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How Doing a Photo-365 Changed Me.

I’d ask the question, “Who else is bidding ‘Good Riddance!’ to 2015?” but I know the general answer. It was a very difficult year for almost everyone I know, with a few exceptions (thankfully, or maybe we’d all have given up).

2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was a year full of intense stress, sadness, pain, illness, loss, and a lot of me allowing other to treat me very poorly. (It also had some amazing and wonderful moments, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a writer building some context for my readers, here.) At more than one point in the year, my closest friends were like, “Good God, woman – what else could happen right now?” Definitely had that lovely snowball effect. You know the one.

The beautiful thing about terrible years, of course, is that they make you grow beyond your wildest imagined capabilities. I feel like I’ve shed my skin three of four times in the last twelve months. Like I’ve come out of it not new, but newly armoured. Not with walls around my heart or body, but with great understanding, self-love, and strength I didn’t know I had.

2015 was the kind of year that left me saying, “Wow, I didn’t know I could go through so much and feel so down, but still love myself and be happy on the inside, with who I am and what I’m doing.”

So I guess in the end, I’m eternally grateful for 2015.

Funny how that works. (I see what you’re doing, Universe. I see it. I get it. And I commend you for it. You tough motherfucker.)

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I can honestly say that I’ve never been one to struggle with gratitude. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gone through a lot in my life. Maybe it was the constant bullying I went through starting when I was around five. Maybe it was the chronic pain I faced from the time I was 10 until I was in my early 20s. Maybe it was the depression and suicidal thoughts I had as a teen. Maybe it was all of that. (Spoiler alert: it was definitely all of that.) I’ve always been able to see the good in the bad, and I’ve always been able to appreciate it, wholeheartedly. Does that mean I’m never sad or angry or depressed? Heck no. It just means I can always find a smile in the saddest day, and that I can usually keep my sights set on the light at the end of the tunnel.

I bet at this point, you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about because I told you on social media (and through the title of this post) that this was about a Photo-365 and for some reason I’m talking about being bullied and calling the Universe a “motherfucker.”

Right. Okay.

In 2015, I successfully completed a Photo-365. I’ve wanted to do one for years. I’ve watched friends and ex-boyfriends start (and sometimes finish) them. I’ve always found them to be such an interesting way of telling your story for a year. So when 2015 kicked off, I decided to go for it.

(We all know how much I love year-long projects. You are, after all, reading this on the blog I’ve used for both a 365-day blogging project and a 52-week ukulele project. Hmm, maybe I should talk to my therapist about this weird obsession…nah, I think I’m fine.)

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I thought it would be fun. I thought it might stress me out having to take and post a photo each day, but I thought it would be fun nonetheless. (For the record, it actually didn’t stress me out a single time.) I knew it would get my creative juices flowing, and that it would force me to look at each day a little differently than someone normally would. What I didn’t realize was just how much it would change my outlook, and just how much it would change my life for a year.

Here’s what happened when I did a Photo-365:

I got creative.

Not every single day can be an exciting adventure of a day. We’re not all Alice in Wonderland. (Which is sad because I’d love to be Alice in Wonderland.) Some days, you’re stuck going from your day job to a meeting or a class and then home to frantically find something to eat and get some quality time with your dogs or some freelance work done before you pass the fuck out in bed.

I had a lot of days like this. But the task of posting a photo a day got me looking at the details of my life a lot more closely than I typically would. The perfect lip print left by my lip gloss on a drinking glass at work. The artwork that hung in my office’s halls. The beautiful, only-makes-sense-to-me mess that is my Zumba choreography notes. All of it is interesting. Capturing these minute details in photos made me appreciate them even more.

I got inspired.

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Just like the saying, “If you want to be a writer, write every day,” I found my photography eye getting more and more inspired as the year went on. There were lots of days that I ended up taking photos of five or six things that could have been my photo of the day, and had to choose which would best represent the day itself. (And then I’d just post the rest on Instagram anyway. You’re welcome, world!)

