in real life. Eleanor is a creature of habit, but throughout this book, she takes measures to examine her past and try new things and meet new people. She reminded me that it really is never too late to change the course of your life. No matter what has happened to you or impeded the plans you had for your life, you can overcome it with enough perseverance and gumption.

I highly recommend both of these books, and I hope this kind of post is something I continue throughout this year (as long as I keep my resolution to read more).

I Met with a Nutritionist

I don’t usually get too personal on here, but I want to document my progress with my goals. One of those goals is to cultivate a healthier lifestyle. So, to me that means being more open about my feelings and the steps I am taking to accomplish that goal.

Last week, I met with a nutritionist about how to change my eating habits. The meeting ended up being a lot more emotionally draining than I thought it would, because not only did we discuss healthy foods, but we went over my current eating habits and dipped a little bit into why I have those habits.

Meeting with someone is already a huge step for me because a year ago, I never talked to anyone about my weight except for my mom. And even with her, any time I had to talk about my health I ended up breaking down and crying. Because, I’ve learned, it is something I hold a lot of shame about internally. I am not proud of where I am, health-wise. It’s not something I enjoy discussing—in fact, I avoid the conversation whenever possible.

So, I’ve come a long way. I am taking intentional steps towards bettering myself this year. One of which happened to be meeting with a professional nutritionist.

One of the things I talked about with the nutritionist was to come up with a list of healthy alternatives to snacking when I feel stressed. This was hard because I found that I most wanted to eat when I was bored, not stressed—although that happens to. So instead, I decided to come up with things to do instead of snacking when I get bored.

Real talk: when I am alone, I eat everything. It’s a problem that a professional should probably examine, but for now all I have is this list.

  • Read.

    • Not only is this an excellent alternative, it will also help me meet one of my other goals which is to read 24 books this year.
  • Sing.

    • It’s kind of hard to shove things into your mouth when you’re belting musical theater songs.
  • Journal.

    • This was a suggestion from my nutritionist, that I should become more in tune with my body and what it really wants, which she said, is not to eat more.
  • Drink water.

    • We’ve all heard that thing about how when you think you are hungry, you’re probably just thirsty. Plus it can’t hurt to drink more water.
  • Watch Trisha Paytas Mukbangs.

    • For those who are perhaps unaware, Trish is a YouTuber who spends a lot of time crying on her kitchen floor and filming herself eat copious amounts of food. Now, this may seem counter intuitive, but I have found that when I am really craving something, watching her shove her face full of chicken tenders somehow makes my own craving dissipate. It’s weird, I know, but I’m not about to question it if it works.

The most disappointing thing about the meeting was that she didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. I know how to take care of my body. Eat nutrient-filled foods, avoid over consumption of sugary, starchy and fatty foods, and exercise. We all know it; it’s just a matter of doing it.

So I’m just going to do it. And I’ll provide updates as things move along.

If you want to see what I am typically eating in a day, you can follow along on Instagram @catastropheandkale

What I Learned by Traveling Alone

Recently, I went to Denver, CO to visit one of my best friends who moved there for work. Not only had I never been there before, but I also had never traveled by myself before. I’d only flown twice before in my life and both times I was surrounded by my family. It’s pretty hard to get lost when you travel with a small army of 9 people (including the in-laws) everywhere you go.

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Before I left, my mom drew me a map of the airport, explaining exactly where I should go and where to find my gate. It was helpful in theory, but as soon as I entered the airport all of her well-intended advice flew out the window, and I practically threw my boarding pass at a very kind employee who pointed me in the right direction. Security was pretty quick, but I did have to get patted down because I stupidly wore bobby pins and pants with an excessive amount of zippers.

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So I guess Lesson #1 is when in doubt, ask someone for help and Lesson #2 is don’t wear pants that have zippered pockets because then a lady will rub your crotch with the back of her gloved hands and test your fingertips for explosives.

Once I made it through security, my next stop was finding my gate. I got distracted by the bar on the way there, but then decided that maybe a cocktail at 11 A.M. wasn’t a good idea especially since I already felt like I was going to vomit with the anticipation of boarding by myself.

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Lesson #3 is to never turn down the bar. It’s been a week and I am still regretting not grabbing a drink to make flying more enjoyable. Instead of a nice cold rum and Coke, I got an iced coffee and a muffin that I couldn’t finish because my stomach was in knots. Again, a quick shot of something would have fixed that rather quickly. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Since I am a freak, I got to the airport super early and ended up sitting at my gate for almost 2 hours. But honestly, it was probably for the better since my gate changed. I had to go in the complete opposite direction of where I was, which brought me past the bar yet again, and yet again, I turned it down. Please refer to Lesson #3, NEVER TURN DOWN THE BAR.

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Lesson #4 is to always check the screens around you to make sure you are at the right gate in case it does change. When my mom was prepping me, she said that gate changes rarely happen, so of course when I am flying alone for the first time, my gate changes. Lesson #5 is to wear comfortable shoes because whether or not your gate gets changed, you will be doing a lot of walking around the airport. And maybe wearing those flats that are cute but give you horrible blisters is not the best thing to wear.

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Lesson #6 is to try and be the first group that boards the plane. My mom told me I would be Zone 1, but I was not. So Lesson #7 is don’t listen to your mother. Just kidding, moms notoriously have pretty great advice; mine just happened to be striking out that day. If you board first, you have the luxury of having your baggage in the compartment above your seat, and you get to get all situated before everyone else boards. I was not that lucky. Both times, to and from Denver, I had to have my luggage put somewhere random on the plane and people were already seated in my row. Lesson #8, if the compartment above your seat it full, try to put your luggage in front of where you are seated because otherwise you will have to wait for the people behind you to get off the plane when it lands before you can get your bag.

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Once I landed in Denver, it was just a matter of following signs. I thought I was doing so well. Since my friend was still at work when I arrived, I had to take an Uber to her apartment. It seemed easy enough, so once I was outside I ordered my ride. And right when the car was a minute away, I realized that I was at the wrong exit on the wrong floor. Lesson #9 is to make sure that the dot that represents your location is near the pick-up location. Seems self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised. Luckily, I had a nice driver who waited for me to find him.

Finally, Lesson #10 is to have a good time. Once you’ve made it to your destination, don’t let the little things get to you. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in a new place and just enjoy yourself.

Who do I think I am? I traveled once by myself and I suddenly think I’m Dora the Explorer. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these off-kilter lessons I learned about traveling.

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