The time is now.

Well, it’s been a minute.

Actually, it’s been many minutes because I took an unplanned blogging hiatus as life continued around me.

I do not regret it…not one bit.

You see, I hadn’t realized this, but I was wearing myself thin. My brain was constantly in “work hard” mode and I mentally succumbed to this thought process that I had no time to “play hard.”

What exactly is “play hard?” You hear all the time this motto many proudly state as their own: Work hard, play hard. However, for me, as a Type-A perfectionist with a tendency to over achieve at whatever I do, “playing hard” does not always come easily, or naturally, to me.

I get stuck in the “work hard” cycle and rarely allow myself to “play hard.”

This does not necessarily mean I am a workaholic. I love my job and I love what I do every day. Coming to the office is not the issue.

The issue is the thought that I do not deserve to step away from whatever is considered “work” to instead, once in a while, focus my attention on spending time on myself.

Unfortunately for over a year that meant blogging was pushed to the back burner, as well as, a few of my other hobbies. I always said, “It’s not the time,” or “I don’t have time today,” or “There’s something else I should be doing.”

I made excuses for all the reasons why I shouldn’t or couldn’t.

Well, that’s changing. The time is now.

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The other day, I needed a break from whatever I was doing (I don’t remember what). I decided to log onto my website for the first time in over a year. I decided to click “Drafts” and read all of the blog posts I was always scared to push live.

That’s when it hit me.

I missed blogging.

I missed getting my thoughts on paper because I wanted to, not because I was expected to.

I missed making time in the day to write, about anything, to no one in particular. To the digital space in the hopes that maybe someone out there would read it, but maybe not.

That’s when I realized that it was time.

The time is now.

To start again. Maybe not as frequently as before, but maybe. Who knows.

I am fighting against my instincts right now to not create a content calendar. You laugh, but I shake my head. I am not going to make this a “work hard” thing. A content calendar and lists and to-dos are part of the “work hard” mentality.

Maybe one day I’ll switch to that, but for now, I will not.

“Play hard” has no restrictions. So therefore, blogging will have no restrictions (for now).

We’ll see how this works.

Maybe I’ll start by finally publishing a few of the drafts…

Or maybe not.

Whatever happens next, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just do it. No overthinking, no worrying, no unrealistic expectations put on myself by me.

The time is now.

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Several Months Later

* Several Months Later *Several_Monthes_Later..._

I feel like I am living a Sponge Bob episode where time races forward and the next scene occurs months after the previous scene. AKA I have not written a blog post in several months and a lot has happened since my previous one.

A few months can change a lot of things. For example, my role as a student took its final bow and I received a college degree as proof. My role as job searcher ended, as well, and I accepted a post-grad job with great excitement. My role as Smurf-owner changed, because I bought a new {silver, not blue} car.

If you do not stop to take it all in, life goes by pretty fast. It feels like just yesterday I wrote a blog post about the anxiety I felt before entering college and here I am, * four years later * reflecting on the truth that I left it.

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Life goes on after college. That is one fact I had a hard time grasping throughout the last semester or two. It was difficult to imagine a world without homework, exams, group projects, and presentations. To be honest, it has been challenging to get out of the mindset that I start school in the fall. I’m relieved, of course, and very excited — still, it is bizarre to embrace the idea that I’m actually done. Eighteen years of school and *snap* – it’s over.

Life goes on — a truth, a revelation, a promise.

An adult. A real one. I am a full-fledged adult now, but I still feel {sometimes}
like I am 12. Maybe it is because I have not grown since my pre-teen years, or maybe it is because I do not feel “old” like I once thought adults should feel. Nevertheless, it’s official. I’m a college graduate and a new member of this much-talked-about place called, “the real world.” Ready or not, here I come.

In the beginning of the year, I chose three words to help guide me through the next 365 days: First, Risk, and Joy.

My oh my, how perfect those words have been to summarize the many joys, struggles, difficulties, and blessings I have experienced thus far this year. In just these seven months of 2015, I feel like I have been stretched in ways I did not anticipate. Stretched in patience, faith, love, and joy. Stretched in trust, work ethic, focus, and determination. Stretched, stretched, stretched — but stretched in ways that always pointed me towards focusing on the God who gives me strength.

Without firsts, without risks, and without joys, life is pretty dull. As a girl who usually loves routine and order, the idea of risking a comfort zone to try new things can be a true test of what I am made of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.42.51 PMI have a lot of adjusting and stretching to do. Obviously, I am not nearly as stretched as God wants me to be. Every day of life stretches you a little more towards Him. I’ve been stretching my identity to be more then just a piece of resume paper. My identity is more then the tasks I perform, the activities I participate in, and the motions of everyday life. My identity is through Christ, in Christ, alone.

A professor said to my class two weeks before the semester ended this past spring. He said to me, to us, “Stop thinking about what you want to do after college. Who do you want to be?” It struck me. Not because of the question, but because I realized how often I think about the things that need to be accomplished that I often forget to stop and really enjoy the moment.

The ironic part of this sort-of epiphany is how often I have blogged over the years about learning to find the little joys in every day life. It is a constant, life-long battle, and one that requires me to be constantly stretched and tested.

All I know is that I’m excited… and ready.

