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Gardening season is here and I am PUMPED up about it! When I moved to Tacoma last year I noticed there were community gardens ALL over the place and I immediately knew I wanted to join one. It took some researching and a little legwork to find one that had available plots but by the spring of last year I was the proud new renter of a box! I had mini balcony gardens for a few years while I lived in NYC, but having 14 by 6 ft of space?! So many options! So now that we’re in prime gardening season again I wanted to share some of the things I learned for other beginner gardeners. So you can skip some of the mistakes I made and just grow a badass garden yourself.

The dirt you use matters

This applies more to the herb garden we have in the kitchen… but something I learned the hard way is the dirt you use really matters! I thought.. dirt is dirt right?! Turns out that’s wrong and we ended up getting dirt that had chunks of glass in it and fungus gnats in it and AHH it was terrible. So definitely be conscious of the dirt you buy for your plants — especially if you’re doing a windowsill garden. Our community garden is an organic garden and they provide TAGRO — dirt made with a blend of pasteurized wastewater byproducts called biosolids (aka 💩) and our plants have grown awesome. Then for our windowsill herb garden and our other houseplants, we use miracle grow potting mix. So I’d start by saying definitely pay attention to what the dirt is made for and if there are natural or synthetic fertilizers in it. Starting with quality dirt is the first thing that will set you up for success!

Know your zone

Another thing you want to know going into gardening is what zone you live in. This is based on a lot of different things but is important to know! This will help you learn about when you should be planting different things and what their season will be. Once you know your zone you can find a ton of different planting guides on Pinterest too!

Some plants are easier than others

This totally matters on the location of your garden conditions and all of that jazz but some plants are just a little easier than others. this can totally depend on the season too I’ve learned from other gardeners. So going into your season accepting not everything will be a success will ease a little pressure on you! Plus, like I said you learn as you go. After the first season here is where I would rank some of the plants we grew.

Super Easy
These plants are hearty and super easy

  • lettuce

  • kale

  • sugar snap peas

  • broccoli

  • potatoes

  • Anaheim peppers

  • basil

Easy but need some maintenance or need specific conditions
These plants will produce a ton but need a little more maintenance especially if you’re in a smaller gardening space

  • zuchinni — these suckers get HUGE. Since our garden is smaller we have to keep them trimmed back some so they don’t take over the world.

  • raspberries — same with these guys I mean they are an invasive species after all so be diligent about keeping them under control.

  • tomatoes — They get really heavy so making sure they have adequate support is key.

  • strawberries — These take a little more time to get rooted and produce (usually a few seasons)

A little tougher
We didn’t have great luck with these our first year for a variety of reasons which is why I’m saying they’re a little tougher (but also may have just been our season)

  • cucumbers — you need to be careful with the leaves because if they get too wet they will die off eventually killing the plant… We didn’t have great luck last year so opting for a vining variety (vs bush last year) this year

  • carrots — we actually grew a decent amount of carrots but they require a lot of patience. We grew them from seed and they took all year to be baby carrots

  • onions — same with the onions. A lot of this was due to not spacing them out enough or thinning them out but I used the tops for green onions a lot more than the actual bulb part.

Give them some room to grow

That little baby zucchini or tomato plant will be a monster in a few months. So make sure you pay attention to the spacing they need. I wanted to cram as much as we could into our box but I quickly realized that some of the plants definitely could have used a little more room. Another thing is some plants need to be thinned out. Which basically requires you to decide the survival of the fittest after they’ve been growing a bit and you’re supposed to pull out some of the weaklings so the others thrive. I didn’t really know about this… but another thing to consider for spacing. If you’re gardening in a smaller space the square foot gardening method is a really great way to make the most of your space. You can learn more on this website and there’s a ton of books and blogs on it too!

Plant some flowers

Bees are your friends so make sure they feel welcome in your garden! Once some of your plants start getting blooms, they need help with pollination and bees will help it happen! We had really great luck planting marigolds throughout our garden in between our veggies. As the garden continued to grow we ended up moving them around a bit (probably not great for them but they survived) and it’s crazy how much of a difference having the flowers made.