I also took a lot more photos of a lot more things than I typically would have. I stopped and smelled the metaphorical (and sometimes literal) roses, if you will. Maybe it means a lot more of my iPhone storage vanished in 2015. At least I have a lot more cool options for my background and lock screen now.

I got adventurous.

It might seem a bit odd, but doing a Photo-365 got me trying a lot of new things. I mean, I’ve always been an adventure-lover, but I found myself at a lot more events and on a lot more adventures than ever before. “That would make for a great photo” would sometimes be my only impetus for wanting to go to something, but it would never, ever be all I left with.

In 2015, I got into a canoe twice – oh, and performed a water rescue in a canoe one of those times (crazy, I know) – I learned how to shoot a gun (adding that to my resume, thankyouverymuch), I took my personal training certification, and I started learning to skate. That’s just a few off the top of my head.

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Would I have done all of those things anyway? Absolutely.

Would I have done all of them in a year? I don’t know. Maybe I was extra eager to experience the moment and add it to the story of my  year. There’s no way to be sure.

I got (even more) grateful.

“Was 2015 really one of *the* worst years for you?” my best friend Carson asked me the other day.

“Yeah. Definitely. Why?”

“I’m forming a baseline. That’s good to know.”

“A baseline for what?”

“I thought you were positive and delightful all year, so it’s a good sign of the years to come.”

This was good affirmation of my gratitude and positivity in life. And like I said, I’ve never really questioned or struggled with being grateful for what I have, but I have to say, my Photo-365 brought my gratitude to a new level.

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In 2015, I went through a breakup, got ghosted by one of my (now former) best friends and then by a guy I was falling hard for (he was so wrong for me, you guys – obviously), I had a brutal viral infection for five weeks, I worked 80-100 hours a week for about six months, one of my dogs almost died in my arms after going into anaphylactic shock after her annual vaccines, and my other dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That’s just a best-of list, folks. That’s not even half of it.

I started to recognize and find appreciation – huge, heart-exploding, OH THANK GOD appreciation – for the little things. A long, hot bath at the end of a brutal day. Being able to take 15 minutes out of an insane day to snuggle the shit out of my dogs. Taking a 10-minute meditation break when the stress got to be too much. Hell, even just learning to meditate, period. Bad movies with good friends. Sitting with one of my best friends in total silence, just knowing they’ve got my back, on a devastatingly sad day. A random sign or image or coffee mug that made me laugh out loud. I recognized it. I captured it. I appreciated it. I soaked it up into my heart.

I got present.

I could probably go on and on (I’m a writer, I love words), but WordPress is telling me this post is already well over 1,000 words long, so I should probably wrap this up, but I’ll just say one more thing.

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Doing a Photo-365 made me aware of every day of my life. You could have asked me on any day what my day was like, or what I did, and I would have never said, “Nothing,” or, “Same old.” This project almost forced me to be present – something I can struggle with, especially when I am, as my loved ones put it, impossibly busy and not sleeping. Basically, a crazy person.

I feel like I really enjoyed each and every day of 2015. And it was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had.

 

How weird and wonderful is that?

xA

P.S. Oh, and if you’re curious, yes, I started another Photo-365 for 2016. You can follow along on my Instagram. And you could join me. I guess technically, you’d start a day late, but 2016’s also a leap year, so you could post 365 photos all the same. What’s stopping you?

P.P.S. Don’t say time is stopping you. It takes approximately five seconds to snap a photo, and approximately one minute to post it to like, all of your social media platforms. If you don’t have two minutes a day, you’re lying. You’re so lying.

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Three Hundred Sixty Six.

I know what you’re thinking.

Nope. I still don’t have any answers. And I still don’t feel like a grown up. Maybe slightly closer, but I still don’t even want to have to take care of a houseplant.

SIDENOTE: Somehow I manage to keep my dogs alive and happy. I don’t know how that works. Life Math is weird.

