Sunday, June 15, 2014

Everybody's Changing


One of my many quirks is the extreme fear of change. I actually loathe change at times. Although small changes like a new journal or a different workout regime are usually positive, big changes are really tough for me to process. I have detested change for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I moved around frequently during my parent's divorce and continued to move while my mom served as a traveling nurse. I have lived in numerous states and have attended more schools than I care to list. Because of all the major changes I experienced as a child & adolescent, it has been tough to accept change as an adult. 

The first half of this year has been challenging. I would not say that it has been terrible or awful, but there has been a lot of change and adjustment for the past several months. Like I said before, even the mention of any major changes makes me feel nauseated. My husband is actually very sensitive to my fear of change. Luckily, I married a planning man. Zeth loves to plan and prepare for the future. It helps me when I can ease into the idea of a major change. We have already made plans for our next major move. We are moving to the Dallas Fort Worth area next year after my husband graduates with a SECOND master's degree in speech language pathology. 

Zeth has been encouraging me to blog more often. He knows that writing is one of my great passions.  Unfortunately, I have not made any of my passions a priority. Rather, I have internalized my anxiety and stress to the breaking point. I work full-time while Zeth works part-time as a graduate assistant. He spends the rest of his time either in clinic, doing homework, or pursuing the craft aisle for creative activities to incorporate into his lesson plans. We are busy people and usually never stop to catch our breath for very long before it is time to jump right back into the chaos. 

I also manage a chronic illness. Most of my days are difficult and I struggle every morning to find the energy to get out of bed.  I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's and suffer from insulin resistance. My doctor has been monitoring my blood panels closely since 2009 and noticed that my pancreas is making a lot more insulin than a normal person needs. I have been testing my blood sugar 3 times a day and recording my levels. I experience hypoglycemia frequently because my body resists the insulin which allows the sugar into my bloodstream. And because my body resists the insulin, my pancreas continues to make more in order to compensate. My hypoglycemia has been such a terror to manage. Some days, I feel fine and I am able to keep my blood sugar levels elevated. Other days, I plummet and fall into emotional turmoil. We keep glucose tablets handy to keep my attacks to a minimum. My insulin resistance has cause many other problems in my body.

Recently, I have been struggling with what I thought was hearing loss. After having my hearing tested last week, I discovered that I do no have any significant hearing loss. I actually have an auditory processing disorder. My brain has trouble focusing on multiple sounds at once. I tend to feel overwhelmed and unfocused. It is actually a very common issue. I did quite a bit of research after my hearing evaluation. I have developed coping mechanisms over the years (although there is no definitive way to pin point when it started), and have subconsciously developed ways to compensate. 

We are planning to switch physicians soon. The idea of such a drastic change terrifies me. I hate changing physicians mainly because they never know what to make of me. My autoimmune predisposition has caused multiple syndromes to develop over the years and my body is never "by the book" for anything. Doctors can never fully reign in my symptoms or correctly medicate me. It is a constant battle and it is exhausting to muster up the energy & will to fight for wellness. 

My husband helps me to stay positive. He reminds me that I will always have to put my health first because no one else out there in the world will be able to do it for me. He tells me that the world doesn't stop because I am not feeling well. Sometimes the tough love is hard to swallow, but it helps me get out of bed when I feel hopeless. He makes me feel like a fighter.

One of my close friends suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. We stay in constant contact and encourage each other. We actually call ourselves "autoimmune buddies". She told me that she doesn't want to blog because she is afraid that the world will be repulsed by her illness. Anyone will a chronic illness can relate to the fear of being called a hypochondriac or a whiner baby. But I feel like there is a freedom in being open and honest about your illness. It's part of your life, although I constantly tell myself that it is only a portion a much larger whole. I do not feel the need to apologize for the good, the bad, or the ugly. 

