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In Need of a Sick Day

Sick Day 1

Sometimes you need a sick day. Where you can call off meetings and responsibilities, stay in bed, watch some Netflix, and forget you’re an adult for a few hours of bliss. And people usually understand too, especially if you very rarely bail on a meeting or call in sick. Or when they hear how you’re vomiting profusely or you’ve lost your voice or are extremely contagious with the flu.

But I had a different problem recently. I need a sick day where I could just come home from work, collapse in my bed and shut the world out with a good movie. But I wasn’t sick. Well, at least not in the traditional sense. I wasn’t sick to my stomach or sneezing or debilitated with a sore throat. I was having a really intense low-point in my battle with depression. I didn’t ache because of fever but with lack of feeling. I felt empty and pointless and lost. And I had a meeting that night I knew I should go to, but the idea of putting on a happy face for any longer (you see, I had done it all day long for work) and pretending for anymore people seemed pretty horrendous to me. And I did feel sick. But my sickness wasn’t the type that people normally call in sick for. Depression—even temporary bouts of it when you’re being successfully treated for it—doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse to check out of real life for a little while. You don’t get a sick day because either 1.) Depression isn’t considered a “real” illness or 2.) People who are depressed have to just work through it.

Sick Day 2

I’ve addressed the idea that depression isn’t a real illness before and you can read about it here, but what really bothered me this time in deciding whether or not to call in “sick” was whether I would be considered “feeding into my depression” by taking time off. Frankly, how could one evening, a few hours really hurt me but so much? But I could imagine some of my friends telling me to “Come and shake it off!” like the way I was feeling could be remedied with a few good laughs and fellowship. Truthfully, sometimes when I’m feeling down, that’s exactly what I need. And I need those people in my life who encourage me to use social interaction as a means of alleviating the symptoms of depression. But it isn’t a catchall fix. (If that were the case, we’d just ship all the depressed people off to happy, learn-how-to-be-extroverted camp. But even extroverts suffer from depression.)

Sometimes you need to hole yourself up in your room under a blank with a silly movie or book. Sometimes you need to call in “sick” and have that validation. That yes, you are sick. It may not be in the traditional sense, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that you are plagued by an illness and deserve the same empathy that someone with the flu would get when they call in sick. It doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to spiral into a black pit of despair and suicide (although you do have to be careful). It means you need some time to reload, refresh, and restart. It means you have to learn to respect yourself and your body and your mind’s limits. And it means that you can’t let others make you feel bad about taking time out for yourself.

I did take that night off. I felt bad about it at first. I just said that I was “sick,” and I didn’t go into elaborate detail because I wanted to allow myself to feel validated in my struggle. I was having a rough week and a hard day and I needed to NOT be responsible Kaitlyn for a little while. And after getting to do that, I felt better within 24 hours. It wasn’t an immediate fix, but I think that if I hadn’t given myself that time or if I had tried to explain it away and only ended up making myself feel more guilty, I wouldn’t have been able to bounce back as quickly.

Sometimes you’re just in need of a sick day, and you don’t have to explain why.

Sick Day 3

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Maybe I’m a Grammar Nazi (Or Maybe I Just Respect Women’s Intelligence)

Grammar-Nazi-1 I don’t really consider myself a Grammar Nazi. I can get pretty distraught over people’s horribly mutilated YouTube comments that clearly show they don’t have a grasp of the English language, but rarely do I freak out over the misuse of “your” and “you’re” or “its” and “it’s” in casual writing. (Although I definitely have met people who do. English majors I’m looking at you!) But I do have certain expectations concerning the appropriate use of grammar when dealing with businesses—especially those who employ the use of language on their products. And recently my goodwill in one of my favorite clothing companies was dashed when I ran into a very obvious mistake.Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 9.42.03 AMI was considering buying the comfy-looking black sweatshirt above from Wet Seal. I thought it was cute and snarky, and I liked the simplicity of white on black with the tiny accent of pink. But the more I looked at it (because I typically agonize over new purchases in my shopping cart for days to weeks, depending on how long until a good sale), the more I realized that something seemed off. And then:Grammar-Nazi-3

But like shopping?