Keep up with Maintenance and support

Like I mentioned earlier, your plants are going to grow, grow and grow some more! If you’re in a smaller space pruning is going to be very important. During the peak of summer we were probably pruning at least once a week I’d say and watering every day. It’s crazy how much plants can grow in a day or too with all of that sunshine! I’d recommend getting to know what plants and how you should prune them. The ones that needed the most pruning were our zucchinis, broccoli, tomatoes and now our raspberries. The other thing is making sure your plants have adequate support. Tomato cages are essential and you’ll need to start those when you plant them but you’ll also likely need stakes and other things throughout the season. This year, we actually doubled up our tomato cages to give them more support since they get sooo heavy. Here’s are my recommendations:

  • Trellis for snap peas/beans/cucumbers: don’t skimp on these.. we tried one of the plastic poles with netting and it was absolute crap… I also know you probably don’t want to spend a million dollars either.. we ended up getting wooden ones that are sturdier but also inexpensive. Of course I also painted them because I’m extra like that.

  • Stakes: My favorites were these ones. You can get them at Lowe’s or other hardware stores.

  • Garden Ties: These are just the little twisty ties but are really helpful for securing vining plants like your snap peas to your trellis, tomatoes or peppers as things grow

I hope this post has been helpful! I’m definitely not an expert by all means but this is what I’ve learned so far. Happy gardening!

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It’s Chinese New Year which means... Monkeyshine season is upon us in Tacoma! If you haven’t heard about it before, it’s an annual guerrilla art hunt where local artists hide a couple thousand glass orbs and medallions stamped with the Chinese Zodiac around the city.

Originally, it was started by someone known as “Ms. Monkey” and a friend who wanted to create joy and excitement for residents during our long grey winters. While deciding what they were going to create and hide, they were inspired by Ms. Monkey’s friend’s brass stamp he had created with a monkey on it. With access to a hot shop and donated glass, they decided stamping glass balls was the perfect creation. Plus, it would also pay homage to the city’s glass roots. From there, they created 200 creations and with a cohort of volunteers they hid them around the city. Here’s a peek at what some of them look like!

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A post shared by Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) on Feb 5, 2019 at 8:08am PST

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A post shared by Grit City Magazine (@gritcitymag) on Feb 5, 2019 at 12:26pm PST

Their idea was a hit right from the bat, even with some initial confusion. Apparently the finds were being confiscated at first because they thought they had been stolen from the glass museum! After a very buzzworthy first year, Ms. Monkey’s crew decided to commit to hiding what would be known as “monkeyshines” each year for 12 years to complete a cycle (and later another cycle). How fun right?! You can learn even more about the back story of the tradition in this great article from Joanna Kresge of South Sound Magazine including an interview with Ms. Monkey herself.

Since then, the event has continued to evolve and others have decided to join in the fun including, now infamous, Marble Man who leaves marbles and others who leave their own gifts of charms, bracelets, and painted rocks to name a few. Adding even more treasures to be found! There aren’t any formal rules, but you can find monkeyshines in public places around the city and be sure to keep the honor system of 1 per person (that is if you’re lucky enough to even find one!)





Last year was my first year of hunting for monkeyshines and while we didn’t find anything, it was a really fun day of exploring the city — especially because we’d just moved. You could say we fully embraced the original mission of the event! That was also the day we ended up discovering my favorite brewery, 7 Seas Brewing (where I just celebrated my 30th Birthday party at)!

This year, I was lucky enough to (unsuspectingly) come across a red envelope with a pig charm inside too! I also walked by a guy who found a really gorgeous glass ball in Wright Park! So there are definitely treasures to be found out there! I’ve been keeping up with the hashtag on Instagram of finds too! No matter if you find something or not though, remember to enjoy the hunt and this great city because that’s where the real fun is!

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Before we ring in the New Year, I wanted to take a chance to look back on 2018. It was a year of hitting goals, pushing myself further than I thought I could and a whole lot of change. I may have moved back to Washington mid-2017, but in many ways, a lot of those changes rolled into this year and now that we’re inching into 2019, I finallyyyy feel a little more grounded. About dang time right?! Listen, uprooting your life and making allll of the changes can take some time to get used too though! All-in-all 2018 was a pretty dang great year and I wanted to give it a proper send-off by celebrating the progress that was made.

