Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

As 2014 comes to an end (obligatory how-the-hell-did-that-happen?! comment here), I’d like to take one last look back.

For such a demanding year, I managed to contribute a lot to this space, and of that I’m very proud. Whatever 2015 brings in the way of employment, I hope to create, collaborate, experiment and play just as much—if not more.

By year’s end, Witty Title Here will have featured exactly 99 posts on adventure, careers, feminism, beer, books, how-to’s and life in Los Angeles. Some blogs easily churn out 2-3 times more than that, but I’m pleased with the (uneven) number 99. A lot of thought and care went into each and every one.

So here’s a look back at Witty Title Here‘s highlights of 2014. Whether you’re a new or longtime reader, you might find something you missed!

I kicked off the year by observing the strengths and weaknesses of the personality types to answer the question: What kind of creative are you? I also discovered one of my favorite new books and vowed to read more this year. (Success!)

In February, we talked about the importance of self-love (it’s sexy) and loving where you live now. (Don’t wait for the dream digs to nest.) I also checked out some of the best flea markets in Los Angeles.

The following month, I kicked off the Beer with a Blogger series, which has truly been one of the most enjoyable parts of blogging this year. (So many new friends!) I gave a few tips on where to look for inspiration when you’re in a creative rut and gave a tour of Pacific Beach in San Diego, which reminds me—I need to go back pronto.

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

By April, I’d become a bit ambivalent about a lack of voice and opinion in the blog world and called upon myself and others to change that by leaving bland behind. Then I followed up by talking about the real meaning of the F-word.

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park was the highlight of May—wrapping up my first year of school was another, and I wrote a grad school survival guide based on my experience. I also wrote a guide on the best resources for staying up-to-date on the news and interviewed the author of one of the best books I’ve read all year.

I spent so much time on the computer this year that by June, I needed a reminder to step away from the computer and go play outside. I introduced you to a few of the best Los Angeles Instagrammers and spoke with two entrepreneurs about the challenges and joys of self-employment.

July marked a big anniversary—I celebrated one year in Los Angeles! That inspired me to launch the Summer Road Trip series, featuring a bunch of fellow adventure-seekers out on the road.

In August, I had my very first visitor and learned a few things about how to be a good host in a tiny apartment. During back-to-school season, I reminded myself of the true definition of “prioritizing” and how to stay focused on priority #1.

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

School was my #1 priority in September, but I launched yet another series, Feminist to Follow, when I realized there are so many awesome bloggers and feminists out there whose voices could use all the help they can get to be heard.

I turned 25 in October and shared a few things I learned over the years (like how contrived lists of accomplishments we should have ticked off by now are bullshit). I also revealed the secret to befriending anybody—it’s not such a big secret—and raved about the Los Angeles Public Library system.

In November, I was dismayed by the time change and gave a few suggestions on how to deal when the days are short.

And finally, this month, careers were on my mind, so I talked about both ends of the career spectrum: how to be productive when no one’s hiring and why you should quit your job.

 That’s a lot of highlights! I hope you enjoyed reading Witty Title Here as much as I did writing for it. The best part of the whole blogging experience is making connections with you guys. Y’all are the real deal.

Thanks for reading, and cheers to all the good things to come in 2015. Now, if you celebrate, go enjoy the holiday. Merry Christmas!

How to survive your first year of grad school

A few of my classmates and me. (Photo courtesy of Scarlett Chen)

A few of my classmates and me. (Photo courtesy of Scarlett Chen)

Last week, in a daze, I hit “submit” on my last final project for the semester.

I’d officially wrapped up my first year of grad school, and I wasn’t quite sure how I should celebrate.

@wittycassiehere

(The answer, of course, was margaritas. The answer is always margaritas.)

Since then, I’ve been making plans for the summer, which, um, isn’t shaping up to be any less busy. But there’s a lot to look forward to.

And looking back, there’s a lot that got me through my first sometimes-hellish, sometimes-awesome year, and I’m sharing my incredibly helpful and super-serious knowledge with you.

Here’s how you, too, can survive your first year of grad school:

Get a blender. You never know when you might need a margarita or piña colada, and most of us can’t afford to always be hitting up the bars. The best part about owning a blender is you can enjoy your favorite frozen drinks while working on assignments… or while binge-watching Orange is the New Black and thinking, “Hey, at least I’ve got it better than those gals.”

Find healthy distractions. Sometimes, when it’s midnight, you just need to procrastinate before getting to the assignment that’s due tomorrow. My favorite distractions are scouring apartment listings on Craigslist (with no budget limit, of course—Beverly Hills, anyone?) and trolling dog rescue websites while showing dogs’ pictures to John telling him how we need to save the puppies right now.

Give yourself something to look forward to. And by that, I mean food.

Invest in your mental and physical health. In certain high-stress moments of the semester, my cohort’s classes would turn into very expensive group therapy sessions. (“Why do they want us to suffer?” we’d sob.) I also bought a Groupon for 70 percent off yoga classes at a local studio. I might’ve been cursing the teachers under my breath every time we were instructed to hold a plank pose, but ending on savasana every time was a great way to get a quick nap in.

Soak it up. And not just the margaritas. If you’re in a two-year program like I am, the first year makes you realize just how quickly the whole thing will go by. Before you know it, friends will disperse all across the country, hopefully landing some kickass jobs in the process. (Or in our program’s case, moving back in with our parents, because hello, we’re in journalism school. GUYS, I’M KIDDING. WE GOT THIS.)

Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll rock grad school. Cheers and ¡Salud!

Can you name 10 things you like about yourself?

