Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Things I Learned in 2014

As the year comes to a close, a lot of us are probably writing about either 1. what we've learned in 2014 and our experiences this past year and/or 2. the goals we have set for 2015 and what we hope to change. Personally, I won't be setting any concrete "goals" for 2015 because I know how much can change and how difficult it is to keep anything in a rigid mindset for too long. I have a lot of fluid ideas of how I want my year to go, but I also know that I'm going to do my best to just go with the flow. The one goal I always have is to make the new year even better than the last and ensure that I am growing as a person and becoming who I want to be. As long as I keep that in mind throughout the year, everything else should work itself out. I don't really want to talk about the new year because I want to keep the mystery alive. I have a lot of exciting changes coming my way, many of which I have struggled with and worked really hard to get to this point in life. No doubt there will be ups and downs this year, because that's just how life works, but with each year I take a new set of experiences and lessons that hopefully better prepare myself for whatever life has to throw at me.

2014 has probably been one of the most difficult years of my life simply because of how transitional it was. It was my first "full year" as a post-grad (a very lost and confused one at that) and I had a lot of different experiences. Experiences that were not pleasant but eventually led to lessons learned and a process of maturing. The beginning of 2014 found me once again lost as to which direction I wanted my career to go in (I stopped substitute teaching and decided to put my pursuit of a master's degree on hold). It was also around that time that I started this blog, which was at first meant to be a creative outlet and a way to pursue my life-long dream of becoming an author, but it turned into so much more (more on that later). To keep myself busy and also still make money, I took on a nanny job. Some people may think a nanny job is "easy" or not really significant, but those are people who have never had to be responsible for children or actually take care of them. For the six months I had that job, I didn't even really see it as a "job." I formed a connection with the kids I took care of and they taught me so much about raising children and just life in general. Also, I think my biological clock started ticking thanks to that job, oops...

Fast forward to Spring of 2014, which was probably the high point of my year. I was happy with the job I had, really getting into the whole blogging and social media thing and I was also exploring a side of me that I never had before. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that although it ended pretty badly, I don't regret it at all. I learned so much about myself, especially how I handle certain situations and relationships, which in the past few months I've been able to start changing to help myself in the long run. It's pretty cliche to say that "everything happens for a reason" but I'd like to think this certain experience falls into that boat. After a lackluster and slightly mopey summer, I was restless again. I needed change and I knew I couldn't stay where I was, figuratively and literally, for much longer.

By the end of September I had left my job as a nanny and was in pursuit of a new job. By this point I had a very good idea of what I wanted my career to be. Blogging helped me discover that. I have a passion for writing and social media (something that is certainly expanding in this technological age) so I started searching for a job in that related field. I spent months applying to places. Months searching. Sometimes I'd even apply for regular administrative positions just so I could have something, even if it wasn't truly what I wanted to be doing. I lost track of how many interviews I went on this fall (I want to say 7?) and obviously all were a dead-end. Unemployment was not kind to me and as much I tried to stay positive, after each rejection I sunk a little bit deeper. I was at the point where I was about to give up this dream career of mine, something I had been interested in for a very long time. I didn't want to settle for the typical entry-level position as a receptionist or whatever else I "qualified" for, but I was beginning to think I had no other option. Then something truly amazing that totally exceeded my expectations happened. But I won't go into it just yet—that is for a different day, different blog post :).

Other things happened these past few months, too, things that have helped me take a look at my mindset and attitudes throughout these past years. I am by no means done learning or changing, but I can happily say I am on the right track. I also think that having this blog has helped me a lot along the way and I want to continue In-Between Life no matter how busy my life may get. Who knows, maybe I'll keep this baby of mine for years to come and I can look back and see just how much things change.
I started out writing this post thinking I would just write a brief summary and then do a kind of list of what I learned this year, but of course the writer in me had to basically write a novel for everybody. If you've read this far, thank you. Thank you to all my readers. Thank you to everyone I have inspired; you've given me sparks of happiness when I most needed it.

Without further ado, a list of some of the things I learned in 2014:
  • Don't give up on your dream, no matter how tough the road may get. Seriously. Do not give up.
  • Don't stay in something that is no longer fulfilling. You'll know when it's time to move on and you shouldn't hold on any longer.
  • You are the only one who knows what's right for you. You're the only one who can truly dictate your journey. Listen to yourself and your intuition first and foremost. 
  • Not only can life surprise you, but you may end up surprising yourself, too. Embrace it.
  • It's okay to feel lost and confused and worried. It may seem like it, but the feeling won't last forever. You also may experience it again at some point in your life. That's just how it is. 
  • Only substitute teach if you have the patience of a saint.
  • Let go of your past and the fears your past has created for you. You're only hurting yourself and not allowing yourself to live your life to the fullest. 
  • Learn to go with the flow. Life tends to get easier that way.

What's the most important thing you learned this year?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Does this make me a Grinch?

Christmas is only two days away and holiday season is in full swing. And yet, I'm just not feeling it. Maybe it's the fact that it's the end of December and it's currently raining outside instead of snowing, so it doesn't really feel "Christmasy" at all (rather dreary, in fact). Maybe it's the fact that we've been getting holiday commercials shoved down our throats since before Halloween this year (at some point they're gonna start airing commercials before the 4th of July, I swear. This year the first holiday commercial I saw was in SEPTEMBER). So I guess I'm kind of just over it. I stopped putting on the radio station with all the Christmas music a good two or three weeks ago. The same movies are on repeat on ABC family, so I'm over that, too.

