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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.

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.

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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 Four.

I had this job once. Right when I moved back from Scotland. In theory, it should have been a great job, but it actually turned into the job from hell because my boss was really mean to me. It took me somewhere between six and 12 months to gain back any ounce of self-confidence after that job. I was scared to even write emails in fear I’d do it wrong. That should give you an idea of how awesome I was treated.

So you can imagine how much I’d love to talk to that boss again.

Anyway, one day I was in the car with my parents and my two dogs, taking my dogs out for a long drive. They absolutely love being in the car, so when I have the time, it’s something we do. It’s a nice, casual way to spend a Sunday or something. Family quality time!

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SIDENOTE: Okay, they’re not IN the car in that photo, but they’re out and about and that’s just as exciting.

I was sitting in the back seat covered in dogs. That’s the way life goes when you have Boston Terriers – they have to be TOUCHING YOU ALWAYS. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I just want them to be excited about the drive and give me a few minutes of peace.

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On this particular day, though, I was enjoying the puppy pile. I mean, look at them: they’re ridiculous. So I turned up my puppy voice and I gave them a good cuddle.

Now, I totally get that talking to dogs in stupid voices can be sooooo annoying, but also, sometimes life just calls for it. And I happen to do character voices for each of my dogs that crack me the fuck up. Because I’m HILARIOUS.

SIDENOTE: And humble!

I had been stupid-talking my dogs for approximately four and a half minutes when I decided wheeeew, that was exhausting and I need a little break. I pulled out my phone to check if I had any texts.

And there it was.

I was on a call with my ex-boss.

And I was leaving her a dog-talk voicemail.

FOR FOUR AND A HALF MINUTES.

After what felt like an eternity of me staring in complete shock at my iPhone – HOW THE FUCK DO YOU POCKET DIAL FROM A TOUCH SCREEN?! – I hung up the phone.

I spent the next month waiting to hear from her and feeling like an idiot.

Eventually I forgot about it.

Okay, I didn’t completely forget about it – a part of me EXTREMELY hopes that she had deleted my phone number so that the voicemail came from a vaguely familiar-looking number and not from “Andrea Beça.” But the rest of me knows that of course she didn’t and of course it did come from “Andrea Beça.”

Because that was the day I learned that the OF COURSE stuff always happens. Always. Murphy’s Law, is it?

xA

P.S. But seriously, HOW DO YOU POCKET DIAL FROM AN IPHONE?! GAAAAH.

P.P.S. Speaking of pocket dials, remember this one?

Three Hundred Fifty Eight.

So, not sure if you guys have noticed this yet, but I’m a bit of a socially awkward nerd.

You’d think that I’d get it together for my Zumba classes, since I have to stand up in front of classes of 10-40 people oh…eight times a week now, but I don’t.

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I giggle and make awkward conversation. Then my warm-up starts and it inevitably has some super nerdly (see: AMAZING) song in the mix, like Beastie Boys or Run DMC (see; THE BEST). And maybe when I teach I’m like, a super nerdly dancer. I actually have no idea, because I’ve never seen myself teach. I know how I feel when I teach, and that is super into it. Like, having the best time ever.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that maybe I come across as really “white,” whatever the fuck that means.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way a slight at the girl involved. I just found the whole experience to be so fascinating and it made me think about how we see people. I’ve been wanting to write about this for ages, but I never wanted her to feel offended. I know she used to read my blog at one point. Just in case she still does, I want to be clear. No offense intended and no offense felt on my part. (Well, okay, a little at first, for a couple days. But that’s long gone.)

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SIDENOTE: See? Super nerdly.

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: That’s my phrase of the day and I love it.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: That photo is an outtake from my photo shoot with the amazing Christina Louise. Check her out and hire her.

Let’s get back on track.

I was teaching a class. I was still pretty new to teaching – within my first six months or so. I was already starting to become Facebook friends with some of my regular students, which is cool. I had been befriended by a girl from Brazil. I guess I had never mentioned that my background is 100% Portuguese.

One of my favourite songs from my playlist at the time is called “Aqui para Voçes” (which translates directly into “Here for You”) by a Portuguese/Angolan group called Buraka Som Sistema. It’s a crazy techno/rap/dance something or other, with lyrics performed by a Brazilian carioca musician named Deize Tigrona.

So. The lyrics are Portuguese. So I know what they mean. I sing along to them because I have them memorized. That’s what I did during my class, but I guess this girl didn’t notice that. I guess some of the lyrics of the song may also take on a different meaning depending what region you’re from/what type of Portuguese you speak. After consulting a number of Portuguese-speaking peeps, no one heard anything dirty in the song, but maybe if I asked another 10 people, someone would hear it that way.

