A frantic girl's guide to mindfulness

When I think of mindfulness, I think of meditation. Or I think of being curled up in a blanket and drinking a mug of tea reallllly slowly while staring out a window. Or I think of someone doing yoga in a grassy field with their eyes closed.

Do I do any of these things on the regular? Na. I have a few meditation apps but I haven't yet gotten into using them. If I was curled in a blanket and drinking tea, let's be real, I'd probably be looking at my phone or reading or writing or doing some other form of multi-tasking. And I don't do yoga unless it's in a class.

Does this mean I'm not mindful? I always dream of a life that involves waking up early and going for a run and savoring a really healthy breakfast and taking my time. Is mindfulness some faraway dream just like all the other ways I someday hope to get my life together? Or is it possible right now, as I am right now: my worry-wart, phone-in-hand, constantly-rushing self?

I think it is. And while I'm no expert (I'm still yet to get past a 4-day streak of meditating daily) I'm a real, imperfect, multi-task-addicted person who's figured one or two things out and is on her way to figuring out more.

How to overcome your fear of sharing your blog with friends and family

Raise your hand if you still feel awkward trying to explain your blog to friends and family.

Same, girl. Same.

I remember the summer after I started my blog I went on a hunt to find other bloggers who were just starting out. Mostly because all the blogs I followed had thousands of followers and I felt like a wee little newb.

Long story short, I found a bunch of other new bloggers and even wrote a post about all the #newbie blogger worries that I encountered between myself and others. And one of the worries that resonated most with the people in the comments was the fear of sharing your blog with the people in your 'real' (non-online) life. 

What I've learned during my first year of blogging

So, guess what? I've been blogging for a whole year!

In April 2016 I started my blog as a part of my senior project in high school. I also started teaching myself about photography for this project. I knew I wanted to continue both blogging and taking photos far beyond graduating high school, but I wasn't quite sure how successful I'd be.

One year later, I think I've succeeded.

  • I'm still blogging regularly, typically at least once a week. 
  • I've bought my own domain and upgraded my site theme. 
  • I've learned how to use Pinterest and have gotten a lot of traffic from it. 
  • I've been introduced to some really awesome bloggers who produce inspiring content and are always really supportive and kind!
  • I've accumulated 30,000 all-time page views. 

It's been a fun and slightly overwhelming year of blogging, and while I've still got a long way to go, I've learned a whole lot. Here's what I know:

8 amazing online resources for creative people

So I'm pretty excited because I only have eight more days left of my first year of college (time flies when you're having fun, am I right?) and I'll be going home for four months! This is a big deal for me because I haven't had a summer at home since I was fourteen (I always spent the majority of my summers at ballet camps away from home, dancing five hours a day). And even before that, I was dancing at my home studio for pretty much the entire day.

Anyways. What I'm getting at is that, for the first time ever, I will have a period of four months in which I'll have free time. 

And I intend to fill it. I plan to do lots of blogging, photo-taking, and general adventuring with my friends. Also, I want to do lots of creative things and experiment with different creative skills. Knitting? Modern calligraphy? Video production? Web design? Painting? SIGN ME UP. I want to try it all.

So, I've been keeping track of various online resources (classes, tutorials, assignments, general inspiration) when it comes to being creative. And I figured I might as well share what I've found on the blog so that if you have a similar creative hunger inside of you, you can check them out too. Here we go.

6 mindfulness mindsets to stay sane during busy days

So I don't know about you, but my parents read all my blog posts. 😎

When I was talking to my dad on the phone this weekend he mentioned reading my last blog post (about slowing down/ taking my time, read it here) and he said something along the lines of "it's funny you're talking about relaxing more but you also have so much stuff you're doing."

Yep. It is funny. Just one of my many conundrums.

But also, I don't think being mindful/ slowing down always has to relate to having free time or having a relaxing day. I think that being more mindful, more intentional, and consciously slowing down has a lot to do with your mindset rather than how much time you actually have. I think it's possible to find calmness and, to some extent relaxation, in busy scenarios.

Let me explain. *Ahem.*

Slow down. You have time. // Thought of the day

I have a best friend at college who eats really slowly.

Really slowly.

The first few times I ate with her, I found myself getting irrationally restless as I watched her take little, careful bites. Even though I had nowhere specific to be, I had this unblock-able feeling of rushing within me. Whenever I thought about the stuff I had to do, I had these butterflies in my stomach that fluttered with general stress, and always propelled me to 'hurry up!'

This is the same feeling that causes me, when I'm doing my required reading at 9 pm the night before class, to whizz over most of the words, barely reading them. It's the same feeling that makes me, when folding my laundry on a frazzled and frustrated Sunday night, dump my un-folded clothes in drawers with an exasperated slam. It makes me set my alarm to 7:30 on Sunday mornings because I'm convinced I won't ever have enough time to do my homework, and then briefly hate myself if I sleep until 9.

