A Promise to Myself

Hey guys,

This is a bit of a left turn compared to what I usually write about, and in some ways, it’s not.  Either way, I hope you enjoy these thoughts.

I’ve always been a bit of a flake.  Yeah, super surprising, I know! (NOT!)  Seeing that my posting on here is sparse and sporadic I’m sure you’ve caught on by now.

I’ve always thought…no wait…let me provide some background first.  When I was little, I was obsessed with being right.  I always had to be the “good” one.  The one who smiles, who’s sweet and is a perfect angel…at least when everyone is looking…ESPECIALLY when everyone is looking.  I thought that was how I was going to do life.  I thought that’s what I wanted.  Then I grew up and realized I’m not perfect and I will never be able to convince myself or anyone else that I am perfect.  It made me angry and bitter.  I lashed out.  I’m still lashing out today.  I think that it just isn’t fair that I’m not perfect.  Because perfect is the best, right?…right?  I’m learning it isn’t the best…and it never was, at least not for me.

Being perfect, for me, means being fake.  It means not being sincere or real or authentic with ANYONE.   If you let even one person know that you don’t have it all together than the word spreads and you can’t stop it, you can’t control it.  Being perfect means lying to people you care about.  Being perfect means hurting people who you’ll never truly get to know because there will always be a wall between you.  Being perfect means you will never be satisfied.  Being perfect means a lifetime of company with one entity…your ego.  And believe me when I say, your ego sucks!  Or at least mine does.  He tells me I’m awesome one minute and awful the next.  He tells me that my dad isn’t proud of me when I KNOW FOR A FACT, he is crazy proud of me.  My ego tells me that if it isn’t perfect, or if I can’t be the best, it isn’t worth trying.  Yeah, this guy really, really sucks.

Worst of all, being perfect means you never truly know who you are because you’ve never thought about what drives, fulfills, or excites you outside of what others think.

I don’t want to be perfect anymore.  I want to be me…whoever that is.  I want to be me more than I want to be right.  I want to be me more than I want to be liked.  (That song from Mean Girls Musical is in my head now so I’ll have Spotify play it, just for the fun of it)  I’d rather be me.  I’m not going to believe that all too familiar lie that being liked is everything.  It’s not.  Those who like me, for who I really am, mean more than a sea of fans who don’t know the first thing about me.  (You know who you are. <3)

So what does being me mean, practically speaking?

  1. I do what I say I will do when I say I will do it.
  2. I don’t lie (not to save face, not to seem better than I am, and not to myself)
  3. I don’t need to impress anyone else to feel good about myself
  4. I put others before myself (specifically my family)
  5. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I continue to improve (for myself)
  6. I am the same person everywhere I go (no matter who is or isn’t there)
  7. I finish the hard stuff first

I want to be a person I would be impressed by.  I want to be a person I admire.  Now I sound like the speeches Matthew McConaughey gives at graduations and award ceremonies! *roll eyes*  But he’s right when he says we should compete with ourselves, the person we will be in five years.  I want to be her.  I can see her.  She’s amazing.

She doesn’t care what other people think (and not in a “I don’t give a f*ck” kind of way), in that it’s irrelevant what other people think.  I know I sound like a poster with a kitten on it saying “Don’t give up!” or something stupid like that but this is just me processing.

Cut back to me in five years.  She’s a leader in her community.  She sets an example.  She takes care of herself.  She looks out for her family.  She keeps a clean home and cooks semi-decent meals (I’m not expecting miracles here lol)  She has written and published her first novel of many.  She has a job she adores to pour her soul into without fear.  She has a guy by her side that she is devoted to because she knows she does not hide anything from him.  I know right!  She’s fricken awesome!

Today, I am not this girl.  I’m not even close.  But that’s the point.  I’m not going to get down on myself and hate myself for not being her.  The truth is, I haven’t even tried.  On the contrary, lately, I’ve given up.  So if you wonder if you’ll ever see your dreams become a reality, know that I understand.  It’s not easy to come up with a plan that can make your goals feel possible even for just a second, but that’s why you can’t quit.

You can’t quit, because I see your potential.  Just like my friends and family see it in me.  You might be thinking, “Sarah, you don’t even know me.  How could you know if I have potential or not? Pssshhhh.”

Ok, first of all, the “psshhh” was unnecessary. Lol.  Secondly, I see your potential because I know we all have potential inside of us.  God made each and every one of us.  (If you don’t share my beliefs, that’s fine, but just keep reading)  You have a purpose.  There’s a reason you are here and you aren’t going to know what it is until you’re 80-something sitting in your rocking chair looking back on your life and you’ll smile.  (Now I sound like Tony Robbins and his rocking chair theory, lol)  You aren’t supposed to know.  If I knew where I was headed it would take out all the fun in getting there.  You’re supposed to give it your all, while not knowing.