It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas; in fact, it's one of my favorite holidays. But I really feel that this holiday is becoming over-commercialized (actually, it's way beyond that at this point) and it's losing its luster. Part of me just wants the holidays to be over with already.
I started thinking about things I've done this month, or even in the past, that helped make Christmas feel a little more special. One thing I did this year was a holiday card swap with a bunch of bloggers and I really enjoyed spending the time to write each individual card and personalize it. I like spreading cheer, especially during this season. Last year I put together a little goodie bag for my mailman because I know how hard they work this time of year. It's little things like that that really put me in the holiday spirit and looking back now I definitely wish I had done more. I think next year I'm going to make an effort of volunteering places and doing kind things for strangers (like say, buying someone's coffee or putting extra coins in their parking meter). Obviously, you can do this anytime of the year, but there's something about doing it during the holiday season that makes it even more special.

As a society in general, we need to start remembering what Christmas is actually about. Spending time with friends and family, but also spreading love and joy to strangers. It's the little things that count. I hate how commercialized this holiday has gotten, but there's really nothing I can do about that. What I can do, however, is change how I celebrate this time of year. Hopefully by reaching out to strangers and doing kind things, it will in turn affect other people and they will do the same for others.

"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." -The Grinch

Happy Holidays ♥︎

Sunday, December 14, 2014

100 Days Challenge: Improve Your Life

It's no secret that I've been having a rough few months and a generally challenging time of my life since I've graduated college. I've come a very long way and I know that by no means I am the same person I was a year ago, let alone "100 days" ago. I've always been a firm believer that your life can change drastically in just one day, whether for good or bad. I've always been the kind of girl who hopes one of those moments comes along that will just turn my whole world upside down, for the better, and magically all will fall into place. I still like to have that kind of belief, because there is something so innocent and naive about having that kind of mentality, that I don't really want to let go of it. I want to believe that good things are coming my way and that requires me having that hopeful and child-like magical belief in the universe.

Although I am holding onto this "magic" belief system very tightly, I also realize that a lot of life's circumstances are often in our control (not just the "universe"). This fall I let myself slowly fall into a very negative mindset, primarily because I was exhausted and frustrated with my job hunt. It affected all other parts of my life, though, and I wish I could have more control over that. I have been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions and making changes in my life in general. My biggest goal in life is to be happy, no matter what the circumstances may be. And in order for you to be at peace with yourself and truly happy, you can't rely on any person, job, location, etc. as the source of your own happiness. I realize happiness comes from within and only you can control that. So, with all that being said, I'm ready to embark on one of those "100 days" challenges to improve my life for the better.
I got this idea while I was scrolling through the internet one night and stumbled upon this article called "60 Small Ways to Improve Your Life in the Next 100 Days." I loved it because it has so many ideas for improvements and not just within your self but also small improvements throughout your home, etc. I was going to officially start my 100 days challenge on New Year's Day, but I figured: why wait? My life could certainly benefit from improvements right away and if I start now, I'll already have a good 15 days under my belt as the new year begins. As of tomorrow, December 15th, my challenge begins. I'm going to share with you some of the things I will be doing/working on!

  • Write down five things I'm grateful for at the end of every day.
  • No complaining for the next 100 days. If I find myself complaining, even about the smallest thing, I will put a small token in a jar. By the end of the 100 day challenge, whatever amount of "tokens" in the jar are, I will add more days to this aspect of the challenge until I've officially gone 100 days without complaints!
  • Write at least 500 words every day. It can be geared towards my novel, this blog or just regular stream of consciousness writing.
  • Spend a few minutes at the end of each day tidying up my room and desk space to keep a clean and clear space in which I can be in.
  • Exercise at least 20 minutes a day for the next 100 days.
  • Make an active effort of not comparing my life to anyone else's.
  • Leave behind my past and stop worrying about my future. This will probably be the hardest one for me to tackle, and I may not be successful every day, but for the next 100 days I am going to make it a daily reminder for myself.
Will you be partaking in any kind of "100 days" challenge come the new year? If so, please share!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What to do when you want to smash a plate into a million pieces

Let me start off by saying I am by no means perfect. I may spit and spatter a bunch of inspirational posts and motivational words on here, trying to get you to see the best in yourself and all the wonderful opportunities life has to offer, but that doesn't mean I get sunk deep into a hole of awful emotions, too. Lately that's been happening to me more often than I'd like. A lot of it has to do with still being unemployed. After months of endless job applications and only a handful of interviews, I'm still stuck. I go from freaking out about what I even want to be doing to freaking out about being able to do SOMETHING, anything, that will make me feel more productive and also not stressing out about financial issues. I hate to say it, but in my case, a lot of my problems would be solved with money. At this point, I might even take a job offer as opposed to winning the lottery (see? I'm clearly losing my mind).

Moments like these in life, especially after lots of time and effort, tend to be incredibly frustrating. Frustration leads to anger. I'm actually surprised at how well I've held it together (anger-wise) during this harrowing time of my life. Years ago, mostly as a teenager, I was a rage machine. The smallest thing could set me off and I'd be grumpy and moody for an unreasonable amount of time. As I've aged I like to think I've matured a lot and have gotten a better handle at my emotions and my reactions. But still, there are times when it's just too much. I'm sure you've been there. I'm sure we've all been there. It's only natural; we're humans. And other humans sure can piss you off.