Later on, I got onto Facebook and saw a status from this girl, written in Portuguese, that was expressing shock over the song. I’m totally paraphrasing here, but it said something along the lines of You guys wouldn’t believe what I heard in my Zumba class today…blah blah song…it’s hilarious when people dance to music they don’t understand the context of…where do people come up with these shitty lyrics?

SIDENOTE: This is a total digression, but I have to say, even interpreting the lyrics the dirty way, I’ve heard MUCH WORSE in English songs. Like, any song on the radio. Never mind all the diiiiiiirty naughty dirty Spanish stuff Zumba uses!

The thing that really struck me about the whole situation was the assumption that I had no idea what was going on. I mean, in all fairness, yeah, maybe lots of instructors have no idea what the lyrics of the Latin songs they use mean. I use a lot of Bollywood and Bhangra songs and I don’t know all of the lyrics (for the record, I typically Google it so that I at least know they’re not filthy). I don’t think you HAVE to know what the lyrics mean if you’re feeling the music. It’s not a job requirement.

But why the assumption?

I’m not gonna lie, for a while, I was sort of offended. I’m proud of my Portuguese background. I treasure the connections I have to Africa, Brazil, and Portugal. Teaching Zumba has actually strengthened that connection, too. Dancing and singing along to Portuguese music I love is a way for me to embrace who I am. So I was hurt that someone might look at me and not see that.

I’m totally over it now, of course. But it got me thinking. We make a lot of assumptions. I’m guilty of it, too. giselebundchen300

Would you assume she speaks Portuguese? Maybe not.

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But in the same vein, why assume I don’t? (According to what people think of my face, I could speak a million languages.)

Lesson learned: When you “assume,” you really do make “an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me.'” It’s 2013. Gay white couples adopt Asian babies and teach them how to speak German. Or something. You know what I mean.

xA

P.S. Besides, knowing how to speak Portuguese gives me super powers. Just check out this hilarious article by Kayla.

P.P.S. See also:

…and so on.

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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*IT IS.

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 Fifty Two.

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 23.35.17

 

You know what’s crazy when you think about it? (See: crazy when I think about it.)

I have never known a world without my brother.

I mean, he was already around when I was born.  So I have never existed without him.

Just in case you don’t have a big brother, let me tell you what they’re good for.

Toys

buckyblinky

SIDENOTE: Who remembers Bucky O’Hare?! Love.

Since they’ve been on earth for longer than you, big brothers have a larger stock of toys. Whether they tell you so or not, those toys are at your disposal. Just try not to break them.

CORRECTION: Try to figure out a really cute, cool way to tell your brother when you break them.

SIDENOTE: Or just don’t tell him, and then pretend you have no idea what he’s talking about when he finds out.

Candy

candycorn

Similarly, older kids are better at rationing things out – like, say, Halloween candy.

This is not at your disposal, but you can probably justify helping yourself anyway.

SIDENOTE: You will think you’re being stealthy about this, but you are not. Make sure whatever you eat is worth being yelled at later. Always leave the caramels.

Crushes

Your big brother’s friends will be your first crushes. He will not like this. But it’s good for you!

SIDENOTE: Until you make an ass out of yourself. Then it’s a valuable life learning experience!

Keeping You Humble

Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air

You may think you’re top notch in the cool department. Your big brother will always be there to knock you down a peg or two. He’s way better at the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rap than you, for example. You can try to keep up, but he’s just so swag.

SIDENOTE: Did I use “swag” correctly?

Business Ventures

When you think of a creative endeavour that will potentially get you world famous, your big brother is like a built-in business partner. Also, he knows how to do more stuff than you because he’s older and wiser, so let him press the buttons.

SIDENOTE: Even though you REALLY WANT TO.

Being Your Hero

This story. That is all. (The poor thing.)

But Seriously…

A big brother is a support system. A partner in crime. Protection from bullies. Company when you need someone to play with. A shoulder to cry on when you’re upset. They can give you fairly unbiased boy advice, and when it comes to boys who aren’t right for you, they’ve always got your back. They have been around your whole life. They know where you’re coming from. And they want the best for where you’re going. Plus, they’re getting there before you. Your big brother is there to set the bar for life. To ask all the questions that plague you, like, “Do you feel like an adult yet? Do you have your shit together?” Sometimes they set the bar so high, you feel like you’ll never live up to it, but the beautiful thing about a high bar is it pushes you to be the best you can be, every day, all the time.

