Three Recent Realizations About Myself

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I’ve basically been living and breathing web development recently. I wish I had been keeping track of the amount of time that I’ve spent learning, building, applying for classes, reading, etc. It’s been a huge time investment for me. The one nice thing about it, though, is that I enjoy it. Spending a ton of time on something doesn’t seem so bad when it’s something you like. I recently finished a three month class from Skillcrush on some web development topics. It didn’t go deep enough to make me qualified for a job, but it did give me some good practice. I feel like I have a solid foundation, and now I just need to flesh out my knowledge a bit, keep building, and work on having an awesome portfolio and web presence!

Being laid off was maybe one of the best things that’s happened to me. I would like to go back to work, of course. It has given me an opportunity, however, to do some soul searching and figure out what I want to do. It has given me a chance to reflect on the jobs I’ve had in the past, the skills that I currently have, and what skills I’m missing. I’m trying to find the balance between finding a job as soon as I can and finding a job that I will actually enjoy.

Through all this reflection and learning, there are a few things about myself that I have realized lately.

  1. I am really lucky. I have the most fabulous support system, which has been really necessary during the last few months. Losing a job is one of the hardest things that people go through. Even though my previous job was not very satisfying, it’s still hard to be without work. I was already learning web development though, so when I was laid off, I already had something to work towards. I have people around me who are proud of me for taking my career into my own hands. I have found something I love to do, and I’m working hard to learn it, so it’s nice to have all that hard work recognized.
  2. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. I took a class last week about finding a job, and one of the things we talked about is the roller coaster of emotions that people go through when they lose their job. There are definitely the good days, when everything seems to be going according to plan. But, there are also the bad days, when things seem gloomy. Those bad days are the days when I internalize everything that’s happened, which is definitely not productive. It’s normal though. So, I just take the lows in stride, and wait for the upswing that will come.
  3. I have learned to be more appreciative. I have been lucky enough this year to watch spring unfold. I have watched the tree outside my living room burst into life after the winter. I have watched the bare branches become full of bright green leaves. I appreciate myself more. I have been able to take time to learn more about myself. It has helped me not be so hard on myself. I have been able to focus on me my family, my pets, my living space, and just breathe. I have grown to appreciate stillness and quiet. I have been able to appreciate my thoughts and the sounds of nature. I have been able to tear myself from the busyness of American life for a little while and experience the world around me. I appreciate that there is a program that allows me to worry less about money during this hard time so I can focus on getting a job that will make me happy. I will forever be grateful for this time and all it’s done for me.

Right now, positive thinking is really important to me. Being able to see the silver lining and all of the good things around me is something that isn’t just for right now, but is something I think will come in handy for the rest of my life. Even though things aren’t always good, and life can be terribly difficult, it’s good to be able to come at problems with a bit of perspective.

Let’s talk! What have you learned about yourself this week?

The Return of All Things Autumn

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*Sigh*

It’s been a while… Like two months??? There has been a million things going on in my tiny corner of the world, and I finally feel ready and able to talk about it all! I feel terrible about abandoning this blog for so long, I have thought about writing here almost daily, but sometimes a break is good. I’m going to talk about a couple of the big things that have been going on, the ones that are worth mentioning.

So the first change is that I was laid off from my job a couple weeks ago. Being laid off is always a bummer, because you lose your source of income. For people who love their jobs or are in tight financial situations, it can be especially heartbreaking. Luckily, I am not really in either position. I did not especially enjoy my job, though most of the people were lovely to work with. I also had a feeling my position would be eliminated, so it wasn’t really a shock when I was pulled into the meeting. My husband and I aren’t rich by any means, but we’re ok. At least ok enough that I can take my time finding a new job. The hardest part was not being able to say good-bye to the people that I worked with, at least not many of them. It’s hard, but it has given me the opportunity to focus on some projects and things that I was not able to focus on before, because of a lack of time. I don’t really have a lack of time anymore, so I’ve been really productive! All in all, it’s been a good experience for me.

Secondly, and somewhat related to the first thing, is that I have been making progress on learning to code! I was able to build my own website, and make it live! I feel accomplished in being able to do it. I’m now learning a new coding language, and it’s much harder than anything I’ve learned so far. I still really love everything that I’ve been learning, and I’m excited to see all of the awesome things that I’ll be able to do as I keep learning!

Lastly, to celebrate my return to blogging, I have changed the look of my site! I hope you all like it! It’s nice to add a splash of color to the blog. Perfect for spring!