Crushed ALL of the Biz Goals

2018 was a game-changer for Bold & Pop. We’ve been working our booties off since we started 3+ years ago and THIS was the year where I feel like everything really started to line up. We increased our business by 38%, hit our income goals early, doubled our web traffic, and grew our community to nearly 900 biz owners, side hustlers and bloggers — just to name a few! Seriously though. It was a HUGE year for our business and every success has felt really damn good.

Another one of our big goals this year was to work on a better work/life balance and I’m so proud of the progress we made. When you start a business, it can all-encompassing and this year we learned firsthand why time off is one of the best things you can do! We still had our moments, but we were able to take more time off this year than the last 3 combined and I think it was a big reason we found so much success! We both went through a huge year of growth both personally and professionally and I cannot wait to see where we go in 2019 because the bar has been set!

Moving to a New City + Apartment

This year, I joined the adult world again and moved to a new apartment in a new city! Tacoma to be exact, which definitely deserves a blog post of its own. It’s kind of funny because if you would have told me that I would have not only moved back to Washington, but to Tacoma, I would have laughed at you a few years ago. I’ve learned that sometimes the best things in life are unexpected though and Tacoma has definitely surprised me in the best way. I still love Seattle and dream of living there one day, but Tacoma’s small city vibes have been a nice transition. Plusss, the rent prices here are kind of amazing. Having a 2-bedroom for less than I paid for my studio in NYC will never get old.

Paid off My Student Loans

BOOM baby, I paid off my student loans this year! I think this is exciting for anyone, but I wasn’t really expecting to do it this year so I’m really proud of this one. My personal financial goals were really just focused on building my savings back up to where I wanted them to be. They definitely took a hit the last few years after starting a business, moving cross-country, and buying a new car so building those back up was my top goal. With such a high increase in our business though I was able to build up my savings and pay off all of my remaining loans almost 2 yeas earlier than planned!

Made Personal Development and Self-Care a Priority

As I mentioned earlier, having a better work/life balance was a big business goal of ours this year and that really goes hand-in-hand with this one. We’ve really lived and breathed our biz the last few years and while we still do, we realized we both reallyyy needed to take some time for ourselves. Thank goodness for biz besties who are literally on the same page as you. Really though, this year I learned just how important self-care is and how bad I really needed it. So I worked on myself a lot.. I took up hiking and walks around the new neighborhood, I listened to podcasts, I read a ton of self-development books, and started scheduling “Anna days” to literally just relax by myself. Becoming a healthier, better version of myself both physically and mentally was a top priority and I am really happy with the progress I made this year.

Tried More New Things

I set a lotttt of personal goals this year (I talk a little more about in this post) to push myself! Which resulted in doing some things I never thought I’d do + finding some new hobbies I really love! Some of my fav things that came from those goals were doing my first public speaking appearance, attending 4 local business owner events in the Seattle/Tacoma area, recording our first podcast interview, running my first 5k, joining a community garden, learning how to pickle and how to make jam, going on longer (and harder) hikes, starting a regular workout routine and joining PNW online communities!

2018 is definitely one of those years I’m going to look back on and remember. It was a year of so many amazing memories, a ton of growth and one that has really set a strong foundation for what’s to come! Bring it on 2019, I’m ready for you!!

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Welp, summer is officially saying its farewell and I’m not going to lie I’m kind of sad to see it go! While I was in the PNW for most of last summer, let’s be real my life was kindddd of in shambles in a lot of ways so this summer definitely had a different vibe and an AWESOME one at that!

I have to say, summer usually isn’t my favorite season and I think a lot of that has to do with it was SO hot and humid in NYC, but PNW summers?! Justttt my style. I’m sorry, I know everyone likes to say our weather over here is terrible butttt IMO it’s pretty dang perfect. Moderate temps year-round.. nothing too hot, nothing too cold.. just dang perfect. So while normally I can’t wait until Fall, this year I kind of wish summer was just a little bit longer! That being said, it was a busy and memorable one so before I officially say goodbye, I’m recapping some of my fav memories of the season!

Lots of Memories with My Fam

Okay, I’m kicking things off with a big one… Time with my fam! I’m sure you’re all sick of me talking about how much living near family again means to me, but truly it is the best. Being able to go on adventures, have BBQs, go hiking, or just chill and spend time together has been so SO nice!







