Guest Post: Sitting On Dreams

resizedheadshotI can’t remember how exactly I met Stephany, but I’m pretty sure it was through twitter. We share a pretty big passion, and I can completely identify with the post she’s sharing with us today.

You can read more about Stephany and her love of books and adorable dachshunds and cruises and just tales of daily life over at StephanyWrites.com or follow her at @stephanywrites.

 

I have always known that I loved to write.

It was obvious. My free time was spent reading as much as I could and filling up notebooks with story ideas and characters. My favorite class in school was English and I geeked out over grammar. The one career path that I wanted to take was to be an author. I wanted my own series of books, spines decorated with my name. I wanted my job to be creating stories to help people escape the real world.

But then life stepped in and got in my way. I started to realize my writing wasn’t as good as I first thought. The path to becoming a published author looked harder than it seemed when I was just a 12-year-old with a big dream. Doubts and fears grew taller in my head than my desire to do what I loved.

So I put my dream aside. I decided I would become an elementary school teacher. It seemed like a logical choice. My mom was a teacher. I liked kids enough and teaching seemed fun. Plus, holidays and summers off! The problem was, my heart wasn’t into teaching. While the classes were fine, the student teaching experiences filled me with dread and panic attacks every morning. I hated everything about teaching.

I changed my major to journalism, where I could cultivate my passion for writing in a different way. Again, I was making another logical choice, telling myself that a journalism degree would help me find a job better than an English degree – even though English was where my heart was. And my two years of journalism school went well. I wrote papers. Learned a lot. And left school armed with my degree.

A few months after graduating, I was offered a marketing position for a direct mailing company. I was eager to leave my part-time job and joining the working world so I snatched up the opportunity and got to work learning all I could about marketing. This job has been good to me. The work is steady, albeit a bit boring and soul-sucking. I have great co-workers and a safety net.

But I’m still sitting on my dream.

I’m still letting opportunities pass me by.

I’m still locked up in all the doubts and fears that my writing isn’t good enough and I don’t have what it takes to handle negative feedback.

I understand what my passion is. I have a firm grip on how hard being a full-time writer can be and what sacrifices I might have to make along the way. I understand all of this.

Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. It’s time to cultivate. It’s time to grow. It’s time to stop letting fear and doubt limit what I can do. I am a writer to the bones of my body. Writing is what makes me me. I am lost when I don’t have a place to create. And yes, throughout this journey I will have negative feedback, criticisms, and many people telling me “no.” That’s a given. But there will be a “yes.” And maybe there will be another “yes.” And maybe there will be positive feedback and praise for my writing.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I am holding onto the maybe. The maybe is what keeps me driving, keeps me focused. I know I have what it takes to discover my dream. Bring on the critics. I’ll be ready for you.

Being a Daydreamer

This is a guest post by Foxy Bingo.

Being a daydreamer is fun. It’s an escape from reality, and nice things happen there most of the time. Being a daydreamer can have both positive and negative connotations though. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having little fantasies, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing. And when you’re a constant daydreamer who drifts off even when you’re playing some foxy bingo, it can occasionally get in the way.

The perks 

Better than reality – Most of the time the things happening in my head are way better than those happening outside, because things go my way in my head. Plus you understand your own humour.

Imagination – The world is your oyster. Anything can and will happen, because your imagination is untapped and fun. Your imagination needs exercising anyway.

Dreams to reality – The best thing about daydreaming is when you think of ways to make that daydream a reality. And they do happen. I used to daydream about being a writer and now I am. Dreaming gives you goals to achieve and even if you don’t accomplish them, at least you tried.

The bad stuff 

Unobservant – You tend to miss things that other people (the non-daydreamers) pick up on. And what if it was important? It’s times like that you need to learn to control your imagination.

Not taken seriously – When you often disappear into your own little world, people will often think of you as an unserious person. While this isn’t always a bad thing, it is when you actually need these people to take you seriously i.e. your boss.

Embarrassment – Have you ever gone off into a world of your own at a really bad moment? Do you come back to reality only to a) realise you were laughing out loud at your inner thoughts, and b) everyone is staring at you? It’s almost a badge of honour when you are a daydreamer.

THE FCC REQUIRES THAT I DISCLOSE THAT THIS IS A SPONSORED POST.

Being part of the joke (20SB Blog Swap: Childhood Summer Vacation)

Hi!  My name is Jacque, and I’m the blogger over at The Dapper Lass. I mostly write about books, tea, and my life in general. Erini and I are partners in 20sb’s 2012 Blog Swap. You can find Erini’s post over on my blog.

The idea is to write about our favorite childhood summer vacation. To be honest, I feel like it’s been so long ago that I will never be able to remember all the details of any of my summer vacations. I’m only 22, but that childhood amnesia has already set in.

