The Art of the Collage

Do you remember making collages in elementary school? I remember making collages for everything. I cut up so many magazines to make collages for my favorite books, my favorite movies, things that made me smile, and so on. I honestly remember making collages for fun outside of school because I was a huge nerd, chopping up old catalogs and newspapers we had hanging around our house.

Now I did not keep a single collage I made when I was younger because I never really had any reason to. I may have hung a couple up in my room if I liked the pictures, but any time I cleaned up my room the collages were usually the first thing thrown into the recycling bin. Collages were fun to make, but useless to hang onto.

I would guess it’s been about fifteen years since I made a collage and suddenly, in the last few weeks, I’ve had a very strong urge to make a collage. What I want to make is a vision board, which is basically a collage, but with a purpose.

And I’m super excited about it.

vision board 1

Example! Mine’s probably going to be a little spookier, cuz I’m a spooky lady.

A vision board is a tool to help you visualize and focus on your life goals. You can use any type of surface you want, like a cork board, the front of your fridge, or even a Pinterest board. The only thing you have to do is put it somewhere where you can see it every day. A vision board is meant to remind you that you’re working toward something and to never give up.

Now, if I make my vision board, I want it to be on a poster board. Something that I can easily hang near my bed and see everyday.

I know what you’re thinking, Daniel. Why do I even want to make a vision board?

Well, because I recently found some of my personal ‘to-do’ lists and I have had the same life goals for the past few years and have made zero progress on them. Zero, zilch, bagel. Nothing to show for these goals I’ve had since I was in high school.

It made me realize that something needed to change. After looking back over the last decade of my life, I realize my issue isn’t lack of skill or time. It’s lack of motivation. It’s because, after a long day of work, I come home, sit on the couch, and zone out watching Netflix. Yes, in the morning, when I first get up, I might think to myself, “Today’s the day! When I get home from work I’m going to do those amazing things I’ve wanted to do for years and it will be amazing!” But after eight hours in the office, all I can think about it relaxing. About grabbing a beer and chilling on the couch.

Well, hopefully, a vision board will change that.

Now I realize a vision board is a bit of a cheesy idea. It’s definitely something young white women on Pinterest do and they fill their board with cliche sayings like, “Go on more adventures” or “Love my husband more.” But you know what, I might be a white woman, but that doesn’t mean my vision board has to be useless. I am going to put concrete, tangible things on my vision board so that every day I wake up and the first thing I see is my to do list.

Wait…this is the most type-A thing I’ve ever done….Oh well, if the anxiety shoe fits.

Anyway, some things I’m going to include on my vision board/life to do list are:

  • Write a novel. I’ve literally had this as a personal goal since I was six and, in the past twenty-one years, I have written zero novels.
  • Become a certified cicerone. This is something I’ve been toying with since I started getting into craft beer. Not only would it basically certify me as a beer snob, it would also open doors to freelancing for craft beer magazines and marketing for small breweries. How cool would that be?
  • Run a half marathon. Literally been talking about this for a year now and all of my attempts to stay on a training schedule have fallen apart.
  • Go back to school. My current job offers an employee discount on college credits and, when I started, I told myself I would take advantage of that. Well, in total I’ve taken two classes. Been here almost five years.

That’s just the beginning, Daniel. I have so many things I want to put on my vision board and I’m excited to get started.

What would you put on your vision board, Daniel?

-EMS

 

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I’m Never Prepared

Dude, I feel like I’m never prepared to write for SDoS. No matter how well I plan out my week, I always end up writing my post during my lunch break at work, struggling to brainstorm a topic in between my meetings and work projects. Logically, I know that if I just take a few hours to brainstorm and outline my thoughts, my SDoS posts would be so much better, but it’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to put a lot of effort into something when I’m not feeling particularly inspired.

I think that’s the root of my problem. I think I’m in the same place that you are, Daniel. I’ve run out of ideas and it’s hard to find more things to write about when all I do is work, crochet, and chill at home. I’ve written about all of those things. I need something new.

Earlier this week you asked me to teach you how to be inspired and I jokingly said you need to stand on your head and drink kombucha, neither of which I will willingly do. But the more I think about it, the more I like the analogy. Finding inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha: physically tasking and not appealing at all.

