Finding Intention on Social Media

Finding Intention on Social Media

Intention (n)- an aim or purpose

This word has been on my mind a lot lately in regards to almost everything in my life right now: my career path, my blog, my extracurricular involvement, and even just my interactions with others.  In each of these, what is my intention? What is my purpose, my end goal?

It is so easy to lose sight of intention in this busy and loud world and nowhere is that easier than social media.  Whether you’re a blogger or just someone who enjoys Instagram, you joined social media and use it for a reason. Maybe, it’s to stay informed about your friends lives and better connect with them, maybe it’s to promote a business or idea, or maybe it’s a learning space to you where you can connect with resources.  Most likely, when you’re scrolling Instagram or putting together your latest caption, you aren’t thinking of this reason. You aren’t thinking about your purpose for being on social media, and that’s not your fault. In fact, social media encourages us not to think about our purpose.

Social media is paradise for a micromanager.  Every detail matters on social media and none can be too well thought out.  Think about presets. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the last two months working on my presets, trying to get the tone, tint, and lighting of my photos exactly perfect and make it so that my feed is cohesive.  The crazier part is that presets are an industry: people are selling them constantly and more and more bloggers are making videos/blogs about how they edit their photos with presets.

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This is my Lightroom account right now– it features many photos I’ve never posted and many photos edited in one to two different presets.

Maybe, you haven’t gone into the preset world or engaged with them in any way, but you still probably fall into the social media micromanaging.  At dinner yesterday with a friend, we spent part of our meal analyzing his photos and why they hadn’t been getting as many likes as usual. We went through every detail in these photos.  Were they posted at a topically relevant time? Was the photo aesthetically pleasing or confusing? Were they posted at a high traffic time for Instagram? My friend is not even super into social media and found himself on social media’s micromanaging island.

When you’re constantly thinking about the details, it’s hard to remember there’s a big picture to even think about.  Personally, this is my greatest weakness in all aspects of my life, but social media definitely exacerbates it for me.  Sometimes, you need to take a step back though and think back to that original reason why you’re on social media. For me, I created my  Instagram in the eighth grade, when the app was not even two years old yet. I joined because I wanted to be able to connect and share photos with friends– at the time, I followed about 10 people who I went to school with and the app felt like our collective photo album.  This fall, when I started my blog, my reason for Instagram became to create a positive place of honesty, sharing, and growth.  I was frustrated with how negative and purposeless a place social media, in particular Instagram, had become and I wanted to do something to change it for others, in whatever way I could.  

My intention for all my social media– my blog, my instagram, my twitter, and my pinterest– is to be always be a place of kindness and honesty.  I challenge you to think about your own intentions for social media. If you’re lost on where to even start, here’s some captions to ask yourself:

  1. What reason made you download Instagram or whatever social media app you’re thinking about?
  2. What are you proud of on your social media?  Is it the artistic nature of your photos, your witty captions, or your interactions with friends or followers?
  3. Do you feel like your in-person persona matches your social media presence?  Is your social media presence helping you to be the person you want to be?
  4. How can your social media help you in your goals as a person?  Can it help you be a better friend, a better resource, or a better professional?
  5. Are you happy with your social media presence?  If not, why not and what can you do to change it?

 

 

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February Goal Check-In

February Goal Check-In

Can you believe it?  We are two months into the year already and it just feels like 2019 is flying by.  With the year rolling and the semester halfway done already, I feel this is a good time to do a goals check-in and set some goals for the rest of the semester.

Goal Check-In:

Goal #1: Plan Less: This was my biggest goal for the year and the goal I’ve seen the most progress on.  I’ve said goodbye to my Google Calendar, where I would plan out every single minute of my day.  I mean it– I would create time periods for sleep. Productivity was the name of my game, but I just ended out burnt out and unhappy.  With a less structured schedule, I’ve made time in my life for the moments you don’t always predict– the meetings that run over, the random run-ins and catch-ups with friends, and time to relax and breathe.  I’ve still got a LOOOONG way to go on this goal, as I usually can still be found making plans weeks in advance and still have a pretty stuffed calendar, but I’m getting there.