I started writing this because I just had one of those moments. Pent up anger and frustration, primarily towards a specific person in my life, finally led to explosion. I yelled my feelings at them and stormed off into the kitchen holding my mug of coffee and for a split second I almost threw that mug at the wall. No bueno. Of course I realized that would do no good for anyone and quickly went back to my room to breathe and gather my thoughts.
As we grow older and get more life experience, we start to realize that not everything can be fixed. You can't control how other people act or what they say. You can try talking to them (rationally and calmly) but that doesn't always guarantee a change will happen. You can try to change yourself, but you also have to ask yourself if it's really you who is the one who needs to change or just how much you can possibly change to better the situation. The one thing I have learned, though, and one of the only things that really ever works for your own benefit, is the way you react to these events and people who make you feel this way. All you really have control of is yourself. Your words, your actions, your reactions, your expressions, your attitude, etc. It's not always easy, but it's something worth working on because it will help you out throughout life many, many times.

So when something, or someone, frustrates you to the point where you want to go ahead and smash all the plates, take a moment to breathe and just think. Give yourself even just ten seconds to calm down. You have the power to control it. You can walk away. You can figure out a way to make changes, probably at a later time. Or you can even just do something else to take your mind completely off whatever it is that is making you feel that way.

Also, keep in mind: Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how we handle those mistakes that truly define us.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Photo Roundup: Getting in the holiday spirit

As Christmas approaches, the holiday spirit is creeping it's way into my life. I'm really not a fan of winter, but technically December is still autumn, so all's good. The days are shorter and the weather's getting colder, but there's still plenty of happy festive spirit in the air. I would not recommend going anywhere near shopping centers during the weekend, though. I tried to go to Target today and turned back around after 5 minutes of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic (and a lot of crazy people beeping their horns). Here's a collection of some pictures I've taken these past few days—most are holiday themed! All pictures taken with my lovely Canon Rebel T3.

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (2012)

I'd seen this book on a few reading lists the past few months but I never really got around to reading it. Based on the book's description, I really didn't think it'd be my cup of tea. However, on my latest library trip I saw it on a bin with all the other books for their "reading club" so I decided to check it out and give it a chance.

I'll be honest, it's not my favorite book. It didn't leave me crying at the end, as some people claim, and I wasn't really left with that "after-book high" (is there a proper name for this feeling?) However, the story itself is unique and heart-warming at times. At first you only really get a glimpse of two main characters, but as the story line progresses you get a chance to experience other characters' perspectives. It's one of those books that has you rooting for everyone, even when they are on conflicting sides. The author did a good job of leaving you sympathizing with everyone involved in the story. 

There's never a dull moment in the book but it's also not one of those books where you simply cannot put it down. It's rather in between the two. The author throws in a couple metaphors that go along with the plot, but nothing too fancy. The ending felt a little short for me and I definitely wanted more closure then what the author gave.

Despite it not being the best book I've ever read, or even close to that, I'd still recommend it. Some people may find they like it much more than me. As with music taste, people's taste in books are different, too. If I had to compare it to a song on the radio, I'd say it's one of those songs where I won't find myself jamming out to, but I'd still leave it on and casually listen to it as I drive along.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Gift Guide For Yourself

Lately I have seen about one million thousand gift guides all over the internet. While I know a lot of people have trouble figuring out what to get their loved ones so these gift guides may actually be useful for them, I'm frankly sick of seeing so many. Don't hate me if you're one of those people posting gift guides. I'm totally for helping others (it is the season of helping those in need, after all). However, I've always felt that the best gifts come from the heart. The secret to gift-giving is being attentive to your friends and family. Throughout the year I'm sure they've mentioned several times certain things they wish they had or maybe pointed something out while shopping together. Even better, if you really know your friends and family you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of things they'd enjoy or possibly want. [PSA to my friends: I love you all so much, but please, for the love of God, stop getting me things cat-related. I'm more then just a crazy cat lady!] Maybe at this point it's kind of too late to really figure out what your friends really need or would want, but keep that in mind for next year (or their birthdays!)

So, with all that being said, I'd like to present to you something you may not have seen before. A gift guide for YOU! Because yes, you're allowed and expected to buy yourself a holiday gift this season. You deserve it because you are fabulous. Also, you more than anyone know what you want. Problem is, you probably want ALL the things. So I'm here to help you break down the most obvious things that people usually want for themselves and why or why not you should allow yourself to splurge and get that awesome new "toy."

1. New Technology - Whether it's the new iPhone 6, a new laptop, new camera (or lens, such as I am currently battling with myself over...), chances are you've been eyeing that new piece of candy for quite some time and it'd rock your world if you could have it. Problem usually is—technology is EXPENSIVE. Maybe you have the money to spend on something so grandiose, but others don't. Or maybe you rather save all that money for a later date. The question to ask yourself here is: When was the last time you got a new *insert technology name here*? For example, last April I totally splurged and bought myself for the first time ever my own laptop. It was expensive. But I had had my old laptop for over five years and it was giving me a lot of trouble (plus it was so slow I would frequently want to pull my hair out). It was also around the time when I started full on blogging and I needed a speedy machine that could handle all the pictures and data I would be putting into it. I decided I did need new technology so I allowed myself to get it. Another example: I've had my iPhone 5 for over two years now, which means I'm "due" for an upgrade, but my phone is working perfectly fine. Yes, I'm constantly lacking "storage" and all that BS that Apple gives us, but I technically don't need a new phone. So, no, this Christmas I will not be getting a new phone. I'm going to wait until I actually need one. Long story short: If you need it, get it. If you don't need it, don't. If you have the money to spend and really, really want it: get it. If you rather save your money for further down the road, don't.