A lot of people seem to think that I’m a creative or inspired person, but in reality I rarely feel “inspired” anymore. Yes, I crochet and I write and I sometimes craft things, but in reality all of the things I create don’t magically appear, conjured by a flash of magic inspiration. In reality, I crochet things I see on Pinterest, write things based on parameters given to me by my boss or a writing prompt, and make things to fill a need in my life rather than to satisfy a whim.

My creativity isn’t spontaneous, romantic thing that sweeps me off my feet, it’s more like a task on a to do list that takes time and energy.

Inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha. You’ve got to take some time and get yourself into a headstand and then you have to force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do, like drink gross kombucha or write a bunch of garbage until something wonderful happens.

There’s a quote from Stephen King that always comes to mind when I finally force myself to sit down and write my SDoS post:  “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Sometimes I wish Stephen King could just follow me around, poking me with a ruler and reminding me over and over that if I want to write I just have to sit down and do it. Don’t loggy gag, don’t sit around and use the “I don’t have any ideas” excuse.

Obviously this post is more a reminder for me than it is for you, Daniel. You are a very inspired person and just listening to the way you talk about the blogs and your roleplaying campaigns, I know that you’re a way better writer than me. I really should be asking you to teach me to be inspired, not the other way around.

I guess I’ll end this post with another reminder to myself and any other writers out there on the internet who stumble upon this post. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is, what matters is you wrote something.

Writing is like going for a run. It doesn’t matter how fast you go or how long you run for, what matters is that you went for a run. Same goes for writing. I hated my last three SDoS posts and my last two WMR posts, but at least I sat down and wrote them.

-EMS

 

I Need a Back Up Plan

A few weeks ago I talked about my slow descent into bro-dom. I was training for a half marathon, I was drinking daily protein shakes, and I was tracking my nutrient intake. I was so excited and ready to take on the world.

Well, the descent has stopped. Last week, I injured my shoulder and upper back. No, I didn’t hurt myself during a workout or on a run. I am pretty sure I slept on my neck wrong, which makes this infinitely more infuriating.

Anyway, I went to the doctor to get some painkillers so I could actually sleep and she told me I should take it easy for a while. If I kept working out, I might just hurt myself worse.

I was on the verge of having a toddler-esque tantrum when she said that. I didn’t want to stop running and working out. I was just starting to get into a good rhythm with my running schedule and suddenly I have to stop because I accidentally slept the wrong way.

This fucking sucks.

Since I got the news I’ve been complaining a lot to my friends. Most of my friends are sympathetic, but a few have said things like, “Look on the bright side! You get a break from running!”

No, shut up. There is no bright side to this.

Of course I understand they’re trying to lift my spirits, but it’s obvious that they don’t understand why I run. Yes, I run to maintain my weight and stay healthy, but underneath all of that my real reason for running is because it helps me cope with my anxiety.

I am an incredibly anxious and controlling person. I constantly worry about the future, what I’ve done in the past, and everything in between. I’m also the kind of person that will completely take over a project because someone else isn’t doing it right. It’s my way or the highway. Yeah, I’m that asshole.

b51e77d55d22be79491f98404e6d1989Over the past few years, I’ve been getting much better at handling my anxiety because I’ve found a healthy way to work off my nervous energy: running. I like to run because it redirects all of the energy I put towards worrying towards something mindless and calming. When I’m working out, all I’m thinking about is how my body feels and moves. For a few hours, I’m not thinking about all of the things in the world I can’t control.

Well, now I can’t run and I feel like a volcano that’s about to erupt and spew crazy all over the people in my life.

Yesterday I had a crazy day. I had a lot to do at work and I had to take our ferrets into the vet and it just felt like everything was against me. I could feel myself getting tense and panicky and I couldn’t do anything about it. Michael tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t having it. All I wanted to do was go out and run or lift up heavy things or climb something, but I couldn’t.

Did I say this fucking sucks?