Goal #2: Spend More Time with Friends: Whenever I get busy, I tend to isolate myself and only spend time with the people who directly relate to whatever I’m busy with, whether that’s work, extracurriculars, or class.  Whenever I do that, I create a stress bubble for myself, as I’m only around people who share my stresses and struggles. I’ve been trying to make time for all my friends this semester and I’ve been doing pretty well on this.  I’ve been getting coffees and dinners with friends I wouldn’t otherwise see and Facetiming my long distance friends.

Goal #3: Get to the Gym: This is the goal I have been so sporadic about.  There are some weeks where I get myself to the gym daily with excitement about the next episode of my podcast.  And then, there are weeks when I can’t even fathom where I’d get the forty-five minutes a day to spend at the gym.  I’d day I’d score like a 4/10 on this goal so far.

Where do I go from here?  Well, I consider the progress I’ve made so far and use that to help me form new goals for the rest of the semester.  Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Continue to try to plan less and be more spontaneous.  Try to go into a weekend with nothing on the calendar and just make it up as I go.
  2. Make time for myself.  I often feel like on the weekends, I’m exhausted from everything and just need some time to decompress with myself.  I want to start making time a few times a week for me to do this so it doesn’t pile up.
  3. Actually get to the gym consistently.  I really want to get into the habit of going daily or every other day and so, this is a goal I want to continue working on.
My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

Every December, I begin to think about New Year’s Resolutions.  I usually find myself at a bit of a cross roads: I never stick to my resolutions, but I want to improve myself and new year’s resolutions seem like a good way to do so.  I tell myself this year will be different than last– this will be the year that I will stick with it. And, sometimes I do well. Last year, I pledged to live healthier and I stuck to it for a large majority of the year.  I aspire to get back to the mindset I had, as it was such a healthy and happy state of being.

Other years, my resolutions have sent me down paths of disaster.  My freshman fall at Georgetown, I struggled and it showed in my grades.  I had always worked hard and had my hard work pay off, but it seemed things would be different in college.  I would need to work harder. Ever the planner, I resolved to improve my life in all areas and I made a literal life plan for myself, with goals for each day, each week, each month, each semester, and each year for the next three and a half years planned out.  These goals included health, academics, extracurriculars, professional development, and social. This life plan did not work out too great, as life did not want to stick to my plan and soon, everything was out of place. I was devastated and after a few tearful meltdowns, I gave up the life plan.

This year, as I think about what my resolution should be or if I should even make any, I keep coming back to one thought.  My 2018 was incredible because nothing went as I planned. Everything was jumbled and out of place, but that mess included some of the happiest times in my life.  So many of those moments almost didn’t happen because they didn’t fit in with what I had imagined for the year and that would have been a true shame.

So, this year, I’m setting one resolution: I’m going to try to plan less.  This doesn’t mean I will abandon my perfectly color coated google calendars or stop scheduling out how I plan to study for classes.  But, it does mean I will get less bogged down in the details.  I will not let my perfect plans rule my life.  Rather, when opportunity knocks, I will greet it, instead of cowering away in the corner because I had not booked it into my calendar.  And if opportunity happens to offer to change my life, I will gladly shake his hand and throw away the schedules and calendars, happily pursuing the adventure life has given me.

Over my bed, I have a canvas that reads, “Anything can happen if you let it,” a favorite quote of mine from Mary Poppins.  Like usual, she’s quite right. She is practically perfect, after all.

 

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There’s holiday traffic, fear of burning the turkey, and of course, praying for the entire day that no two family members end up in a screaming battle.  However, despite all the stress and the negatives that come along with the day, I see it as an opportunity for positivity: in the moments of panic, take a breath and think less of what bad could happen and instead of what good things you had.

I know, sometimes, thinking of the positives isn’t easy but we are all so blessed.  Let’s take one day to think in terms of gratitude instead of anxiety.

