A re-introduction

I don’t know which is crazier…

The fact I haven’t blogged in over a year or the fact that I’ve had less than 16 ounces of coffee today.

For real, though. It’s been awhile. Hello!

Here’s the truth: I’ve tried to blog. Many times, in fact. Over the last year or so, actually. Every time I went to write, I just couldn’t do it.

I write every day for clients, brands and businesses, yet when I sit down to write for myself, I can’t.

Call it writer’s block, or a writer’s lull. The pressure I put on myself to write something valuable, thought-provoking and worthy of your time as readers became stronger than the motivation I had to write in the first place. Each idea I had just didn’t seem to be good enough to post, and so I never did.

So fast forward to over one year later…here I am. The writer’s block is going away (slowly, very slowly), so I apologize in advance if a period of time goes by without a post. I’m practicing and exercising the art of writing again, little by little.

Here are a few highlights to get us all up to speed once again!

I’ve been able to cross a few items off of my bucket list. Instead of boring you with the daily details of my life, let me give you a few highlights (complete with pictures).

I traveled to Chicago and visited The Bean, the Sears Tower, the Art Museum of Chicago and more. I saw Monet paintings in real life, and they are much more beautiful than the versions you see in history books and on Google. One of my favorite moments was seeing The Bean. I’ve wanted to visit it for years!

I traveled to Pittsburgh. My first time! I saw the outside of Heinz field (didn’t go inside sadly) and drank coffee in a fancy coffee shop. I walked across the Andy Warhol bridge. It was stunning.

I disco’d in my church’s Christmas dramatic musical. I wore go-go boots and silvery leather pants. Surprisingly, they were very comfortable and easy to walk in.

I purchased a piano. Granted, it is a Yamaha electric piano, but it does everything and anything. It is not a white grand piano (true piano goals right there), but it is beautiful and I am the proud owner of it!

Okay, let’s make this even shorter:

I saw the Rockettes perform in New York City. The Reach Band launched our first CD and had an album release party.

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I stood by my friend’s side as she became a Mrs. We launched Reach Church with its first church service. I turned 23 and became the new owner of the nickname Kelly (long story made short here).

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It has been a whirlwind of a year (and 13 days), so thank you for being patient as I figure out how to write again…authentically, personally and from the heart. It’s harder than it sounds, trust me.

It’s good to be back.

 

10 Things I Have Learned (So Far) In The Real World

I am not a Real World pro by any means, but I have been out of college for about half a year now. (Mind-blowing.)

Six months, apparently, is enough time for reality to sink in and make one realize that no, you are not, in fact, going back to school. You are done with homework and exams and assigned readings. You are done with college, period.

Now that I have entered this thing called The Real World, learning a new routine has come with several challenges I had not at first anticipated. Who knew not having to work on homework at night would cause a (mini) identity crisis?

I love my job! It’s fantastic!

However, when I come home from work, I often find myself not knowing what to do next. I have been so used to tackling homework or going to extra-curricular meetings for the past few years now, that with that suddenly gone, my evenings are free. No meetings, no homework. Suddenly, I have a personal life again.

I do not miss homework at. all., but I do (in a way) miss the routine I had so strategically created and mastered. For those of you out of college, please tell me I’m not alone, and that I’m normal(ish).

But, that’s not all. Instead of boring you with a long blog post, here are

10 Things I Have Learned (So Far) In The Real World.

1. Finding a hobby you can do at night is a great idea. 

2. Time management is still important. 

3. Packing your lunch the night before is a genius idea.

4. So is choosing your outfit. 

5. Cardigans are the best thing ever. Get one in every color. 

6. Find a podcast series or create a music playlist to listen to on your commute. 

7. Don’t forget about your friends. Stay in touch.

8. Read for fun. It’s not overrated. 

9. Pay your bills, save your money. 

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ever. 

There is already many more items I could add to that list, and as I keep learning, that list will continue to grow. That’s the cool thing about life. You’re always learning something new!