An Artsy March Roundup

So, March is over!

To be honest, I wanted to start this post with some kind of alliteration, like 'March was a month of motivation!" but that would be straight up lie.

March was a struggle. 

how to be an idea chaser: 7 girlboss skills to practice

I have a sort of obsession with idea-chasers (aka cool people who do cool things). I follow all kinds of bloggers, photographers, and writers on Instagram and drool over their lives. I watch vlogs of young, creative entrepreneur-types trying to make it in NYC while I do my makeup in the morning. I spend sleepy Sunday afternoons researching (read: stalking) the creative, independant go-getters of today, and wondering 'how the heck did they get to where they are?" What are the steps? How do you get from "trying" to "success?"

Who knows.

I'm not an expert here, unfortunately. I'm still in the 'trying' phase. But once I come up with a concise list of guaranteed steps towards becoming a successful go-getter, I'll be sure to write a kick butt blog post about it.

Until then, I do have some ideas about skills that I think are important to practice in order to be a girl who works for herself and creates stuff and runs her own life. These are things I've definitely been trying to do over the past year (and to some extent, have done).

A realistic strategy to optimize your free time

Whenever I have free time, whether it's a two-week vacation or just a free Sunday, I whip out my mental list of twenty-seven backlogged things I want to learn and do. It's about time I read every single page of those photography books, isn't it? And what about actually learning to knit well? And I want to learn to code at some point. And I need to do a bunch of blog planning and writing.

But here's the thing: I'm a busy girl. I'm used to having no free time. I'm used to having to cram 3 hours of studying into two hours, staying up far too late, surviving in a constant state of slightly-rushed-ness. I'm tired. So when I do get a vacation day? This is how it ends up going:

Collapse onto couch. With laptop. And snack. 

Move as little as possible. 

This does not bode will for my big aspirations. And since I do have so many things I want to, I always get frustrated with myself for not doing them all. Even if I do some of them (a reasonable amount!) I still feel like time is being wasted. For example, I just came back from spring break, and I didn't do everything that I wanted to do. I did some picture taking and some reading and some fun things. But I also did quite a lot of nothing. Why does that make me so mad?

An Artsy February Round-up

So February happened fast, amirite?

It was a small-but-mighty month for me. A lot of stuff happened in a quick amount of time. And not just because I was lucky, but also because I made stuff happen. In short, February was a month of being a #girlboss.

Stop telling women to smile || thought of the day

"Sometimes you look so unimpressed," a boy from my high school said. "Like it's kinda scary. You should smile more."

Have you ever been told to smile, or told that you're too serious? From 'bitch face' jokes to catcalls to friendly, well-meaning professors who tell you "you're too serious! I want to see your smile!" this is just another expectation of how we've got to behave. Is it a crime that I'm not happy all the time? Is it a crime that sometimes my face muscles just want to relax? Is it a crime that I don't always fake-laugh at some guy's totally un-funny joke? I know people are somewhat kidding when they say these things (and they say them a lot), but even if it is a joke, the nature of the joke is kind of annoying to me. So I'm going to use this blog post opportunity to explain why.

It discourages people from being honest about their feelings

Here's the truth: nobody's happy all the time. Not men, not women, not anybody. So reinforcing the idea that we always need to be cheerful and pleasant and 100% welcoming also reinforces fake-ness. It's the thing that makes us say "I'm good, how are you?" when we're really not good. It's what causes us to guard our bad feelings from our loved ones. Because in a world that views 'happiness' as the ultimate goal, not being happy feels like it's own type of failure. When we feel like we need to constantly be smiling, it stops us from being honest and open about the other, not-so-happy emotions.

5 strategies to find calmness in your busy everyday life

For the majority of my life I strove, above everything else, for control. And with that desire for control came work, and force, and sometimes (not to be melodramatic, but let's be real) a tad bit of suffering. This is because I never felt like I had the control (or the organization, discipline, or will power) that I really wanted. But boy did I try.

Lately I've been caring less and less about control, and starting to discover the goodness of release. It's the concept of just living your life the way you are right now and letting everything fall into place.

And while attempting to live a life of control, control, control had me feeling like I was in a constant state of gritting my teeth, finding more release in my life has made me feel so, so free.

If you're a person who's really busy, cares a lot, and works hard, it can feel like you just don't have time for calm. But you do. Because I am also all of those things, and I've found the time.

Here are five strategies to find calmness and a sense of release in your everyday, hectic, messy life.

when you feel like you don't fit || thought of the day

If you know me at all, you've probably figured out that I'm a girl who likes pretty things. I like the color pink, and antique do-dads, and appealing instagram photos. I want to be a girl who wears pretty vintage dresses and doesn't care what anyone thinks of her and has a freaking beautiful life.

As I've gotten older, though, I feel a little.... weirder.... about my prettiness obsession.