I have been listening to "Everybody's Changing" by Keane on repeat all week. It's been like an awakening for me. I feel that this year has been difficult for me because I am in the midst of a difficult metamorphosis in my life. Admitidely, I have resisted the changes. But I have come to realize that change is necessary and sometimes it is a wonderful thing to embrace.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Resolutions

One of my favorite things about a brand new month is the opportunity to start fresh. For me, a brand new month is a clean slate and a blank canvas. I absolutely cannot believe that April is already here. The first few months of 2014 have flown past me. 

The beginning of this year has not been the easiest for me. I have been struggling with many sick days, a lot of chronic pain, and way too much stress. Many of my friends have expressed similar struggles with this year. For me, I believe that the change in time and the seasons has been exceptionally difficult. Where I live, the wind blows relentlessness in the spring months and brings a lot of dirt & debris with it. 

My allergies have been out of control as the cold and hot have battled it out. This past week, I came down with an upper respiratory infection and strep throat. Gross. Thankfully, and with the help of my hubs, I was nursed back to complete health. Although the antibiotics I was prescribed caused an allergic reaction, I was able to get plenty of rest and recover quickly.

Now that April is here, I decided to compose a list of resolutions & goals for the brand new month. I am an avid list maker and nothing motivates me more than a proper list.


*Take more photos: I have been neglecting my Nikon and have barely touch my Instax Mini camera in ages. I want to take my camera with my on trips and family gatherings. I actually have a post in the works about being a shy photographer. 

*Drink more water: I have a gigantic water tumbler to ensure that I drink a lot of water every day.

*Get physical everyday: My husband and I joined a local gym about a month ago. I actually find it so much fun to go work out. I listen to my favorite music while breaking a sweat. If I don't have time to go to the gym, I try to go for a walk with George or do pilates in my living room. Believe it or not, I have lost 35 lbs since September.

*Spend more time with my husband: We both have such busy schedules. Often, we are on opposite time tables. I want to plan some more date nights so we are both forced to slow down and spend time together.

*Focus on the positive and let go of the negative: This is pretty self-explanatory.

*Complete my reading list: I have been reading non-stop in my free time. Anytime I finish a novel or book series, I feel an emptiness inside that can only be filled with something new to read. 

*Take time to be more organized: It is easy to let a busy calendar keep you away from housework. The other day, I spent nearly all day cleaning and organizing my apartment. I have been trying my best to maintain the cleanliness ever since. I have no idea how some people keep their homes spotless.

*Complete a Pinterest project: My husband and I have a few projects in the works that we need to complete.

* Work on a daily mantra: One of my friends told me that she has a morning mantra that she repeats to herself while she exercises. It helps her stay positive and motivated throughout the day. I want to come up with my own mantra and spend some time every morning focusing on it.

These are my main goals for the month. I would love to hear if you have any goals for the month. Happy April, friends! XO, Jacque

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Return to the Interwebs


Well, I fell off the face of the blogging world. I received an email that was accidentally filed away under junk with a notification that my blog domain name was about to be cancelled due to a renewal issue. Suffice to say, it gave me a jolt to the fact that I have been completely absent from my beloved blog. 

I actually do a great deal of personal writing. Between my crazy job as a retail manager and the million other things I do, it just became difficult to return to my writing in this space. I really haven't even been reading my favorite blogs either. I have a strange compulsion to be all or nothing. If I can't dedicate my all into something, it generally falls to the wayside. I am also a perfectionist and the energy I spend trying to make everything perfect is always exhausting. 

One of my friends mentioned that she really missed reading my posts the other day while we were chatting. It made me realize that I really miss writing. So I just logged in to my blog, made sure to update my domain renewal, and decided to was time for me to start writing again. Because it really does make my life fuller and happier when I am writing on a daily basis.

I have been working as a store manager at a beauty store for more than half a year. It's been a struggle to obtain my teaching certification and use my Bachelor's degree. I graduated from college in 2012, took a job as a clinical support representative for a home health agency, and began a very miserable person. The transition out of college has been a difficult one for me. My husband is currently working on a second Master's degree in speech pathology. He is absolutely not help in dealing with this because he still has another year of school left. 