What about you? What are some things you have learned while entering The Real World?

The Carly Reads Giveaway!

Love to read?

Want to win a free book?

Have an Instagram account?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of the above questions, congratulations. It’s your lucky day. My fabulous friend Carly has an awesome giveaway happening RIGHT NOW!

Head on over to CarlyReadsfind this photo, repost it, tag three friends, include the hashtag #CarlyReadsGiveaway, and include what book you’d love to win in your caption. 

Yep, I know.

It’s that simple.

But hurry! The giveaway ends on Saturday, August 8 at 11:59 p.m., so there are only a few days left to enter.

P.S. Stay tuned for a future interview blog post with Carly to discuss how she started CarlyReads and all the adventures she’s had so far because of it! Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 12.25.09 AM

The 3 Words: January and February Review

It’s been two months and five days since 2015 began.

To me, it seems like we rang in the new year yesterday… time flies! But, so far, so good!

Remember when I chose 3 words to focus on in 2015?

Well, like all ‘resolutions,’ keeping them requires time, energy, and evaluation. Here’s a review of how the progress is going…

First.

So far, there have been a lot of firsts. Professionally, I purchased my first stack of business cards from Vistaprint. They were very affordable and extremely easy to customize. But that’s not all! They arrived only a few short days after I ordered them, which made my day enough to take this picture. Another first this year was reading Gone GirlYes Please, and Bossypants. These three books were incredibly well-written, inspiring, and hard to put down– I definitely recommend them. {Check out the entire stack of winter session reads here.} I’m also pleased to announce I’m an official The Skimm Ambassador and a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network {hence the new ‘Networks’ tab on the right of this page}

There have been several personal firsts, as well. I won’t name them all {I know, I know– I’m a terrible person!}, but here are several I will share with you. For one, I had my last first day of school — ever! And, in typical Keri fashion, I found a throwback of my first day of school {pre-K} and created this collage to summarize 18 years of school. Time flies! It has also snowed {a lot} this winter. Actually, it is snowing as I type this– just another snowstorm to add to the list. This was the first snow sunset photo I took this year — winter sunsets take my breath away.

Risk.

Thankfully, physical risk has been nonexistent; although, there have been several times while driving on icy roads that I have been convinced otherwise. This entire semester will be one big, risky adventure, if only for the fact that people keep asking, “What’s next?” It is hard for me to answer this question sometimes, because the unknown is…well, unknown. My need to plan, plan, plan is going out the window, and it really has pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, as my word ‘joy’ will explain, risk is not always a bad thing. It can lead to…

Joy.

My need to plan is a silly one, because God’s plans are far better than mine will ever be. Every time I think I know what the plan is, He patiently reminds me that He has it all under control. His have {and always will} be better than I had ever imagined. From job searching to figuring out what the next chapter entails to everything in between, it is easy to dwell on the question, “What’s next?” It is easy to rush through the little moments of life, but those are the experiences memories are made of. Joy is in the perspective, and 2015 has been the year of God teaching me more about it.

So that’s a {general, brief} overview of the first two months of 2015! If this is foreshadowing to how the rest of the year is going to be, 2015 is going to be a whirlwind of {awesome, exciting} adventure.

How’s 2015 shaping up for you? Let me know by sending a tweet or commenting below!

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Liebster Award Nomination

Happy Monday!

Last week, I was nominated for a Liebster* award by Haley from Honestly Haley, a talented blogger and photographer I met through the blogosphere. Go check out her stuff; she’s great!

You may be wondering what a Liebster award is, and that is a great question. Let me try to explain. In short, a Liebster award is kind of like a piece of chain-mail in the blogging community, but without the annoying ‘threats’ that can come along with it. You nominate other bloggers to get to know them, meet new people, and share the love. You receive 11 questions to answer and then you create 11 of your own to pass on to your nominees. Thank you for the nomination, Haley!

* My Mac keeps wanting to auto-correct Liebster to Lobster. Haha!

