Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Favorites

Sometimes I just need to sit down and remind myself of the good stuff, so here we go:

This week was the first time I have been paid since I started working in June. And as shallow as it seems, sometimes it really takes a solid paycheck to make you feel like all that hard work you've been doing is actually worth something.

Annd I got to working on my August PowerSheets this week... you know, that's not been easy in the last few months, as I'm often left feeling like I'm not accomplishing things, and my life is dragging in a way I never expected for myself. But there was something about sitting down this week and refocusing myself, and my daily life, towards grace and patience. That was good.

I also took to organizing all of my pictures in iPhoto into separate albums (which, if you know me well enough, is enough to be a good thing in a long week,) and when I finally got to putting photos into "CSC Senior Year" I actually felt a wave of nostalgia. Honestly, I don't know if there was ever a time in my four years there that I would have said, "Yeah, I'll miss this." But there it was, missing, and it was nice. It helps ease that how-the-hell-did-I-waste-four-years-there feeling. Plus, I found these gems:

Truthfully, there is really nothing like a sunrise over Mercer...

Beaudry wasn't so bad second semester... 

...and I'm not sure what I would've done with myself without that tiny shop on Lovering Lane. 

See, that's why we have Friday Favorites, for fond memories, and good reminders. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Weight (Again)

Most people that I know these days have known me a long time. Long enough that they remember what I used to look like in grade school, middle school, high school, even my first year of college. I looked very different than I do now.

I wasn't fat, but I wasn't healthy, and I certainly didn't look my best.

From my senior year of high school, to the end of my sophomore year of college, I lost about 30 pounds. Since that time, I have gone down about another 20. (To be honest, I don't own a scale. But I use the one at the gym, and go the doctor's enough that I've gotten pretty good at guesstimating.)

So, loosely, that's 50 pounds in five years.

A lot of that progress was motivated by a swimsuit competition. I have competed in swimsuit four times in the last three years (five, if you count walking the Miss NH stage in my swimsuit twice, which I like to, because dude, that is still not easy.)

Frankly, not much else could have motivated me to run, and to eat exponentially more vegetables and less bagels.

However, as much as I do truly enjoy running, and strength training, and eating more than Cheetos and pizza, it's become very clear to me (particularly in the last two months) that the weight that I was the week of Miss New Hampshire, is simply unsustainable. 

For one, knowing that you are at your lowest weight - that you are at a weight that you would compete in - is very daunting. It's a focus that I don't want for myself. I don't like the idea of constantly thinking about not eating certain foods, or for that matter, how long I have to run to negate the calories I consume. That's not enjoyable. And it's far too time-consuming.

I don't look that different from what I looked like when I walked that stage. I look like me. I look normal. I look completely average for a 22 year old, 5' 4" female. But I don't look pageant ready.

That takes some getting used to, and it takes a lot of understanding. Reassuring myself of what I know to be true - that I am healthy, that being skinnier won't make you happy, that enjoying food is important - even if pizza makes you bloated.

It's unrealistic to live like you are always two days away from competing in swimsuit. It's unrealistic for me, personally, to not enjoy food, and to spend five nights a week on the treadmill.

It feels really good to be at your lowest weight, to confidently strut across a stage in less than two feet of fabric, to know that you are at your most fit. I'd be lying if I said all of that doesn't feel amazing.

In the end though, it's not real life. Being constantly concerned with your body, your weight, how you might look to...anyone, it's not normal. And it's not healthy.

It takes a lot of patience to be okay with returning to pre-pageant weight. Do I plan on gaining back 50 pounds? Hell no. But, sliding back to my "non-pageant normal" is definitely taking some getting used to.

And you know what? That's really okay. Because as okay as it is to be thrilled with your unrealistically sustainable competition body, it's just as okay to be less than thrilled that you are losing it. After all, I worked damn hard for it.

What's nice about "normal" is that I can reach for the Oreos now and not feel bad about it. I can skip one workout and not feel like I have to also skip dessert, or carbs at dinner. It's not always easy, but honestly, it's so much better than living unrealistically.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guilty Graduate

The amount of times that I have found myself on my couch, in my underwear, looking at seemingly endless lists of jobs I cannot do, or am not qualified for, is getting a little ridiculous.