After a year of working for the home health agency, I decided to find a job with more income. I also enrolled in a teacher certification program. My current job is a blessing and a curse. At times, I feel that my artistic soul may be suffering. Constantly interacting with rude individuals often wares on me. I am not always able to put on a happy face for ungrateful and entitled customers. 

On the flip side,  I often enjoy working in a store dedicated to beauty and making women feel good about themselves. Many of my co-workers are very talented and it is an enjoyment to see an overjoyed customer leave the store. I have also lost almost 35 lbs since I have started working in a more physical job. I continuously tell myself that every job comes with good and bad aspects. It's important to focus on the positive and let go of the negative.

My biggest challenge when it comes to writing is finding my voice and organizing my thoughts. Sometimes I struggle because I start out with numerous ideas and they become disorganized as I write. So, my main purpose in writing at the moment is to put aside my reservations and to have a more confident and honest voice. 

As a Theatre scholar, it is my nature to seek honesty and ponder the complexities of the human condition. As a writer, I would like to be more vulnerable and unrehearsed in my thoughts. This may prove to be extremely difficult because I am in the habit of accusing myself of rambling whenever I start to express any thoughts in detail. 

If you can't tell, I am very hard on myself. The urge to be critical of myself is almost overwhelming at times. It's almost like it was put in my internal code to overanalyze and nitpick at myself all the time. I hope I am not the one person to feel this way. That would be sad.

As always, my main purpose is to inspire positivity and encourage others to live with gratitude. The heart and soul of my blog will not change. I am very happy to be writing again. I really cannot express how overjoyed my heart is right now.

Hope you have an AMAZING week!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Quirky Update



Right now, I'm creating a holiday playlist on Spotify and snuggling with my dog and cat. It's freezing cold outside my apartment, so I have a small heating pad underneath our blanket. We had a snow storm hit yesterday. It's been a few weeks since I have been able to blog. I have been very sick with stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday and made a mad dash to the restroom. My husband has been concerned because I never ever vomit. I actually had a no-vomit streak of 16 years. When I was in sixth grade, I was violently ill in my literature class while we were reading Old Yeller. That was the last time I have ever vomited. I'm sorry if that is a disgusting and weird over share.

We found out that I have severe gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Sounds pretty gross. It's actually quite painful. My stomach is constantly at odds with anything and everything that I eat. I also struggle with a constant sore throat because of the constant reflux of acid. I have always said that being stomach-sick is the worst kind of sickness, so it's needless to say this bout of GERD has been plaguing my existence lately. I have been taking some new medicine twice a day to help with the nausea, stomach upset, and acid reflux. I have actually lost about 20lbs due to a less acidic diet, more water intake, and a lot more exercise. On top of everything, my job is extremely physical. 

So, I completely failed at my blogging goal. It's a disappointment, especially because I am extremely hard on myself. I compare myself to others, and feel insecure when I don't measure up. I have to admit to myself that I am going to fail, and I will never be perfect. All I can do is move on and strive to be better in the future. One of my mantras is to improve always. There is always room to be better, to try harder, and to work towards being more thankful. 

I have trouble fabricating new & original blog content. It's challenging to even begin writing when I have not come up with a focus or topic. I also continuously compare my writing and content to other blogs. We shouldn't compare ourselves to others, but that is something that I have constantly struggled with. My intention is not to complain, but I feel like we don't talk about our insecurities and fears enough. I have found that I am a more confident writer when I stop looking at what everyone else is writing and find inspiration in my own life. 

Now that winter is here, I have been consuming copious amounts of soup. My favorite type of soup is Campbell's soup in a cup. I also cannot survive longer than a few weeks without a good bowl of cheddar broccoli. What is favorite type of soup??

Hope you are having a lovely day!

Jacque

Sunday, November 3, 2013

George's Journal

Hello Quirky Readers! 

My name is George the wire fox terrier. My mom doesn't know that I'm on her blog, so I would appreciate it if you kept this between us. I just spent some hard time at the groomer and wanted to show you all a picture of my new hairdo. It was tough, but now I smell sweet and can sleep on the bed with my parents. I wish I could stay longer to chat with you, but I can hear my mom calling me. I bet she is going to take me on a walk or maybe give me a Pup-a-roni stick. She is the best mom ever.

