A very weird thing has been happening to me lately — I feel totally overwhelmed by everything going on in my life… and entirely helpless to do anything about it. This morning (and, really, most of today) it felt like there were waves of anxiety practically emanating off of me. I rush from one thing to another without actually accomplishing anything. I’m exhausted, but wake up between the hours of 3 and 5 am wide awake and rarin’ to go. My body is desperately asking me to slow down, but I keep piling it on. I have so much going on: I’m still struggling to cope with the loss of my grandpa, I’m moving and currently living out of a friend’s house, even my cat isn’t here with me. Plus, I won’t have a space to call my own for 10 more days, something that has always helped to keep me grounded.
I really, really need a break. And sometimes it feels like this is all impacting my creativity. I feel an urge to constantly post, to keep up with other bloggers. Then I feel paralyzed and totally uncreative. That’s when boring, meaningless blog posts happen and no one likes that.
I’m letting this post be it today. I’m off doing a really exciting photoshoot, something I can’t wait to share in the coming months, but for right now… I need a bit of a time out today, a few moments away from ‘the overwhelm.’
I want to do something different this time around. I don’t want this month’s All Ears playlist to be love songs, ballads, and the like. That just feels… played out (pun intended?). Instead, I want this month’s playlist to take you, my readers, through a bit of the journey that I’m facing this month. This month (really, in less than 14 days) I leave California in my trusty old VW and drive north to the only place that’s ever felt like a true home, Seattle. I’m leaving behind so much, but in my soul I know this is the right choice for me. It’s bittersweet, yes, but it’s the only thing that actually makes sense in my life right now.
This playlist has two parts: the first is meant to be a bit of a love letter to California. This gorgeous city and state welcomed me with open arms and, although it’s only been year, I find myself changed and improved. The second half of the playlist feels like the best way I can ever possibly explain all of the feelings that are wrapped up in what it means to go ‘home.’ Sometimes it’s easier to let another explain the emotions.
You can play via this widget or add the playlist via Spotify: photo from my Instagram — follow along on my #PNWpilgrimage to see more.listen to more All Ears playlists here.
Here’s the thing: bloggers don’t talk about grieving. That being said, my grandfather passed away on Sunday and it’s all I can think about. I don’t want to do product round ups or giveaways or any of that. I want to get real and talk about the pain that I’m feeling and hopefully share my experience in the hopes of alleviating someone else’s pain one day.
I think at this point, when I say I’m moving somewhere people just shrug and ask what else is new. Yes, I move a lot, but this time, I’m the one choosing the move. It’s not for a company, it’s not for a boy — it’s because I feel like being in a place I love, one that feels like home. Originally I wanted to write this post about the goals I’m setting for 2015, but those are tied so closely to this move that it just feels right to discuss both. Basically, moving back to Seattle is the first step in helping me to achieve these goals and here’s why:
San Francisco is expensive. Yes, I moved here knowing that little tidbit, but I also had a full-time job on top of all the freelance and blogging that I do. The fact is that I wasn’t planning on getting laid off. I’m incredibly proud of the success I’ve had with this blog and have fully committed to going my own way, including setting up my LLC last year. With all that being said… it makes zero sense for me to pay so much in rent every month for a tiny space where I barely have room to work and create. By paring down my expenses significantly (we’re talking about decreasing my rent by almost half), I will have so much more freedom… and savings.
I desperately need an office. Planning and executing photoshoots in 500 sqft while also living there is close to impossible. I’m excited to announce that I’ll finally have a real, live desk space as part of the 95 Yesler collective with my good friend Cassandra from Coco + Kelley. I cannot wait to actually have some space in which to get creative.
I just want to create things that are meaningful to me. When you’re constantly worried about paying exorbitant rent, you tend to do anything to make a buck. For me, this has meant taking on work about which I’m not super passionate or maybe wasn’t the best fit for my aesthetic and brand. I just… do not want to do that anymore. Also, I want to create for the sake of creating, even if that means it’s not sponsored content. For example, I’ve always wanted to explore the art of flower arranging, always. One of my goals for 2015 is to provide you guys with content that I create myself just because I feel like it, while also partnering only with my absolute favorite brands in meaningful ways.
Give myself a time out. I have some bizarre work habits and one of which I am painfully aware and desperately want to change is my tendency to get hyperfocused. Most of the time, I am so focused on work and getting things done that I don’t do the basics, like eating. I’m not joking. It’s especially bad because my desk is across the room from my bed, so I wake up and immediately start working without even thinking about it. A personal goal this year is to make myself take at least one major time out every week. Maybe it’s a field trip to a museum or a spontaneous ferry boat ride to Bainbridge Island or even an hour spent perusing the amazing Seattle Public Library. I really need to break out of my bubble and see more, away from the glowing rectangles (my nickname for computer and phone screens).
Learn a few new things. I feel really stagnant, sort of like I just do the same stuff day after day. Probably because I’m just constantly working. It’s time to take action and do the things I’ve always wished I could do: I want to take a ceramics class; I want to brush up on my Greek; I want to camp more.