…Maybe I’m just not a green thumb.

Anyway.

My BFF Jo texted me yesterday and said, “It’s your last day as a 26 year old.”

At first I kind of panicked. Holy shitballs. 26. It’s over. I feel like it just started. I know it sounds like a super cliche, but in some ways, it really was like the blink of an eye.

I started this blog a year ago as a challenge to myself as a writer. Early in 2012, I kind of lost faith in myself. I hit a major rough patch and thought wow, maybe I’m actually a terrible writer. Maybe I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe I don’t want to ever write again. Of course, I eventually came around and realized that writing is the thing I love the most. And in the same vein, I knew that if I wanted to be a writer, I’d have to write.

But I was kind of scared.

So I promised myself I would write something every day.

I wasn’t really expecting that forcing myself to write a blog post every day – a story that somehow led to me learning a life lesson, no matter how small – would help me be happy. I saw it as much more of an exercise than anything else. And an opportunity to maybe be funny. But I have to say, writing this blog has given me a completely different outlook on my entire life. It’s helped me understand how my past has made me who I am. It’s helped me work through a lot of difficult times and put a positive spin on things I would have never otherwise laughed at. It’s helped me approach life in a much more open, accepting way.

Like, happen to me, life: I’m ready to learn from you.

That was a disaster. Oh well, next time will be better!

I can’t believe that just happened. I am mortified. Also, that was hilarious. I can’t wait to tell people.

I did it! Someone pat me on the fucking back!

I hate everything right now. Surely someone will understand.

I am hurting. I need to know it’s going to be okay.

This is weird. Does everyone feel this way?

Did that just happen? SRSLY?!

At the same time, I had come to a bit of a crossroads with myself. I had hit a self-love low. I was feeling depressed, defeated, discouraged, you name it. I decided enough was enough: it was time to make the active decision to be happy.

I also discovered that Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks. And my world was turned upside down. In a good way.

To quote myself (is that totally pretentious? I’m trying to recap, shut up.):

Jayne Mansfield, the American actress, singer, Playboy playmate, and all around drop-dead gorgeous bombshell, was flawed in a way that has been the root of much of my self-consciousness for all of my teenage and adult life.

So…all of that got me here.

SIDENOTE: It’s really hard writing the last post of a 365-day blog.

It’s going to be difficult to let this blog go. I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and my first thought is going to be, “What can I write about today?” or, “Oh shit! I still have to blog today!”

But I’m looking forward to channelling my creative energy into a number of other projects that I’ve already either started or am about to. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m not going anywhere. Maybe there will be another blog. Maybe not. But I promise there will be something.

I was trying to think of a fun way to commemorate the end of this blog.

Here’s what I came up with.

Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks.

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And so do I.

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xA

P.S. It’s hilariously ironic that in the majority of the pin-up photos I took, my stretchmarks aren’t that visible. Because they’re everywhere.

But I guess there’s a life lesson in that, isn’t there?

I’m probably the only one who really notices them.

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P.P.S. Things I meant to write but forgot: Happy Birthday to me! Also, here’s to 27! I’m crazy excited for it!

Three Hundred Sixty Five.

I know this is a 365-day blog, but this is technically the penultimate post, because it’s a birthday to birthday thing. And tomorrow’s my birthday!

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SIDENOTE: Have you bought me a birthday present yet? We can’t be friends if you didn’t because all I care about is material possessions.

Anyway, I thought what better way to spend the second-last day of my crazy year-long blog than looking back on some of its best moments?

SIDENOTE: Maybe that should say best/”best”…

Think of this, if you will, as a flashback episode of your favourite TV sitcom. With the help of a couple friends, I’ve compiled some categories I think you’ll enjoy.