Lots of sloppy kisses and tail wags,
George

Friday, November 1, 2013

Take the First Step


Clickity clackity click clack click...the sound of typing is a little bit foreign to me. It has literally been months since I have opened my laptop or typed anything of some substance. I just woke up out of a restless sleep and felt compelled to reunite with my long lost blog. I'm not sure why I suddenly stopped blogging. It's almost as if I just couldn't muster the energy to compose any of my thoughts. 

I have been struggling with stress, anxiety, and some chronic stomach issues. As some of you know, I suffer from an autoimmune disease. For the past couple of months, I feel like I have been in self-preservation mode. Chronic fatigue, stomach aches, and anxiety have plagued me for years, but I have always been talented at coping. One day a few months ago, I just snapped and gave up on anything excessive. I stopped reading my favorite blogs, I completely gave up on blogging, and I even stopped taking any photos. A strange depression hit me like a ton of bricks and I have been struggling to pull myself out of it ever since. This all may sound kind of strange, but I just want to be honest and up front. 

My health is in a constant state of flux. I can feel fine one day and completely rotten in an instant. I trudge through bad days and rough patches. I hide my illness at work and keep a brave face on most of the time for my family. I don't want the burden of my illness to fully impact anyone else. I am always trying to just "be okay" in order to make it through a normal day. And while this isn't the most horrific life or illness in the world, it can be almost overwhelming at times for me. Sometimes the never-ending pain and fatigue is just too much. 

And right now while I am composing this, there is a nagging voice in my head that tells me to stop whining. I'm not the type to constantly moan and complain. I keep my strength by focusing on the positive. But sometimes, that is just not enough. Sometimes you can just be grumpy, have a crappy day, admit that things are not wonderful, and just be okay with not being okay.

It's been a challenge in the past to write about the normalities of my daily life. The negative side of my illness, the stress of being the main bread winner for my family, and the overwhelming anxiety I have every night. But I really want to be more open. I want to bring more of the real me to this safe place. I would like to say that I have a master plan to bring my blog back to life, but I really just have an overwhelming desire to write. I want to just share my life, interests, and shortcomings with you on a daily basis. 

Truth time: I'm not the best at following through with my goals and plans. Actually, I really suck at following through.  But I want to be better about holding myself accountable for my goals. Today is the first day in November, and I am challenging myself to share something on this blog every single day of this month. 

I'm actually so thrilled to finally break the silence on this blog. Perhaps no one has noticed my absence, but I have truly felt a deep longing in my heart for my lovely little blog since I fell off the face of the internet a several months ago. I feel like I'm bursting at the seams with ideas. 

If you are struggling to make a blog comeback, I would love to hear from you. Actually, I would love to hear from you regardless. I would like to thanks those of you who have sent me encouraging emails. It truly helped me climb out of the doldrums and return to my blog.

Hope you have a day filled with many reasons to be thankful,

Jacque

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Quirky Update


 Oh my goodness...It is FINALLY Friday! I promise you, I was certain I would not make it through this week as it trudged along at a snail's pace. On Tuesday, I found myself whining to my husband about the fact that we weren't even halfway through the week. Thankfully, Friday has finally arrived.

Also, isn't it just a little bit weird for me to call Zeth my husband? We have been officially married for an entire month! We actually call each other Hubs & Wifey. I sort of love it, too. I've been way too swamped (and sick...geeze louise, I have another sinus infection) to even think about cracking open my wedding photo archives. We also desperately need to write and mail out thank you cards. I would love to say that we are just a bunch of slackers, but that couldn't be further from the case. We have just been extremely busy and everything wedding related has gone on the back burner now that we are actually married.