Every year, my dad’s side of the family usually gets together for a week long family vacation. Because of schedule conflicts, we haven’t been able to make it the past four years, but we went a lot when I was little. Nowadays, we all meet up in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The amount of lighthouses I’ve toured at this point has become completely ridiculous. I’ve had three or four different surfing instructors (I’m still pretty hopeless at it).

The traditional vacationing spot when I was little, though, was whatever Jellystone Park we picked that year. Does Jellystone Park sound familiar? It should. That’s Yogi Bear’s park. There are even pictures of us posing with wooden cutouts of Yogi, Boo-boo, and Cindy Bear. Boo-boo was my favorite. He even came to our camp one year.

The places aren’t really what stick out in my head. Every year, we always have a bit of a Christmas in July (or June, which is when we’ve taken to meeting up) where we all get assigned someone for whom to get gifts. We call it Pollyanna. I don’t know if this is a thing that other families do; I’ve always just assumed it’s a thing in just my family. We do it because there’s so many of us. My dad is one of ten. So when you add in spouses and children, the gifts start getting kind of crazy. It’s much easier to do the Pollyanna thing. When we get old enough, we don’t just get normal gifts… We start getting gag gifts as well. And I think gag gifts are the best part. For example, I remember when I was ten, and one of my uncles had my grandmother. He got her a box of condoms with a card that said “Oops… Too late!”

That was my favorite summer vacation as a kid. Not because of that joke (I didn’t really get it at the time; I just laughed along because everyone else seemed to find it so funny, and other people laughing usually makes me laugh). It was because that was the year I received a gag gift. Another one of my uncles gave me a Harry Potter action figure with a note that said “your first boyfriend” because I had the biggest crush on Daniel Radcliffe at the time. The jokes have certainly gotten more adult (and almost always about the amount of real boyfriends I’ve had over the years), but being a part of the joke for the first time made that year really special.

What about you? Does your family have any crazy traditions like this?

Definitely make sure to check out all the other blog swappers (I’ll update late with the forum/blog link of the post list). And of course, many thanks to Jacque for being such a great swap partner! (Remember, you can find my post about one childhood summer memory on her blog!)

On Being a Smart Girl

Hello. My name is Ashley and I blog at Writing To Reach You. When I asked the internet for opportunities to guest blog, Erini kindly offered me some space here and suggested that I address the general theme of her blog, which is being true to yourself and owning up to your nerdiness. Something strange about me is that despite how much I scream nerd (I’m a glasses-wearing, book-loving introvert employed by a library and working on a PhD), I have never actually identified as one. Maybe because I live in a big nerdy world where none of this makes me all that unique. But on the topic of being true to yourself, I have been thinking about my identity as a smart girl and how I took my time growing into it.

I know a lot of smart girls. My mom is a smart girl. My best friend is a smart girl. Almost all of my friends now are smart girls. And the thing that makes me different from them is that they have always been smart girls. They did well in school from the beginning. It came easily to them. Their insecurities never had much to do with intelligence, and if they did, then it was about how to fit in when you’re known for being smart.

I always gravitated toward these girls. Or, we found each other somehow. They were my friends. But I was not a smart girl. My friends were pulled out of class in first grade for advanced reading, and I was pulled out for remedial reading. I didn’t quite have a sense of this difference at the time, but I didn’t think of myself as smart. Later, I came to think of myself as stupid, because what was easy for my friends was not easy for me. I was very insecure about it and always felt like I was faking being smart just to keep up.

My talents were not obvious to me, and they were slow to develop. It wasn’t until middle school when I discovered a thing called discipline that I began to succeed in school. Maybe it didn’t come easily to me, but if I worked hard, then I did well. And it’s amazing how quickly that changed the way my peers looked at me. I immediately became the smart girl in class. But the way I felt about myself hadn’t changed at all. I still felt like I was faking it. I considered my success to be a fluke. There was a real divide between how other people saw me and how I saw myself, and in that space I felt very inauthentic.

This continued through high school, even when I was doing well in all honors, college prep, and AP classes. I expected a lot of myself, but I didn’t let those successes give me confidence. I had an English teacher my junior and senior years who saw this in me. When she signed my yearbook before graduation, she wrote, “You really are as talented of a writer as I’ve always said.” Looking back, I notice this strange thing I did in high school where I worked hard, but I always seemed to hold myself back from really doing my best. I’m sure it was partly laziness, but I think I also had a fear of success coupled with a fear of failure, and I wanted the safety net of saying, “I could have done better.” I was scared to do my best and have that not be good enough.

