A Race Against Time

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Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash

It came down to the wire this year– yesterday was day 29 of NaNoWriMo.

I had 35,777 more to go.

There’s something about having a goal, one you know you’ve reached before and that feeling, the one that doesn’t let you be less than what you’ve been. I didn’t want to lose this year, I had to reach the goal. 50,000 words, I had to reach it.

I started on day one. Now I may have missed days 2-7, but I promise, I started on day one. By day 2, I was behind.

It’s not that I didn’t know what I needed to write, that wasn’t it. I’ve had this story in my head for a while, one that allowed for the collision of so many different worlds to come together into one incredible novel that only makes sense once you turn that last page. Then that “oh” moment makes you sit back and wonder how you got from the start to finish in the first place.

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Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

That’s the kind of moment that makes you want to read a book again, right after you read it the first time, because somehow there’s got to be more.

More. There’s got to be more. That has been my writing process.

It’s been a struggle to catch up once I got behind. Every day I wrote a little more and a little more, but it didn’t feel like enough. i wasn’t even going for the substance of my writing, no, that isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo.

The point is to hit that 50,000, because if you do, that means you’ve been writing. Consistently. Unless you’re one of those people to knock it out in under a week, the idea is to hit that word count because you’ve spent thirty days creating one world and one story.

It’s about the commitment to creating something that hasn’t been put on paper yet.

So did I commit?

After weeks of making late night time for writing, among the studying and the constant reading, I kept going. At first it was hard to find the story, to figure out just what I was trying to say. They say that the characters choose their lives and we’re not allowed to change their story once it’s set.

Whatever happens happens, we put our pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and let the story come as it may. I committed to writing a story, all those words in one month so I could meet my goal, but even more so, so I could create a world.

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Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

And here we are, November 30th, the final day of NaNoWriMo.

I’m at 35K words, just short of 50,000 by a few days of hard work. I haven’t written a single word since yesterday, well, I don’t plan to before the clock turns and strikes the first of December at 12am. I am not a winner for National Novel Writing Month this year and I’m okay with that.

Because I realized that as of right now, my finals start on Monday and there are things beyond my story that need my focus. Writing for me will always be a priority, but so will my studies.

Besides, believe it or not, my goal for the month wasn’t hitting 50,000.

I wanted to get that novel started, the one I’ve been thinking about for months. I wanted to find that space where I knew my characters and I found the story I needed to tell, that was my goal— in 35,000 words, I found that goal. I didn’t need to keep going.

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It isn’t about consolation or even technically “losing” NaNoWriMo. I’m on track for my studying and all the readings I’ve had to do, and I found my story.

For me, that’s a success.

So with an unfinished novel and a busy two weeks ahead, happy Friday everyone. I hope you find your own success today, even if all that means is changing your perspective.

Good luck.

 

Challenge Accepted– NaNoWriMo

Another week has come and gone and a very busy one at that— just in case you were wondering, about last week, I did decide to take the high road after all. Sometimes that’s the only way to do it, and maybe it wasn’t even worth putting the emotional effort to be hurt or angry. This year I’m at least learning that it’s our choice who we keep close, am I right?

Beyond finally learning more big things, there are three others that get me truly excited these days: free food, cancelled class, and more sleep. Lucky for me, we turn our clocks back this Sunday so I get a little bit of that last one to start off the next week.

Which is perfect, because it’s finally November… Do you know what that means?

Various kinds of pies will be eaten, a few more exams will be taken, hopefully more sleep will be gotten over break…

And maybe if I hit my word count, a new novel will be written (started). Because it’s National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo).

Officially, the month started yesterday and every single day, the word count needed to hit that incredible goal is 1,667. If you miss a day, that word count doubles. Because one way or another, if you want to win nanowrimo, you’ve got to hit 50,000 by the end of this month. And well…

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Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

I just missed day one.

That’s the thing about having a goal; if you miss a day of it whether it’s working out, reading a few pages every night, or remembering to sit down and relax every morning before work, it sets you back. And you are the only person who can make up for it.