Poor Zeth is stuck in class this summer. He has to take two more undergrad classes in Chemistry and Statistics before he can start graduate work in speech therapy. If haven't been reading for a while, Zeth is working on a second Master's degree in speech pathology. He is going to be a speech therapist in two years. Both his undergrad and first Master's degree are in English, but he switched gears and decided on a different career. We moved to Amarillo at the end of the summer last year so he could take some levelling courses this past year before starting work on another Master's degree. So, he is pretty much the smartest person I know. But he isn't one of those snobby academic types. He is wonderfully down to Earth while being completely brilliant (at least in my opinion).

If you have every suffered through summer classes, you know how hellish this has been for him. Last summer, I had to take two sections of advanced Spanish and public speaking. It was completely awful to drudge into class every day when all I wanted to do was lay poolside and enjoy the summertime. Summer is also the worst time to take any classes you are dreading. So, I definitely feel his pain.
 

Being married has been somewhat of an adjustment, but it's actually been pretty wonderful. I'm planning on changing my last name from Stewart to Collom once the dust has settled a little bit. We are also still working on some the technical changes like getting our bank accounts coordinated, but we are just really excited to have finally made it through the wedding. Our focus has been on building a solid foundation for a marriage. We know our marriage will never be 100% perfect, but we want to make each other and our relationship with each other a priority. We have been two peas in a pod ever since we started dating so the adjustment to married life has been less for us than most newlyweds.
 

I am still trying to hang in there when it comes to being well. I have had a couple of severe autoimmune flareups this month, but I'm making my best effort to stay healthy & positive. I go to bed early nearly every night, eat healthily, and try to get active every day. I have been struggling with some chronic pain for the past few months. It's been a lot of headaches, back aches, and general joint pain. I'm not a big fan of medication, so I've been taking some anti-inflammatory medicine sparingly when the pain is unbearable. I feel that the hardest part of living with a chronic illness is keeping a positive attitude. I have good days & bad days, but I try my best not to let my illness take over my life.
 
 
Zeth and I had an amazing time two weeks ago when we travelled down to the metroplex area (the area around Dallas and Fort Worth) to see She & Him in concert. We ended up standing in the orchestra pit for the entire concert. While it was kind of pain to stand for nearly 4 hours, it was actually pretty amazing to be 4 feet away from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. We arrived quite early to ensure we would be as close to the stage as possible. If not for a protective bar in place, we would have been within inches of the band. Zeth was slightly jealous, but all of the girls in the audience including myself swooned over M. Ward. He is actually really dreamy. They didn't play my favorite She & Him song, Lingering Still, but it was still a lovely experience. I thought they sounded amazing live. We also discovered The Secret Sisters, an incredibly talented duo of sisters that opened for She & Him. We both melted during their version of Tonight You Belong to Me.

I'm really interested in developing my photography skills. I'm working my way through a couple of photography e-courses right now. I've written about my fascination with photography before. Unfortunately, I'm an extremely shy photographer. What I mean is that I hate snapping pictures if there is anyone around to notice me doing so. It's kind of lame. Just yesterday, I was on my front porch trying to snap a picture of the sky, and someone walked by & took notice of what I was doing. I just hate that. My husband pointed out to me that I hate it when anyone watches me work in general. I absolutely detest it when someone reads over my shoulder while I'm typing. It's actually kind of embarrasing that I have barked at people for simply walking past me because I was certain they were reading my writing. I can be such a paranoid weirdo.
 

 In other news, I finally decided to get a shorter haircut. I've been wanting to cut my hair dramatically shorter for the past few months, but I also wanted my hair to be longer until after the wedding. I spotaneously decided to get my hair chopped off last week without telling my husband first. I can be so random for someone as organized and methodical as I am. I ended up having 10 inches taken. My hair feels wonderful now that some of the weight and dead ends have been cleared out. I have the thickest hair ever, so it was nice to have it thinned a little bit. Thankfully, Zeth absolutely loves my new haircut.

What have you been up to lately??

Lots of love and positive energy,

Friday, June 14, 2013

10 Things I'm Obsessed With Right Now: June Edition

Hello, Lovely Friend. Things have been absolutely crazy in my world for the past few weeks. I have been out of town nearly every weekend since the beginning of April with work, wedding related events, and other family gatherings. Whew. I have tons of pictures & adventures to share with you including a plethora of wedding & honeymoon images. I plan to spread them out over the next week.
 