Hiking & Enjoying the Outdoors

Another big overall category that I loved this summer was spending so much time exploring outdoors! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much a city girl but it just felt so refreshing to be able to explore so many different places. Hiking in the mountains… kayaking on the sound… walking around the lakes and beaches… I just love all. of. it and so I did a lot of it!







King County Fair

I haven’t been to the King Country Fair in years, but it just so happenedd Little Duck was going to be up for her birthday so we squeezed in a trip and just had such a fun day. Learning what mutton busting is (and then hysterically laughing), eating elephant ears and scones, seeing all of the goats, and watching pig races… I’d say we did it right!







Visits from Some of my Favorite New Yorkers

I got really lucky this summer and got to have 3 of my fav New Yorkers come out west and visit. Which BTW, having a guest room is AWESOME! First up my NYC roomie and her husband visited and then later one of my other besties Lynette and we had such a blast! They definitely put my Washington tour guide skills to the test too and luckily were good sports about me trekking them all over the state! I meannnn there’s so much variety here you have to see it all right! City, country and mountains!







Sounders & Mariners Games

This summer I got my fair share of sports in too! We made it to a few Mariners games including Star Wars night (which was awesome). Which let’s be real, I’m much more about the stadium food than the sports but.. those were a blast nonetheless. Then I also went to my first Sounders game which was pretty cool too! My sister won some tickets at work and couldn’t go so we got to live that club level life too which was cool.


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In a lot of ways since moving back to Washington, I’ve had to rediscover who I am. There are a lot of things about me that are pretty concrete at this point, but where you live definitely has an impact on your day-to-day realities. Especially when you go from living in a concrete jungle to a small town (followed by a little bigger city) in Washington. Can you say culture shock?! As you’d expect, I experienced some pretty big lifestyle changes and with that, I’ve taken every opportunity to try a lot of new things — especially ones that weren’t options in NYC. While admittedly, I haven’t read Shonda Rhimes’ book, “Year of Yes” yet, I like to think I embraced her concept and have spent the year saying yes to more things. Saying yes to fun things, saying yes to new things and, frankly, saying yes to things that scare crap out of me.

I’m definitely not done with my mission yet, but want to know what I’ve learned so far? It turns out that a lot of things my inner voice had always said “weren’t my thing” or that “I couldn’t do” were often just self-limiting beliefs. I’ve learned that you are exactly what you tell yourself you are and if you’re not pushing those boundaries, you might be missing out on a hell of a lot in life.

I wasn’t a public speaker.

I wasn’t an outdoorsy person.

I wasn’t someone who does podcast interviews.

I wasn’t a girl who ran 5Ks.

I wasn’t someone who liked networking.

I wasn’t a girl who liked working out.

I wasn’t someone who could keep a houseplant alive to save my life.

I wasn’t someone who talks about feelings or talked about tough stuff publicly.

These were all things I told myself at some point and I made it a point this year to work on rewriting my inner narrative. I decided to stop playing it small and instead really put my all out there and try new things even if I ended up falling down or failing miserably.

So this year I…

Spoke on a panel about being an entrepreneur at a University of Oregon student and alumni event.

Bought all of the park permits, have hiked more miles than I can count and bought kayaks to explore the outdoors more.

Recorded my first podcast interview for Bold & Pop with my business partner.

Ran my first 5K race.

Joined several new networking groups and have gone to 3 local in-person events so far and (surprisingly loved each of them)

Finallyyyy figured out a workout plan I didn’t hate and starting hiking weekly and doing strength workouts.

Bought a ton of houseplants and joined a community garden. Take that brown thumb.

Decided to open up about my journey and be really transparent about personal development and the behind the scenes of being a business owner.







Proof of doing me doing some of those scary out of my comfort zone things

Now I’m not saying all of it has been easy or that I’ve loved everything I’ve tried to do but, regardless of the outcome, I made a decision to go for it. Am I going to start signing up for a bunch of 5Ks? Meh, probably not, that wasn’t one of my favorite things, but you know what? I did something I never thought I’d do and that’s what matters.

When it comes to growth, change or trying new things, we are often our biggest roadblocks. We get comfortable with life and hide behind our fears or our rationalizations that we’ll get to it one day. We tell ourselves that some things are just out of reach, we just don’t have what it takes or that we’ll have those opportunities in another phase of life, but I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. And if you wait too long, there’s a chance that day will never come.