Life’s most challenging moments aren’t always the big, life-changing ones. Often, they’re the little, annoying moments that can chip away at you.

And sometimes, that means your self-confidence takes a hit. Things like work, school, parenthood and just dealing with everyday minutia can shake up anyone’s confidence, and it’s easy to forget about one very important thing: self-love.

Which is why, when I saw several of my favorite bloggers joining in on a blog link-up about self-love, I knew I had to jump in. Balancing school and home life has been a challenge lately, so a reminder of what I love about myself is just what I needed. You too? Join me in coming up with at least ten things you like about yourself.

self-love

Here are my top ten favorite things about myself:

I have a good sense for what’s fair and just. It’s one of a Libra’s best traits. Maybe I should’ve been a lawyer?

I embrace my weirdness. I’ve learned that everything that makes you different, quirky or unusual is awesome and should be celebrated accordingly.

I’m a good girlfriend. I’m thoughtful, caring & loving… and he knows it. (And I know he knows it because he tells me.)

I take care of my body. I exercise. I stay hydrated. I eat well (for the most part). I don’t make excuses when I fall behind on upkeep.

I have excellent taste. In clothes, decor, food, music, books, blogs and people. It’s not everyone’s taste, but it’s mine and I love it.

I’m a talented writer. No point in feigning modesty. I’m good at writing because I come back to it every single day, and I aim for perfection every time.

I strive for the future. With every decision I make, I think about what it will mean for the long-term. I’m making important life and career choices that will hopefully result in nothing but positive things.

I live in the moment. While I’m always striving for the future, I also know how to forget about the things I’m stressing over and appreciate what I have here and now. It’s a good skill to hone.

I’m not afraid to take risks. If moving across the country to go to school for journalism isn’t a risk, I don’t know what is.

I’ve come a long way with being confident. And I’m gaining more confidence in myself every day.

 

Ah, that feels good. Now it’s your turn—what do you like about yourself?

Join the link-up at Avoiding Atrophy!

Where to look for inspiration

When I’m at a loss for something to write about, there’s usually a very simple explanation.

It usually means I’ve been stuck in a routine for too long, hunched over a computer for too long, overworked, under-exercised and/or lacking in sleep. (Conversely, being bored can have that effect too, though since grad school took over my life, I haven’t had that problem once.)

Despite my best efforts to fill out some semblance of an editorial calendar every month, I sometimes come up short on blogging ideas—or, the ideas I jotted down before no longer interest me. Luckily, it doesn’t last too long, because I know where to look for inspiration.

where to look for inspiration

Whether you’re a blogger or not, if you sometimes suffer from a lack of inspiration, these ideas will spark your creativity:

Go through your old photos. I’m always browsing through my photos to find something to go along with a blog post, but sometimes I go through my library before writing to see if I get any new ideas. Plus, it’s always fun to reminisce on a special day or trip. (Does anyone print out photos anymore? That’s something I’d like to start doing again.)

Find quotes by your favorite authors/artists/musicians. When a quote really resonates with you, it inspires an inner dialogue, either reaffirming something you believe in a more eloquent way or challenging you to think about something differently. Write down your thoughts and don’t edit yourself.

Talk to people who are much younger or much older than you are. Nothing like a kid’s innocent honesty or a grandparent’s wise insight to completely change your perspective, right? Whether it’s an eight-year-old or an 80-year-old, there’s always something to learn from them. (That obviously goes for different races, religions and gender identities, as well.) Expand your social circle and expand your horizons.

Make a list. A bucket list. A reverse bucket list. Places you’d like to visit. Things you’re really good at. People you admire. Books you really should read. People you should really call.

Play tourist in your own city. Think you’ve seen everything there is to see? Challenge yourself to find something new. If you drive everywhere you go, commit to an afternoon of walking around—even if it’s just in one area of a spread-out town—and you’ll likely notice things you’ve never noticed before.

Get off the Internet. File this under “advice to self.”  You can only aimlessly click through the black hole that is The Web for so long before you absorb exactly nothing you’ve read, and let’s face it—you’re checking Facebook more often than is healthy or normal. Pry your claw-shaped hands off the keyboard, close the laptop and stretch your limbs in the big, open space known as “outside.”

 Have you found yourself in an inspiration rut lately? How do you pull yourself out of it?

wittycassiehere on Twitter

Confessions

Cassie in California

I only got halfway through The Grapes of Wrath. And On the Road. And Naked Lunch.

I once feigned an allergy to blueberries so I wouldn’t have to eat a blueberry muffin. I was 14 and had never even tried a blueberry.

In middle school, I had my friends “break up” with a boyfriend for me while I watched from afar. On two separate occasions.

In high school, I once didn’t have enough money to split a check three ways, and I never paid back the girl who covered me—even though I said I would.

During an interview for an internship in college, I awkwardly shook the hand of the woman who was interviewing me. And then apologized for it. Which was even more awkward.

Up until recently, I used the words “picaresque” and “picturesque” interchangeably.

Sometimes, I’m impatient with my sisters and feel guilty about it.

Sometimes, I ask for advice and don’t agree with it.

Sometimes, I’m passive aggressive because it’s easier than confrontation. But I’m working on that.

I’m worried moving to California will be more difficult than I’m capable of handling.

I’m terrified all my peers in grad school will be smarter than I am.

I’m scared I’ll finish grad school and not know what to do next.

 

I’ve forgiven myself for past mistakes. (And if I’m forgiving myself, I should forgive others, too.) I’m trusting myself to make good decisions. I’m embracing the uncertainty without allowing myself to become paralyzed by fear. There’s a lot I’m choosing to leave out of this confessional. But I feel better already. What do you need to get off your chest?