So, instead of being a flake who makes promises and never gets around to them.  I’m making myself a promise.  I’m going to keep this promise.

*raises right hand and crosses heart*

I promise to never be anyone but myself.  Good or bad, pretty or ugly, right or wrong.  I promise to be the best version of myself every day.  I promise to be grateful for the gift of a second chance.  I promise to be myself.  Just me.

I hope you found some value and relatable thoughts in this post.  Let me know what you do to process things like identity, personal responsibility, and growth.

Bye guys,

-Sarah January

Nixola Research

Hey all!

I bet you’re wondering…I wonder if Sarah is ever gonna finish that book she talked about writing.  Have no fear!  Life has been crazy and I’ve been thrown a few curve balls but I’m still here and I will bring Nixola’s story to life if it kills me!  Figuratively speaking of course. *wink*

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me tell you a little bit about my current WIP (Work In Progress).  Back in May, I graduated with a Masters in History.  In order to graduate I had to write a thesis.  I was allowed to pick from a vast choice of subjects but I felt drawn to journalism.  Specifically, I wanted to write about female journalists.  Next, I needed to narrow down a time period.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Gilded Age and the Industrial Era, so naturally, I wanted to see what happened next in the story of America.  What comes next is called the Progressive Era.  Note: Don’t think too much of the word Progressive.  It doesn’t mean today what it meant back then.  I started combing the time period for at least three female journalists that spoke to me.  Of the three I chose, Nixola Greeley Smith stood out the most.

Clipping from The Evening World - Newspapers.com

Nixola Greeley Smith is the granddaughter of Horace Greeley, a man who established The New York Tribune.  She worked on The New York World for most of her career as a journalist.  She interviewed well-known figures like Thomas Edison, Helen Taft, members of New York’s high society.   My favorites articles concern much more common issues of the day.  For example, for most of her career, she kept a love advice column.  (Think Sex in the City but just set in 1901, LOL)  She offered an award to “working girls” (prostitutes) to allow her to interview them so she could show the world what it was really like to become a “working girl.”  Nixola covered the Thaw Trial which was the first time a woman took the stand and had to describe her own rape in public.  She wrote about girls wanting to be boys so they wouldn’t have to follow so many rules.  She wrote about women cursing.  She wrote about marriage, about children, war, women’s votes and any other subject that struck her fancy.  This is where I think she shines.  She didn’t care if no one else would say it.  She knew the people wanted to hear the truth.

Recently I have made some tremendous progress in my writing.  I have finally finished 5000 words!  Eeeeeeekkkkk!  The most fascinating part of this process is the list of subjects I’ve researched.  It is an odd list.

  • Turn of phrase during the turn of the century
  • Curse words-native to the time period
  • Clothing for both middle and upper class
  • Vehicles, carts, trolley’s etc
  • Restaurants, vendors on the street etc.
  • Telephones, telegraph, messengers
  • Office environments, cubicles, set-ups
  • Brooklyn Bridge-when was it finished?
  • Common names for the time period
  • New or common food for the time. e.g. Gum

See what I mean.  I never thought about all these little things I would need to know a little bit about in order to recreate an authentic replica of the time period.  And I’m only three chapters in!

I didn’t think about needing to understand basic turn of phrase that fits the time period.  I found this to be the most fun subject I researched.  For example, a talkative woman was sometimes referred to as “a church bell.”  If you wanted to call someone brave, you might use the adjective “bricky.”

What is your research process like?  Do you use any particular sources?  Do you research before/after/during your writing process?  Let me know your tips and tricks!

Til then,

-Sarah the Nerd

My Theatre Shenanigans

Some of you may or may not know, I love to volunteer at my local theatre!  I’ve dreamed of auditioning for a long time and I think I just might later this year.  Currently, my community theatre is running Beauty and the Beast.  Though I miss some the fantasticness that comes with the animated film, I really do love this play.  Belle is by far my favorite princess.

I’m only a prop runner, which is an important but rather trivial role.  So, that means I have a lot of time to watch.  I like to learn from watching.  I watch the dressers turn the characters into completely new ensembles in under 30 seconds.  I watch the director give orders and the music director coordinate the musical numbers.  There are different kinds of actors.  Some actors concentrate very hard on their next lines, while others seem at ease even when they make mistakes.  I enjoy spending time with the actors who really enjoy what they do.  Even though they don’t get paid a dime for their time and effort, they really put everything into each performance.  They have such big hearts and they welcomed me like a second family.  ❤

Some actors are very kind to the dressers and the crew, and some are not.  They complain about being there and I wonder why they came in the first place.  I wonder if I’ve ever lost my passion for something I used to love.  Not ever second of volunteering is going to be fun or eventful.  I realize that, but shouldn’t you be able to find something you love even in those crummy moments?  Maybe I’m just rambling but what I mean is, instead of complaining, or quitting, I’d like to be like one of my favorite volunteers (let’s call her, Barbara) and be happy even when the director is grumpy, even when she gets bad feedback, even when her costume is heavy and hot, even when she can’t get other volunteers to help with a task.  She still wears a smile and genuinely has a blast almost every night!  Yeah, I want to be like her ❤

If you think about it…she’s a little bit like Belle.  She’s a little odd, but it’s her uniqueness that makes her so intriguing.  That’s why we love her.