And if you’re ridiculously, stupidly, wonderfully lucky like me, your big brother is your best friend.

photo

Lesson learned: Big brothers are the best. Happy 30th Birthday to mine. I love you, Bryan!

xA

Three Hundred Forty One.

“But is it going to be like, OVER over? Like, completely over?!”

The number of times I have heard this in the last week has been both shocking and overwhelming (in a good way).

People read my blog.

I mean, I knew that people were reading my blog, because I’ve even blogged about it (whoa meta!), but the fact that people are reading my blog on a regular basis kind of blows me away.

Like, to everyone who reads my blog daily? I am in awe of you. I don’t know that I would read my blog every day if not for the fact that I have to write it every day. I am humbled and honoured to be included in your day. Even if you’re not reading every single day, I sincerely thank you for taking the time.

…But please don’t take me so seriously.

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 10.15.27

It’s fascinating how once you put something down into words, some people will take it as the be all, end all, the absolute truth about you. It’s been pretty interesting to be able to actually see and hear people’s reactions to my blog, and how they vary depending on how well they know me. My friends who read my blog laugh off a lot of my dryness and sarcasm (and craziness), while others take it a little more to heart, I think.

Let’s just say that none of my closest friends have called me to say, “Don’t worry about your forehead wrinkles! They’re barely even there!” They’ve either been like, “Yeah, that’s shitty, hey? I have them, too.” or they’ve read the post, laughed at me, and moved on.

A lot happens in a year. A LOT. A lot happens in a week. Your feelings toward something may change daily. I love bananas, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat them all day every day. I had to do that while I was starving in Ireland and then I hated bananas and thought I didn’t want to eat them ever again. If I had been writing this blog at the time, there would be a post about how I hate bananas and never want to eat them again.

SIDENOTE: I wrote that very thing in my travel blog at the time, I am certain. Cashews, too. And just look at me now. I had a banana with my breakfast about 15 minutes ago.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Right now, I’m on a break from beets. Because….well…that was just too much for me.

Just a small selection of other “things”:

– I actually don’t have a mega-crush on Adam Levine. Like, sure, he’s attractive, of course, but if you asked me to name five celebrity crushes (I don’t know why you would do that, since you’re not the latest issue of Tiger Beat, but you never know), he would not come up.

– I don’t actually hate cats. I love cats. I needed something to write about that day, and I was shocked by a cat bite story. I have bonded with many a cat, despite my allergies. (Shout outs to Nala, Fred, and Flora (RIP), just to name a few of my fave felines.) Sometimes you just think of a joke/story and run with it.

– I’m not panicking about my breasts. I was perplexed by them shrinking for about a week. Then I got used to it. Then I realized I love it. So to everyone who has been either making fun of me for it (yes, that happened), or trying to reassure me that it’s gonna be okay, my boobs and I are doing just fine.

– I would get into the ocean or a swimming pool. In fact, I’m trying to find a day to go try out Aqua Zumba. Yes, I’m terrified of the water. But what would life be if you never challenged yourself? Also, while I don’t swim, I LOVE being near the ocean. It’s peaceful and beautiful and wonderful.

– I don’t ALWAYS sing in my car. It’s a mood thing. So I apologize if you drove by me and I wasn’t wailing at the top of my lungs. I know I’m a huge disappointment. I apologize.

SIDENOTE: There’s some typical Andrea sarcasm.

Now, all of that being said, if you’ve ever read my blog and expressed concern for me, I think you are wonderful. (If you’ve made fun of me, you are less wonderful.) And I mean that genuinely and seriously. I so appreciate your concern. It feels really warm and fuzzy to know that you’ve read something here and it’s moved you – no matter in what direction – to want to say something. I think that’s super cool. In fact, sometimes your concern makes me feel like an asshole because I think, “Over exaggerated again, Beça.” But also, a lot of what I write is serious and it feels pretty incredible to know that other people feel the same way, share the same fears, love the same things, etc. I have lost count of the number of relationships that have either started or grown closer because of this blog. And that is pretty fucking cool.

Here’s another thing about me: sometimes I think I know where a blog post is going, and then I start to write it and it grows and grows until I feel like I am completely unable to properly encapsulate how I feel about something.

This is one of those moments.

What have I learned from this particular thing?

Um…

(A) I am humbled by everyone who reads this blog.

(B) Being a writer is a hilarious thing because everything you write is a little piece of you, but when you write that crazy-ass twisted disturbing horror story or a play about siblings who are in love, it’s awkward because everyone thinks you need therapy.

(C) I thought I had a “C,” but I got distracted and forgot it.

xA

P.S. Yes, this 365-day blog will be over on October 17. But I’ve got other projects in the works. You won’t get rid of me that easily.

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