What is that supposed to be? Where is the subject to this second clause? Where is the “I?”

I tried to justify it to myself. Maybe it’s supposed to be read in a valley girl accent. Maybe the “I” is just hiding in the folds of the shirt and the physical version would feature the grammatically correct version.

But no. There’s no explaining this except to say that Wet Seal needs a proofreader for its graphic shirts because really this is unacceptable. How did this shirt go into production, get a photo shoot for the online store, and be uploaded online without ANYONE noticing or holding up a red flag. (“Hey guys, does this shirt make sense to you?”)

I’m really disappointed in Wet Seal. And I’m a little disappointed in myself for nearly purchasing this sweatshirt. I left a comment on the product in hopes of warning some poor soul away from making a grammar faux pas, but also to stick up for women. That seems like a weird assertion to make, but I feel like wearing this sweatshirt makes the statement that not only is shopping is better than boys, but it also ranks higher than appropriate grammar or taking the time to proofread. Who cares as long as you look cute in your new clothes!

This is a real “shaking my head” situation. I’m sure this isn’t the first time a clothing company has put out a grammatically incorrect or misspelled shirt, but when it’s marketed toward teen girls I feel like you’re tricking a young and naïve population into looking dumb and wasting money. That’s not the kind of message I would want to be sending if I was part of Wet Seal’s public relations/marketing team. We girls like boys, shopping, and intelligence.Grammar-Nazi-4

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One Year of Novel Writing: Month 12, Chapter 12

Novel Writing 12 - 1 Twelve months, twelve chapters, and I DID IT! I wrote every month! I finished all twelve chapters! I came out of 2014 with twelve more chapters in my book than I had in 2013 or the years previous, and that is an incredibly great feeling to have. I’m really proud of myself for making a goal like this and keeping to it for a whole year. Looking back it doesn’t seem like all that long or all that grand of a task, but I know when I started it back in January 2014, it looked like a mammoth undertaking. But now I know that it’s completely something I’m capable of.

And that’s why in 2015, I want to go a step further. I don’t want to just write one chapter a month. Even though that task was difficult to complete, I still feel like pushing myself for a slightly harder goal in 2015 will be beneficial. Now, I haven’t decided to do anything crazy like a goal of “Write Every Single Day for the Whole Year.” (Tried that for a month, and as we all know, it made me less likely to write.) I actually want to give myself a little more freedom while also giving myself a deadline. For now, I won’t have monthly deadlines of one chapter per month anymore. But I have deadline for December 31st to complete the (very!) rough first draft of the entire book! This is actually an even better goal for me than 2014’s novel writing goal because finishing this book—this story I’ve been so enthralled with since I was 13—has seemed like a dream to me for pretty much my whole life, but this year I’m really going to work to make it reality.Novel Writing 12 - 2Last year built up my confidence and let me know what works and doesn’t work for me while writing. I got to try different styles and take my time exploring characters and plot development without the pressure of “FINISH THE ENTIRE BOOK OR YOU’RE A FAILURE” running through my head. Basically, I got a head start under the premise of an “experiment,” and now that I’ve written 12 chapters and KNOW I can write this novel, the idea of finishing the whole novel seems less daunting.

Now, I may write all these encouraging things and tell myself “You can do it!” and then FAIL miserably. Maybe it won’t be enough structure. Or maybe I’ll be busier this year and just won’t have the same time to commit to writing as I did in 2014. Or maybe I will be able to continue writing a chapter a month but actually completing the novel would take more writing than that. It’s all quite possible. I hope I do complete my goal just like I completed last years. But come on, 2014’s novel writing goal wasn’t completed without quite a bit of strife and feelings of failure. I imagine if you talked to any writer (or artist), successful or not, you’d find that they feel like a failure a lot of the time. I think, perhaps, that’s a sign of a good artist. Because we’re overly critical of our work. But you can’t be so critical that you cripple yourself from creating. At some point, you do have to let go and just CREATE—go with your inner creative vibe. Good things will be made. Bad things will be made. But SOMETHING will be made.