And so we begin…

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1. What is your favorite flavor of jellybean? 

I’m a jellybean lover, so this is difficult! I know I hate the white ones; those are nasty. Hmm… I’d have to say my favorite flavor has to be pink watermelon (Starburst jelly beans, for the win) with green apple as a close second. I like them all, though. Except the white ones.

2. What are 10 things you can’t live without?

Oh snap! 10? I’d say: my Bible, Mac, phone, planner (I do not go anywhere without it), coffee (well, Starbucks coffee to be exact), a book (more specifically, anything written by Jodi Picoult), my grey boots (I’m not a huge fan of the color black, but grey is definitely my favorite neutral– they go with everything), Essie nail polish (specifically, “Cute As A Button” for spring), The Smurf (my bright blue car), and infinity scarves (I wear them allllll the time).

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Jennifer Lawrence would be rad! She’s hilarious and I’m not, so it’d be a step in the right direction, I think. Either her or Karla Souza (the girl who plays Laurel on How to Get Away With Murder) would be awesome.

4. What would a perfect day consist of?

Any day at the beach or in New York City!

5. What are you most grateful for?

The fact that God loves me and died for me, even though I do not deserve it. His grace amazes me and I am eternally grateful for it.

6. What do you look for in a friend?

I can summarize it all in four words: Integrity, humor, encouragement, genuine.

7. What is your favorite food?

Grape leaves, which is a Lebanese dish I’ve eaten every holiday since I was young. Chicken and broccoli casserole is also a favorite of mine, followed by homemade vegetable soup. To die for.

8. What is your favorite season and why?

Autumn is, by far, my favorite season. I love watching the leaves change and the air turn colder. Football season begins and fall colors are everywhere. Throughout college, I’ve also noticed some of my favorite memories come from fall semesters so I have a lot of happiness in those couple of months. It’s also not too hot and not too cold, high 60s or low 70s and sunny. Perfect.

9. What is your dream job?

If you had asked me from age 5 to 15, I would’ve told you it was to work as a news anchor for Fox News. If you had told me last year, I would have said it was to become a sideline reporter for ESPN or for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, it’s public relations– plain and simple. I would still love to work in sports PR, but ideally, my dream job is to go into work every day loving what I do, and that is public relations, social media/marketing and event planning. Whichever job can let me do one, two, or all three of those is my dream job!

10. Where is your dream home?

Home is where the heart is, right? Cliche, but true. Where the people I love are, that’s where I want to be. But, that’s a cliche answer so I’ll give an unrealistic answer. I’d love to live in Australia or Hawaii, at least for a month or two– actually, I take that back. A vacation would suffice.

11. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or Oreo. I’m a fan of the chocolate-y pieces, but hate chocolate ice cream.

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Okay, so my nominations are as follows for the Liebster award… These are blogs I think are awesome and I read them almost every day. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting two and personally corresponding with a few, as well. Check out their sites– they’re fantastic, just like the authors!

Meagan at The Millenial Martha

Courtney at The Everyday Elegance

Carly at The College Prepster

Katy at Daily Katy

Laura at Center Stage: Communication

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Have fun! I can’t wait to see your posts.

Here are you questions…

1. When did you start your blog?

2. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

3. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why?

4. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

5. Describe your dream day.

6. If you had $100,000, what would you do?

7. What is your dream job?

8. What are five things on your bucket list?

9. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

10. What social media channel do you check first when you wake up?

11. What is your favorite season and why?

January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?

Guest Post: Courtney Kincaid on Blog Vision

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A few nights a week, I end my day on Pinterest. Yes, yes, I know, so cliche. I go for inspiration and for ideas, especially when it comes to style and blogging. I stumbled across Courtney Kincaid’s blog, The Everyday Elegance, and was immediately hooked. Her posts are engaging and her entire blog is adorable and fantastic. I noticed she also was working on a 101 in 1,001 list, and being the curious individual that I am, I began reading it. One of them was to write a guest post for another blog, and that’s when I decided I wanted to help her check off this item. I emailed her and before I knew it, she had agreed to guest blog for me, and I, in turn, guest blogged for her (another one of her 101s– you can read my post on The Everyday Elegance here).

