Thursday, December 29, 2011

Try This Thursday

ove out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." --Brian Tracy

I have to be honest. The lack of a new 'try this thursday' is due to my lack of anything to recommend you try. I'm sure I could tell you about a restaurant or bar I frequent, a movie to see or album to listen to, but frankly I wanted to discuss something different for my next Thursday discussion. And lucky you, I have decided on such a topic. The dreaded comfort zone. Yes, we all have them and I'm sure we all love them, but let's be real. A comfort zone is just a way to rest on your laurels.

As any reader of this blog will know, I'm not a fan of change. Mainly because I hate not being in control of everything in my life but also because I, much like everyone else, hates not knowing. However, as I look back on my short life, I realize that my best and most memorable, not to say most beneficial, moments come from those times when I was
extremely uncomfortable. Living in Paris for a semester, barely speaking the language when I got there, and coming back to America an incredibly independent woman is something for which I will be forever grateful. Knowing that, with the help of a handy map and my two girlfriends, we could navigate cities across the continent that spoke German or Czech and still find our hostel was pretty incredible.

That's not to say it wasn't filled with anxiety. I got my first stress rash post spring break, after constantly worrying that we wouldn't find where we needed to go. But it was one hell of an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. Moving to a new-ish city to start my working, adult life was another one of those times that I left the comfort zone. It would have been easy to stay in Houston, live at home and save money while working in the city I grew up in. But I knew I wanted a challenge and a change so I knew but had never lived in. It's definitely been interesting and has made me transition to adulthood that much faster.

Too often I see people sticking inside the safe, secure walls of their box. Get out of it and do something that you've never done before. You can start off easy - talk to a stranger the next time you're out or go see a movie alone, and soon enough you'll be pushing the boundaries of your box farther than you ever thought you could. Not all experiences might be pleasant, but you don't learn from comfortable situations. It's the other ones that stick out and stick in your brain.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." --Betty Friedan

I've been 24 for 10 days now, which has allowed me time to reflect on the past year. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be change. Now, I'll be the first to admit that word has made more appearances in this blog than any other, but that's just the point. In the past year, I've graduated college, fallen in love, moved to a new city and started a new job, made new friends and lost others, had crushes and been crushed.

There were some days this past year that I never thought would end. I experienced some incredibly low lows and can only hope the highs are on their way. It was a year of learning, necessary if only to mark my real entrance into adulthood. I paid my first electric bill and signed my first lease, sans co-signer. These past few years, I've hated the idea of getting older. 23 would lead to 27 which would soon become 35 and before you know it, you're over the hill. But now, I think I'm much more able to embrace it. It's not like I'm counting down until the days I'm 65 but I know now that each year will bring more experiences, opportunities and life lessons.

Looking back on the past year, there were a lot of things I enjoyed, some I didn't and a few I wish I could change. But I think part of aging is knowing that, even the hardships and unpleasant experiences will lead to something better. That every low point will end soon enough and, while you might have a mountain to climb, looking down from the top will be worth the struggle.

So, with a fresh, new year ahead of me, it seems only fitting to come up with a list of to-do's (and maybe a few to-don'ts).

1) Run the OKC Memorial Half in April
2) Edit my novel and try to get it published
3) Spend 365 days with my dog
4) Be in Houston for my nephew's first birthday
5) Don't live according to my (or someone else's) timeline
6) Spread happiness

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Record Review

I've done reviews of shows you need to be watching (have you started watching them yet?) and will do more of those in the near future. I have also reviewed artists and singles I really think everyone should have in their life (no bias, of course). But today, I bring you something a little different. A music review of someone I actually know.

Being the band nerd that I was, I was lucky enough to meet a lot of incredibly talented people. I think that's one of the coolest things about band - you may do one thing inside the halls of the school but outside, in the comfort of your own home or in front of your friends, many do something in addition to the trumpet, flute or oboe they play. Music seeps into your life and leaves you constantly wanting to learn more, to do more with it, which I think it's one of the coolest things about it. Now, onto the review!