And that’s how this novel writing journey works for me. I can already think of changes in the story and characters and additions I’d like to make to what I’ve already written. This year, I may take some time to go back and change a few things (major plot points only, I expect. I’d rather save the little bothersome things for the first edit), but I know it’s important to just WRITE. I want to bring this story in all its fullness to the light of day in 2015. And I hope you’ll join me on that journey.

Novel Writing 12 - 3

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The Bachelor and The Selection: Guilty Pleasures and Catfights Galore!

The Bachelor and The Selection

I have two guilty pleasures I don’t much like admitting: ABC’s “The Bachelor” and Kiera Cass’s “The Selection.” Both are pop culture phenomena that I’ve come to enjoy late in the game. I resisted watching the Bachelor for YEARS because I felt like the premise was ridiculous. How could you be expected to find love over a 2 month period with a carefully selected group of 25 women (selected not for compatibility but for TV ratings) and cameras around you all the time? I felt like it was embarrassing for the “contestants” and a really easy way to screw up your life if you’re the Bachelor in question.

I refused to read “The Selection” by Kiera Cass for much the same reason. When I first discovered it’s existence (which was actually before the first book had even been published), I remember reading the synopsis and thinking that it was a Cinderella-ized version of the Bachelor with undertones of other dystopian novels like “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood for the young adult genre. Although I loved “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I didn’t think I could handle what I assumed would be another “heroine falls in love with her captor” story like Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden Trilogy (which I did actually enjoy). Not that I don’t like that storyline, I just felt like with the Bachelor-like premise, it might make me go insane.

But then there was Juan Pablo’s season of “The Bachelor” which seems to have proven to be the worst one so far because Juan was, well, an attention-seeking jerk that wasn’t in tune with his emotions at all. And that’s the first season of “The Bachelor” that I actually watched! Why? I think it was like when you see something horrific like a car accident that you want to look away, but it’s so horrifying that you can’t. It’s this sick desire to watch how everything plays out. With the encouragement of my mother (who’s been a longtime Bachelor viewer), I watched a large portion of Juan Pablo’s season, enough to get a better idea of the format, become exhausted by the girls’ incessant bickering and competition, and see how scandal was always highlighted. But in the end, it really was a show that I grew to love to hate. I enjoyed watching it just because I could make fun of the obvious clichés and irrationality of decisions and the supposed “reality” portrayed (e.g. Chris Soules season started this past Monday and he’s shown speeding off from Iowa on his motorcycle toward Los Angeles. Yes, I’m sure he traveled there on his bike. *eye roll*) And as Chris Soules’s season started recently, even though I had sworn I wouldn’t watch it, I kept finding myself drawn back to the TV on Monday night for the agonizingly long, 3-hour (LIVE!) premiere.

In the time between Juan Pablo’s and Chris Soules’ Bachelor seasons, I read Kiera Cass’s The Selection Series (and watched “Bachelor in Paradise” and parts of “The Bachelorette.”) I finally gave in to my resistance and said “What the heck?” before borrowing it from the library. I tore through the first novel “The Selection” and then obliterated “The Elite” in two days. It took a month or so before “The One” was available to borrow, but I read that one in two days too. The first book I loved, the second book I was disappointed in, and the third book I loved until the very rushed and confusing end, but overall I’m happy I took the time to read the series. (And am now excitedly awaiting “The Heir.”)   Because it’s fluff, and fluff is okay in certain doses.