The only thing I have been able to think about all week has been my mini-honeymoon trip this weekend. We are trekking over to Dallas to see She & Him in concert. My husband surprised me with the tickets back in February, so we have been extremely excited for this trip. Zooey Deschanel is one of my favorite quirky girls. Ever since I saw her in Elf, I've been smitten with her quirky style & adorable personality. Needless to say, it's been a struggle to stay productive this week due to my excessive excitement.
 
 Every month, I feel like my obsessions and interests change. For the past couple of month, I've been consumed with plans for my wedding. Now that I'm married, I'm starting to re-visit old hobbies and focus more on myself. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to resurrect one of my favorite blog features. So, here is my June list of 10 things I'm completely obsessed with right now.
 
Owls: I'm not sure why, but my obsession with all things owl related has intensified. My work office is bedecked with lots of owl figures & wall art.



Photography: I have been trying to take more photos both with my phone & my SDL camera. It's challenging at times, especially when I forget my camera at home, but it's a fun hobby and a learning experience.
 
Pink office supplies: I have always loved office supplies in general. I went shopping the other day and picked up some hot pink post-its & some pink gelly pens. A friend also surprised me with a pink office set including scissors, push pins, and a stapler.
 
Film Scores: My Pandora has been permanently set on my favorite film score station. It's the perfect inspiration to get a lot of work done. I'm currently loving the film score from Pride and Prejudice and The Red Violin.  
 
Satchels: I have been completely obsessed with satchels lately. I recently took my purple Cambridge satchel with me out of town, and it was extremely versatile. I could use it to house my laptop or tote it around with my purse essentials.
 
Mason jars: There is just something really beautiful and simple about mason jars. I made mason jar candles for my wedding and it turned out to be really pretty. I have also seen pretty flower arrangements placed into mason jars. I've been dying to try a few mason jar projects that I have seen on Pinterest.
 
The Snugg iPad 4 Case: I was recently given a Snugg iPad 4 Case to try out. I have been completely smitten with this case. I'm actually very picky when it comes to cases and tend to switch out my case every couple of days. But since receiving this lovely pink Snugg, I have not taken it off once. It's quite sturdy yet very light weight. I adore the color and the holder for my stylus. It's also durable and easy to keep clean. The case is also available on Amazon. I'm definitely a big fan of the Snugg.
 
Infinity scarves: I discovered infinity scarves the other day while shopping with my husband. There were some scarves on sale at Express, so I picked up a few. I love to layer my outfits because the temperatures tend to fluctuate here in Amarillo. I also found some cute infinity scarves on Etsy. I think I'm a scarf-addict.
 
She & Him: I have been listening to their new album, Volume 3, on repeat for the past few weeks. I absolutely cannot wait to see them in concert this weekend.
 
Swimming pools: I absolutely love to go swimming during the summertime. I have gone swimming every day this week after work. My husband mentioned going to a water park some time this summer, and I jumped at the suggestion because I have never been to one before. Swimming is one of my favorite summer activities.
 
What are you obsessed with right now??
 
Lots of love & positive vibes,

 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Adventures of an iPhoneographer 2nd Edition

1) My inner Martha Stewart comes out in full force during the warmer month & I've become OBSESSED with flower arranging. 2) I had my very first experience with In' N' Out burger while I was in Dallas last weekend for my bachelorette party. 3) Apollo has been stalking me all over my apartment & following me every where I go. It's cute but kinda creepy, too. 4) I love the blue skies of springtime. 5) Shopping for orchids. 6) My sister bought me the cutest gelly owl phone case that I've been obsessed with. She's my favorite person in the world. 7) George is finally starting to feel better. He has been under the weather for nearly a week, and I finally rushed him to the vet after he stopped eating for some meds. He is my little fur baby, so it was very difficult to see him feeling so poorly. 8) My bridesmaids took my to see Wicked in Dallas last weekend for my bachelorette party. I had such a wonderful time. 9) Zeth took me to a retro ice cream parlor close to his work the other day and we had ice cream sundaes.