Right now, 50,000 for me is quite the lofty goal. If you remember from last year, I was able to hit that word count but it was a real scramble down to the last few hours. Well, the last hour. But I threw myself into it because I needed something to focus on, some other place to put my mind for a little while, and I could get that much closer to finishing my book in the meantime.

Don’t you have things like that too?

I think there are a lot of times in our lives, things we get ourselves into, not just because we want to but truly because it’s what we need. Think of it like exercising— just because you should doesn’t mean you will, but we (should) do it anyway, for our own good.

Considering what’s going on in my life, the things I’m already doing along with maybe remembering that I should actually take care of myself, adding a 1,667 word goal to my days isn’t the kind of stress I need. But as weird as it sounds, it’s the kind of stress I want right now. I miss the creativity, the process of writing something other than academic papers.

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Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Maybe it’s not the kind of thing I should be taking on right now, but I could use the distraction, the goal to set. Even though it’s work, it’s also a break— the best kind really. Because I’ve been so caught up in all the papers and readings and work and interviews that I haven’t had time for anything else. One thing this month does is literally force me to take the time if I’m going to hit 50,000. So I guess that’s what we’re going to do— commit and hope for the best in whatever comes next.


Wish me luck everyone, I know that I’ll need it if I’m already behind. So have a great weekend, find your own challenge this week, and I will see you Friday.

Finding a Way Back To Balance

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

It’s my junior year at a school that for the past two years, I kept trying to leave every chance I got; every day I stick around, I find myself running into more reasons to stay— my people.

College has been rough, I think I’m allowed to say that, but it hasn’t been for nothing. You see, I spent just about my entire freshman year studying and while my grades didn’t always reflect it, my head was constantly stuck in a textbook. I had NO idea what I was doing. I still don’t.

But there is one thing I did last year that I think will completely change how this year goes for me: I put myself out there. I got involved with PCW and Her Campus, along with WOW and several other clubs which I’ll admit, most of the time I didn’t really want to go. But I went, I found some commitments and I held them. Because the biggest thing I got out of each was a home in just a few people along the way.

Give me five minutes on our campus and I guarantee I’ll run into a least one person I’m friends with, a concept which is still so wild to me. Even just yesterday, I ran into another friend from my freshman dorm and it took at least 10 minutes for us to catch up, just a little bit.

I dove into this year in a way that I couldn’t even prepare for: head first. There was truly no time for hesitation, and evidently sleep because I’m still trying to catch up. Even so, I’m realizing that there are some things you have to go into like that: without hesitation and no expectations as to what comes next. At this point, I can attest that absolutely nothing we do goes as planned anyway.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As much as I’d love to say that I’ve finally figured college out and I’m as fulfilled as I want to be, I’m not. There’s something missing. Though this is my first year as an official English major, I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been everything I’m looking for— that’s what minors and clubs are for too. I’m sure all of us quarter system students realize how quickly everything moves at this point; my midterms started week 2 and we’re just finishing week 4, but people are burnt out already. It’s intense. With the heinous amount of reading and assignments we have as students, it can be hard to find a balance.

I think the dangerous thing about college, about any time in our lives, is focusing too much on the wrong kind of balance.

Develop a safe balance between fun and work— maybe mix the two, but not too much.

Create a balance in your people— professional peers or other friends— find some support and love, but also find some wild ones to push your own comfort zone just a tad too. Remember, I said a tad.

And most importantly, find a middle ground between spontaneity and consistency. Don’t dwell too much in one or the other.

It’s great if you usually get your work done early. But if you always stay in on Friday nights or get all your homework done by Saturday morning, maybe try something else this week— hit the movies, go for a midnight doughnut run, try out that new restaurant and get all dressed up for no reason, even just do a potluck night with friends. Anything goes, just remember to do something different every once in a while.

We’re all too young to keep to the same routines or always fall asleep in the sofa by 9:30pm— yes Dad, I’m talking to you. Switch it up every once in a while, live your lives.

I’ve got a lot on my plate this year… After what year two turned into, quite possibly too much. But right now, I’m going for it— all of it. If I need to pull back, I can; there is always room to pull back. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m standing still, even at a school and in a system where everything is constantly moving. I need to find a way to feel like I’m moving again. At this point, it’s now or never, make or break for me.