Below: My personal copy of King Arthur that is currently being used as a prop in the play!

Til next time,

-Sarah

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Just Being Honest…

I’m not sure what it is…I’m just going to be honest about it.  I haven’t been blogging since the start of 2019.  I didn’t even really do a proper post when I finished my #40booksin2018 goal!  I want to be honest about my absence and quit making excuses for myself and maybe then I will be able to figure out what’s going on with me.

I’m not always motivated to write.  I love to write, but sometimes I deliberately avoid it.  It doesn’t matter how much time I do or do not have, how many positive quotes I save as my lock screen wallpaper, or how many times I say to myself, “I’ll write later today.”  I still don’t write when I don’t feel like it.

For the first time in my life, I’m actually sick of my feelings running my life.  I don’t “feel” like working out.  I don’t “feel” like getting up early.  I don’t “feel” like writing.  I don’t “feel” like working on that project.  True I don’t HAVE to get up at 5am.  I don’t HAVE to work out.  I don’t HAVE to write a blog.  However, if I want a different kind of life, don’t I HAVE to do the things most people would not do?  Yes.  Getting where you want to be is not easy.  I used to think if I was just making progress, I wouldn’t care how hard it was to get it done.  That’s definitely not true.  I care A LOT.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to sticking it out.  When things get tough, I tend to bail.

I rarely look at my shortcomings because it makes me so uncomfortable.  I’m not doing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m facing this reality because you have to admit when there is a problem or you will never start looking for a solution.  The hardest part of the solution to my problem…is the fact that it is simple.  Easy answers are always the hardest to implement.  I simply have to ignore how I feel and do what needs to be done regardless of whether or not I’m in the mood.  Easier said than done, I know.

So, obviously…I need a plan.  *cue the dramatic music*

So if you don’t already know, I am a journal freak!  I have way too many and I use them for different things.  I have a traditional journal where I write on big days in my life (birthdays, graduations, etc.).  I have a complaining journal where I’m allowed to say whatever I want even if it’s hurtful (it helps me work through my feelings and thought processes). I even have a time-of-the-month journal…go ahead and judge me if you want. Lol.

close up journal

This is a journal by Atticus, an amazing poet (which is no longer available, unfortunately, *sad face*)!  Get his second book, The Dark Between Stars here on Amazon and follow him on Instagram @atticuspoetry

He also has some amazing prints for sale on his website at: www.atticuspoetry.com

I’ve decided this will be where I write down my victories.  I will plan them and I will execute them, one at a time.

My first priority is an illustration project I’ve been working on for over a year now.

My second priority is to read at least 100 pages a day.

My third priority is writing either for my blog or for my novel, every day.  It doesn’t matter the volume.  Simply write every day.  I need to create that habit of writing.  You’ve got to write a lot of crap so you can get to the good stuff.  lol

Let’s see if I can make my New Years’ resolutions last a little longer than February 1st. lol

-Sarah

bookshelves far shot

Did I make it?/#40booksin2018

So I’m sure you’re all wondering if I finished my goal of 40 books in 2018. I am happy to report I did meet my goal! … by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. Lol, I finished only five minutes before midnight but I finished nevertheless! Hopefully, in 2019, I will acquire better management skills.

I read a total of 11 books in December! Ahhhh! It was crazy and I’m looking forward to slowing down a little. Here’s the list of what I read to finish out 2018:

Three Days in January by Brett Baier

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin

The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin

Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan

The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Which books would you like to see reviews on?

What are your reading goals for 2018?

– Sarah

My Christmas Present

Merry late Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your families.  I know being with family is my favorite part of the holidays ❤

I know this post is late but I’ll make it up to you I promise.

For those of you who know me best, you know I love books…duh! But what you may not know is my dream to have my own library!  When I say “have my own library,” I am talking full-on, gorgeous, Beauty and the Beast, complete with a ladder that slides down the shelves, LIBRARY!  I don’t know what it is about shelves and shelves of titles, running my fingers across the titles as I walk by, judging the books by only their covers, but it’s simply heavenly!

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So, in my bedroom, I have a lot of shelves, but I have been wanting to add more (don’t judge me, lol).  My sweet dad created these amazing shelves for me out of mahogany and I have been dying to put them up.  He created six and once he completed sanding them down so smoothly they feel like butter, I got an idea.  I could potentially create a desk with some of them!