Here's the thing: as it stands I am applying for, and looking for jobs, and I am employed part-time. So I have found myself in a sort of employment limbo.

I knew that I wasn't going to find my dream job right away - I was hopeful, of course. (I mean, c'mon. I compete for crowns and I go to Disney World regularly, how could I not be?) But I was realistic, I knew I was going to need to do some settling, some compromising, and a lot of searching.

And that's where I am. I am right smack where I am supposed to be. I am making money where I can. I am applying to jobs that I am qualified for, and that I do want. I know that I am doing what I can, and what I should be doing here.

However, it doesn't seem to negate the anxiety or the guilt.

Oh, the guilt.

The one thing no one ever told me about post-grad is how damn guilty I would feel. All. The. Time.

I sleep in? Feel guilty.
Spend the day afternoon reading and sitting in the sun? Feel guilty.
Eat Cheetos for breakfast? Mega guilt.

But! It's not like looking at those long lists of job postings really helps. Feeling endlessly under (or even over,) qualified is equally defeating.

I know everyone says that something will come along, that I just need to keep doing what I am doing. I know that this compromising and settling is nothing like what I felt when I was in school, so I know I'm not locking myself into anything as horrible. But this is hard. This doesn't leave you feeling successful almost ever (at least when I was a filing temp I could set and meet daily goals - sheesh.)

When it came to graduating I spent the last two months of school anxious because I didn't know what the summer would bring, at all. And now that I am here...well I just didn't think it would involve so much free time, and so much guilt.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wait, So It's a Swimsuit Competition?

In the last three years I have been asked many times, and in many different ways, why I have decided to compete in pageants. Frankly, it is a pretty confusing endeavor to many people.

It doesn't sound entirely appealing when you say it in the most basic sense - you compete for scholarship dollars by interviewing, walking in patterns in dresses and a swimsuit, and present a talent in 90 seconds - all while wearing a lot of makeup, glue on some part of your body, and heels.

However, you will meet some of the most intelligent, talented, and kind young women (and volunteers.) You will develop a greater understanding of yourself, of what you are capable, and of the limits that your mind and body (and patience) are able to go.

Competing in Miss Vermont, and Miss New Hampshire, did not just teach me how to apply false eyelashes (near) flawlessly, or the value of a large can of hairspray and always having double-sided tape on hand. It gave me friends that I will have hopefully for the rest of my life, it brought me jobs, it made me a healthier and happier person. 

I'm a very different person than I was when I started this journey - in the best way possible. I could not have asked for better experiences in each of the pageants that I have competed in. They are not easy, they are not slipping on a dress and slapping on some lipstick and walking on stage. They are hard work, and they are challenging, and they genuinely force you to grow in each aspect of your life.

That is why I compete in pageants, because they make me better. They have made me smarter, more competent, healthier, more confident. They have allowed me to become a person that I could only have hoped to be as watched Miss America crowned year after year. It is still a little confusing, to a buy a swimsuit that won't touch water. It is still a little odd to be referred to as a "pageant girl." 

But I wouldn't change a single moment of it.

Well, it except for the first time I inhaled spray-tan. That was gross.

Let's Try This One More Time

Coming back to this is a bit weird.

I didn't stop writing here for any reason other than I found that I was censoring what I wanted to really say. I found that I wasn't really being honest about what was going on with my life. And I knew that if I was to be honest, I would regret it. (After all, this is the internet.)

So, catching up...

I graduated college - and in the end, it wasn't emotional, it didn't feel like 'a long time coming',  and it was just a really good reason for two drinks and lobster BLT.

I competed in Miss New Hampshire - which was wild, and amazing, and I could not have asked for a better outcome, or to have been surrounded and supported by better people.

I ran, a lot - chiefly because I couldn't stand still, or stay in my apartment - and pageants, but, you

And that's about it. 

I wrote a lot of fiction in my last semester. 
I eat more vegetables than I did six months ago. 
I'm pretty serious about my Pinterest game. 
I only just discovered Fruit Ninja. 

Oh, and I'm pretty sincerely unemployed, which, it's not for me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Internship

Everyone has an internship at some point. The idea being you gain experience and knowledge in the field in which you hope to work.