Without further ado…

Top 5 Stupid Kid Moments

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Oh boy. Where to even start with this one?! Well, okay…

1. Pressing buttons was (OKAY, STILL IS) a thing I loved doing. See examples A and B.

2. Of course, there was the time I electrocuted myself

3. The day I put scissors through my finger

4. Setting fire to things is never a good idea.

5. Neither is writing a hate letter to your childhood friend.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give honourable mention to the day I learned that “bastard” is a bad word. Oh, and also to the combination of shaving off my eyebrows and getting hair extensions.

And guess what?! It’s your lucky day. I found a photo of teenage Andrea with hair extensions and no eyebrows. And apparently I have no shame because I’m gonna post it on the Internet.

Extensions

Boy oh boy oh boy.

Moving on!

Top 5 Most Awkward Moments

If you haven’t deduced by now, I am the QUEEN OF AWKWARD. This is quite the random assortment, but I feel it encompasses who I am pretty well…

1. The day a goat ate my t-shirt. (Enough said.) (Stupid goats.) (Seriously, why would she do that to me?!) (Ugh.) (I fucking loved that t-shirt.) (SOB.)

2. The day I learned about orgasms in sex ed. (Is anyone else craving cake?!)

3. Barrel-chested. That is all.

4. The day the National Poet of Scotland called me stupid. Which I really should add to my resume.

5. My elementary school “boobies” moment.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

There are so, so many, but I feel like my Pilates FAIL and my Zumba BARF moments were pretty grand.

Top 5 “SRSLY?!” Moments

You know those moments. The ones that make you go, “what the fucking?!”

1. People and my tattoos. Why are people so weird about my tattoos?

2. That time a guy threw a book at my face. No big deal.

3. NO I DON’T WANT TO TAN.

4. Nothing says “what the fuck?” like getting pepper sprayed!

5. Also charming: when people tell you how to pronounce your own name

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give myself a shout out for fucking up my neck by making fun of someone on a Zumba DVD. Because who the fuck does that? This girl, right here.

But the greatest honourable mention in this category goes to Glasgow, Scotland, where I experienced so many WTF things, including…

Finding a tooth in an ATM.

Finding a used tampon on a bus.

And buses in general.

Among so many others. I fucking love you, Glasgow. I really do.

Top 5 Workplace Blunders

It’s a wonder I still have my job. It really is. It’s also a wonder I still have any self-confidence after all of the stupid humbling things that have happened to me at work…

1. My friends still bring up the day I parked on the sidewalk.

2. Also charming: locking yourself in a stairwell on your first day of work.

3. Or, you know, getting caught dancing in the bathroom.

4. Similarly, walking in on your coworkers in the bathroom.

5. Or traumatizing them with your hair colour.

BONUS PHOTO:

Getting caught taking a selfie at work.

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At least I know my office mate loves me and doesn’t judge me.

Top 5 Relationship/Sex Fails

Look. I’d prefer we don’t dwell on how much I suck at relationships, okay? OKAY?!

1. I have been known to throw myself at guys I like.

2. I’ve learned the hard way that spin the bottle will only break your heart.

3. So will going after guys who don’t care that you exist. (But you can keep trying to shout “LOVE ME! LOOOOOVE MEEEE!” at them. Trust me. Guys SUPER love that.)

4. I’m good at ending up in awkward sex situations.

5. And awkward kissing situations, sometimes.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND A BONUS PHOTO:

Okay, well, first of all, heartbreak, right?

I think I also screwed it up with this guy, because he was clearly paying me a compliment.

Let’s not forget all of my failed marriages. Sigh.

And the time a MONSTER RASH ruined my potential Scottish boyfriend.

And hey, since I’ve already shown you how great I looked with hair extensions as an eyebrowless wonder, here’s a photo of me in the midst of the MONSTER RASH attack. This was after I managed to get my eyes open, because they were swollen shut.

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Good lord…

Top 5 Accomplishments

I didn’t screw up everything, though. I’ve done some stuff. Yeah. I do things! I TCB every once in a while!