1) The lovely blossoms of the bradford pear trees around my neighborhood.  2) A snippet of my work space. 3) My obsession with owls continues with these adorable owl hooks. 4) George being the best co-pilot during a 6 hour solo voyage to visit my mom & sister.

 1) The lovely flowers my fiance surprised me with to cheer me up after being sick & going to the hospital. 2) The adorable George in a doggie nest I built him while he was under the weather. 3) I baked some strawberry & chocolate cupcakes for my co-workers. 4) My future sister-in-law surprised me with the most adorable owl earrings. You can't really see them in the pictures but they make me smile anytime I wear them. 5) Drooling over the colorful Kitchenaid mixers while registering for my wedding. 6) Dr. Who socks...Need I say more? 7) My bridesmaids found the cutest buttons for my bachelorette party. 8) Posing with Ana, one of my adorable bridesmaids, during dinner on my bachelorette weekend. 
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 I have not shared my iPhone pictures in what seems like forever. Just like most of my fellow blog authors, I'm pretty much obsessed with snapping iPhone/smartphone pictures and sharing them on Instagram. If you are on Instagram, we should definitely be Insta-friends! My user name is happytobequirky, and I post a lot of pictures of my wire fox terrier, George.  I obsessively log on to Instagram every morning when I'm trying to wake up and heart a bazillion pictures while sipping a mug of hot coffee. It is actually the highlight of my morning because I'm definitely not a morning bird. 

I have always loved being able to capture my daily life with iPhone images. Although some of my pictures tend to have poor quality, it's still fun to look back and remember what was going on in my life at the time. I do need to make an effort to use my Nikon SLR camera more often. Sadly, I'm not in habit of pulling it out to snip pictures like a lot of other bloggers. I'm currently working on a blog post all about my camera shyness which will explain what I'm talking about in more detail and present some suggestions for anyone struggling with the same issue. 

This week I want to bust out my SLR and take more photos. My wedding is a little less than one month away, so I also have a bazillion wedding related errands to run. 

Sending lots of positive vibes your way,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Quirky Guide to Getting Out of a Blogging Rut!

 Help! I've fallen into a blogging rut, and I can't get back up!
 
Have you ever found yourself in what seems like an inescapable writing rut? Whether it be a lack of inspiration or the complete halt of any sort of update. I recently found myself in such a rut after coping with a terrible flare up of my autoimmune illness while planning my wedding & juggling a billion other obligations. Overwhelmed with the stress and the lack of time from holding down two jobs, I felt my blog suffer as night after night passed without any updates.

After taking a month long hiatus, I felt that getting back into my blog routine was nearly impossible. Every time I sat down to compose a post, I felt hopeless and uninspired. A few weeks ago, I received a sad email from a lovely reader who wanted to know why my writing had nearly ceased entirely. She expressed that many blogs often end up being a dead space on the internet when a blog author abandons them and how sad it would be if that were the case with my blog.

I decided that I was either going to let my blog fade away and sit like a cob web inside a dusty cyber closet, or I was going to reclaim my blog and infuse it with the energy & positivity that I began my writing endeavor with originally. I felt that the best way to end my blogging rut was to write about it. As most you know, our blogs are like an extension of who we are as people. Not our whole selves, but a very deep & personal part. What better way to bring my blog back to life than to write about my ideas on how to avoid and defeat a blogging rut.
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(My desk is my favorite place to write)
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GET ORGANIZED

My main problem whenever I find myself in a rut is to figure what to write about. That has always been the most difficult part of the process for me. I can easily get stumped by the most docile case of writer's block. I feel that the best way to avoid writer's block is to have a plan of action before you even start writing. To give you an idea of what I am talking about I will lay out the process I have conceived for my own writing.

First, I jot down a list of numerous topic ideas. To make things easier, I usually keep a working list of topics with me inside my Filofax. I constantly think of ideas while I'm in the most inconvenient places, and I find it easier to jot those ideas down when I have a list with me at all times. Write all of your ideas down in the same place. Even silly ideas or ideas that still need some work. Never dismiss an idea just because it isn't 100 percent perfect.