I was in college before any of this began to change. It was there that I discovered things that I loved to study, and my motivation shifted from simple ambition for good grades to a genuine desire to pursue subjects that interested me. I started realizing that though I could do well with straightforward learning, what I was really best at was something more creative. I learned a lot about writing, so it stopped being this mysterious thing I did well and became something I did with intention. I became comfortable with my own style, I used semicolons with confidence, and I started turning in papers I knew were good and didn’t just hope lived up to what I had done before.

Late in college, I took a class on literacy, and our final paper required that we interview someone. I interviewed my mom, and asked her about learning to read and write, and what that meant to her growing up. She was sometimes teased for being smart, but she said that even though that was difficult, she could never bring herself to be one of those girls who plays dumb just to fit in. She knew some of the girls in her class did that and she was critical of them for it. This was astounding to me, because it had never even crossed my mind that someone might downplay their intelligence. At that point I felt like I had spent my entire life trying to do the exact opposite.

At every point in school, I thought, “Well, this is where it will be revealed that I’m actually not that smart.” But I graduated from college, and then I went to grad school, and in grad school I battled feelings of academic inadequacy while still doing very well, and then when I graduated with an MA and started a PhD, I thought, “Are you really going to continue to be the girl who thinks she doesn’t belong here when she obviously does?” Yes, is the answer. Then I completed PhD coursework, looked at my transcripts and saw that the lowest grade was an A-. That’s when I decided I was done telling myself lies. I was done believing this stupid impostor complex.

That was only a year ago, and of course I have been growing into this identity for a long time, but that was the point where I finally acknowledged it. Sometimes I regret the years I spent so full of insecurity, but in talking with the smart girls in my life, I realize that while I was looking at them thinking they had it so easy, they were dealing with all of their own problems. And having taken all my sweet time getting here, I now have this confidence where I don’t find it necessary to prove to people that I am smart or that I deserve to be here. I don’t feel defensive about my identity as a smart girl. Sometimes I feel the pressure that this means I should be smart all the time, but having people witness you throwing up in a potted plant after too much alcohol will cure you of that pretty quickly.

We all take different paths to learning to be true to ourselves. For me, it had very little to do with what anyone else thought of me and everything to do with how I thought of myself. I had to stop believing lies. I had to give up on perfection. I had to stop justifying insecurity by calling it humility. I had to learn to value emotional intelligence. Giving up on all of these battles with myself has made it possible for me to focus on what I really want in life.

Blog Swap #9: my Brazilian summer

Hey Everyone!

I’m Poly and I’ll be your Erini for the day today! For 20SB, we were given blog partners for the 9th Blog Swap to post today on something summer related as the season comes to a close.

I guess what’s most interesting about my “summer,” is that it’s technically still winter where I am! I live in São Paulo, Brazil, and for almost 4 years now, I’ve been free of the harsh New England winters I grew up in to the mild southeastern Brazilian ‘winter,’ where cold is low 50s and windy. My blog is pretty much about my experience moving back to Brazil, and is aptly entitled Disseram Que Voltei Americanizada (They Say I’ve Returned Americanized).

Since for me summer is on the horizon, I thought I’d talk to you guys about what we typically do here in São Paulo in the spring and summer months and share a few pictures of my past few summers in the city and nearby towns and beaches!

Living in one of the biggest (size and population wise!) cities in the world and add being in Latin America to the equation, you can imagine how insane the city life can get here! Mostly what we tend to do here on weekends in the summer is escape from Sampa City, or find our own little escapes inside the city.

So what am I looking forward to this summer?

Running in the park
Can we all come to an agreement that people who run in the winter aren’t normal human beings and possess some sort of super power genetics where they’re able to face cold wind on their faces for the pleasure of being in shape in the winter?

Um, yeah. No thanks. I’ll do the inside the building pilates thing, thanks.

But I do like to run in temperate weather. And the weather’s just getting bearable enough for night runs in Ibirapuera Park!

Escaping to the Shore
There are fabulous beaches just an hour away, but the weather at these beaches is iffy. It’s way too chilly in the winter and it can rain during the summer. So the best thing to do is just wait for a Saturday morning when you wake up, call your bestie and say, “It’s sunny out. Let’s take advantage!”Rush to the beach, traffic pending, and make the most out of the day with a guaranteed refreshing breeze, beach volleyball or soccer (or futevolei – a combination of both! also way too complicated for me…), and drinks at the kiosk watching the sun set behind the hills before reluctantly heading back to the city.

New Years Eve
In the SUMMER! Ok, for those who don’t find this fascinating, skip this part. For those who live in cities where New Years Eve is f*’in cold out and all you have is getting wasted with your friends watching fireworks on TV, at the club you paid way too much for (hors d’oerves at NYE parties always seem to suck, no?), or snuggling with… your mom… then you understand me. And in Brazil, people make it a point to go to the beach because there are all sorts of superstitions that involve jumping in the ocean at midnight… which pretty much gets me excited for it every year. So much that I’ve already booked flights and an Airbnb apartment in Rio. Holler.