Pinterest is fantastic and so is the blogosphere. I’m thrilled to have met a new blogging friend and am honored to welcome Courtney as a guest blogger for KeriBetters.com. Enjoy, and make sure to follow The Everyday Elegance on social media!

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Since starting my blog 10 months ago, I have definitely run into some struggles. There were literally days (more like weeks) with 0 page views in the beginning. It wasn’t until about 5 months ago that there were some real issues with my blogging vision. Having a vision is necessary for blogs. Without it, the blogger tends to ramble on and on about nothing. It’s an important foundation when deciding to start or rebrand a blog.

A major part of having a great vision includes two important characteristics: consistency and perseverance. Again, this is something that I struggled with for a long time (Probably May to September of 2014). Unless consistency was structured for me, I wasn’t consistent, and when the comments and page views didn’t happen after a couple of months, I lost my stride.

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  1. Write original content. This seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised that many people are affected by this. I was affected by this. My blog was originally thrown together under the impression that I was “finding what I wanted to do in life and expressing myself in a creative way”, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Until I looked at some of my content and realized that I was simply regurgitating what other bloggers were saying. I was afraid to share my own personal opinions, and because my posts weren’t my own opinions, it was a lot harder for me to come up with content. And because it was a lot harder for me to come up with content, I was less consistent. After a while, I resented my blog because it wasn’t a representation of myself. It wasn’t something I was proud of. This lead to the whole “re-vamping” of my blog. Now I’m getting at least 4 posts up weekly with content that I’m proud of. I’ve found that I’m more inspired and wanting to write posts about things that I love. Find what you love and write about it, whether it be fashion, interior design, social justice, religion. You’ll find that when you write what you’re passionate about, blogging becomes more exciting.
  1. Keep an editorial calendar. It’s necessary. This is coming from someone who was the most disorganized person ever in high school. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of my life could be categorized as “organized clutter”, but here’s the thing: It’s organized in a way that makes sense for me and in a way I can keep track of it. Here’s why you need one: If you don’t have a place that you set deadlines for yourself, you’ll keep pushing back and pushing back until all of your goals seem unreachable. This is true with a number of other things. I’ve found that writing it down (particularly in pen) I’m more likely to keep the deadline.Honestly, there’s nothing worse than scratched out pen in a Kate Spade Agenda. If you’re a digital person, use Google Calendar (or whichever calendar you please)! There are a number of options to keep yourself organized.
  1. Join networks. I’m not kidding, I have never felt more support than I did when I joined two networks over the winter break. Mid-December, I was accepted to HerCampus Blogger Network, and in January I chose to join The Peony Project, a network for Christian Bloggers. Both of these networks over a variety of things and there are thousands of others that fit different niches. From blog design to follow trains and daily encouragement, don’t even question whether or not I should have started my blog. It just seems like a natural source of community for me, and to be able to talk to bloggers who have more skill than I do in areas and learn from them, it’s been a priceless experience.

When I started my blog 10 months ago, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. 10 months ago even 5 months ago, I was still afraid to share that I had a blog. I was afraid to open myself to criticism. But as I’ve joined blogging communities and established my personal vision, I’ve grown. My content has grown, my writing and photography quality has grown, and in turn my readership has grown. Having consistency and perseverance with your vision is vital to the life of your blog. Within a week of having a blog, I quickly realized that this was one of the most challenging things I have faced. Maybe you’ve realized this too. Maybe you wish that you could “get the hang of this whole blogging thing” so it would just be easier. But here’s something important to remember:

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–  Courtney Kincaid

Courtney is a junior studying Social Work at The University of North Texas. She’s excited to have the opportunity to share her story at KeriBetters.com and to have made a new blogging friend through this experience. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to see the latest on food, fashion and her kitten, Queen Bee.