It’s been a while! This is my first What’s Up post this year, and I’m excited to finally just sit down and write. Life’s been super hectic, a constant learning experience, and still lots of fun. Here are some topics I’ve been thinking about and would like to explore tonight!
(New Year’s) Resolutions
The past couple years I’ve written specific posts on New Year’s resolutions (check out my 2013 and 2014 resolutions). For 2015, I was going to write one but got preoccupied with my New York trip post. So I told myself I’d write one for Chinese New Year. Now CNY has come and gone, so the window for that post is undoubtedly closed.
Still, I think it’s important to have resolutions, regardless of time of year. Here are a couple, in no particular order, for 2015:
Resolution #1: Continue my reading list and finish 10 books
About halfway into 2014 I decided to set a goal to read 5 books. Since college graduation I’ve found it difficult to make time to read for leisure, so I decided to be more intentional about it. I’m glad I was able to accomplish that goal – you can check out what I read in this post.
I’ve gotten off to a solid start this year, thanks to my newly-acquired Kindle Paperwhite and plenty of travel time. So far I’ve read 1984 (George Orwell), The Five Love Languages (Gary Chapman), The Prophet (Khalil Gibran), and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley). In my reading queue are The Doors of Perception (Aldous Huxley) and Meditations (Marcus Aurelius). That’s six books, which means I need recs! Feel free to share any good books or personal faves.
Of course, 10 is an arbitrary number and I’ll definitely add to it when I can. Have I mentioned how awesome the Kindle Paperwhite is? I’d highly recommend it – it’s perfect for travel, can fit tons of books, and has lights and e-ink that don’t cause eyestrain. It was a night and day difference even from the Kindle app I was using on my tablet before.
Resolution #2: Begin micro-journaling
As a child I kept a journal to jot down my day-to-day thoughts and activities, and recently I came across a really neat app that would allow me to do the same in the modern, technology-driven world. It’s called Day One and allows users to write short posts and include a single picture per day. I immediately fell in love with the concept of jotting down thoughts and memories in an easy and no-obligation sort of way.
I tend to live entirely in the present, so I hope that micro-journaling this year will help me to process and appreciate the past, while also connecting thoughts and lessons together for the future. I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far writing at least every few days, and since these posts are pretty quick to do and only require my phone, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this becomes a habit.
Slowing Down + Alone Time
This past year has been filled with so many fun activities and time spent with good friends. I appreciate every moment and love the learning experiences, but at the same time I tend to tire out physically and mentally if I go for too long without listening to my body’s need for rest and my mind’s need for alone time (check out the Introvert’s Guide comic – it’s very true!).
Judging by my calendar the next few months show no signs of slowing down, so I think it’s important I remind myself that it’s okay to take breaks, that there’s nothing strange or wrong about desiring alone time to recharge.
So I’ve been really cherishing the times I do get to myself. These are moments I don’t have to worry about the right social thing to do and can just let my mind wander or engage in things I’m interested in – whether that’s news, books, music, or podcasts.
Which brings me to a wonderful new discovery from this new year – podcasts!
I finished the entire season of Serial in a little over a week, and I started on Invisibilia this past week. The former is a true-crime case told in the radio serial format of old, and the latter is a look into ideas, beliefs, and assumptions that shape human behavior. Both have been absolutely fascinating and have made me a fan – and I’ll admit, I was never big on audiobooks or podcasts.
As these two podcasts have shown me, the radio format is surprisingly useful in allowing listeners to stay engaged to a story while still providing them the freedom to move around and do other things. So now when I prep dinner, wash dishes, fold clothes, and drift off to sleep, I can listen to some incredible ideas and stories. Podcasts seem to be keepers!
Blogging & the Weight of Expectations
It’s not easy maintaining a personal blog, especially when it’s something that can be easily set aside when other priorities come up. I’m definitely guilty of this, and after noticing my own behavior in constantly thinking about writing but always finding something else to do, I’ve figured out that the weight of expectations is my best friend and worst enemy when it comes to blogging.
I’ve maintained my blog a little over four years now, and I long for the approach I used to take when I first started it. I’d just write whatever was on my mind, or share something interesting that I saw in real life or stumbled upon online. There was no hesitation and no undue pressure, and I was able to consistently push out a lot of posts.
Through the years, it’s gotten increasingly more difficult to do that. With more readers came more worries – having a modern blog design, beautiful photos, and meaningful content. Posts that used to take 30 minutes to an hour to complete now took several and sometimes even spanned a couple of days, depending on my mood and time.
And the most challenging part I think for any blogger is not being able to see the end results from the other side. I tell myself that the reward is in the work itself, but affirmation is a basic human need, and it’s more difficult in the blogging world to see whether people appreciate your thoughts or understand your post the way you intended to convey it.
But back to the weight of expectations. I realized that it’s often self-imposed and might even be an illusion. At the end of the day I have to quit over-thinking and just do it. The same goes with pretty much anything else worth achieving or pursuing in life. And then I remembered a quote from my friend Tori’s guest post from a few years back:“You don’t have to have some all-consuming desire to say the most interesting thing. You just have to muster up the audacity to treat whatever dumb thing that’s on your mind like it’s worth it and see what happens.”
It’s an awesome reminder to stop worrying and love the bomb! Sorry, total non-sequitur.
What’s to Come for Blogging
In the past year I decided to make magazine-style lifestyle posts the core focus of my blog by writing and documenting my trips, music festivals, and vacations. Looking back I’m proud of the overall output and quality of these posts, but they weren’t easy or quick to write.
I also noticed that the length of my individual posts went up, sometimes tripling the word count from my old average. These lifestyle posts were fun to write because they helped me process and remember the things I’d done, without having to think so much about ideas. So I’m definitely continuing these posts this year, but with a smaller emphasis.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and this year I’d like to focus more on posts about thoughts & ideas, with a more personal touch. I honestly have no idea where to start, but I still remember how happy I was with my post about swimming & failure, as well as the positive response it got. Sharing my personal life has always been a challenge, so while I can’t guarantee that I’ll be churning out a ton of posts similar to that one, I’d like to make it my goal to at least try. So stay tuned – I’d love ideas for inspiration and would greatly appreciate encouragement.
Don’t forget about the Ask Me Anything form if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to potentially explore. Oh, and there may be a blog re-design coming soon. You didn’t hear it from me!
All in all writing is still one of my greatest passions and blogging brings me a lot of happiness. I’m looking forward to continuing my posts on this blog in the coming year, and hopefully the years beyond. Shout out to all the bloggers out there – you know who you are and don’t be surprised that I probably read all your posts! The day-to-day is tough but as the great Michael Jordan put it, we do it for the love of the game.