Like I had expected “The Bachelor” and “The Selection” are actually very similar. I will say that I have a little more faith in the intentions and projected future of America and Maxon’s fictional relationship in “The Selection” than the real-life relationships of couples brought together via Bachelor Nation TV shows which makes me a little sad. They also show how extremely competitive and catty women can be. And how that drama women create in fighting over a man is what people find most interesting about the process. At least 75% of “The Bachelor’s” airtime is devoted to women fighting over the Bachelor while a mere 25% actually shows the Bachelor going on dates, connecting with women and what not (NOTE: These are my made-up, projected statistics). As the women’s pool dwindles throughout the season, you do get more “relationship time” but the drama is always what takes precedence. And the same goes for “The Selection.” Either Kiera Cass binge-watched a lot of “The Bachelor” before writing The Selection Series or she really knows people because the novels center around the insecurities and drama that having a group of women compete for one man’s heart creates. Also, why does it make girls stupid? Girls who would normally be able to hold a genuine, intelligent conversation act like imbeciles when faced with the challenge of making a man love them. Maxon tells America repeatedly throughout the series that “It’s her! Only and always her!” but anytime anything remotely puts this into question she spirals into a hole of defeat convinced it’s all a lie and then does something stupid that gets her in trouble or danger. And we don’t even need to talk about “The Bachelor.” I don’t know if they purposely cast girls with little common sense or they just get blinded by the lights and cameras and can’t think straight anymore so they start babbling incoherently about onions. Either way it’s an embarrassment sometimes.

But in the end, it is a small facet of reality. Don’t put women together to compete for one guy’s affections, it doesn’t end pretty for anyone even if there is a “happily ever after” in the conclusion. Moral of this story though is that a little pop culture fluff never hurt anyone. Sometimes you can learn more about society when you let your staunch expectations go a little lax (I know I did. And I don’t know if I can unsee what I saw.) Other times you find something that you thought was going to be terrible is actually quite enjoyable and you find it has its own kind of merit. But mostly, don’t regret indulging yourself in a guilty pleasure every once in a while.

Also, check out my book tube review of Kiera Cass’s “The Selection” and “The Elite” on my YouTube channel below!

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An Honest Account of Goals Reached in 2014

Goals-in-2014

It’s 2015 all ready! Wow! I could spend an entire blog post whining about how quickly time seems to pass and how I never get to complete all my goals because the year is gone before you know it, but I’ll spare you the droning.  I could also count all my blessing from 2014 (which are considerable when I really take the time to think about them), but you can go read everyone’s Facebook posts over the last few days if you want a feel good session. Instead, let’s talk about what I accomplished in 2014 because if you remember my very first post on this blog was “The Creativity of Goal-Setting” where I laid out my goals for the year.  Now it’s time to check in and see what happened!

1.) Start A Blog!

Complete! I wrote a blog EVER. SINGLE. WEEK. since I started this site on January 8, 2014.  That’s kind of crazy considering I also put out a video on my YouTube Channel every week too.  Basically I doubled my creative content and expanded to a new medium this year, and I’m really proud of myself for it.

2.) Keep Track of Books, Movies, and Places

In 2014, I read 51 books, watched 69 movies, and visited 25 significant enough to remember places.  The number of books I read is what I’m my proud of.  Before 2014, I had never kept a list the books I had read so I didn’t have an accurate count.  I also know I significantly upped my reading game this year.  I’ve pretty much been reading two books at a time all year long–one digital book I can read anywhere and one print book that I primarily read while at home.  I’ve read library books, bought books, free e-books, borrowed books and highly anticipated sequels.  They’ve primarily been in the Young Adult Fiction and Fantasy genre because that what I want to write and I consider it a creative exercise to see what others are writing in the genre, but I’ve also branched out and read some foreign short stories, some strange science-fiction novels, and one very bad (and regretted) “Fifty Shades of Grey” wanna-be book.