We all just have to find a balance— I hope you find yours.


Here’s to whatever comes next. Happy Friday everyone and I’ll see you Tuesday for a new Bookworms.

Maddloverocks– The Concept of Kindness and Remembrance

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Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

There’s this painted rock sitting on my bookshelf, ready to be placed somewhere here in San Luis Obispo: a beautiful rock, in a beautiful place, to remember kindness and love in a beautiful girl. I just have to figure out where to put it.

For those of you who don’t know the concept behind the title of this post, it’s idea of “kindness rocks.” To commemorate the life of Madeline Elliott who has somehow been gone a week and a year now, I still can’t believe it, and these rocks have been spread not only throughout the country but across the globe for people to find— all of this done with the #maddloverocks and Maddie in mind.

Because who doesn’t need a little extra kindness every day. So let’s talk about that.

Two days ago was World Mental Health Day and yesterday was National Coming Out Day, both large ideas within people’s identities that can either hold them back or give them the wings they need to fly. As long as they take care of themselves. Whether you identify with one day, both, or neither, I think you should keep in mind that they each should matter to you. 

Here’s why:

It’s about how you treat and see and love yourself as you are. That’s it, that’s what these days come down to. While yes, we shouldn’t just save one day a year to remember these things, I think it is just as important to have one day where people can come together about something and celebrate it or support it together. Kind of like these kindness rocks.

Sometimes it helps just to have a tangible representation of your worth, that you deserve a little kindness today. These rocks, some with beautiful designs or simply a handwritten word, are there to spread positivity and light in a place where sometimes it can be hard to see.

I know I tend to forget that even as college students, everyone is going through their own things and figuring it all out for themselves. Once we leave this college bubble, out into the real world, it’s amazing to think about the amount of people we’ll have in our lives. Even now I look around campus and realize how many connections I’ve truly made— maybe not so far as friends, but connections nonetheless. And those make a difference.

Because there are days when I catch myself thinking about these connections and realize that the more I make, the more people I have to lose.

It makes me hesitate. I mean, I love loving people, don’t get me wrong. The issue here isn’t the people, it’s simply risking losing those people. This past year has reminded me how easily that can happen. After all, we are still little mortal human beings in a very large world.

So why spend any of the time we have doing anything but being kind, and loving, and hopeful, and ready to live in a way that’s worth it?

 

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Photo by Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

To me, that’s part of what these kindness rocks are. When I place mine, I hope someone finds it who needs it, and I hope they pass it along. Young, “old” (whatever that means), happy, sad, struggling, thriving… Anyone who finds it deserves what it means to them and owes it to themselves to pass it on. Because I’m sure there’s someone else who could use it too.

So as you go into your weekend, I hope you remember that this world around you needs your kindness and the good you have to offer. Whether you’re working or taking classes, or serving in the military, or prepping for something new, you are where you need to be. We all are. And I hope this is a reminder that you deserve a little kindness today; this last photo is just for you, for I know someone in your life who means it. 

So pass it on. And keep spreading the kindness.

The Truth about Insecurity

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Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

I’m not the most secure person– I second-guess myself, question my talent, doubt my abilities, and undermine myself. I’m only human after all, I think we all do this more than we realize.

When I published my book two years ago, I didn’t think anyone would read it, let alone like anything I had to say. I did it to just get my work out there.

When I committed to Week of Welcome, I didn’t think my WOWies would like me, I figured I would be just another person in their lives to fit into the collage of what Cal Poly becomes to them.

And two weeks ago when I took a photo holding a whiteboard, my loopy handwriting scrawling across, containing words that I felt defined me, I wanted to take that photo back. I felt awkward, not at all cute like I had hoped, I thought the lighting would be off, and my whiteboard was so much less creative or cool than anyone else’s.

Then became a published author, I turned out to be a great WOW leader whose WOWies love me (so they say), and I took that photo and I shared it on Facebook to let in the flood of reactions that may or may not go to my head. I got proven wrong.

Because more often than not, what we do will always matter to someone.

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Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

So why do we hesitate to do it?