Yesterday evening, I kept trying to think of other things I could do to redirect my nervous energy and kept coming up blank. I’ve tried crocheting, cleaning, reading, and yoga, but nothing seems to be working. I need a back up and I don’t have one.

a4a952aa79bd0e37775e715541bd93efBasically, I just want to feel normal again. I want to go back to my normal routine. I’m tired of people telling me that I need to take care of myself. I was taking care of myself! What do they think I was doing when I was out on my runs? I was taking care of my mental state and now I can’t do that anymore because I have to take care of my body.

This sucks!

So my plan for the next few weeks is to look for something I can do that will help me take care of my mind and body. I need something that will help me work off my anxiety while not tying more knots into my back muscles.

I just want to go for a run.

-EMS

 

Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Parks and Rec, Daniel. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. The characters are genuine, the humor is funny without being offensive, and somehow the story is both hilarious and deeply moving. I am not exaggerating when I say that watching this show has changed my life. This show taught me how to love myself and how to love the people around me.

It also gave me a new role model. When I grow up, I want to be just like Leslie Knope.

giphy

Leslie Knope is a wonderful woman who spends her energy trying to make the world a better place for the people around her. She’s kind, she’s supportive, she’s ambitious, and she’s always excited about her next adventure.

I know I’ll never be exactly like Leslie because I don’t have an endless reservoir of bubbliness inside me and I’m definitely not assertive enough to be a leader. But I can be generous and ambitious in my own way.

Recently, I’ve been planning out elaborate parties and making things for the people around me just because. I’ve been crocheting afghans, planning surprise parties, and buying tiny gifts for my friends because I want to see them smile. While I’m still nowhere near Leslie’s level of generosity in the show, I feel like she would be proud of me because instead of focusing on myself, I’m thinking of the people in my life. I’m showing them that I care about them without being ashamed of my love.

I’m also continuing to push myself to try new things every day. I know that I can sometimes get complacent, especially now that I have my degree and a comfortable job. It’s so easy to lose focus sometimes or forget that there are still things to work for. So everyday I remind myself that Leslie never lost focus. Everything she did, she did to reach a goal and that’s how I want to live my life.

As you know, I’m training for a half marathon right now. Lots of people have wished me luck. Others have asked me why I would do this to myself. I’m doing this because I want to be able to say I ran a half marathon. That’s it, that’s the reason I’m working so hard. Sometimes people won’t understand why you’re working for something and Leslie Knope taught me that, despite what they say, you keep going. Don’t give up.

tenorOf course, Leslie does have her faults. Except, instead of being ashamed of her faults she embraces them. Instead of stubbornly ignoring her flaws, she understands that sometimes she needs help and she reaches out to her loved ones for it rather than pretending she’s perfect. Leslie can be controlling, anxious, obsessive, and self-centered, but none of these things make her an unlovable person because she works every day to make sure they don’t define her.

Damn. Talk about #goals, am I right?

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect. I rarely challenge myself because I’m afraid of failing and I never talk about my fears with the people around me because that would mean I’m flawed. For a majority of my life, I’ve equated being flawed with being unlovable.

giphy1Watching Parks and Rec helped me realize that wasn’t the case. Seeing Leslie Knope struggle with her own flaws and still succeed helped me realize that I can still be a good person without being perfect 100 percent of the time.

Basically, what I learned from Leslie Knope is that sometimes it’s better to be remembered as a fun, generous person rather than a perfect human being who can do no wrong. I want my friends and family to think of me and smile or be inspired or just feel warm and fuzzy rather than remember how skilled or smart I am.

When I grow up, I want to be Leslie Knope.

-EMS

 

My Slow Descent into Bro-dom

I have some very, very bad news to share with you today, Daniel. Something terrible has happened to me and I just realized the gravity of the situation earlier this week. I don’t know how this happened, but it has, and it’s time for me to admit it to the world. I must also say farewell to my spare cash and spare time.

This week, I realized I am slowly becoming athletic.

I know you must be very shocked. How could this have happened? I was so careful!

As a child, I took all the necessary precautions to avoid this horrible fate. I cheated on the mile tests in gym class, I waived all of my physical education requirements in high school, and I even went so far as to avoid the outdoors as much as possible.