Outdoor Arts & Antiques Fairs 
One of my favorite things about this city is how eclectic it is. And one arts fair has different things from the other, unlike most bigger toursity type cities. I love waking up late on a Saturday afternoon, hitting up a local farmer’s market for groceries and then after bringing my stuff back home, pretending to be such a hipster and finding a new fair nearby or really far away and pretend to be able to afford the incredible antiques and paintings and overall knickknacks I come across.

Oh, and of course it’s worth mentioning all these fairs here have food stalls too. Yum.

Carnaval 
Last but certainly not least, Carnaval for Brazilians is almost like Labor Day for Americans. It’s our last chance to party before, well, reality. It’s an ongoing joke that Carnaval is the real Brazilian New Year (hey, if other countries can pick a date…). This year,  I headed to the Northeast for Carnaval in Pernambuco, where I had tons of fun at the beach, jumped like crazy to Afro-Brazilian drum bands (aka, Maracatu),  went scuba diving, and caught national rock bands at night!

Now that I’ve made you all jealous and you hate me… I have to admit, I do miss the leaves changing colors in the fall!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my tiny cultural summer blog post.

Beijos, and take care 🙂

From Erini: Can I just say that I’m completely jealous of Poly’s summer. Or everyone in Brazil’s summer. I mean, I’ve got a beach, but she’s got a real one. Anyway, you can read about my summer over on her blog!

refreshingly honest about the L word

I’ve been lucky enough to have met some really amazing bloggers in the past year or so — both online and off.  One blogger I’ve recently enjoyed getting to know, and sharing a lot of OMG YAY moments, is Erika from Refreshingly Honest.

She’s taking care of a lot of life stuff right now, so she’s asked some of us in the blagosphere to lend a hand and do some guest posts for her.  She asked us “What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about love?”

So go over and check out my guest post for her about the greatest thing love has taught me.  I’ve got a bit of a confession? declaration? … some OMG YAY-ness over there.

Guest Post: Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

Okay, so I’ve recently reconciled with my friend Stephanie.  Beyond being a number of good things, Steph is also someone who’s dealt with a long distance relationship, who knows both Jaron and I… She’s the perfect person for me to seek out advice, so that’s what I’ve done.  And I want to share it with you.

Erini recently asked me to guest post about surviving long distance relationships so here I am.

A bit of background before I jump in:  I’m a college friend of Erini’s and her predecessor in the Evanston girl group.  I am probably the only person who can claim to have lived with both Erini and Jaron.  I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of going from a long distance relationship to a marriage.  Mike and I started dating at the end of my senior year of college.  We dated for about 4 months before I moved to Evanston.  We were long distance for another year and a half before I moved back a few months before our wedding.  So with that, here is the email I sent to Erini.  I might add or interject.

First of all, I didn’t always deal with it (long distance dating) well.  Mike was just reminding me last night of a weekend that Mike was planning a surprise visit and I ruined it.  I had a really hard week, so had decided I was going to go to Goshen.  Abby did everything in her power to dissuade me without actually telling me he was coming, but I was so stubborn that she ended up telling me to keep me in Evanston.  So be patient with yourself.

Pace yourself.  Find a good balance of time you spend here, time he spends there and time you’re apart.  Try different combination and work on developing a pattern.  There’s no right way to do this, it’s totally what works for you guys as a couple.  I suggest the pattern because it’s easier to deal with the times apart if they are consistent.  Your heart learns to deal with the separation if it’s in regular intervals.  Obviously there’s going to be some variation, but make that a goal.

Talk about types and amounts of communication.  If you both know what the other person’s needs/wants are upfront, then you can find a good middle ground if they are different.

Think about and practice coping strategies.  Does going out with such and such friend help you not obsess about Jaron?  Do you have a coffee shop (or cupcake shop) that feels really comfortable to you?  Find those people, places, and things that help you live in the moment and enjoy the life you have without Jaron immediately present and use those when times get tough.

Just try to stay positive with it.  It’s good to be ecstatic about such an amazing guy.  Stick with that.  But it’s so easy to go from “he’s so great!” to “he’s so great I wish he was around all the time… ”  When you start to feel yourself crossing that line, remind yourself how great it is to have him in your life at all and refocus on something else.  Distraction is a great tool.  If sending him a quick note helps, do that.  Just keep it positive.  It’s good to let him know that you miss him etc. but sometimes it’s good to vent the more negative side of it to a close friend.

Over all it’s about being patient with yourself and him and the situation.  Good luck!
Steph