I want to share with you all just a few of the things I am so thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

  • The response to this blog.  I started this blog with no real expectations.  I had no idea if anyone would want to hear my self-care journey, but I felt like I would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t try to tell my story.  The response has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have been so blessed to have so many of you reach out and tell me how I am impacting your lives and that means the world to me.  I could not be more grateful this Thanksgiving for all you have given me.
  • My support system.  This year has involved making so many hard decisions and just going through the general ups-and-downs of life.  I can say I would not have gotten through those moments without the people I am blessed to call my friends, my family, and my support system.  They pick me up when I’m down. They encourage me to take risks and follow my heart. They are so so special to me.
  • My opportunities. This year may have been a difficult one, at times, but it’s also been my most exciting.  I have gotten to work with two amazing companies in D.C. as an intern, I got to move to Disney World, and I’ve gotten to explore so much by being in leadership for my extracurriculars.  All of my development this year has come from being able to pursue these opportunities and I feel so blessed to have had these chances in my life.
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Disney World, Spring 2018.
  • My homes.  I’ve written on the blog before about feeling like I have multiple places I call home and belong in.  While this can be difficult at times, it is also such a blessing in my life. I close my eyes and I can see three places I truly and distinctly belong: DC, Orlando, and New York.  This is hard, as I always am missing somewhere, but I am so happy to be grounded in these three amazing places.
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There is nothing like coming home to a puppy.
  • My growth.  This one piece of gratitude is probably the most personal of all.  Over the last year, I have grown so much as a person. I have found an inner-strength I did not know I had.  I have grown in my beliefs, my values, and my abilities. I am thankful for all a year can do for a person.

 

I wish in this post I could spend time saying the name of every person I am grateful for, but if I did that, the post would go on for days.  If we stop to think about all the wonderful people in our lives and the little things they do for us, we will be amazed by how much we have to be thankful for.

Today, I will be taking time to sit down and send out some personal messages of gratitude to those whom I am thankful for this season.  I want to give some of the positivity that has been brought into my life back to others.

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the negatives overwhelm you.  Take the time to be grateful and appreciate your life’s blessing.  Let today’s holiday be ruled by positivity.

 

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.

Finding Time for “Me Time”

Finding Time for “Me Time”

As we enter the holiday season, the hustle and bustle is exciting, but also can be overwhelming.  It feels like there’s always another task to get done, another person to see, and another place to go.  The constant motion is exhausting. In these days more than ever, it’s important to take time to ourselves.  Call it your designated “me time.”

My designated me time is Friday mornings from 10 AM- 12 PM.  During this time, I have no obligations and am free to do what I want.  Sometimes, I’ll watch a television show I’m behind on. Other times, I’ll read some articles I had saved, but hadn’t had time to read.  Then, there are other mornings, like yesterday, where all I want to do is curl up on my couch with my warm drink and think. And for those two hours, I can do that.

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My me time is not at all extravagant– it’s simple and actually, boring.  But, when I cut those two hours out of my week, everything feels off. I feel more stressed out– like I’m constantly running with no end in sight.  Those two hours a week are what center, calm, and refocus me for the coming week.

It’s time to breathe.

I always repeat that self-care is a journey, with successes and failures.  Finding two hours a week to dedicate just to me has been a huge success. However, I want to emphasize that me time doesn’t look the same for everyone.  For some people, their me time will be a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it might be painting or drawing, while there will also be people who elect for meditation as their me time.  

Me Time is not one size fits all.

It’s a struggle to find what works for you.  I had tried making my me time going to the gym– while I still go to the gym, I didn’t find this was a calming time for me.  I tried making my me time when I journaled, but I still felt crazed. I struggle with meditation and so, it couldn’t be my relaxant.

It was in trying all these different methods though that I realized what I needed from my me time.  I needed no pressure and no obligation. I needed the ability to be quiet and loud, depending on the day.  I just needed free time.

And, when in doubt, I listen to Billy Joel’s Vienna, a song that I mention very often on this blog.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while