I’m talking about voting… Why does it seem like my generation doesn’t vote? Possibly because we feel like whatever actions we take don’t matter. Quite frankly, whether we vote or not, it makes a difference. Because it can so easily come down to one vote, just like it did at my University two weeks ago when voting to suspend the fraternity who committed the blackface offenses last year. It came down to one.

We could be that one, if we used our rights and our privileges to do something about it. Trust me, with the way the government is turning these days, this matters.

I’m also talking about education, and not just in schools. Schools have their own systemic issues that need to be addressed, right now let’s focus on us. I mean in our everyday lives when we see something wrong, a microagression here or casual sexual harassment there; it’s our job to say something. So maybe the Brett Kavanaughs of the world are stopped before they get nominated for the Supreme Court.

Isn’t one injustice enough to see that something is wrong?

In the end, I’m really just talking about society. The way so many of us seem to put our jobs or our schoolwork or our accomplishments up for judgement when deciding whether or not we are doing enough.

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Photo by Simon Shim on Unsplash

It comes down to how well we do our work, how many positive comments we get back about a presentation, or  the GPAs I know that it feels like college students need if they’re going to get anywhere.

We need to realize that our securities– how we feel about our accomplishments or our voices or our knowledge– all come down to one person: ourselves.

If we feel like our voices don’t matter in voting, do it anyway. Then do it again. And again. And again. Keep proving yourself wrong; one voice can be all it takes to hear the right words.

If we feel like what we know isn’t everything we need to know, keep learning, keep reading, and keep the doors open for finding something new. The day we stop learning is the day a part of our lives gets left behind.

And if we feel like what we do, who we are, or the life we hold isn’t enough…

Surround yourself with people who never make you feel the need to be more than you are, remind yourself that there is only one of you and being 1/7.44 billion is okay.

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Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

We are all human after all. Sometimes it’ll feel like our actions, our voices, and our beings just aren’t big enough to matter. If I have learned anything in the past year, it’s that no matter how small a person or an voice or a smile in this world might seem, it can change lives.

So use and be proud of what you’ve got.

Taking On a New Beginning

simon-matzinger-603033-unsplashWhether you’re starting off at a new school, taking on another year of your journey, tackling a new job, or finding your feet, this post is for you.

Beginnings are terrifying, no matter what it looks like. Going into college, I was excited but also scared. Starting my job at Target this summer, it was a lot to adjust to. Even starting a new novel that I’m ready to take on still holds a lot of uncertainty.

Because each of them has a starting point, somewhere to begin. But not a single one of them has a plan once that beginning is over.

There is no roadmap for what happens next.

And that part terrifies me. If the concept of not knowing what can happen next doesn’t scare you, at least a little, first of all I need to know how you conquered the epitome of adulting. And second of all, I need to know if a beginning can possible still hold all the possibility it does without a little fear mixed in. Because it seems like every new step has something uncertain to go with it.

And personally, that’s how I know it’s okay.

I’ve been out of high school for two years now and I’m about to be a junior in college. A junior. I know people say this a lot, but time really does pass you by whether those times were easy or not. I’m at the point in my life where I’m supposed to have things figured out now, at least have some idea of where I’m going. And I have that.

But I don’t know how to get there. There isn’t a list of to-do’s that I need to check off or a step-by-step layout of how to succeed, sometimes we have to take on new things even when we don’t know how it’s going to work out. I’ve been told that in this scenario, you can be one of three people:

Some people just wing it constantly and end up right where they need to be.

Meanwhile, other people have things all planned out— t’s crossed and i’s dotted— before they end up where they need to be.

And of course, you can’t forget the people who haven’t quite gotten to where they want to be yet. Does that mean they should settle with where they are or should they go all in?

What about person #4, those whos don’t fit into any of these three people— you might have a bit of person one mixed with person three, etc. There has to be some way to find a balance and find your path in the process.

Having only three options is never this simple.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When it comes to new beginnings, the only thing that can hold you back is yourself. If your scared, that’s okay. You’re starting off on something new and it’s supposed to be fun and exciting, plus a little bit crazy. It’s supposed to scare you.

None of us are perfect and even when there is a plan for everything you plan to do, you can’t plan for what someone else might do. All you need to get going is a starting point.