1. I’ve gotten over a lot of fear to become a Zumba instructor.

2. Then I stuck with it for a year and changed my life.

3. I grew back my eyebrows, guys. I fucking did it!

4. I got over some serious “I can’t!” bullshit and also tried wall climbing.

5. Oh, hey, I also learned how to embrace myself sometimes. I think that’s pretty huge.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

I BLOGGED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 365 FUCKING DAYS.

A year, guys. A YEAR.

I’m excited to celebrate my birthday with you all tomorrow.

xA

P.S. I know what you’re thinking. There totally should have been some sort of crazy travel category. But I just couldn’t narrow that shit down. So you’ll just have to re-read my entire blog to enjoy.

Three Hundred Sixty.

All right.

So about a week ago, I put a poll into my blog asking you guys if I should “do something that may drive me a little crazy just for the experience to blog about” and you jerks said yes.

SIDENOTE: A couple of you said no, which I think is really sweet. Thanks for trying to protect me, you two people. Too bad everyone else I know is a horrible person.

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: < / sarcasm >

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Like I’m ever going to be done with sarcasm.

Anyway, so I did it.

I put on fake nails.

“Girl Nails,” I sometimes call them.

SIDENOTE: Yes, I’m aware that’s a gender stereotype, because look at me.

I’ve always kept my nails short. Like, super short. Sometimes my friends say their nails are short and I look at them and I see talons.

Maybe it’s because I played violin as a kid and guitar and bass as a teen, but longer nails have always driven me crazy. I hate how they feel. I get weird about them when they get dirty. (Okay, fine, I’m a straight up germophobe.) They’re just a nuisance. But I’ve always thought they look really nice.

I think I’ve had long nails twice in my life. Once I grew mine out naturally, and I think I kept them about a week before I lost my mind and chopped them down.

SIDENOTE: My “long” natural nails were equal to when the friends above tell me theirs are “short.”

Then there was a day maybe five years ago when I decided to put on fake nails for a New Year’s Eve event I was working at the theatre. I think I lasted about a day and a half before freaking out and taking them off.

So I thought it was about time to try again. After all, I’m older, I’m more mature, I’m much cooler and calmer about life now.

SIDENOTE: Genuine LOL.

Okay, so really, I assumed they would drive me batshit crazy. But I thought it might make a good story.

Funny how that worked out!

I applied the nails at approximately 10pm last night. It was a bit of a trying process. Here are the life lessons I learned just from the application process, which will make next time (ha! next time) easier:

(A) Start with the “trickier” hand.

(B) Start with the smaller nails.

(C) Super glue is VERY sticky.

I have to say, the end result was actually pretty nice.

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I was like, “Well, HEY. Maybe I can be a girl with pretty fake nails!”

photo1…For approximately five minutes.

Then I tried to get on with my life.

“HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?!” I texted my BFF Jolene, who rocks gorgeous gel nails all the time.

Oh, and it took me about 10 minutes to even text her because NAILS ON MY HANDS.

I sort of got the hang of using my iPhone, so I managed to calm down for a little while. I watched some American Horror Story: Asylum (OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I LOVE THIS SHOW WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO WATCH IT!?) and chilled, stopping to look at my nails every 32 seconds because (A) I was freaked out by them and (B) they looked so pretty!

I never really stopped to consider my bedtime routine…

Not that bedtime routine, you pervs.*

I got to my room and looked in the mirror.

Oh, right, I thought to myself, I wear contacts.

Oh, shit.

It took me approx. 15 minutes to get my contacts out of my eyes, and I scratched the shit out of one of them. It’s still sore.

Then I went to get changed for bed and OH MY FUCKING GOD OUCH scratched a huge cut down my side/bum when I took my pants off.

I limped to my bed and got under the covers, feeling scared and defeated and losing a lot of blood.

SIDENOTE: Okay, fine. There was no blood.

Once I was asleep, I was safe.

I didn’t have any nightmares about the Talons of Death. Not that I remember, anyway. Maybe they’re surface 10 years down the line and I’ll be traumatized all over again.