But I caught it. I caught athleticism and now there’s no turning back.

I just realized my fate this week, but looking back this really started after college. I was looking for new hobbies to fill the void that school had left in my life and I foolishly decided to sign up for a 5k run. After I crossed that finish line, I placed myself on a very slippery slope to being a true bro.

Over the years, my urge to be athletic has come and gone. I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, 12ks, and regretfully one sprint triathlon, but up until this past month it had been very casual. I was a jogger at best, nothing more.

Well last month I ran a 5k and at the end I was given a flyer for a half marathon in October. I don’t know what came over me! Suddenly, I had signed up for it! I had plugged a half marathon into my new Nike training app!

I was training for a half marathon.

*cue dramatic music*

It got even worse this week. This week I ran 3.75 miles as part of my training program and afterwards I felt very tired and sore. I decided something had to be done, so I went to my friend who has been afflicted with bro-dom for some time now and asked for advice. She suggested looking into protein supplements.

Instead of scoffing and telling her I didn’t need anything like that, I agreed. I went out a bought a blender bottle. I’ve purchased samples of protein powder in multiple flavors. I have done a ton of research into runner supplements and the proper way to recover from a long run.

This was the final nail in my coffin, Daniel. I am officially an athlete. I am officially a bro.

Soon things will begin to change. The transformation into a true bro will start. I will start wearing snap-backs and baggy tank tops that show off my arms. I will start lifting weights and planning out my week based on what part of my body I need to work on. I will never again be able to skip leg day.

Let my story be a cautionary tale to all. Never exercise, never go outside, never let a protein shake touch your lips otherwise you will fall victim to the same fate I have. My spare time and spare cash are gone, devoured by my affliction. I will spend my days chasing that next endorphin high and the perfect running form.

There’s no hope for me now, Daniel. All I ask is that you think of me while you’re enjoying a nice movie or video game from the comfort of your own home. While you’re relaxing, I’ll be out there somewhere sampling new athletic supplements and buying fancy runners’ socks.

What a terrible, terrible fate.

-EMS

 

My War Paint

Have you ever been so caught up in your crochet project and horror movie marathon that you forgot you had a blog post to write? Or is that just me? Pretty sure it’s just me.

Anyway, I’ve been torn about what I wanted to write about this week. I want to write about runner’s high and how I’ve FINALLY started truly experiencing it. This week I found myself actually looking forward to my speed run because the feeling after pushing yourself to your limit is fantastic.

I also wanted to write about make-up. I’ve recently slipped down the beauty tutorial hole on YouTube and have been obsessing over stupidly expensive products. It’s strange how much I like make up considering I was such a tomboy when I was younger.

I asked you what I should write about, Daniel. You said I should combine the topics and write about make-up highs. I asked you what that meant and you had no idea.

Well, I’m here to figure out what that means.

When I wake up in the morning, I more often than not feel like crap. I am not a morning person at all. It takes me at least three alarms to find the motivation to get out of bed and I usually spend at least five minutes contemplating calling in sick so I can continue to sleep. I never do, but it’s something that goes through my head every morning.

So how exactly do I shake this crappy feeling before I get on the bus and head to work. I can’t spend the entire day feeling like crap and expect to get anything done, right? Well, that’s where clothes and make up come in.

Now, I feel like most people have the misconception that women wear make up to hide behind it. That we feel like we HAVE to wear it every day or we’ll be considered ugly and worthless. While that might be unfortunately true for some women, for me make up in a hobby rather than a necessity. At this point in my life, I can go out with or without make up and not feel self conscious. It took me a while to get here, but I’m glad I am.

When I wake up in the morning and feel like death warmed over, finding the perfect outfit and doing my make up is relaxing. Basically my make up routine in the morning is five minutes to myself. A time when I can completely focus on myself, my energy, and my mind. What persona do I want to wear today? What color is going to make me smile when I look in the mirror? Those are the questions that go through my head.

I feel like if I had to define the term make up high, it would be this: The feeling of satisfaction one gets are spending time pampering themselves. It’s very similar to the high people experience after doing their nails or getting their hair done or taking a warm bath. It’s a pick-me-up. When I look in the mirror and my lipstick is bright and my eyes look fierce, I feel like I can take on anything. I feel ready to face the world.

