If you really knew me

wittycassiehere

…You’d know:

It takes a couple drinks to get me dancing. But once I start dancing, I don’t wanna stop.

“Theme from Jurassic Park” by John Williams is my go-to whistling tune. I wish I could stop.

The first time I sold a story, it was to then-chief editor of Baltimore magazine. He offered me $2—I brought him up to $3. I was six years old.

I don’t sing karaoke often, but when I do, it’s a Bon Jovi song. Because once upon a time (not so long ago), I had a major thing for Bon Jovi.

Speaking of Bon Jovi, I once got on a Walmart conveyer belt and belted out “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I was sober. It was a dare.

My picture appeared in the first issue of Seventeen magazine with a boy on it (Teddy Geiger). It was my 15 minutes of fame in high school.

Before I got into school for journalism, I was convinced I’d end up getting an MFA in creative writing. Part of me still wants to.

Indecisiveness is my biggest downfall. The smallest decision stresses me out, and sometimes I wish someone else would make them for me.

I wish I were a more musical person. I played clarinet for years and loved it. I played guitar for a few years, too, and regret putting it down.

Uprooting my life and moving to California has given me a serious travel/adventure bug. Not knowing whether I’ll stay here or move for a job once I graduate is exhilarating.

 

What should I know about you that I might not already? What are your greatest accomplishments, proudest moments, biggest fears, fun secrets?

Change your story (a call to action)

Whether we realize it or not, we are born decision-makers.

Thousands of times each day, we make decisions that impact us for either just a moment or an entire lifetime—sometimes not realizing the difference. With so much practice making choices, you’d think we’d all feel pretty comfortable making changes in our lives. But with the weight so many of them carry, it can be hard to declare anything that’s scary with unwavering confidence.

I’ve often touted my indecision like it’s just something I’ll have to put up with for the rest of my life. Like a cute, Libran quirk—one of many imperfections that I’ve come to acknowledge and accept about myself. (After all, I’m all about self-love.) I laugh now at the things I fretted over as a kid. (Obviously, it didn’t matter whether I wore the black, chunky sandals or the studded, chunky sandals. Both were hideous, everyone was wearing them, and neither option altered my social status for better or worse.) But recently, I’ve noticed a change. I have since become exasperated with myself and my noncommittal tendencies. Because really, it all boils down to one very obvious thing: I’m scared shitless.

Yes, my indecision means I’m afraid. Afraid to take the lead. Afraid I’ll say something someone doesn’t like. Afraid I’ll be stuck with something I don’t like. Afraid to take responsibility if things go wrong because I led myself there. And here I’ve been, proudly trumpeting my shortcomings as though saying them out loud makes them not so bad. When really, I’m only reinforcing bad, lazy, scaredy-cat behavior.

I mean, damn. When I think about it that way, this wishy-washy stuff sounds downright heinous. But I’m getting to the good part.

So yesterday, in a supreme bout of Monday funk (the meh kind), I came across a post by Nicole of A Life Less Bullshit that couldn’t have been more aptly timed for where I am now and where I’m headed. Her creation, the Change Your Story Project, is about these negative self-fulfilling diagnoses we keep repeating to ourselves—and throwing them right in the trash. In Nicole’s own words:

Our lives are made up of stories, and the most powerful stories are the ones we tell about ourselves, to ourselves. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve to be loved, then that becomes true based on the sheer fact that everything you do and say and think makes it true. If you’re telling yourself you can’t change your eating habits because you don’t have enough willpower, then surprise surprise, that’s your reality.

Well, hell-ooo, Nicole. Nice of you to pop up in my reader like you just knew I’ve been excusing my vacillating ways. As one would accidental boob grabs, or farts.

The Change Your Story Project is a call to action for fellow bloggers to share their stories—the false, damaging stories they keep telling over and over—and declare how they plan on rewriting them for a more well-rounded plot and protagonists worth reading about. In non-metaphor speak: By not only addressing our problems, but also by coming up with very specific, tangible, and reasonable goals, we can actively choose to change our lifestyles for the better, big or small.

Key word there: actively. As in, the opposite of passively. Decisiveness requires activeness. No more just letting things happen to me—or worse, allowing nothing at all to transpire.

I said 2013 would be a big year, and I meant it. I’m going to start actively making decisions. Smart, informed, self-respecting decisions. And sticking to them. And playing something else on repeat every time I’m feeling panicky by the uncertainty of a decision I must inevitably make: the consequences of one false move are nothing at all compared to the consequences of stagnancy. This is just one small change of many, but I’m glad I have the guts to choose it.