Those are just a few of my reasons for the move and goals for the year. I’ve truly enjoyed my time in SF, especially the food and adventures, not to mention the incredible friends I’ve made. Believe me, leaving was not an easy decision, but at the end of the day this move feels like the right choice for both myself and my business.
In the midst of loads of recap posts and ‘best of’ round ups, I want to look ahead. 2014 was a really hard year for me, I can’t hide that fact. I moved across the country (again), started a new job, got laid off from that new job, ramped up my freelance work and this blog to be a full-time gig, and dealt with some intense depression and a broken heart all in the background. It’s easy for me to say 2014 can go F itself, but truth be told… I learned a TON about myself and my strength. I hate to be cliché, but 2014 really drove home one point: I am way more of a survivor than I give myself credit for. I’ve navigated the waters of starting my own business and balancing full-time freelance work, all while making strides in taking care of myself. It’s true that I still have a lot of progress to make when it comes to that whole self-care thing, but when I think back to where I was a year ago… the differences are enormous. And the biggest change? I’m making awesome decisions for myself in a very real way. Yes, a lot of the time I’m making it up as I go, but this past year has really proven that I can trust my instincts in a big way.
I’m really excited (and trying not to say nervous) about what 2015 has in store for me — and I also want to say a great big THANK YOU to all of you for reading, sharing, and following along as I go through my journey. Your kind words and support is so special to me and I am so very grateful.
This weekend I decided to give myself a time out — quiet time where all I did was read and eat cheese on crackers for dinner. So I settled onto the sofa and reached for the first book on my stack of unreads: Not That Kind of Girl. I don’t know much about Lena Dunham, nor do I watch ‘Girls.’ Being totally transparent, I am actually scared to watch the show. I’m afraid I’ll see too much of my life and it’s painful moments mirrored back at me. So, like all good Pisces, I avoid it. But that doesn’t mean I live under a rock. When people talk about a new, popular book, I often order it immediately… then it languishes in a stack until I finally make time to read it. I picked up this book not because I really care about Lena or her show or her larger than life personality. I was just genuinely curious.
Yes, I am late to the party on this. And, yes, I adore the book. Should I feel ashamed to admit that? I don’t. She’s blunt and rude and crude, sure, but she also gets it. For anyone who been brutally hurt by a man (physically or emotionally) or felt uncomfortable in your own skin, Lena’s words actually made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It’s refreshing to read someone else’s truths and feel a real connection to them. At the end of the day, it really does help to know you’re not alone. Regardless of the tv show and who she is now, I do recommend that you read it.
We can all agree; each year the holiday season seems to arrive a little quicker. Before we’re prepared, we are caught up in the chaos of holiday parties, family get-togethers, traditions, shopping, decorating, cuddling to watch all of the Christmas movies we own, wrapping presents, baking, and singing our favorite holiday tunes loud and proud. The busyness of these few weeks can overwhelmingly rob us of the joy we can feel during the holidays — the time we are supposed to be fulfilled with humble gratitude for many aspects of our lives.
Seeking joy is arguably the biggest drive in life. From a young age, we are taught to make decisions based on what will make us the happiest, or bring us the most joy. However, as we grow older, we have a tendency to focus on the low points we experience instead of being mindful and taking the opportunities to celebrate joy. I believe Brene Brown stated it best in her book Daring Greatly, “Joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us.” In her book, Brown writes about how we are afraid to embrace joy because of the fear it won’t last. It’s like telling ourselves “if I really enjoy all of these moments, then I know something bad will happen to me soon”. Thinking this way only helps us to put more pressure on our low points. To help us get out of this mindset, Brown writes, “Every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen- and they do happen- we are stronger.”
At the end of October, I had another surgery on my leg because of a fracture. For this reason, I lived in Oklahoma City with my parents the entire month of November, instead of at my home in Austin, to recover. I was sad because I thought this was another low point of my life. A few times I thought “it’s only a matter of time before my next surgery or something else happens”. Last Sunday, about 3 weeks after my surgery, I took a book and my journal to a coffee shop. After several hours, my first mug of coffee was empty and I needed a refill. I grabbed my wallet, walked to the counter to order, and patiently stood waiting for maybe 5 minutes before taking my fresh coffee back to my table. When I sat down I realized, I had done all of this without pain, soreness, or a limp. Tears filled my eyes and I smiled to myself. This was the first time I had been able to walk without pain in 5 years. In that moment, I truly felt joy.
Knowing how happy I am to have gone through this recovery, and many others, I get stronger every time because I focus on the joyful outcome. Now this holiday season will be filled with gratitude for my health, being able to spend it at home in Austin, and being with everyone I love. I’m choosing to focus on this joy, instead of being caught up in the holiday chaos.
I’d like to empower you to join me in making the choice to accept that invitation of joy instead of resisting it. We are presented with many opportunities to dwell in our joy each day. Although our joy is not constant, I want us to all strive to be grateful for what we have- celebrate it, never apologize for it, and share your gratitude. As a simple reminder, I created this iPhone and desktop wallpaper to remind us to focus on our joys each day no matter what they are.
Click these links to save and set them as your wallpaper: iphone | desktop
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