Another chapter has opened, full of new firsts, risks, and joys.

Let’s do this. IMG_1385

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.

2015: The Year Of Three Words

2015. It’s finally here.

Day 5 and I’ve already done this multiple times: 201415

In the past, I have begun each year with a list of resolutions. Doesn’t everyone? A list of tasks, goals, and dreams I believe would make me a better person. A more well-rounded individual.

Read more. Run more. Write more. Laugh more.

This year is different. 2015 crept up on me. No list was created.

The other day, I read this post by a blogger I follow, Jessica Lawlor. In it, she explains three words she wants to focus on for the new year: light, possibility and choice. She goes on to dig deeper into why she chose each word and that got me thinking.

Instead of writing a list of tasks, I, too, would choose three words.

Three themes of 2015.

I am excited to see what 2015 holds and will use these three words to help guide me through the journey:  Slide1

1. First. 2015 will be the year of firsts. The first time I graduate college. The first time I start a real-world job. The first time I don’t go back to school in the fall. But what else? Yes, I will approach several key milestones this year, but I think 2015 has more in store than that. I resolve to look for other firsts this year, to not be afraid of opportunity because it’s new. To experience life through the lens of adventure and transition. To look at 2015 as a year of awesomeness even if I don’t know how yet.

2. Risk. Similar to “first,” the second word I choose is “risk.” With a year of firsts also comes the risk of the unknown. A set of adventures waiting ahead with endless possibilities. A planner and organizer at heart, I am also an adventurer. (I said that here.) Adventurers take risks. Adventurers don’t back down from challenges. A few months ago, I wrote a post discussing a few tips for Type-A Adventures like myself. Risk is inevitable and can sometimes be confused with lack of thought. “Oh, that was risky.” “I took a risk and now I regret it.” In 2015, I want to take risks and step outside of my comfort zone, but don’t mistake that for stupidity. You can take risks and be smart at the same time. Risk is inevitable, but I’m ready for it.

3. Joy. Different than “happiness,” I choose “joy.” Happiness is temporary and circumstantial. Joy is a mindset. Through the little things, I yearn to discover the joy. I’ve discussed the idea of joy before, and I want to continue this through 2015. With a year of risks and firsts, it may sometimes be a challenge to find the good. Choose joy and keeping choosing it — that’s what I want to do. Instead of “I have to …”, replace it with “I get to…” Changes the perspective, doesn’t it? A mindset makes all the difference. Through every situation, good or bad, I aim to focus on the joy of it all.

So those are my three words for 2015.

2015 is another adventure, I can feel it. I’m excited for it. Ready.

A year of firsts, risks and joys.

A year of three words.

Let’s do this thing.

When weakness becomes strength.

“Never be so busy making a life that you forget to live one.”

This quote echoes through my mind several times a day. “You work too hard,” people comment. “You’re too hard on yourself. You deserve a break.”

The thing is, I can’t. I literally have tried to relax and I just couldn’t do it.

I feel like I’m wasting time when I shut the world out and try to focus on only breathing, on refocusing, on taking this “break” that everyone talks about.

Waste of time.

Is it, though?

I discovered the quote above earlier this year and wrote it down on a Post-It note. It now stays tacked on my wall right next to my desk, which is the place I go to escape from the world and focus on the homework, the blog posts, the writing, and all the work that “needs” to be done right this second.

Your biggest strength can become your biggest weakness, we all know this. But what about the reverse? What happens to your weakness?

Through time, I’ve realized that I struggle with letting go. Yes, it’s come as no surprise, but I still struggle with completely letting go, 100%.

Through work, through structure, through organization, through lists on lists on lists, through checking things off, through keeping a schedule… I may say I can completely let go, but when it comes down to it, I’m just a girl trying to keep it all together just like you.

I never could juggle, but I feel like I’m juggling a bunch of different tasks, things to do, and deadlines, struggling to keep them in the air when any second, they could come crashing down.

What if they did?

They would come crashing down and I’d be left standing there, my biggest weakness revealed… I can’t juggle to save my life.

With all the pressure I put on myself, I sometimes feel like I’m driving myself crazy. Has this happened to you?

I haven’t found a solution to this problem that seems to be one of the many themes of my life.

I just know that I can’t do it all and I’ve realized this time and time again. I try to be Superman, but juggling is my Kryptonite.

The expectations I put on myself are far greater than what they should be. That could be a great strength, but it’s also a great weakness.

The good thing, though, is that although I don’t come close to measuring up to my own expectations, and even though I could never in 10000 years measure up to the perfect standard that Jesus sets for believers, I am free.

I am free from the struggles.

I am free from the worries, the stress, the pressure, the expectations. The hurt, the anxiety, the need to control, the need for structure.

I am free because although I fail every day and I will never ever EVER have it all together, even though some days may be better than others, even though I will never measure up…

Jesus did. And He does. And He’ll always continue to, because on the same day that I found the quote I began this blog post with, I also read Hebrews 13:8.

Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Although on most days I’m so busy making a life that I forget to live one, Jesus is so busy giving grace to me, even though I don’t deserve it. He’s giving me life every day, grace every day, forgiveness every day. He’s the same forever and for that, my greatest weakness is my greatest strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”