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The Year of “Why the hell not?”

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2013 was a year full of crazy ups and downs. But it was also the year where I experienced a lot of growth and independence in my personal life. I fell in love. I experienced heartbreak. I jumped clear out of my comfort zone and went on a terrifying (but amazing!) journey. I returned to my regularly scheduled program. I made new friends. I lost some too. I reconnected with my family. I experienced over-the-top happiness and serious lows. I learned more about myself than ever before. And I’m still here.

I have a feeling 2014 will be the same. Except this time I’m ready for it. I’m looking forward to it, even. Because even though 2013 was completely bipolar and all over the map, I came out of it feeling way more confident in myself and my abilities, more grounded, and more self-assured of the decisions I’ve made up to this point. And that only happened because I had to go through some serious shit first.

So this year I’m adopting the “Why the hell not?” attitude. Whatever comes my way, I’m willing to look at it in the face and ask “Why the hell not?” And, “Why not at least try?” And better yet, “Why not just go for it and ask questions later? Second guess it all after the fact?” I already know I’ll come out of it a better me. That I won’t crumble and waste away. That I’ll still be standing.

2014 will be the year where I’m too busy working on the ups and getting over the downs yelling “SO WHAT?” to really focus on doubts, fears, and any other related bullshit.

Things I’m Working On For 2014

Traveling. I’m saving up for three trips this year. In June I’ll be visiting Puerto Rico once again to be with my family. In September I hope to be in Italy and Greece for about 11 days. And in December I hope to travel for the holidays. My paid vacation time is limited so I’ll have to coordinate things over weekends and holidays, but my biggest challenge will be money. My savings will be tied up for most of the year which means I’ll be very stingy with my finances. However this is a huge priority for me, so I’m willing to sacrifice to get to where I need to be.

School. I’m going back to school full-time to continue working on my bachelor’s, something I’ve decided to just stick out and finish. Since I work full-time I’ll have to take night classes or online classes for the most part. I also have to dip into my finances because while I do get some financial aid (thank you government!), they don’t pay for all of it. Again, more sacrifices here but I’m fortunate that I even have access to an education so I’m just going to quit bitching and do it.

Socializing. I’m focusing on finding and making new friends this year. Out of everything that I’ll be working on this year I feel like this one will be the hardest and take the most effort. Making friends is hard. Finding people you truly connect with is a rare thing. But it’s important to me to have people that motivate me and inspire me in my life. I think at this point that’s what I truly need. To surround myself with quality people. So I’m going to push myself a little bit and socialize and hope for the best.

Reading. Last year I had a goal of reading 45 books and that did not go very well, but to be fair I only started *really trying* towards the end of the year rather than dedicate a whole year to it. Still, I’ve decided to scale way down on the number of books I’d like to read since my time will be limited. My goal for 2014 is 24 books, which averages out to two books a month, a totally reasonable goal. I also hope to read more graphic novels because they are awesome. (Shameless plug: follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my progress.)

Dating. I’ll be diving back into the dating scene, something that is scaring the hell out of me. So much can go wrong, but so much can go right too. I have to force myself to remember that, to go into it with an open mind rather than a terrified heart. To have fun and stay positive. And also to take it as slow as I need. Please send good vibes my way. I’m going to need them.

What do you have planned for 2014? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

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Where to go from here?

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I’ve been gone for a while.

I’ve been MIA from twitter, tumblr and goodreads, places that I used to frequent on the daily. I wish I could give one simple reason for why I basically forgot about my website, other blogs that I loved to read, my feed reader (which looks insane right now), etc. But I don’t have one. I have no excuses on hand, no explanation worth sharing. All I can really say is that I went on vacation, and I spent time with my family, and felt truly at peace while being there, and something changed.

I told myself that when I got back I would update my site when I “felt the urge.” How vague is that? But that’s what I thought to myself at the time. I thought it would only be a few weeks at the most, but weeks turned into months, and now here we are. I completely forgot about my reading challenge, my short-term goals, the obligations that I put on myself about random things in my life, and just focused on myself. I was selfish and just did what I wanted to do because I felt like it.

But now I don’t know where to go from here. I feel like I’ve missed out on so many things within the blogging community, and I feel disingenuous commenting on recent posts because I’ve ignored your other posts for so long. I missed the community, but if I’m completely honest, I didn’t miss it enough to come back and participate. As you can see.

What I ended up doing was spending time on instagram, facebook, youtube, checking my tumblr every other week or so, netflixing, and reading a book on my nook. Those were the things I looked forward to doing so I did them. It’s always easy to keep up with things you love to do.