If i’m being honest, that’s the only thing you can count on. The rest will let the pieces fall where they may.

Don’t use a plan or a roadmap as a crutch rather than another starting point.

Something I’m beginning to understand as I take on more beginnings in my life is that you only get out of them as much as you put in; if you hold on too tightly to what you think it should look like, it will never be as good as it could be.

So be person #4. Find your own balance between winging it and planning things out— don’t settle until you’re happy enough to be okay with it. If it’s a new year or a new school with new people, figure out who you want to be and be that person, let yourself fail at a few things until you find your feet. If it’s a new job or the beginning of a

journey you haven’t quite defined yet, trust yourself. Trust that you can handle whatever comes your way.

Make this next beginning everything you want it to be, even if it’s not on your first try. Just keep going. Because beginnings are kind of beautiful and they’re the only guaranteed part of the process. So make the most of it. And good luck to all of us.

Here’s to whatever comes next.

5 Must-Do’s Before Summer Ends

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 Today, we’re going to talk a little about the average college student’s favorite season— summer.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of your summer working or in class— maybe both— and summer is finally winding down to your last few free moments. Even on quarter system, my summer kind of ends when all my friends leave to go back to school and that’s coming up a little too soon.

So how do you make the most out of the time you’ve got left? I’ve got just a few ideas for you.


Take a Trip

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Photo by Kyle Loftus on Unsplash

If you shop around online and plan it out just right, there are a whole lot of trips cheap enough for the rest of us broke college students that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re trying to get across the country, get out of the country, or road trip down the coast of California (it’s the perfect season for beach bonfires), there are plenty of options.

Now of course, if you’re going out of the country just make sure you have a good way to get back in and a valid passport. Once you’ve got good company and a great destination, book that trip and you’re set to go. If you need something to start you off, check this out.

Take to the Pages

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Sometimes, traveling isn’t an option; at least not literally. There are cases when you really can’t get away, whether you want to be around family for a little longer or there are obligations holding you back. One of the best ways to still get out of town and your own head in the process is to read a book— I know, of course I would suggest such a thing.

But don’t doubt the power of settling down for maybe an hour or two every day, maybe even a half hour, and just reading about a life that doesn’t belong to you. It’s the cheapest form of travel in my opinion, all it takes is a good book and a little imagination.

Take to the Streets

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Photo by Anurag Arora on Unsplash

Now when I say streets, I mean exploring where you’re at. I’ve lived in my hometown for most of my life (at least what I remember) and there are still some hidden gems or lost relics that I haven’t been to.

Maybe the world looks different in the mornings, it could be the perfect night for a bonfire (controlled please, we don’t need any more fires), maybe there’s a watering hole right down the street that I’ve never ventured through. I find that in knowing some place or being familiar with it allows for ignorance, it allows us to take the beauty of a place for granted. Take a day and go explore a little, who knows what you’re going to find.

Take to Planning

If you don’t have the time or the money to do any of these things right now, one way you can still technically use your time is to plan for good times in the future. Look up concert listings or plan a trip to Disney, take a peek at your bucket list and plan something that lets you cross another thing out. Wherever you’re at now, plan something to look forward to— even if you can’t slow down now, you’ll have a reason to later.

Take your You Day

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Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Now after all of this, maybe you just don’t have space on your calendar for these things right now— I’ve got an option for that too. Whether you’re stuck in the house, have obligations, have no time to go anywhere, etc. The only thing you need for this one is yourself and a few minutes to spare.

Find something you love to do and relax, put your feet up, treat yourself to breakfast, or go for a run if that’s what floats your boat. Summer is an entirely different atmosphere, even for those of us still in school right now, so use this time while you’ve got it. Before the season really ends, take some time and invest it in yourself, whatever that may look like to you. Make it worth it.


August is a new month of both endings and new beginnings, and that’s kind of an exciting position to be in. But it only lasts a little while, so do yourself a favor and make the most of it. I know I plan to.

And In case you were wondering, like I said last week, my comment section is absolutely still open for any suggestions or requests of what you would like to hear about on my blog!

Happy August everyone. See you Friday.