I have to give a big shout out to my dad who helped me with this awesome project.  Love ya Dad!

So we took three of the six boards and braced them with four pieces of wood across the bottom.  I ordered some hairpin legs from Amazon and some of those industrial pipe shelf brackets.  Dad helped me put it all together and I couldn’t be happier with the result!

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Now I have a great space to write and create!  Every time I look up at the shelves it makes me smile (partly because they aren’t full which means I can buy more books!) but also because the sight of books reminds me of how many adventures I’ve been on, how many countries I’ve visited and how many lives I’ve lived through books.

Ok, I know I’m nerdy, but just indulge me.  lol

I know it’s silly to think your location or environment has anything to do with your creativity but I’m DEFINITELY feeling inspired!

 

 

In fact, I’m feeling so inspired I think we are going to have not one but TWO blogposts this week!  That’s right, you heard me.  Besides, I owe you guys an update on my reading challenge for 2018!  Tune in this weekend to find out if I made it!

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Long story short, my Christmas present rocks!  What’s your nerdy kryptonite?  Shelves and shelves of books do it for me every time.

-Sarah

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What is Your Greatest Weakness?/Percy Jackson Series/Gods and Goddesses

percy jacksonI am officially only five books away from my goal of 40 books in 2018 and I can taste victory!  I wonder if I should give myself a laurel wreath crown when I’m done? lol

I absolutely adore this series.  I read the first book back in grad school for a mental break.  I was so surprised how quickly I read through it.  For a young adult series, a genre I hadn’t read in a while, it was pretty dope.

If you don’t have any idea who or what I’m talking about, I’ll give you the lay of the land.  First, our main character is Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old with dyslexia and behavioral issues.  He befriends outcasts like his best friend, Grover Underwood, a weird kid who wears a baseball cap over his ears and walks with a limp.  Percy, in a fascinating turn of events, learns he is a half-blood (half god, half human).  It comes as quite a shock when he learns his best friend is a satyr (half goat, half human) with hooves and everything!  In addition, his mother has known everything all along and has been protecting him from monsters that would very much like to kill him.

While processing all of this, Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood to be safe while he learns useful skills (like how to stay alive!), learns where he came from, why he exists, and who his father really is.  He meets a pretty blonde girl with gray eyes named Annabeth, the camp is run by Cheiron the Centaur (half human, half horse) and he receives a special gift.  It’s a pen that turns into a magical sword named Riptide!  How freakin cool for a 12-year-old boy!  He’s a hero, like Hercules!  Only he’s twelve, living in modern times, and he does not have superhuman strength, but the pen is REALLY cool! lol

I really love that Percy is dyslexic.  The idea of a dyslexic hero is just too perfect to me since my sister has dyslexia and I swear sometimes it seems like a superpower!  In the books, it’s used to explain Percy’s overactive brain and some of his other unique qualities.  In a way, the series turns a handicap (though I don’t even like using that word) into an inner strength.  The writing style is like a journal, where Percy talks right to you and he’s got an adorable sense of humor which again makes for a quick read.  As much as I adore this series as an adult, I can only imagine what I would have thought as a kid.

I love the lessons, or hidden messages if you will, that come within the storyline.  At one point in the series, Percy Jackson learns his greatest weakness, and it’s not what he expected.  Some might think of pride or fear as a weakness, but Percy’s greatest weakness is his unwavering loyalty to his friends.  Now you might think, “That doesn’t sound like a flaw to me!”  However, if an enemy can count on you to do something, it’s a pretty dangerous tool he can use against you.

Countless times, Percy put himself in danger when he had no idea what he was doing or how things would turn out, simply because a friend was in trouble.  When it is first brought to his attention, Percy doesn’t want to admit this fatal flaw, but there’s no denying it.  Time and time again he has rushed, without forethought in harm’s way for the sake of his friends.  Sometimes he even does more harm than good.  Does this mean loyalty is a bad character trait?  No!  What it means (or what it means to me) is that knowing yourself, the good the bad and the ugly, can help you win in life.  We are predictable creatures as humans.  We all have gifts, talents, strengths and yes, we all have flaws.  Yet, when we really know ourselves, when can use this to our advantage.   There’s no use in fighting who we are.  Embrace it and go kick some monster-butt!  lol  Or your Thursday work meeting, whatever! lol  You get the idea.

I am currently on book four of five in the series, and I can definitely see myself finishing it in record time!

If you’re up for an adventure, full of tears, triumphs, magic swords, gods and goddesses this is the series for you.  Don’t be like me.  I thought, “Eh, that’s for kids.  I’m too grown to be reading this young adult cr…..ooooooh he fights Medusa? Coooooool!”  Yeah, go ahead.  Let your bad-a** teenager side out with this one.  Your inner child will thank you. 😉

May the gods go with you.

-Sarah