2. That expensive bag/necklace/etc. you've been eyeing for awhile - We've all been there. We want the new designer bag. We want that lovely and beautiful necklace. When I was in 7th grade one of the things on my wish list was a Prada bag (HAHAHAHAHA). Thankfully, my mom and dad had more sense then to buy a 12 year old a Prada bag (wtf, Val...) I normally am not one to splurge on "designer" anything, unless I find it at a super discounted price or a thrift store, etc. Last year, though, I did reward myself with a new Dooney & Bourke bag. I was 22 years old and it was the first time I had an actual designer bag since I was 14 (does anyone remember the Coach bag craze? I'm so sorry Mom & Dad). At the time I was working and I hadn't splurged on anything in such a long time, especially a bag of such means, so I went for it. But boy, did I feel guilty for spending that much. In reality, as far as "designer bags" go, the amount I spent was nothing (around $300) but I still felt wrong for spending that money. My friend made me feel better though, reminding me of how I hadn't gotten myself anything of that value in who knows how long, and I worked hard for it so I deserved it. So now I feel it is my duty to tell YOU that if you've worked your butt off this year, you deserve that bag. Or that necklace. Or whatever other "designer" item you've been eyeing for some time now. Don't feel guilty. I don't want to be quoting Drake or anything, but honestly, YOLO. It's true. Just don't go spending your entire bank account on something you'll only enjoy for awhile.

3. A Shopping Spree - What girl DOESN'T want a shopping spree?!?!? Remember that show on Nickelodeon that let kids pick out whatever toys they wanted at a toy store but they had like a minute to put stuff in their cart? What if that was us now, but in say, Forever 21? I don't even want to picture it. I would probably break my ankle, arm and eyeball. Although you're probably itching for a shopping spree right now, I say hold off. You're bound to get some money over the holiday season and in January there are a TON of sales. Definitely worth holding off on that shopping spree until well after New Years!

4. Shoes - Shoes. A girl's weakness. I used to be like, what? Shoes? Why are girls going cray cray over SHOES? And then one day I blossomed into a shoe lady and I knew what all the hype was about. A new pair of sexy ass winter boots? Sign me up, buddy. The thing is, though, not worth buying them during the holiday season. Get those boots you have your eyes on in January, etc. Don't worry about them running out of your size. Write down the name and brand you want and if anything go on Amazon or wherever Google takes you to. Shoes are not the thing to splurge on right now.

5. The Perfect Gift - You know what the perfect gift you can give yourself (that won't cost TOO much)? A new hair-do, a mani & pedi, a spa treatment, etc. Something that's for YOU and just you. Something to pamper yourself with. What better way to start off the new year but with a new you? This kind of gift I completely condone and in fact, I think it's something that every woman should be getting during this time. It's the perfect way to say "I love myself." Get your hair done, get your nails done, get a massage, do it all. PAMPER AWAY!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Songs I'm Loving Lately: Christmas Edition!

Are you sick of Christmas songs yet? BETTER NOT BE! The madness has just begun. I love Christmas songs, but I also try not to overload on them because I don't want to get sick of all the songs before Christmas is actually here. In the past I've gone on some pretty crazy Christmas music frenzies and was burned out before December 1st (oops...) Over the past 22 Christmas' I've experienced, these have become my favorite Christmas songs. Of course I have other favorites, but I thought I'd share my top 5 with the rest of you! Enjoy :)

1. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
I only like the original version of this song. It's a classic. Also, they came out with a new one this year and for the first time changed the lyrics (even my favorite Bono part...) and I'm just really not digging it. I think they also overdid it with the amount of artists singing it and there are parts where I just don't understand a word those people are singing. But, alas, we will always have the 80s original version.

2. Please Come Home For Christmas - The Eagles
Ugh, yes. A christmas song by a classic rock band. What can be better?

3. All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey
Anytime this song comes on, my soul dances a little bit. It's the only song on this list that actually debuted when I was alive, so there's that. And of course, it's just a really fun Christmas song and one that I can relate to pretty much every year...

4. The Chipmunk Song - David Seville
I had trouble finding a YouTube version of this song that was the actual original version from the 50s. The other ones seem too auto-tune or just not right to me. I grew up listening to the original version so any other won't do. My favorite part of this song is when Theodore sings "I still want a hula hoop." I make sure to make my voice as embarrassingly high and squeaky as possible.

5. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
The mother of all Christmas songs. Dare I say the most beautiful of all Christmas songs? It's a classic and always will be. If I had to pick one song to define Christmas, it would be this one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hump Day Funnies Pt. 4

This week may be a bit hard for some of you coming back from a long weekend. Tons of stuff to catch up on at work or maybe you're a student who's getting ready to take finals and write a bunch of papers before heading home for the holidays. It also may have been a pretty gloomy and rainy week for you so far and you need some laughs to pick up your spirit. Well, look no further because I have gathered some of my favorite internet finds from the past couple of months for this latest installment of "Hump Day Funnies"! Enjoy :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Inspiration Monday: One month left to make 2014 count!

Can you believe it is already December 1st? This year seems to have gone by so fast for me. I had a lot of new experiences (definitely some life-altering ones) and many lessons learned along the way. Usually as the year comes to a close, I like to reflect on the past months and the changes I have gone through. Many times in the past I would be bitter that things did not go my way or that life didn't necessarily "change" in any way, sort of leaving me in the same place I was the year before. As I've grown older, however, I've realized that this is never the case. You may feel like nothing's changed, but if you really take time to look back and reflect, you'll realize just how much HAS changed, especially you.
Whether 2014 was great or awful, boring or exciting, mediocre or mind-blowing—it's still another year you get to add to your list, so don't take that for granted. This month is all about love. Love for your family, your friends, your significant others, your community, your surroundings, even the strangers you pass by on the street. Be grateful and spread joy and love as much as you can this month. Even if you had a crappy year, this month is the perfect time to try and put that behind you.