Next, I sit down with a calendar and plan the schedule for my blog posts. You can approach this step a number of ways depending on your personal preferences. I like to print out blank calendars for each month and fill in each day with my goals & planned posts. I also plan what days I'm actually going to composes said posts. I like to write a few posts in one sitting when I'm feeling inspired.

After the planning is done, I simply continue to brainstorm topic ideas and try my best to stick to my schedule. There is always some give and take when it comes to a blog schedule but it should definitely be followed most of the time in order to stay on track.

STOP MAKING EXCUSES

It's easy to make excuses when it comes to anything that requires effort. Writing, editing, and organizing your blog posts takes a lot more effort than anyone reading can imagine from the finished product. If you have fallen into a rut for a long time, you should start by extinguishing that nagging voice in the back of your mind that reminds you that it's just been too long since your last update. Even if it's been months, it's okay to come back to your blog. Even if some of your old followers have moved on, there are plenty of new readers out there just waiting to discover your writing.

Stop apologizing for gaps between your posts or skipped days without any new content. There is no need to feel guilty for taking the time that you need.
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MORE QUIRKY TIPS


Don't be afraid of writers' block. The less you dwell on it, the quicker it will disappear.

Don't be overly critical during your first draft of writing. Just let the words come out as they will. Edit your writing once you have gotten your original idea out.

Try using a word processor while working. I also enjoy using Ommwriter when I need to block out the distractions and just write my heart out.

Listen to instrumental music that is inspiring but not distracting. Turn off the television and close all superfluous web tabs. Shutting out distractions is a big help for me because it's easy to let multi-tasking overwhelm you and keep you from your writing. 

Set aside time to write free from distractions. I tend to write early in the morning or late at night when everyone is asleep.

Take some time at least once per week to jot down lots of ideas. Even silly ideas can spark something brilliant. Write & doodle freely without any inner criticism.

If you usually look for images or edit images prior to writing, switch things up and write the article first. And vice versa if you usually write first.
 
Read everything & anything that inspires you. Watch your favorite movies, listen to podcasts, read magazines/newspapers/blogs. Absorb it all and let yourself be inspired. It's funny how anything can spark a new & original idea if you are receptive to it.

Work away from the computer. I have a composition notebook covered in pink hearts that I like to write in.

Go somewhere new like a chic cafe or a park bench. Find somewhere that works for you. My 
local library has an amazing row of secluded desks fully equipped with outlets. I could spend hours there hidden away from the world.

Don't stress if you don't have time to update on a daily basis. Write when you feel inspired. Your writing schedule will develop over time. The more passionate you are about what you are writing, the more frequent your posts will be.

Pre-write when you feel inspired to do so. Write some articles in advance when you are feeling especially creative. Save them for a busy time in your life.

Go for a walk outside and let your ideas percolate inside your mind.
 
Set small goals and reward yourself. Sometimes I tell myself that if I write one post, I can do something fun like watch a bit of trash television or get a manicure. It sounds kinda of kooky, but it really helps you stay focused when you have something to look forward to.
 
Dive headfirst into a blog project and get lost in your creation.

Explore your hometown and find hidden inspiration.

Don't apologize if you are feeling uninspired.

Create inspiration collages with magazine clippings or make virtual pinboards like on Pinterest.

Break from your routine. Routines start to get old and can make you feel uninspired.

Grab your best friend and go for an adventure. Do something you have never done before then write about it.

Dream big, even when it comes to your writing.

Stop comparing yourself to other bloggers, especially pro-bloggers. We all start at the same place, so don't get discouraged by the success of other bloggers.
 
Write about what makes your heart leap inside your chest. Odds are you won't run out of things to write about when you are truly enraptured with the topics you have chosen for your blog.
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These are just a few things that have helped me. I would love to hear your own ideas on staying inspired & working through ruts.

Lots of love & positivity,