So how about today you decide to stop playing a supporting role in your own life and just decide to go for it? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Will you get to do everythingggg all at once? Of course not, but if you have a big ol’ goal, now is the time to start working on the little goals that will get you there. Now is the time to create opportunities for yourself. Now is the time to make plans. Now is the time to put yourself out there and get some practice being uncomfortable. Because it’s usually that uncomfortable stuff, the stuff that scares the crap out of you, that you come out on the other side feeling exhilarated saying, “I’m so glad I did that”. You might not crush every single thing but I promise you’ll learn a whole lot of lessons along the way and that my friend is pure gold.

We are who we say we are and I don’t know about you but I want to be all all-around go-getting bold badass and I want you to live up to your full potential too.

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I’ll be honest, for most of the last year I’ve been completely avoiding my blog. With the exception of a few posts here or there, it’s been a ghost town over here and it’s not exactly for the lack of post inspiration either. I’ve started writing and quickly abandoned more than a dozen posts and various versions of each. It hasn’t just been my blog either. There have been months I’ve hardly posted on social media, which I get sounds kind of dramatic, but for someone who works in social media that is just notttt my norm! I've told myself it was for a number of reasons.. from being so busy actually living my life to being in the middle of rebranding and repositioning my content.. and while I'll admit those are semi-legit reasons, it's been more than that. The truth is blogging just hasn't felt good to me for a bit and I just needed some time to myself.

I’ll be frank. This last year has been really tough for me emotionally and I think for once I really just needed some time to process things and start a new chapter on my own, without the world watching. As a whole, my life really took a 180 when I moved back to Washington. With a few exceptions, my life today is hardly recognizable from this time last year and while there have certainly been good and bad things about that, it’s been a lot to processss. All you can really do is put one foot in front of the other though and now that a full year has passed, I’ve decided it’s finalllyyy time to really move forward in all parts of my life – including my blog.

So it's time to come out of the shadows, make my mess my message and continue to move forward. Because while it’s definitely been a tough year in a lot of ways, it hasn’t been all gloom and doom over here. There have been SO many really awesome things that have come out of moving back west and I want to be able to share all of that with you guys again. I don't believe in giving up on things you love and while I definitely needed the break, it's time to get back to chasing my goals. Before I get back to my {new} mostly happy regular programming though, I want to take a post to run through some of the big lessons I've learned during this time. Maybe it will help someone else who's going through some big changes -- maybe not -- but before I think I'll be reallyyyy be ready to move forward on my blog I just need to get some of this off my chest.

It's okay if leaving is harder than you thought it'd be

Healing from a long-term breakup has been hard enough, but leaving NYC ended up being a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not just because it's a pretty cool city either, but because everything about it reminded me of some kind of memory. I may not be a mush when it comes to relationships but holy crap am I even more sentimental than I thought I was. Granted, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve gone through a change this BIG but this one hit me hard.

It seemed impossible (and still does in many ways) to escape NYC. Between my blog being a full archive of my adventures in the city… to the email invites for events… heck I can’t even turn on the TV or watch a movie without being slapped in the face with a glaring reminder of what I left behind. Which is slightly ironic because I spent years complaining about the weather and various other things while I actually lived there, and truly didn't think I'd miss it as much as I have. I used to joke to my friends that the whole world does not revolve around NYC, but after leaving it has sureeee felt that way. In many ways, it has felt inescapable and that’s been tough for so many reasons.

I may have always daydreamed about moving back to Washington, but the truth is I never really thought it would happen. First I stayed for my career and the opportunities the city presented… then I added in some really awesome friends that made it hard to even consider leaving… and then it was my relationship that really sealed the deal for me. And even though I often had a love/hate relationship with the city, I truly didn’t see myself leaving. I had built a life there and the only future I envisioned was one with me there. So when that all came crashing down pretty much out of the blue, it left me feeling pretty lost in a lot of ways.