I wish I could say I’ll be back to blogging like I used to but what I wish I could do is update my blog whenever I feel like it, whether that’s two times a week, once a week, or every two months thinking out loud, talking about what I read, watched, enjoyed, planning trips, etc. But I can’t do that and expect people to stick around because I wouldn’t stick around if it were me. The blogging game has changed. Consistency and quality is key. Sponsorships, commenting, participating in the community, growing your blog/expanding your readership, being interesting!–there are rules to these things, and there is nothing wrong with that. I feel like that’s how it should be. I enjoyed doing that for so long. But I also know what happens if you don’t do any of those things. It’s only fair–you get back what you put in, and I don’t truly feel like putting in much “work” in my blog, so what to do? Where to go from here?

More likely than not I’ll continue to update my tumblr and goodreads (because I’m missing it bad). And of course read your blogs. And who knows, maybe I’ll feel that blogging itch again, but if not that’s okay. If you stick around or not, that’s okay. Hugs all around. I hope everyone had a great holiday (mine was fantastic, if you were wondering) and–just in case–happy new year ♥

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October 2013 Update/Reviews {Reading Challenge}

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I’ve been a little quiet around here lately. Spending more time reading, thinking, and browsing other parts of the web. Every once in a while I get in a blogging slump where I don’t feel like updating or even reading/commenting on other blogs (something I love to do). Even though I don’t feel like I want to come back 100% to this space, I wanted to post about what I read in October because I really have been loving this reading challenge so far.

Read in October

 

I read six books in total, leaving me with two books short of my goal, but still a good amount. I started reading Sea Glass when I realized that it was the second book in that series and I hadn’t even read the first (fail), and I started Atonement but just wasn’t into it. Some really quick reviews:

  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – I was a bit disappointed in this book. Graceling, the first book in this series, is one of my favorite books but this one was all over the place. I had a hard time staying in the story and towards the end I started to not care what happened, as long as something did. So many twists and turns, a hundred questions and theories, a lot of ~mystery~ but the answers didn’t come until the very end and by then I was so overwhelmed that I wanted to just finish the story so I could move on.
  • The Shining by Stephen King – Amazing. Very disturbing book and I was really happy to have finally read it. I want to watch the movie next. By far the scariest part about this book was how real it felt. This is a status I wrote while reading the book: “Reading Jack Torrance’s thoughts as he tries to rationalize & justify his destructive behavior against his family is probably the scariest part of this book. There are real people out there, right now, who rationalize & justify their actions & shift the blame onto others as they go insane. It’s terrifying to know that in the right circumstances, anyone could become Jack Torrance.
  • Unwholly and Unsouled by Neal Shusterman – LOVE this series! The character development, the plot, the way it’s written–it all works. I’m really happy that Shusterman is publishing a fourth book!
  • You Get So Alone At Times It Starts to Make Sense by Charles Bukowski - Tons of craziness here, some poems were interesting to read, almost like stories, and others were very depressing and random. Not a lot of poems that I loved though.

I’m starting to think I won’t be able to complete 45 books by the end of the year. It seems that six books is the most that I can realistically read. Unless I read some short graphic novels, which I might do… But I’m hoping to at least read 40.

TBR for November

     

     

I’m most excited about the two graphic novels, Sandman Vol. 1 and Fables Vol 1. I go through those quickly. I’ve also heard really good things about Night Film.

This coming Thursday I’ll be flying to Puerto Rico for five days to attend my cousin’s wedding. It’s been about four years since I’ve visited the island so I am very excited to go back and reunite with my family. I’m hoping this mini-vacation will be the boost that I need to get back into the swing of things. Have a great week!

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“Radical Selfishness”

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Can I just quickly say how awesome you guys are?

I really wanted to participate in the Grad-itude 101 link up this week because I’m feeling very grateful for my friends, my family, and more importantly, you–those of you who take the time to read my posts and leave wonderful comments. Specifically those of you who commented on my last post and encouraged me with your words. Feeling heartbroken is not something that’s new to me, but it’s just one of those things that no matter how many times you experience it, it hurts every time.

Alicia left me a comment that really resonated with me:

Can we just call this idea of dedicating more time to ourselves–time needed for self care, for reflection, and for healing–radical selfishness? It’s not selfish at all, not in the traditional sense. By taking better care of ourselves, we have more to give others and more to contribute to the world in turn.

I loved the term she used–radical selfishness–and thought about what it meant to me. I replied to Alicia saying that I loved the term and what it represented, although I found it a little sad that the concept of focusing on yourself and dedicating time to your needs is sometimes seen as something “radical.”

Why should self-love be radical? In fact, why don’t people do it more often?

These past two weeks I feel like I’ve been nursing myself back to who I used to be. I’ve been focusing on my needs, what makes me happy, and what I need during this difficult time. Radical self-love has been one of the main reasons why I’ve been feeling like I’m almost back to my old self. There have been three consistent things that have really helped me heal and move on from this feeling of sadness and disappointment. I wanted to share them with you in case anyone else is also feeling a bit down.

Three Ways You Can Practice Radical Self-Love

The following three things I’m going to share are all related to the concept of radical selfishness, of taking care of yourself above all, and keeping in mind that you cannot fully give to others without being whole yourself. This is all about you looking out for you.