That’s my story. What’s yours?

 

Keep it simple, sorta.

As much as I love my collections of clothes, books, CDs, photos and colored Sharpies, I often find myself craving a simpler existence. Between moving several times in a few short years and ultimately ending up with a tiny closet, I’ve become fairly skilled at paring down when the clutter gets to be too much, particularly in the wardrobe department. (Gotta make room for those newer, cuter clothes, you know?) But the more I edit myself in this way, the more I notice other things that I’ve let fall by the wayside… AND the more I notice the effects they have on me that seem insignificant until I find myself with more than I can handle.

[Click all images for sources]

Sarah from Yes and Yes posted a link to an article from Gala Darling that basically says that too many options actually make us miserable. That might seem counterintuitive given the fact that we’re all rather obsessed with our smartphones (er, I don’t have one) that make it easy to text, listen to music, shop online, and pin our wishlists on Pinterest all at the same time, but I feel like that could be hitting the overkill mark. This is coming from a person who’s in the market for a new phone (the buttons… don’t work) and is fully aware that if she were to enter the iPhone world, she would probably be doing all of these things simultaneously, PLUS harassing her boyfriend via Facetime. (“Do I look cute from this angle?”) But knowing this is why I hesitate to enter the iPhone world. That, and I don’t want to spend iPhone money every month. See how the minor detail of needing a new phone sends me to this place of inner conflict?!

I could get used to this kind of toilet for that kind of view.

Not that my inevitable new phone has to be an iPhone. (Anything that holds a charge will do.) But my eventual new computer–which will be a reality soon–will be a Macbook. It’s a purchase I look forward to because it will simplify my writing experience. Not having my Internet freeze up or my PC overheat in the middle of an assignment will be a blessing, but the $1,800 dollar blow to my bank account will be less than so. I mean, I can handle it–it’s an investment. But we all know that it’s when we make purchases like this that our cars also end up needing $3,000 repairs. I was much less of a self-imposed killjoy whilst saving up for my first two laptops when all I did was obsess over which song lyrics to put in my AIM profile.

“And this is where I keep all four pairs of my shoes!”

Of course, this principle that too much of a good thing can be bad for us doesn’t just apply to stuff. Simplicity is a mindset–a way of living. Some people come by it naturally: Minimalists at the core, they’re able to filter out (or better yet, avoid altogether) the clutter associated with overbearing media, work and personal calendars that have no real distinction from one another, and all the little distractions that keep us from doing what it is we really want to do. I certainly idealize things in a minimalist fashion. (That is, when I’m not coveting Free People ANYTHING.) Just recently, I was drooling over Amy from Vanagon Champion’s photos of life on the road in a camper van. Within minutes, I was all up on eBay motors and found several worthy VW buses that made me want to chuck everything and go out West. I do have some of that spirit inside of me, but it’s not my everyday reality. I get too caught up in the mundane. The small decisions I have to make regarding anything. I’ve told you, I’m a Libra. We struggle with that. Do you feel that way, too? Like there’s too much little shit getting in the way of the important shit that’s going to make you famous, rich, or at the very least, blissfully happy?

Media console cat is judging you for your lack of productivity.

Ultimately, what I think it comes down to is prioritizing. I know that I can blame my stress-related frustration on the tedious assignments I can’t say no to or the fact that I have to watch the dogs and water the plants this week or that I ONLY HAVE ONE BATHING SUIT for the so-far beach-free summer. Or, I can make it simple. To start–I’ll be okay with just one bathing suit. That one bathing suit is adorable. I don’t need two. And with just one, I won’t have to make the agonizing decision of which one to wear when that glorious beach day does come. (Fewer options = greater happiness!) And those other things taking up my time this week and every other week? I gotta embrace ’em. Assignments mean money. Dog watching means cuddling with dogs, which is awesome. Plant watering means time to get a tan in my (one!) bathing suit and brainstorm about the creative things I’ll accomplish as soon as the last bush thingy is watered. Here’s hoping this brown thumb doesn’t drown the plant she calls a “bush thingy.”

In the downtime I do have this week, I’ll also make it a point to visualize my goals. To figure out how I’m going to get there. Make lists. Choose the big tasks first. That’ll get me motivated–because happiness is the only option.