Make goals for yourself this month. Lots of people start off the new year with resolutions or goals for the year, but why not start doing that now, before the year is over? What would be a better way to welcome in a new year with goals already accomplished? I know I already have several goals I'd like to accomplish by year's end and I'm hoping it will put me in the right mind set by the time 2014 is over.
Things don't always go our way and sometimes we're left disappointed or discouraged, but that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it! I know this story all too well, especially these past several months. I know how hard it is to pick yourself up again, but I also know how important it is to keep trying and trying and trying. That's why I'm hoping you will join me in making this month a good one, a memorable one. We may not have control over everything, but we do have control over our actions and attitudes.

This is the perfect time of the year to do extraordinary things. Spread the joy. Volunteer. Smile at strangers. Help those in need. Help yourself. Do something you've been meaning to do but haven't gotten around to. Take a day trip somewhere fun with loved ones. Take lots of pictures to make those memories last. Set goals for yourself, even if they're small, and accomplish them. Prove to yourself that you're worth all the happiness in the world. And most importantly, don't forget to laugh at least once a day!
(Be as happy as this baby elephant)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is Social Media Killing Our Sense of Self?

I still remember the days when MySpace was at it's all time glory and girls were always trying to spruce up their AIM profiles and make "cute" away messages. When people posted pictures on worldisround or Yahoo Pics. When almost everyone had their own blog- as in their own Xanga or LiveJournal. I like to think this is when it all started. When the internet started booming and nearly everyone had a computer in their home (more often then not just one, so it had to be shared amongst everyone, AKA fights that could very well start WWIII). This is when people started really putting their lives on the internet. They got personal and shared everything and anyone could come along and read your story and look at what you had done that weekend. People didn't just want others to glimpse into their own personal lives, but they wanted other people looking at their lives, too. It always seemed like a contest. Who had the cooler life. Who had the prettier friends and stylish clothes. Who was going out and having the most fun.

In a way this is to be expected of most pre-teens and teens, but it seems the rise of the internet and these social networking sites made all of this that more intense and life-consuming. If you weren't the one "cyber-stalking" people then you were the one obsessed with making your internet image look it's very best. Or maybe in some cases you were both.

The world changed, the internet changed, we grew up—but this tendency to examine the lives of others and wish we had what they had continued. Kids these days are still going through the same thing my generation did, just with different social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) It's only natural to be a little envious sometimes. It's only natural to wonder what it'd be like to be in someone else's shoes for awhile. Our instincts are usually to reach out for more, never quite satisfied with what we have. Social media allows us to live vicariously through others. But is this more of a problem than a solution?

As a blogger, I'm putting myself out there for everyone to see. But I don't really think my life is worth envying in that sense. Who knows, though. Maybe there are people out there who look at my blog and my social media accounts and feel the same way I do towards other bloggers. I follow a lot of blogs and more often then not, especially now that my life has taken on a boring twist, I envy their lives. I envy their jobs, their apartments/homes, their family/friends, their life in general. I envy it because I want more, I've always wanted more, and I'm never satisfied with what I do have. And I hate that, I really do. I have so much to be grateful for and that I AM grateful for, but I still always find myself feeling like Jay Gatsby, reaching out towards the green light.

I wish I was more content with my own life and didn't have to sit behind a computer screen scrolling through different blogs and social media accounts to "live vicariously through others." As much as I love social media, sometimes I feel that it's really a curse on all of us. It's a constant reminder of what we don't have and what we want, of where we want to be but aren't, etc. You can be perfectly happy with your life, but even then there's a chance that you get a little bit envious of others, too. I've also read somewhere that kids these days tend to just repost images they see on Tumblr instead of actually going out and living their lives. We're all just hiding behind the internet.

I did not set out to write this post to spread a pessimistic message. Rather, I want people to be more aware of what social media does to us, because it's not always so obvious. It's so easy to allow your self-esteem to be lowered because of what you see on the internet. It's easy to lose yourself in another person's life because it remains completely anonymous. And that's a problem. Yes, it's great to have other people be an inspiration to you and it's good to have something you're reaching towards. What's not good, however, is to allow yourself to get completely lost in all of this and forget who you truly are. I want people to remember that each person is unique and everyone has something special to offer. Just because your life is not as "glamorous" or "adventurous" as someone else's doesn't make it any less worthy. I have to remind myself this plenty of times.

Be you, because no body does it better. Be proud of every single breath you take, every single step you take. Don't get so caught up in other people's lives that you forget to live your own life to the fullest.

Guest Post: Founder of Global Young Executive

I admire people who start up their own business so very much, probably because it's something I would like to see myself doing eventually. When Milly reached out to me to write a guest post for her online magazine, Global Young Executive, I was excited to be able to share her story with my readers. If you haven't noticed yet, In-Between Life focuses around following your heart and pursuing your dreams. This is especially important for people our age: the twenty-somethings. The ones who are just starting at life and have so many opportunities in front of them. I admire Milly for having the courage and determination to start her online magazine. This online magazine in particular is targeted towards young entrepreneurs, so I think many of my readers will find it useful. Check out Milly's bio below and some Q + A about Global Young Executive!