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I woke up this morning feeling pretty well rested. It went a little something like this:

ANDREA opens her eyes slowly, soaking in the morning sunshine coming through her bedroom window. She takes a deep breath in, exhaling with a happy sigh. That was a good sleep.

Then the dreaded memory hits her. Her face drops.

OH RIGHT I’M WEARING FAKE NAILS. I HATE MY LIFE.

Guys, I couldn’t do it.

I sacrificed a morning of productivity to soak my hands in a bowl of acetone nail polish remover to get the nails the hell off my hands.

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IT TOOK FUCKING FOREVER.

But I honestly felt trapped. I had to teach a Zumba class this morning. How was I going to get dressed? How was I going to put my contacts back in? How would I brush my teeth? Later, how would I shower? HOW? HOW? HOW?

So, let’s recap:

Time wearing nails: ~ 12 hours (6 of which I was asleep for)

Injuries sustained: a scratched eye, a scratched bum, and two bloody fingers/nails (from the removal process)

SEE ALSO: wounded pride

Sanity: wavering, but slowly returning since removal of nails

Lesson learned: I’m a short-short nails girl. I’m going to just have to admire my friends’ nails for the rest of my life.

xA

P.S. Next time I say I want to try fake nails again, SLAP ME. Or remind me that I wear contacts.

*Wouldn’t ever consider trying that on day 1 with fake nails. Ouch.

Three Hundred Fifty Six.

Hey, guess what? I’m on a computer again!

SIDENOTE: I hope the Internet doesn’t crash before I can post this. It’s been a ridiculous two days of fighting with Shaw. (You’re ruining my life, Shaw!).

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: It totally did, but I think (!?) it’s back again…

One of my friends approached me the other day about helping her out with a photo shoot for a model search contest. She wanted my help with makeup and styling, but in the end, the friend she had planned on taking the photos themselves fell through, so she asked if I’d be up for that as well.

I said, “of course!” and then I tried to remember the last time I pulled out my camera.

Being that this is the future, I could look on my camera and figure it out.

A YEAR.

More than a year.

How insane is that?

This from the girl who used to go out and take photos like, every day while she was living abroad.

What happened to me?

For like, three days leading up to the shoot, I also panicked that I’d do it wrong. What if I was a horrible photographer? What if she hated every shot I took? What if I couldn’t remember how to use my camera? Why did I agree to take photos when I’m not what I’d call a pro at it?

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Then I got behind the camera and forgot what I was worried about.

I really love taking photos. I find it calming. It makes you stop and think about what you’re looking at, how you’re seeing it, how you feel about it, and how you want the world to see it later. It makes you think about all the stories people will see and feel when they look at the photos after the fact. I don’t know. I just love it.

SIDENOTE: It helped that I had a gorgeous, talkative, hilarious model to work with for the afternoon, I guess. (Hi, Rachel. <3)

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Anyway, I decided enough is enough – I have to make a point of taking photos more often again.

So I guess the lesson I learned is that it’s really important to feed all your passions. They’re all connected, anyway. Getting the little (or big) flicker of inspiration in your soul from one just pushes you to move forward with all the others.

It’s really important – even when your life is a fucking gong show (not that mine is*) – to take moments, however small, to do the things you love.

Maybe that’s a better way of putting it.

Look at this sass:

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xA

*IT IS.

Three Hundred Fifty Five.

You know what blows? Not having Internet when you have a 365-day blogging project that is coming to a close. I’ve told Shaw via Twitter that they’re ruining my life. Aside from that, not much to do but wait it out.

SIDENOTE: They didn’t acknowledge the whole “ruining my life” bit, but they insist they’re looking into it. Clearly they have no idea how important my blog is.

So here’s something that’s sort of been resonating with me since last week.

On Thursday, my office mate was asking me about the comic con I went to, so we started having an in-depth conversation about it. When he asked me if I dressed up, I said, “not really, but a lot if people did” and then I showed him the video my friends made of cosplayers at the Expo, which he loved.