In reality, it probably wouldn't have mattered where I was living either... moving on is usually tough wherever you are because the memories you have can become trigger points to making you upset. When your trigger becomes NYC though... Dang has it been a doozy. It's easy to daydream about what life could be like if you make a change but often that daydream is just that.. daydream. Sometimes the reality is a lot tougher than you imagined it would be, and there's nothing wrong with that... but a lot of people stay in situations because they're afraid of that transition and becoming uncomfortable and I don't think you should do that. By coming to terms with the fact that things are going to be tough for a bit, you can really own the situation which can help you a lot along your journey.

You can kick breakup rules to the curb

Moving on is a process and sorting out transitions is hard. I feel like these days, people just delete photos on their social media platforms and pretend like their pasts didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I get why people do it, but I didn’t want to do that. I had a really great relationship and chapter of my life and deleting some photos online wasn’t going to lessen the pain of that ending. Granted, I can’t say I would feel the same way if our relationship had ended poorly, but it didn’t and when we said we wanted to stay in touch, we meant it. I’m not saying it’s been easy... but at the same time knowing we broke up because we both needed something else allowed us a little more closure in the relationship, which has been a painful blessing in keeping things cordial. 

I've always marched to the beat of my own drum, but my advice is to do what feels right. It's not always the easiest and not everyone is going to get it, but at the end of the day it's your life. I always say, it's only weird if you make it weird. And {unpopular} opinion here, but I think it's fine to stay in touch with exes even when you move onto new relationships. You're not together for a reason (sometimes several) so that never really bothered me much. Maybe you won't be bffs but if you guys want to casually text here or there, stay in touch with your families or stay Facebook friends... why not? When you're in a long-term relationship so many parts of your lives become intertwined and personally I think as long as you both have mutual understandings for what is okay then I don't think it's a big deal. Like I said, it isn't for everyone but personally, I think breakup rules are silly. #IDoWhatIWant

Which on the note of this subject, can I please give a shout-out to all of my friends who have survived getting divorced or are co-parenting..? Because let's be real.. breaking up with a dog was terrible for me, so I give madddd props to all of you who somehow do your best to find terms that work. 

You can be excited about your next chapter and still be sad about the ending of your last

When you close one chapter, it can be so easy to dwell and go over the “what ifs” and the “did I make the right decision?” Like I said, moving on is a process and it’s an up and downhill battle. Some days will be better than others and that’s okay. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that it's ok to be excited about your new chapter while still being sad about the ending of your last. A lot of people may disagree with that but hear me out.

We love to throw around the phrase, “time cures all wounds” and while it definitely helps, there are some things that are probably going to always hurt when you look back on them – and that’s alright. I think moving on is more about accepting things and making a conscious effort to move forward more than anything. You can read a million different articles on how long experts say it takes to get over things and move on, but personally, I think it’s crap. Everyone is different, but in my experience, I’ve never just woken up one day and been like, ah ha, I’m finally over it and ready for something new. Instead, I think moving on it more about making a choice to open yourself up to what life can offer instead of staying closed off. Do I recommend giving yourself some time to sort through things? Of course, but life doesn't always happen on your timeline so I think it's important to know you can move on while you're going throughhhh it. 

It’s been a year and I stillll have days I’m sad about things, but I also have so many new things to be excited about in my new chapter. I'm living in a new city... I'm going on new adventures... and I'm dating someone new... my business is crushing it... it's a lot of NEW and things that I am genuinely excited about. It may sound like a contradiction but having this realization has really helped me move forward. I think the key is to make sure you’re still moving forward and not just reliving your past during these moments. That’s where people get stuck. And to do that you need to keep showing up in your life and being honest with yourself. Will you need your alone time? Ab-so-freaking- lutely but you cannot put your life on hold just because you might not think you're ready. Accept invites, try new things, and give 100% of what you have each day. Some days your 100% may only be 40% but you have to keep putting one foot in front of another. Because when you do so, amazing things will happen. Little by little you’ll start to feel like yourself again and you’ll actually start to get excited about this new chapter and the possibilities you have.

Stay true to yourself, because you can’t please everyone

Another important lesson I've learned is to stay true to yourself. Truthfully one of the big reasons I decided to put my blog on hold is because I just couldn't find the right words to say for myself or others. Most of my other life transitions have been independent decisions I've made, but I took this one extra hard because I felt like I had failed others and that killeddd me inside. It turns out on top of being really sentimental, I'm also overly sensitive to other people's feelings and I just really didn't want to hurt anyone during this time. Because even though emotionally this transition has been tough, I also have a lot of really great things going for me and I've felt a lot of guilt around some of that happiness. Deep down I know that I shouldn't, but it's been an ongoing inner battle and hence why you haven't seen much of me over here.