Milly Bygrave is a Business Graduate, Postgraduate Law Student and Founder of Global Young Executive magazine. Milly shares her life as a post-graduate juggling post-graduate study and running an online magazine.

1. When did you set up Global Young Executive and what motivated you?

GYE was set up in July 2014 which the aim of encouraging and inspiring young professionals to pursue their business ambitions. As a business graduate I have experienced first hand the gap between academic study and the reality of real business experience so this magazine aims to also highlight new entrepreneurial talent & connect those who are excited about business.

2. Has it been difficult juggling running a magazine and studying a postgraduate course?

It does require a lot of organisation trying to balance my time between commitments but I am also not the only one working for the magazine so we share the work between everyone. Hettie Reed is the News Review Editor & she takes on a significant role not just in her column but she has recently started sourcing people for interviews, and she works on the social media channels with me too.

3. What has been the greatest achievement of the magazine so far?

So far we have interviewed some interesting and inspirational figures in business so that is always a highlight for us. In our upcoming December issue we have US television personality sharing his views on a topical economic development so that’s very exciting. We have entered the UK Blog Awards so hopefully achieving a position in that will be our greatest achievement of 2015.

4. How does the magazine go about actively supporting young people entering the world of work?

We are partners of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international initiative that provides the inspiration, tools and platforms for young people interested in starting their own business. Business leaders, organisations and school and universities across the globe get involved.

5.  How has running a magazine helped you as a postgraduate?

Aside from the organisation required with sourcing contributors and scheduling content, and balancing this with my postgraduate studies, having the obvious benefit of making me very disciplined with my time – which is a pretty handy in any workplace setting. It also improves all forms of your communication. I am writing emails on a daily basis to business professionals and writing articles for both my magazine and other online publications. 

Anything else you would like to add?

If any of your readers have an interest in entrepreneurialism, business and embarking on the career ladder + more, then I urge them to check out the magazine and write an article for us!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life Slumps

I've not only been in a blogging slump for the past week or so, but I've found myself in quite a "life slump" as well. I'm definitely not making things better by having started a new show (finally hopping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon) and playing the Sims again. My life lately has been a mix of: job applications, GoT watching, Sims playing and some babysitting on the side. I feel like I haven't done anything that's truly "productive" and that sucks. As I've mentioned before, when you're unemployed it's very easy to fall into these "slumps" and suddenly catch yourself with zero motivation to do anything close to productive. I think it also has to do with the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter. I'm not complaining about my current life situation, because I do have a lot of good things going on and I've always done my best to be grateful for what I do have in life. I do wish, however, that I had something keeping me busy. Something making my mind excited and whirling with ideas and thoughts. A lot of the times I've found that my blog helps keep my creative juices flowing, but even In-Between Life has not been able to keep me on my toes.

The thing is, I know this is just a slump. It's not forever and eventually I will snap out of it once more. It happens to everyone. Sometimes it happens more often during certain periods of your life. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that it's just temporary. Whether good or bad, most things are temporary.

I have this feeling that my slump is almost over. I can feel my creative side just itching to get out. So until then, I'll leave you with this message:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey, American Media: Get your shit together.

I've been wanting to write about something more "serious" lately but have been stumped with ideas. Rather, I have plenty of ideas, but every time I start to think about them and get ready to tackle the issue—I get super overwhelmed. I sometimes have the tendency to get super, super rattled up over serious issues. I'm passionate in what I believe in and I also can't stand for stupidity or ignorance. That's why as I've grown older, I unfortunately just avoid these topics all together, simply because I know what I would be getting myself into if I did provide my feedback. Well, low and behold, something has finally brought enough attention that I've decided to go ahead and write about it.

To start with: can everyone please stop talking about Kim Kardashian. Not just her butt and how it's "breaking the internet" but just her in general. She has done NOTHING productive. I still don't understand how she rose to such fame. The craziness over celebrities, especially celebrity "scandals", are absolutely ridiculous and it shames me to think that is what most Americans find news-worthy.

You know what I find news-worthy and was appalled to just recently learn about a new occurrence? School shootings. And how they keep happening. All the time. Yet, they don't appear on the news. Why aren't we being informed about every single f****** school shooting? Did you know there was a school shooting in Marysville, Washington on October 24th? Because I did not.

Now, I don't normally go on the news too often to actually search through all the happenings of the day, but when important things happen I find out about them. Yet, this wasn't on my radar. Why? And why am I just finding out about this now? You want to know why? Because they released recordings of the 911 calls. The media thinks that THIS is what the American people want. To hear the desperate and fear-filled voices of people calling 911 to report a school shooting. One that had five victims, including the shooter himself.

I don't even want to link to the news articles about this because I'm pissed off that this is what it takes to actually report on such a tragedy. I'm pissed off that something so horrible keeps happening all across America and in a place where CHILDREN should feel safe. Instead of addressing gun laws and mental health issues, the government seems to only care about how to re-structure the American school system (which p.s. is not working whatsoever).

So, basically, stop talking about stupid things like Kim's ass and start educating yourself on the real issues our country is facing. Because here's a fun fact: You have the power to vote and change laws that affect the important issues. You do not have the power to choose whether or not Kim's ass is all over the internet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

20 Facts About Me

Normally I don't do these sorts of posts, but I was tagged by Emma at It's Emma Elise and I thought it'd be fun to do. I WAS RIGHT! This was a lot of fun and a little bit hard. I'm kind of an open book so I wanted to come up with facts that weren't that obvious about me. I ended up coming up with a lot of childhood ones and may have figured out where my insomnia stems from...