Here's the thing, as internships go at my school, I'm a bit behind. Most people don't wait until the second semester of your senior year, I did. Not by choice really, but necessity. As someone who is majoring in Creative Writing, most internships would fall under the writing and reading category. As someone who is hoping and praying to end up event-planning in the South post graduation, an internship with that kind of experience is necessary.

So I was late to the game, and looking to find an incredibly unique opportunity.

By some miracle, some dream come true, I got the internship of an aspiring event-planning, Creative Writing major's dreams.

Not only am I in an environment that is bound to foster creativity, amazing learning experiences, and downright fun - it is filled with outstandingly talented, supportive, and interesting individuals.

I am so lucky, and overwhelmed, and thrilled.

If you know me at all, you know that my first day, which included paper flower crafting, and Gossip Girl watching, was enough to leave me smiling for the rest of the semester. It is no secret that this year has not been easy, or that I am more than ready to get out of this town, and this school. But I cannot say enough how much of a silver lining this internship has been.

Whether or not I land the job of my dreams after graduation, I'll at least know I'm headed in the right direction. Three weeks in, and this is a unicorn-sequins-craft-filled perfect fit.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Books You Really Should Be Reading

It is really no secret that I am a reader. Through and through, a book nerd. And to the credit of my flattering friends, I am constantly getting asked, What have you read lately? What do you recommend? Give me something to reeead. 

So here they are: my top five books of the last five months. (Also known as the first five books that I could think of, and that I think you really should be reading.)

Where'd you go, Bernadette? - Maria Semple

Someone, somewhere, called this one of the best books of the year - honestly, that might be setting the bar a little high. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, in fact, I got through it in about two days. It was a quick, simple enough, enjoyable read.

(Great for a plane ride, a lunch-break, or a casual kind of reader.)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - Matthew Dicks

Okay, I am a sucker for a book recommended by Picoult, however, I had already purchased the book - and was totally sold on the concept of the story, before I even knew she was quoted on the cover. 

The story is told from the point of view of the imaginary friend to a young boy with Autism. Really, that is all you'll want to know going into this. I truly loved this story.

(I wouldn't say this resembles Picoult's work, but someone who enjoys the style of her writing would definitely enjoy this.)

The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

I am, undoubtedly, a huge Picoult fan. Admittedly, her last two or three books have not thrilled me. I tore through them, as I do with all of her stories, but I just didn't love them. This book was so, so, different for me.

In part, the history buff in me was captivated by the Holocaust aspect (though, obviously fictionalized.) I also happen to be really in love with the concept of baking bread, and what that means, in a larger sense, in a lot of different communities (I do, actually know how weird that sounds.) The two come together wonderfully, and rather flawlessly in this story.

This really is one of her best works in the last four or five years, and I highly recommend it.

(Picoult fans and history nerds, unite!)

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

I would not have known about - although I might have picked up - this book, if it were not for a class I took this fall. This is a gorgeous text, the writing is really phenomenal, and I just can't say enough good things about the obvious work that Roy put into this novel.

This book is very much a book for readers. This is not something you can just whip out on the commute to work, or for fifteen minutes in a waiting room. This book begs to be read, really read. And trust me, if that is you, as a reader,  you need this book.

(Stunning language, complicated story, easy to understand, but filled with layers and layers of meaning.)

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

So, everyone has been telling you to read this book for forever, right? And you've seen it on every list, and kiosk, and yada yada yada. Look, it is there for a reason. I do not pick books just because they are on the best sellers list, but I'm telling you, this book deserves to be there. And you better read it before Ben Affleck goes and tears up the theaters starring in the movie.

It's a thriller, it's a mystery, (it's not scary,) and it is totally captivating. The writing is really solid - solid enough that it convinced me to read Flynn's two other books after I finished this. It's a quick read, once you get into it. And you will, in fact, be glad that you finally figured out what all the fuss is about.

(Easy language, easy enough to read while traveling, or beaching-it. The story is absolutely what makes this text.)

Okay! And there they are, the first five books that came to mind, that I really think you should read. In the most long-winded, and totally Creative-Writing-major-esque way.

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