Let’s be honest, make up is my motherfucking war paint. I put bright red lipstick and black mascara on when I need to get shit done. I’m leveling up and every morning and I get to decide what form I present to the world and, let’s be honest, this isn’t even my final form.

Well here’s my post. Sorry it went up late and it’s a bit short. I’m also sorry to see you getting so existential, Daniel. Maybe you need some war paint?

-EMS

Running, Meditation, and Being Antisocial

I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying muay thai! Finding an exercise that you enjoy is so important. Exercise can feel like such a chore, so finding an exercise routine that’s fun makes it so much easier to stay active and healthy.

For me, my exercise of choice is running, which is very surprising considering how much I loathed running when I was a kid. I did everything I possibly could to get out of running.

I don’t know if you remember middle school P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class. I understood that it was incorporated into our education to keep us active and healthy, but the actual activities they made us do were awful. We did the pacer test, which is literally running back and forth across the gym to these timed beeps, and the mile test, which was literally us running a path around the school. These activities were boring and I was often sub par at them. As a straight-A student, getting a C on anything was absolutely devastating. No wonder I avoided gym like the plague.

In high school, I managed to get out of gym because I was in the marching band, which at Evergreen was considered a sport. I loved marching band! The activities we did like running and push-ups and marching drills had a purpose. I actually had the opportunity to engage my mind and was never given a failing grade. Marching band was infinitely better than P.E. Unfortunately, the time commitment and unavoidable drama in the marching band was what kept me from pursuing it in college. I wanted to focus on my studies and my writing, so marching band was the first thing to go. I barely exercised at all while in college and never went running. I just wasn’t motivated to go out of my way to exercise.

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Me right before my first 5k

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to give running another go. If you remember my very first post on Seven Degrees of Smudde, Acting on Impulse, I talked about how I decided to sign up for a 5k randomly. Everyone at the animal shelter I was volunteering at was talking about the race and lots of my friends on Facebook were talking about running 5ks and marathons and obstacle courses. I was feeling a little lost after graduating from college so I decided to give it a go.

One day I just started running. I ran everywhere. I ran the track at the gym, I ran the walking paths at the park, I ran the mini-track at the local elementary school. I ran in the sun, I ran in the rain, I ran at night. It became an obsession and I often felt guilty if I skipped a day.  I needed to be ready for my first 5k.

Well the 5k came and went and I still felt the need to run. Running had become an addiction. I needed to do it to feel healthy and productive. If I went too long without running, I would start to feeling groggy and weighed down. I just wouldn’t feel like myself. 

Nowadays, I try to run at least two times a week and go to the gym at least three times a week. I’ve noticed that running can do a number on your knees and ankles so I try to break up my running with other exercises, like the stair stepper or jumping jacks.

I know why I like running so much. Just like you with your muay thai, my runs are my time to get away from the world and focus 100 percent on my body. It helps me clear my head and prepare to tackle big projects, at work or at home. I can also do it at my own pace now and I’m not graded for my abilities, like I was in school. That makes running so much less stressful.

I also like running because running is one of the few activities that I can do completely by myself without seeming weird. People don’t bother me while I’m running.

Let me break it down for you.

If I go to a movie by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I go to dinner by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I sit down on the bus and open my book, people still think it’s okay to talk to me. Same goes for writing at work.

But, when you see someone running with their headphones in, you know not to bother them. They’re doing something important, something impressive, and they should be left alone. If you interrupt them they might lose their pace. No one seems to think that about reading or being by yourself. It’s only while I’m running that people aren’t bothered when I don’t stop to say hello or make small talk.

Call me anti-social, but I also like having a time during the day when I know no one will bother me. Running, to me, is the purest form of me time. A time when I can completely ignore other people, give them the cold shoulder even, and I won’t offend anyone. It’s nice to have that time set aside. It’s nice to know that I can give in to my loner tendencies during my run and no one will start talking behind my back about how rude I am.

I absolutely love running. It’s one of my favorite things.

-EMS