  1. I've been dealing with insomnia since I was a little girl.
  2. Which may be one of the reasons I absolutely love taking naps (but who doesn't?)
  3. My first pet ever was a small fluffy black dog which I got to name myself (I chose Barbie...)
  4. I've lived in the same town almost my whole life (except during college).
  5. When I was 8 or 9 I was really, really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One day I took a wooden pole I had in my closet (why that was there, I still don't know) and pretended I was slaying vampires. I accidentally punched a hole in my closet door.
  6. Although my full name is Valerie, I've gone by "Val" since Kindergarten-ish. The only other nickname I've had that came close to beating Val is "shvally" which I got during college. Hence my Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram name!
  7. I watched the Chuckie (Childplay) movies when I was 3 years old. I had nightmares until I was 10. (COULD THIS EXPLAIN THE EARLY ONSET OF INSOMNIA?!)
  8. I've been a pescetarian (vegetarian but eat seafood) for over two years now. Also, I'm not sure how that word is properly pronounced.
  9. I was supposed to be born February 14th, but was born three weeks later. MARCH BABIEZ
  10. I am not smiling in any studio portraits taken of me before the age of 5. No one could get me to smile. I look like a baby mob member in all professional photos taken between 1991-1995.
  11. I had my own website (who remembers Angelfire?!) and learned to do HTML on my own before I was 10 years old. It was a "doll" themed site...
  12. I loved dinosaurs as a little girl. I still get excited about Jurassic Park movies. I am ecstatic that the fourth one comes out this upcoming summer.
  13. I have three tattoos and they've all been somewhat spontaneous.
  14. I have recurring dreams of a school I made up in my mind. The dreams are always different (and usually crazy) but the school is always the same.
  15. I believe in ghosts and supernatural beings, but if I were to ever have an encounter I think I'd poop my pants.
  16. I'm notorious for falling down stairs. One time when I was younger I rolled down my cousins' basement stairs and got a concussion and had to be taken to the hospital during which my entire body was x-rayed. A more recent time I fell down my friend's stairs on my face and had a fat lip for a week. I hate stairs.
  17. I have a love/hate relationship with New York City. I've lived half an hour away my whole life, so it's always kind of just been there. I go through phases where I want to live there for at least a year just to experience it. Sometimes I'm totally enchanted by the city, but sometimes it drives me crazy and I need to get back to my suburban lifestyle surrounded by trees and nature (I live near the woods). 
  18. I absolutely love ice skating. It's one of my favorite activities. It always has a calming and relaxing affect on me. I only recently learned how to skate backwards and I'm still working on trying to do a spin but, hey, maybe someday...
  19. 99% of the time I go to Dunkin Donuts: medium French Vanilla iced coffee, little milk, no sugar. If you put sugar in my coffee I hate you.
  20. I want to change the world.

Normally after you do this, you have to tag 20 other bloggers. However, I want to tag ALL OF YOU! So go ahead and do this fun fact challenge and comment below with the link to yours. I'd love to read all of them :) Also, I'm too impatient to find 20 bloggers and tell them they're tagged. :-P

Monday, November 10, 2014

$100 Cash Giveaway!

I teamed up with Jen at Boone + Owl and a few other awesome bloggers to bring you this $100 PayPal cash giveaway, plus some ad space on a few blogs (including yours truly!) So go, go, go and enter away!!!

Giveaway details:
This giveaway will run for ten days, and is mediated by the Rafflecopter widget below. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen at the end of the giveaway and will promptly receive $100 in their Paypal account. Yay! And then will be connected with the lovely ladies behind the blogs that they have won ad space on! It's all kinds of cash flow and ad space goodness. The Rafflecopter is setup so you can move through it easily and quickly! No hopping around from Facebook to Instagram to Bloglovin, and back again. So get yourself entered and good luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Day in the Life: Unemployed & Fabulous (not really)

Has anyone ever told you that being unemployed sucks? Well, if they haven't, there ya go. It royally sucks. Every day I wake up and try to muster up some motivation to get things done. It's funny how when we're super busy with work, we want to do ALL THE THINGS. Then, when you have all the free time in the world to do basically everything, you just kind of lay around and think "blah."

Today was different, though. It started off like most days lately. Wake up super early after no sleep because insomnia's kicked in since I'm freaking out about being unemployed, feed the cats, get a cup of joe and sit down at my computer to continue that job search. Eventually after applying to a few jobs, I crash and burn and head back to bed, just to repeat the cycle all over again. Insert some blogging, reading, short naps, "cleaning" and what not in between.

Leyla's not getting fat, she's just growing her winter coat, okay?!

Instead of getting back in bed, though, I decided it was time to stop moping around and actually DO SOMETHING. So I got up and was about to get dressed to head out into the real world, when I suddenly thought "Actually, never mind. I don't feel like getting dressed." So, I sat back down. BUT THEN I got this brilliant idea that maybe if I dressed in business attire and made myself look all professional and what not, I would somehow feel better about everything. So that's what I did. And you know what? It worked.

This is my "someone please hire me" face.

Not only did I realize I much rather wear pencil skirts than dress pants, but I actually almost felt like a real adult. Woo! So if you're currently unemployed and sick of it, I recommend you dress to impress and just go about your day running errands or whatever. It will make you feel less like a useless bum, I promise.

Instead of staying cooped up all day in the house, I not only went thrifting but I also stopped by Petco. Wow. What a productive day. (Yes, sarcasm. But I'm also kind of excited I actually did something today.) 

Fancy Feast for the Fancy Beasts.