His name is Preston Leatherman, the EP is titled Live from the Basement: Volume 1 and basically, it's awesome. For me, the coolest part when listening to the songs were the fact that he wrote, recorded and produced everything on this EP. To me, he's a mix of Gavin DeGraw and Hanson, or another eclectic singer/group who writes their own music, which I really believe to be my favorite part. Knowing he sat down and wrote the words and music, scratched out a certain line or changed a chord. He put the various layers together and made the songs what they are. Knowing that he did all of it and put out a great album is pretty inspiring; I'm sure it will do the same for you.

He's a hilariously awesome musician and dancer in public and I cannot encourage you enough to go check out his website, and start following him on twitter @prestonstweetin for updates on his shows, music and hilarious youtube videos. He's on facebook too, so give the name Preston Leatherman a search and get used to hearing it, I'm positive it's not the last you'll hear of him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Try This Thursday

A few weeks ago before work, I found myself drawn to an article on MSN regarding Sagittarius and how the sun was going to be shooting through the moon...or something. As a Sagittarius, I felt obligated to read on and see what was in store for me. Let me be the first to say that I have never put much weight on star signs or astrology, I have found them to be cool coincidences when it tells me I'm bluntly honest or a creative person. However, this article described me to a T, so much so that I still remember it weeks later.

At first, the fact that it told me I hated routine felt a little weird. Sure, I hate monotony at work but at the same time, knowing as soon as I get home there's a dog walk and a workout session followed by a shower and dinner waiting for me, is kind of comforting. I then proceeded to the next tidbit, something about finding my passion in writing and letting my "creative spirit" reign that I related to. It wasn't until the end, when it told me that the most compatible friends are fellow Sags and Gemini's that I gave the article any real weight. My best friends are those and the more I thought about what I had just read, the more I realized it was true.

Long story short, the article mentioned something about a 'try this Thursday' with the idea being that you try something new and different every Thursday. Well, I have decided to share that idea with you, my readers, and do my best to write about something new for you to try every Thursday. This week, it's NaNoWriMo. What is that, you ask? What a great question!

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, takes place every year during the month of November. It's "30 days and nights of literary abandon" in which participants write their own 50,000 word novel. I fell into it last year after a friend tweeted about doing it (thanks Amanda!) and loved the challenge of it. However, I was unable to finish and only got about 20,000 words in before finals and presentations took over my time. So, around August of this year, I begin to realize NaNoWriMo is soon approaching and I will be able to participate. My anticipation builds until November 1st arrives when I realize I had put very little thought into my novel. I started to write one and decided to scrap it; it was too similar to other stories I had started and abandoned. Instead, I went with an idea that I had had for over a year and thought was fresh and original, at least to me.

So the writing began, feverish and excited at first before falling victim to weekends. I found myself spending the first part of the weeks catching up on writing I fell behind on the weekends and congratulated myself when I caught up (only to fall behind again). As a writer, I went into NaNoWriMo thinking, 50,000 words in 30 days? Easy peesy mac 'n cheesy. Boy was I wrong. I didn't realize just how time consuming it would be to make sure I wrote the minimum of 1,667 words a day while still doing things I needed to and maintain a social life. But, if writing a novel in 30 days weren't a challenge, no one would do it.

I spent last night catching up on the 4,000 words I was behind and I realized the best part of National Novel Writing Month. You have a goal, you have a plan for your book and you embark on this journey, but the days speed by faster than you expect and before you know it, you are writing a book from instinct, first thought. I threw away the idea that everything needed to sound perfect and fit just right, and instead, I wrote. I wrote the first thing that came to mind and the first thing that made sense for the characters I created and because of that, I'd like to think the story is more realistic and relatable. I wrote the last words of my novel, ending at 50,175 and knowing I would have to edit and add in the coming months, last night at 10 and felt euphoric. I honestly could not believe I had finished my novel in a mere 30 days.

If you're a writer, I would absolutely recommend and encourage you to particpate in NaNoWriMo next year. They have local hangouts for you to go and write in and come spring they even do a screenplay writing month! If you're not a writer, I say why not go for it? Try and write a 50,000 word novel or heck, even half of that is one hell of an accomplishment. It's one of the most rewarding experiences I've had that has allowed me to not only learn about myself, but escape to a place where I control what happens (a little bit of a God complex, huh?). If this incredibly long entry has left you intrigued, I highly recommend you check out for more information.

So get ready, no more novel to write (on a deadline, that is) means the blog posts will be back with a vengeance. I know you all have missed me ;)