I promise I won’t wait another month to update this. I hope you all have been doing well!

Some of my Favorite Things

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Since it’s so close to Thanksgiving, and since I have been having a kind of rough time lately, I thought it would be good to think about, and write about, some of my favorite things! It’s kind of one of those “fake it til you make it” sort of things, where if I spend my time thinking about things that make me happy, I am less likely to be stressed out! And, it’s actually been working well for me, which I am happy about. So, without further ado, here are 10 things that make me happy!

  1. My Family and Friends: I am so glad that I am surrounded by such supportive and loving people. They are fun to be around, and make life way better!
  2. Learning new things: I have always loved to learn, and now that I am out of school, it can sometimes be hard. I try to learn something new every day, because I think that it’s important to continue to grow and develop. Enriching my life is something that is really important to me, and I am so glad that I have books and the internet to help me learn new things. I also learn a ton from reading other peoples’ blogs, which has been really fun for me!
  3. Autumn: This time of year is my favorite! I love the vivid colors that the leaves change, and I love it when there is a crisp and cool breeze. I love being able to break out sweaters and boots. Plus, my birthday, wedding anniversary, Halloween and Thanksgiving all happen in fall! What’s not to love?
  4. Cooking: I have always been interested in cooking, and really got into it in grad school. It became a way for me to de-stress. Now, I am glad that I love cooking because my husband loves the food that I make. It’s made it easier to adjust to a new way of cooking to help with my PCOS symptoms, without having to eat boring foods or the same thing every day.
  5. Purple: Purple is my favorite color! I love that there are so many different shades, some of them are more springy and fun, while others are richer and more jewel-toned. I think that I look good in purple, and it goes with so many other colors. It brings me peace.
  6. Dresses: I have pretty much always liked wearing dresses more than pants. It because really true when I got to school and had to sit on the floor all the time. Jeans and pants were uncomfortable for me, so I opted to wear dresses! I liked dressing up, and they made me feel more feminine and grown-up. I still would rather wear dresses than pants, most of the time (unless it’s yoga pants or sweat pants!). It means that there are times where I am more nicely dressed than the people I am around, but I don’t really mind, because I am comfortable!
  7. Technology: To me, having grown up with technology, it’s been really interesting to see how things change throughout the years. I remember being in school and having to do research for papers where using the internet was not yet an option. I also remember before cell phones. It’s been so fun to watch what new technology is developed. I am learning how to build websites too, so that’s been really fun!
  8. Feminism: There was a time when I really didn’t understand what feminism was. I thought it was just women fighting for equality, which to me meant being treated exactly like men, including being eligible to be drafted into the military, which I definitely don’t feel brave or strong enough. Now, I understand the importance of feminism. I am thankful for women fighting for the cause. I am proud to be one of them!
  9. My cats: They make me laugh, and cuddle with me at night. They love to chase each other around, which is always fun to watch. It’s fun to have animals that depend on me, but are also independent. Watching them grow up and learn has been so fulfilling.
  10. Coffee: I have loved coffee for so long! I used to take sips of my mom’s coffee when I was a kid, but started drinking it myself when I was in high school. Now, I don’t really like the sugary drinks, I love being able to taste the coffee and the differences in the beans and roasting levels. I love the caffeine, and I love knowing how to brew a mean cup of coffee! 🙂

That really did help me feel better! What are some things that you guys love? Let me know in the comments!

Deep Thoughts Thursday: The Princess Bride

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Today’s Deep Thoughts Thursday isn’t about an issue that is important to me or something to debate. It’s about something that I love.
I am currently reading my absolute favorite book in the world: The Princess Bride. Most people have heard of the 80s movie with Fred Savage, Cary Elwes, and Robin Wright. What many people don’t know is that the movie is based on a book. Not only is the movie based on a book, it is based on an amazing book!
I got this book when I was about 12 years old. The first time I read it, I got a few chapters in and stopped. Not very high praise. Luckily, I tried again soon after. Since then, I have read it about 10 times. The first time I auditioned for a school play, I used a scene from this book. I still own the first copy I read, and it is completely falling apart!
As a gift, my husband got me an illustrated copy! It’s wonderful. I decided to read it, since it’s actually been a few year.
I obviously won’t give away too many details, but one of the things I love so much about the book is that it has so many more details than the movie could have. It’s hilarious, heartfelt, and an amazing love story! It’s unique because it’s a love story that both men and women can enjoy. There are amazing back stories, and the villain is someone that is really easy to hate, but charming as well! This book has almost everything you could want. I would feel so proud if I wrote something as good as this book!
Generally when I read, I read pretty fast. When I read The Princess Bride, it takes a long time! I love immersing myself in the story and scenery. It’s so well-written, the scenery is vivid!
I really think this is a book that just about anyone would enjoy. I recommend it to anyone!
Have you read it? Have you seen the movie? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Where Did April Fools Come From, Anyway?