Books-Read-in-2014

Movies-Watched-in-2014

3.) Try Arbonne Products and Do More Physical Activity

I did try Arbonne products.  Unfortunately, it was right at the beginning of a very terrible flair-up of whatever unknown auto-immune disease I have. Needless to say I got very, VERY SICK for several months.  Pretty much January through March was shot for me which further complicated my goals of doing more physical activity.  I will say that once I started to feel better I did make pretty concentrated effort at eating better and exercising. I’ve also learned how to integrate certain Arbonne products into my everyday life like the protein shakes (I’ve found that frozen bananas + peanut butter + almond/coconut milk + oatmeal + chocolate protein powder is delicious!) which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to handle when I first tried them.  Making healthy choices is still a work in progress, but I definitely learned a lot about my body and what it likes/needs and how far I can push it physically which I think will benefit me as I continue this goal/journey into 2015.

4.) Take Swimming Lessons

Nope. This didn’t happen. This didn’t happen AT ALL. It got as far as being written down on several different sheets of paper and journals.   Organized exercise is something that I really WANT to do, but I have a hard time accomplishing it because it costs money, time, and interactions with people–all of which I’m sorely lacking in at this time. I’ve recently become interested in downloading a yoga app for my iPad that way I can do yoga cheaply, alone, and at anytime of day I want. I don’t know how that will work out, but I guess that’s what a new year is for. Adventure!

5.) Write One Chapter of a My Novel a Month

I did this! It seemed so easy in the beginning, but it got harder and harder each month.  However, I feel so accomplished and happy to say that wrote 12 chapters this year! Which doesn’t like much but is 12 more chapter than I wrote last year or the year before! If you’d like to catch up on my entire Novel writing journey you can click here.  I’ve been keeping monthly log of my progress, struggles, and triumph on this blog.  In 2015, I plan on continuing to write, but my goal is to FINISH the book. I have essentially reached the place in my novel plot-wise that I had when writing it by hand so everything from here on out is new territory for me.  Taking away the safety railings of “one month, one chapter” is scary, but I want to really let my creative juices flow in 2015 and come out with a full manuscript. One that needs considerable revising mind you but a finished product, nonetheless.

6.) Pursue the Next Step in My Career and Life

I didn’t outright say I wanted to get a new job and move somewhere else in 2014, but that was my intention from a mental standpoint.  That hasn’t happened. The first half of the year I made an extreme effort at searching and applying to jobs, revising my resume, and trying to figure out my life.  There were bought of jealousy as my friends got new jobs, moved new places, and found new opportunities.  There were times of extreme disappointment when NO ONE contacted me back.  I went to VidCon in June with new business cards, an industry pass, and a determination to find a job.  I left with new friends, helpful experiences, and a set of confused career goals.  I didn’t know what I wanted career-wise anymore.  I didn’t know where or what to make my next step.  The second half of 2014 was spent in a little bit of a career depression. I didn’t apply for new jobs. I didn’t like the job I was currently working. I wanted out. I wanted something new, but I didn’t know how to get there or even where “there” was.  I’m still in a little bit of that funk, but I’m desperately trying to come out of it.  My YouTube channel has been doing really well (up 5,000 subscribers in 2014!) which has given me more hope in the future and faith in my abilities.  I’m very much seeing the need to move away from home and have my own space where I can expand my YouTube channel and experiment with that thing people refer to as “adult life.”  I also really want a career move, something to invigorate me and make me excited to go to work and feel like I’m really making an impact. I don’t feel that where I currently am, unfortunately. So here’s to making some major life and career changes in 2015!

7.) Things That Happened That I Wasn’t Expecting

In 2014, I was chosen as an Ambassador Vlogger for Busch Gardens, Williamsburg and Water Country USA which was an AMAZING experience.  2014 was absolutely changed by my selection and participation in that program.  It was my first foray into navigating a vlogging relationship with brand plus I got to have so much fun and do so many cool things I never would have without it! You can watch all my “Thrill Chaser’s Adventures” on my YouTube Channel where I’ve made a convenient playlist to experience Busch Gardens in 2014 with me!

It’s amazing to me how something little like applying to be an Ambassador Vlogger can change your year.  I hope that 2015 will bring just as many fun and amazing opportunities my way because I want to make it as happy and successful as possible!