Our conversation shifted to professional cosplayers, which we both agreed would be a crazy cool job.

“I wonder how you even start a career like that,” I mused.

“I think most of them are models, too. I think you just have to have really good costumes so people want to take photos of you. Maybe it snowballs from there.”

“I guess.”

“You should plan all the cons you want to go to and then try to network with photographers – non-creepy photographers* – but you probably need time to gather an arsenal of like, really good costumes first. When is the Calgary comic con? You could probably be ready by then.”

To which I replied with a blank stare, and since I’m blogging on my phone yet again, I’m working with the photos I’ve got on my phone, so….
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I’m not going to be a professional cosplayer. I just think it would be cool.”

“Oh. Well, you could totally do it!”

“You’re crazy, but thanks!”

I have to say, sort of like when my dad told me I should be a professional dancer (genuine LOL), there’s something so encouraging about someone you’re not very close with telling you that you could so something you’ve never dreamed you would be capable of. Or a person you wouldn’t expect to be the most concerned with how you’re sick and feeling miserable and need a reason to smile.

People are swell.

xA

*Good call.

P.S. I’m giving up this blog to become a professional Wonder Woman. Or Batgirl. Or Poison Ivy. Nice knowing you!

Three Hundred Fifty Three.

While it can be a lot of fun to embrace the many things in life that you may suck at – like this, or this – there is something else we often have to do in life. And if we don’t do it, we really should. And we should do it often.

SIDENOTE: But first, I thought of another thing I suck at. I suck at bringing shit back from my car. Like if I take a travel mug of something with me somewhere, it’s never leaving my vehicle again. There’s an empty one sitting in my car right now that I can’t stop thinking about. Will I remember to bring it in later? Oh, probably not.

It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s “wrong” with you. Maybe you’re in a relationship and it’s not going how you want it to. Maybe you’re stuck in a job you hate. Maybe you’re just not where you thought you’d be in life yet. You start to dwell on things like, “I’m not pretty enough,” or, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I’m going nowhere.”

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That’s when you need to step back and be kind to yourself.

It might sound like a total cliche, but I have to say, if I have learned anything in the last six months or so, it is that a little self-love can go a long way.

I know I get too caught up in my head about things. And I know that I let my insecurities eat away at myself. I blame myself for a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with me, or things that are completely out of my control.

One good thing about being a Libra, though, is that I am usually able to remove myself from my head and balance my insecurity out with logic and realism.

List 1

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I stay in that positive headspace for long. Some days are better than others. But I think we all have that problem.

List 3

The most important thing is that you keep reminding yourself. Maybe you look in the mirror and talk to yourself. Maybe like me, you keep a notepad in your iPhone that you add to when you’re feeling the worst about yourself. Whatever it is, do it, and do it often, and don’t just do it, believe it.

Lesson learned: You are awesome. You are doing great. Keep dreaming. Keep fighting. Keep going for it. You’re going to get there.

xA

Three Hundred Forty Eight.

This weekend I did something I’ve been so curious and interested in doing for years. I went to a comic con!

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The biggest thing keeping me from ever going before is my social anxiety.

I know, it’s weird that I’m a fitness instructor and I have social anxiety, but I do. And it’s major. Like, if you invite me to an event and I say I’m going and then I bail last minute? That’s most likely because I had every intention of going and then while I was getting ready to go, I had an anxiety attack about all of the people who were going to be there (eek, crowds) or having to arrive by myself and find familiar faces (I have this weird thing about having to arrive at events by myself – I can rarely bring myself to do it).

This year I guess I just found the balls to finally go for it. Also, I invited my friend Caitlin to go with me and she’s one of the most extroverted, bubbly, outspoken people I know, so I knew she’d make a good partner to hold my hand and also just have fun with. Maybe even moreso because she’s not familiar with a lot of the nerdy stuff, so she was super open to going to see whatever I wanted. (Caitlin, you’re the best.)