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As we all know, today was April Fools Day.

I hate April Fools Day! I am so gullible and every year I get tricked by something or someone. It’s only gotten worse since the internet and Facebook have become more popular.
For example, last year, a coffee company I follow on Facebook got me so good I am still embarrassed to tell the story. But I will anyway! So, last year, on April 1st, I was taking a class for work with my manager and another manager I worked with. During lunch, I checked Facebook (I’m a Millennial, so this should come as no surprise). There was a post from this coffee company about a new kind of coffee they had developed that was clear! As a former barista who knows quite a bit about coffee, there is no way I should have believed it, but not only did I believe it, I told both my boss and the other manager about it.

To top it off, I didn’t find out it was a joke until days later when I mentioned it to someone who knew better. So… I then had to tell my boss that what I had told her was a joke I completely fell for!

This year, they posted a video a few days early about a new kind of coffee that stays warm for 8 hours. As amazing as that sounds, I knew it was a joke! I spent most of the day avoiding social media. Any real news I missed will still be news tomorrow.

Deep Thoughts Thursday: The Haircut That Made Me Think

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This past weekend, I got a haircut. I’m not talking one of those haircuts where you get an inch trimmed off, and it doesn’t look much different than when you entered the salon. I got a hair cut. Now, my hair is six inches lighter, and considering how thick my hair is, I feel so much more freedom! I love making these huge, drastic changes in length and color. I think when I am older and grey, I will be one of the ladies who dyes my hair pastel purple and doesn’t care if anyone gives me funny looks. At least that’s my hope.

As insignificant as it is in the big picture, this haircut really got me thinking about women and body image. About the ideals of what is beautiful, acceptable, and preferable. I have spent a few days thinking about it and doing some reading, and it’s the thought I would like to share with you guys on this fine (but chilly) Thursday.

Where does one begin when talking about body image and self-esteem? I can tell you this: I remember comparing how I looked to how other girls in school looked when I was in either Kindergarten or First grade. I was about 6. I don’t remember anything specific, I just remember noticing that the older girls were way prettier than I thought I was, and noticing that I was taller than a lot of my classmates (a fact that caused a lot of teasing and would be 100% the opposite by the time I graduated high school). From that point on, I don’t think a time has passed that I haven’t compared how I perceive myself to how other women look. It doesn’t help that pre-teens and teenagers can be really cruel with how they tease others, and the things I was teased about still bother me sometimes, even though I am a completely different person now, look totally different, and am far removed from those years. Even when I wish I was a kid again, I would want to skip those cruel years.

By the time I was 18, I definitely felt that I was overweight and had a goal of losing 15 pounds. It didn’t happen, and has only gotten worse in the last 10+ years. The reason I mention this is that I look back on photos of myself in high school, and no, I wasn’t skin and bones, but I was beautiful. I didn’t feel that way at all. And I don’t always feel that way about myself now. I spend more time beating myself up over how I look than I do on finding things I like about myself. It can be debilitating at times.

And I am not alone. In 11 Facts about Body Image, I learned some really sad things. The thing that stuck with me the most is that there was a study that found that 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. This causes many of them to diet (which can often have its own set of troubles) in order to gain an “ideal” shape. However, this article also noted that only about 5% of women naturally possess the mainstream “ideal” body shape. Women definitely aren’t the only ones affected by this.

One of the podcasts I frequently listen to (and encourage others to listen to as well), is Stuff Mom Never Told You. It is a podcast by two women, in which they discuss all kinds of topics, generally relating to women, but not always. They had a podcast on May 5, 2014 called “The Body Shaming Epidemic”, in which they discuss the issues surrounding shaming people for what their body looks like, both fat and thin. I would say that fat shaming has probably been around a lot longer than thin shaming, but I could be completely wrong about that. It just seems like people who are overweight have been the focus of criticism more often than those who are thin. It causes us to get this idea that there is really only one right body type, and even though that ideal has changed throughout the ages, what is “in” now seems to be the only thing people desire.