#1) Surround yourself with people who genuinely have your best interests at heart. This one sounds like a given, but trust me when I say it’s not enough to just hang around people you care about. Surround yourself specifically with those people who you know deep down want what is best for you, who listen attentively, and who are willing to provide wisdom while reserving judgment. A person you care about can lift you up just as easily as they can drag you down and the last thing you need while you’re hurting is to not have the support you need.

#2) Find an escape via distraction. Sometimes we need to distract ourselves, not only to keep us from focusing on the negative, but also to force us to look past our pain and into other possibilities. It’s easy to get stuck in a bubble of sadness, and when we’re stuck in this bubble it’s very difficult to look beyond and realize that this isn’t the end all be all of our happiness. My favorite form of escape is reading. I also really enjoy watching a favorite TV show or movie that lifts my spirits and makes me laugh beside myself.

#3) Release your emotions. Whether it’s writing down how you feel in a diary, writing a letter to the person who hurt you, painting, singing, dancing–whatever it is that helps you let it all out, do it. It’s not healthy to stew in frustration or resentment–don’t let it consume you. It’s okay to feel sad, but once you’ve cried it out and released all of those pent up emotions, learn to let it go. We owe it to ourselves to look past these temporary step backs and look forward.

- – -

Rinse and repeat. These past two weeks have been spent with people I care about (who also care about me), escaping inside of a story, and writing my feelings down. I encourage everyone to carve some time out for themselves. Let’s focus on our needs for once. Let’s celebrate ourselves so that in turn we can offer our very best to those we care about, those that have been there for us the most.

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The Countdown Starts Now

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It’s been a weird week. I’m dealing with a little heartbreak and rather than mope around like I want to, I’m forcing myself to write about something that makes me happy and hopeful for the future.

Two weeks ago I read an entry by Allie about there being only 99 days left in the year and how she wants to make the most out of the little time we have left:

When I think about how fast the first 266 days of the year have gone by, it makes me wonder if I’m really getting my fill of happy out of my life. [...] So I’m dedicating the next 99 (or 97..) days to me. Yep, me. I will spend them the way I want to.

She made a list of promises to herself for the rest of the year, and I encourage you to read it as it’s very inspiring. I loved the idea and thought up a list of my own. My list is a bit more specific but the idea is basically the same: make the most out of the next 84 days.

In the next 84 days I hope to…

  • Walk for a cause (this is already in the works–we’ll be doing a breast cancer awareness walk on Oct 19th!)
  • Picnic at the park with friends
  • Watch a drive-in movie (never done this before but I’ve always wanted to try it)
  • Spend more time with my family (will be taking a trip to Puerto Rico in November for my cousin’s wedding and I’m going to make the most of it)
  • Read 45 books by the end of the year (I’m working on this now, as you all know!)
  • See a Cirque du Soleil show (making plans to see this in December)
  • Go shooting

The days are going by fast now. It’s fall, it’s getting cooler, and soon the holidays will be here. I’ve already done so much this year and feel super happy that I’ve enjoyed lots of cool experiences, but why not end the year with a bang, right?

Here’s to a happier, fun-filled, and fulfilling rest of the year.

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September 2013 Update/Reviews {Reading Challenge}

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During the month of August I read six books and during the month of September I read a total of five books, which left me three short of my goal for the month. I’m very behind on my reading challenge of reading 45 books by the end of the year, but I’m not giving up. I will finish this challenge, dammit.

Read in September

In September I read the following books:

 

I ended up reading only two books out of my September TBR list, which was a major fail. Some books I didn’t get to at all, and other books I started but didn’t want to continue reading. Some really quick reviews:

  • The Death Cure by James Dashner  - I finished this series because I read the first two books and found them entertaining. However by the third book Dashner’s writing and use of ridiculous plot twists to move the story along got really old by the third book. It had a satisfying ending, although it felt rushed, but I can see why younger readers would really be caught up in this story.
  • Letters to Skye by Jessica Brockmole – This was a sad yet heartwarming romance but to be honest, I didn’t feel it was anything special.
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – I really enjoyed the first book and the second one didn’t disappoint. Very captivating world, great writing, interesting cast of characters, and at times it’s super violent (which I personally love). It was an enjoyable read for me.
  • Fatal: The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer by Harold Schechter – I really enjoyed this. It was super fast paced, packed with detail and colorful storytelling and it was just a really satisfying look at some notorious female serial killers in history.

I’m hoping to do a lot better in October. As it stands I need to read 27 (!!!) more books by the end of the year so I really need to read read read during the next few months!

TBR for October

During the month of October I want to read some spooky books as well as The Book Thief since the movie is coming out soon. On my list are the following books:

 

 

There are only 92 days left this year so I better get to it. Wish me luck! And if you have any recommendations for books to read please let me know. What have you been reading?

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