For one, I'm older now. It's easier to get away with being really girly when you're younger, because that's the expectation for young girls. I know I'm only eighteen (which is still super young) and nobody gives a darn whether I'm wearing a pink Minnie-mouse shirt or not, but I feel like a time could come when they do. I hope someday I'll have a job where everyone will be super cool and creative, and will care more about what you make than what you wear. But that's not always reality.

Also, I'm not a particularly polished person. I want to be a girl with perfectly-placed hair and a catalog-quality outfit and a desk that looks like a gorgeous minimalist instagram photo, but I'm not. I'm a mess. No matter how hard I try (and I try hard), everything about me seems like too much of a mess to ever be quite at that level of polished-prettiness. I know some of this aesthetic that I'm dreaming of is kinda not real, made possible through perfectly planned instagram photos, etc. But I also know there are some people who are just naturally, like, 15% more perfect than me. You know who I'm talking about. Their hair is always nice and smooth, their clothes are always lovely and unwrinkled, their skin looks like an untouched white-sand beach, they don't pick at their nails. I think they're often the same people who bullet journal religiously and always keep on top of their calendars. I am not one of them.

A Very Glam  (and very staged) Photo, taken when experimenting with studio lights over Christmas.

An Artsy January Round-Up

January has been a really-something month. Good? Yeah! Not-so-good? Also yeah.

Anyways, I see a lot of bloggers that do round-ups of their month, as an opportunity to reflect and be mindful about the good that happened in addition to the ehh. If I do these monthly (which I seriously doubt, but that is the idea) it will be for three general reasons:

1.) I take far too many photos, mostly of my friends and the fun things we do. (I want to be better at photography.) Anyways, I wanted to actually do something with these photos. So I made a few artsy collage things with my photos from January. I feel like this is the sort of thing I'll look back on in six months and be like... Julia... that's so weird... what were you thinking?? But right now I like it and they were pretty fun to make. Also look at how cute my friends are.


A stressed perfectionist's guide to positive thinking

My problem with positive thinking is that I always feel like I'm lying.

 I try to be positive, but it just feels like a cover up. I can still feel the bad thoughts simmering underneath, and they feel deeper than the positive thoughts. They feel like truth.

That being said, when I'm feeling sad and discouraged and disgusted with myself, I really do try to turn my mood around. I say, "Julia, no. You're not bad" or "think of the good stuff you've done" or "those aren't the things that matter anyways." 

sometimes my beautiful friends are my models

Searching for optimism || thought of the day

I spent the majority of today thinking about bad days.

(And having one.)

Here's some context: I've been back at college for 2 weeks since winter break. That first week back was wonderful. Seriously, it was pure bliss.   I had my life somewhat together, I didn't have very much homework/ studying, and I was doing fun things with my friends every night. We went to see La La Land on a Wednesday night, and took an impromptu trip to Chicago on Sunday. The whole week, even when I had a rough ballet day or I was feeling tired, I kept thinking about what a great week it was. Even now, I've sort of forgotten about the less awesome or stressful things that happened that first week, and I just remember the good stuff. I had decided early on that it was the best week ever, and somehow, magically, it continued to be.

This past week? Not so much.

this drawing isn't mine-- it's by marc johns (who is amazing) 

Does anyone really care? || insecurities of the small blogger

So about a million years ago (in July) I wrote a post called "worries from a blogging newbie" in which I basically talked about my various insecurities as a blogger who was just starting out. Now, in January, it feels like everything has changed since then. My website has changed, my blog philosophy (for lack of a better word?) has changed like 3 times already....

... And yet, I still feel like a newbie.

the girl who wants to do everything || thought of the day

 I think there's a point in growing up where everything around you starts to change size.
The things that used to be big and all-consuming get smaller; your school, your sports team, your hometown, your home friends.

The things that used to be small and figured-out now seem inexplicable and endless; your world, your possibilities, your plan, your life.

Two reflections to start the new year off right

So, it's 2017!

It actually feels exactly the same as 2016, I know. The whole "new year new me" thing is kind of misleading, because you are in fact the same you that you were before. But what the new year does provide, even if it's kind of an arbitrary social construct, is an opportunity to start fresh. Everybody needs that once in a while. If the New Year does it for you, then great.

This year, I've decided not to make my typical list of (really hard, unrealistic) New Years Resolutions because, for me, that never ever works. Instead, I just have this ongoing drive to blog more/be more creative/ take more photos, but that was there last week also, and the week before. But I still want to get a little bit reflective, and a little bit inspired for this fresh start. So, instead of impossible resolutions, I think it's more fun to make a 2017 "bucket list" of sorts with a bunch of new things I want to try. And, as we start the new year, it's also important to be proud of the stuff we've already done, hence the "pride list" of stuff accomplished in 2016. We're already pretty awesome as we are right now, no resolutions required.