Just some light holiday decor, let's not go apeshit with the christmas stuff just yet.

 My favorite part of the day was finding this cute dress for just $10. I now have a NYE outfit planned out. NYE plans no, but the outfit is ready to go.

I have never been a doll person (besides the American Girl doll I got when I was little) but this doll intrigued me so I bought her. Let's hope she doesn't go all Annabelle on me.

So there you go. I got home. Fed the cats. Took out the trash. Emailed people in relation to my job hunting (fingers crossed please). Danced around to some Taylor Swift in my "fancy business attire." And then I passed out around 8 p.m. because I was running on three hours of sleep. Now it's 2 a.m. and I can't fall back asleep. But, alas, that is the life of the unemployed.

Here's to hoping I will not be living this lifestyle for much longer. Although it does have it's perks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Songs I'm Loving Lately #5: A Little Bit of Everything

Usually for these installments of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" I include five songs, but this time you're getting lucky and I'm sharing SEVEN songs with you! Woo! Half of them are pretty new, too. As usual it's a mix of every genre because my music taste is so broad, but hopefully that means you find at least one new song to your liking. ;)

Leighton Meester

With all the uproar surrounding T. Swift's new album release, you may have missed that Leighton Meester (actress best known for Gossip Girl) has released her own album! Her album "Heartstrings" has a ton of wonderful songs, but this song in particular is my favorite. Her sultry voice mixed with a unique instrumental style match perfectly. 

"Blank Space"
Taylor Swift

Ah, yes, Taylor Swift. Everyone is going cray over her new album "1989" and I can't say I blame them. There's some catchy ass songs on there. This one in particular I can't get out of my head (I woke up at 5:30 this morning with it on my mind, in fact.) I'm not a "Taylor fanatic" so it was a nice surprise to find that I actually enjoy her new album. I think as an artist, and person in general, she's grown up quite a bit. I will admit that when I was a junior in high school (circa 2007ish) I had her break-up angsty songs on repeat for awhile, before she exploded all over the radio. Maybe Taylor and I have both grown up, lolz.

"Rivers and Roads"
The Head and The Heart

For some reason, folk/indie songs tend to pop up on my most played list as the weather turns colder. This song is beautiful. It has both male and female vocals, which I always enjoy with this genre. I first heard it used on HIMYM but I'm glad I did because it's quickly become one of my favorite songs right now.

"Lie a Little Better"
Lucy Hale

Another actress turned singer (although she started off singing before acting but it never quite took off). Lucy came out with her country album "Road Between" over 6 months ago but I still find myself occasionally listening to some of her songs because they're upbeat and catchy country songs. Well, at least this one in particular. I also highly recommend "Nervous Girls" which is a more mellow country song with a powerful message. Oh and if you're into Pretty Little Liars, this song was written about one of her co-stars! I don't know which one, but I'm hoping it's Ezra, ha.

Iron & Wine

Like I said before, during this season I'm praticularly drawn to this type of music. It's mellow and a little sad, but perfect for relaxing.

"All This Time"

This is one of OneRepublic's older songs and definitely not one of their upbeat and catchy songs you may be used to hearing on the radio. It's really romantic (but not sad) and just the right mix of mellow and upbeat for this type of song.

"Beat of the Music"
Brett Eldredge

I'm finishing off this installment of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" with a cute and super country love song, since I did give you a few sad songs after all. Enjoy and let it remind you of summer (only 7 more months till next summer...)

Check out the other installments of "Songs I'm Loving Lately"
one . two . three . four

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Learning from the tough times

I'm writing a post for the Northeast Bloggers Network about being thankful and grateful this month and making sure you don't skip over the meaning of Thanksgiving with all the hoopla that's going around about Christmas being "right around the corner." Both holidays have the same ideologies, but we tend to skip over what the true meaning of Thanksgiving really is because FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! Trust me, I don't blame any of you for doing that. In my post I talk about how it's important to try and take this month as a time to really think about what you're most grateful for and appreciate the little things, along with the big things. Slow down for a minute and forget about Christmas for just a couple weeks. Instead, focus on giving thanks, on being thankful, on reaching out to others, etc.

In the post I made a short list of ways to be grateful or start your path towards being grateful, and one of them actually spoke out to me the most. I didn't realize it while writing it, but I think this is something that can benefit nearly everyone, especially as this year starts coming to a close. It's common to make a list of what you were thankful and grateful for this year. A list of happy moments, moments of clarity, simple things in life that brought you joy, etc. But what we don't see on those lists? Bad moments. Heart wrenching moments. Moments that leave you a messy pile of tears on the floor as you curl up into a ball and wonder "WHY. WHY ME." Of course we don't list those moments. We rather forget about them. Put them in the past and pretend they never happen, only to creep their way into daily life eventually.

So that's when I thought, instead of listing the greatest moments of your year and why you are thankful for them- why not list the toughest moments of this year and why you are thankful for them. Yes. You heard me. Why you are thankful that life brought you such horrible events filled with pain and suffering.

Hear me out. Even in the darkest of hours, there is always a sliver of light, an ounce of hope. It's something that will no doubt be extremely hard to do, but there is something positive to be found in any of your hardest moments. A lesson learned, a realization of some sort, friends and families you know you can count on, the ability to feel something so deeply that when it's gone it leaves you feeling empty, the list goes on. The hard part will be figuring out what good came from what happened, but once you do it may help you better understand things. It might help you realize that everything happens for a reason, no matter how shitty that reason may be. I think working on this kind of list will really shed some light for you. It will open your eyes and it will help you see life in a new perspective.