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SIDENOTE: Ironically, when we took that photo, we were totally hiding out from the crowds. But here we are having an adventure!

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I have to say, it was a pretty crazy cool experience. I mean, I got to dress up a bit (I was too chicken to go all out – maybe next year):

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I got to people watch to my heart’s content (and then some). I got to see actors like Jon Heder and Ron Pearlman speak (among many others):

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I got to support friends who got their own panel on fan filmmaking (so cool):

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And I got to run into friends dressed up in adorable costumes!

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What it all boiled down to was a lot passion. People passionate about creating art, people passionate about acting, people passionate about their love for certain artists or comics or TV shows or movies or whatever it may be.

And also, like, no judgement. Everyone was really embracing the nerdiness. It didn’t matter whether you were wearing a Batman t-shirt or a full suit of armour, everyone was there for the same reasons.

Anyway, this may sound generalized and possibly scattered because I just got home from 48 hours of comic con and I’m completely exhausted and battling a horrendous cold, but the biggest lessons I learned this weekend were:

(A) I definitely need to find better coping mechanisms for social anxiety than hiding, holding hands with my friends, and hyperventilating.

(B) Passion is both inspiring and infectious.

(C) I HEART NERDS AND BEING A NERD.

(D) I need to push myself out of my comfort zones more often, because even when it’s stressful, I always take something away from it.

(E) I feel like I had an ‘E’ and then I forgot it because I’m flustered and also I feel really weird because my cold has left me with plugged ears and it’s distracting me to not be able to hear myself type or think.

Uhhhhh…woo!

xA

P.S. I remember one thing I was going to say and it was that after this weekend, I feel like I need to go to a deserted island for approximately one week to recover. Holy people overload, Batman!

Three Hundred Twenty Four.

It’s kind of strange to be an employee on campus and not a student.

SIDENOTE: Everyone on campus still thinks I’m a student, so I guess I still look young and maybe stressed….wait…

Yesterday, classes officially kicked in for the 2013/2014 academic year. Wow. There you have it.

SIDENOTE: Where the fuck is my flying car? What kind of sham is this whole 2000’s thing?!

In the afternoon, I had to take a bunch of paperwork from the office I work at to the office I’m employed by (it’s complicated – my boss is major and important so he has two offices oh my), which meant crossing through a chunk of the campus.

I think I was spoiled by the solitude and serenity of summer. (How’s that for some sexy alliteration? I’m single, guys!) I had gotten used to a gorgeous, peaceful campus, lush and green, quiet and full of fresh air. I had gotten used to my walks across campus being my own personal mini holiday during the work day. A little slice of deep breathing heaven. A moment out of my office. A little ray of sunshine.

Say it with me: “Aaaaahhhh.”

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And then yesterday I was BOMBARDED by hordes of university students. New ones (they look like they’re all 12?!?!) They were everywhere, standing in giant groups, eating, talking to each other, talking on their phones, looking lost, wandering, texting, comparing sorority options, and so on. The beautiful courtyard I typically love to walk through was occupied by giant white tents promoting local bars, cell phone providers, and campus clubs.

Rather than get annoyed (okay, I got a little annoyed), I remembered what it was like to start university. Man, it felt like such a big deal. Worrying about finding all your classes on your first day. Debating what to wear. Trying to find the perfect shoulder bag that would not only hold all of your books, but look super cool. Hoping that you would somehow run into at least one familiar face and not feel so intimidated by the thousands of unfamiliar ones you had to walk by and interact with. Anticipating how much your degree would change your life and get you started on your career, your dreams.

And then it hit me.

OH MY GOD I STARTED UNIVERSITY NINE YEARS AGO. AND I’VE BEEN OUT OF UNIVERSITY FOR THREE YEARS.

Lesson learned: THIS IS IT. Adulthood. Where the hell did my school life go?! I think I stressed and sleep-deprived it away.

Maybe I should get another degree.* I don’t think I’m ready for real life yet.

xA

*Oh right, BROKE. Ooooops.

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