On one side, I've felt like if I shared too much of the good on here I'd hurt those left behind and paint this picture that moving on has been so easy for me (not true), but then if I talked about too much of the struggles I've gone through I'd hurt those in my life currently. Social media and blogs are such a highlight reel of life and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it also just complicates things in situations like this. Talk about a tug-of-war of emotions! I knew I just couldn't win either way, so I just avoided it all together and tried to just focus on my own healing in the meantime.

What I learned was that you're never going to please everyone. Either you're trying too hard... or moving on too quickly... or too emotional... or not moving on at fast enough. No matter what you do, it's going to be interpreted different ways. I feel like I've been under a microscope and what I've realized is that as long as my intent is good, then I'm on the right path. Plus, deep down I realized that those who know me, know I would never do or post anything trying to hurt someone's feelings and that I'm just trying to continue living my life. It's been a year-long realization but a necessary one at that.

Self-care is a necessity not an option

Bouncing back can be tough.. I am totally guilty of throwing myself into a ton of different things to just keep my mind off things –- especially when I moved back. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think staying busy was something that kept me sane in that initial time period. That being said though, make sure you also give yourself time to clear your head and recharge. Trying to put the pieces back together can be exhausting and if you run yourself down then you're going to have other issues. So be sure to take time for yourself.

I'm not talking about taking bubble baths and face masks either... I mean unless that's your thing. The term self-care has been glamorized as of recent and I think it's important to remember the true meaning. To me, self-care piggybacks off of self-development and is about being able to just be unapologetic about your thoughts -- to work things out in your mind with no distractions. It's about having those realizations so that you can actually do the self-development work. That probably means a little something different to everyone too but it's all about re-centering yourself.

For me, hiking has been my biggest outlet. I've talked about it before, but there's something therapeutic about busting my butt to make it to the top of a mountain and it's been where I've done some of my clearest thinking. Another is writing, aka hiii you're in the middle of one of my self-care activities right now. Verbally, I don't always know what to say but there's something about writing out my thoughts that has always been freeing. Even if it's only for me to read. Find what works for you and make time for it because it will be essential to your healing process.

Self-development is HARD work

Looking inside at the things you like and don’t like about yourself is tough, but for me to truly move forward I really had to take a hard look at what happened, where I was wrong, what I could learn and what I needed in the future. This one is hard because you can easily find yourself going down the road of, “ I should have done this…” or “what if I had just said that” and that won't help you move forward.

It's about stepping outside of the situation and looking at things objectively without the emotions. Emotions are so messyyyy and sometimes you can't totally see the whole picture until you're looking at it in your rearview mirror. Hindsight is 20/20 right?! It's hard but I've tried to dwell less and focus more on the things that I can change about myself, and boy is it tough work. I cannot stress the importance of doing the work though because the only way to move forward is to learn from those mistakes. By no means am I perfect, but I'm a work in progress and I'm happy with the advancements I've made.

I've learned a lot in the last year and one thing stands out. Life is messy. Moving on with a new chapter is messy. All of the emotions involved with moving on with that new chapter is SUPER messy. It's all just a freaking big ol' mess sometimes! But I want to be the one to tell you that starting over can be hard, overwhelming, and downright sad sometimes but that you WILL make it to the other side. And that the feelings you are feeling are valid, no matter what they are or how long it has been. That you don't need to feel guilty about where you are in your journey. Because spoiler alert, the people who really matter will be understanding of the situation you're going through and only want the best for you -- no matter what that is. 

More than anything, I want to take this experience and come out on the other end better because of it. Not only for myself but also for other people who are smack dab in the middle of a similar situation and could benefit from talking about it. Because let's be real, noooo one wants to talk about this kind of stuff. Hiiii I've written at least 6 drafts of this post because this stuff is TOUGH for me to write and talk about it, but I needed to, and by doing so I hope it can inspire others to face this stuff heads on themselves. It won't be easy, but as long as you're learning along the way and moving forward you will get through it.

One year down and a lot of work to continue on. It's time to move forward.

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