This podcast cited a few studies, all of which had some really interesting information, and it actually makes me really sad, and makes me want to work harder to overcome my own issues with my body image. There was a study of children that found that they had a weight bias by the age of 5. So young! I feel like children shouldn’t be concerned with whether a particular body shape is good or bad, but they certainly already had opinions. Those opinions don’t really seem to change as we get older. We view overweight people as less desireable and that they lack control. This causes so many negative thoughts for people who feel that they are overweight. Even if they lose the weight, those feelings don’t go away overnight.

These biases and shaming pit women against each other, instead of allowing ourselves to work together so everyone can be healthy and happy,and supporting each other as we reach our goal of being healthy. As the podcast mentions, it is essentially a way for women to figure out the best way to be objectified, because the goal isn’t to be healthy, no matter what size, the goal is to be the “perfect” size. Generally, those ideals are set by society, and much of it relates to what “men” find attractive. I put men in quotes because my husband thinks I’m beautiful and doesn’t agree with society’s ideals, but apparently there is a group of men out there that are tastemakers when it comes to what size and shape is ideal for women. Most women will never meet these ideals, which leaves them feeling undesirable and defeated.

Feeling defeated isn’t a great place to start on a journey to being healthy. I will admit, I am now beginning to be more interested in how to be healthy than how to be thin, even though if I had three wishes from a genie, one of them would be to be the same weight I was senior year of high school again (but without the baby fat). I have come to terms with the fact that my body shape will never allow me to have a thigh gap, or to be a model. I will always be short and have wide hips.

As I was looking for ideas on how to cut my hair, I was looking for haircuts that would work for my face shape, and it made me really self-conscious of how I look. Now that the cutting is done, I find myself second guessing my choice, because I have nothing to hide my round cheeks and “problem areas” with. I feel more exposed. Even though I get tons of compliments that my new hair suits me, I still can’t get that nagging voice out of my head.

I hope that the more we talk about these issues, the easier it will be to overcome them. My hope is that someday, when I have a daughter, I can teach her to love herself for who she is. I hope she can put being healthy above being ideal.

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Deep Thoughts Thursday: The Downfall of Good Intentions in Blogging

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The one thing I have learned about myself since I have started blogging is that my tendency to plan more than do is present in just about every aspect of my life. I started this blog with a passion to write and the goal to write often. Now that I am a few months in, that doesn’t seem to be the way things are going.

The interesting thing about it, though, is that my blog isn’t like the numberless blogs that get abandoned (well, especially since this one isn’t abandoned at all…), because I spend so much time thinking about my blog and what to write. I am not joking about this at all! I think I spend at least half an hour thinking about my blog and planning posts. When it comes to actually writing things, though, life seems to always get in my way.

Yesterday, my husband was telling me a story about how, in high school, he was watching the X Men cartoon with some friends. At one point, the villain says, “Get out of my way!” as they so frequently do. The clever retort, given by Rogue, was: “Get out of your own way!”. So cheesy. Definitely doesn’t make a ton of sense. But, I got to think about it, and Rogue gives some pretty good advice that I am going to use! I’m getting out of my own way when it comes to writing. Instead of thinking and planning so much, I am going to write more! It will require some extra planning in advance. In the same way that I make a weekly meal plan so I don’t have to stand in front of the open fridge and hope that dinner ideas leap into my arms, I don’t want to stare at a screen, waiting for a blog idea to jump out at me.

So, I am going to have theme posts! Starting today, Thursdays will be Deep Thought Thursdays, where I talk about some of the bigger things in life. This might be one of my personal favorite themes, honestly.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

I am not really sure if that’s what the road to hell is paved with. If hell exists, I would think the road to it would be paved with something much more menacing. Though, I suppose, if a road is paved with menacing things, would many people take that road? I sure wouldn’t. I do, however, have plenty of good intentions, but they don’t always turn into action.

I have so many good intentions when it comes to All Things Autumn. I have so many awesome posts in my head, and I spend a lot of time in the Reader, finding awesome blogs to follow. But, I just don’t deliver like I would like. I really think that having a schedule already made up, and scheduling posts may help for days when I don’t have a ton of time. Are these good intentions? For sure. Are they going to turn into good actions and awesome blog posts? In the words of my people: “You betcha”.