A Promise to Myself

Hey guys,

This is a bit of a left turn compared to what I usually write about, and in some ways, it’s not.  Either way, I hope you enjoy these thoughts.

I’ve always been a bit of a flake.  Yeah, super surprising, I know! (NOT!)  Seeing that my posting on here is sparse and sporadic I’m sure you’ve caught on by now.

I’ve always thought…no wait…let me provide some background first.  When I was little, I was obsessed with being right.  I always had to be the “good” one.  The one who smiles, who’s sweet and is a perfect angel…at least when everyone is looking…ESPECIALLY when everyone is looking.  I thought that was how I was going to do life.  I thought that’s what I wanted.  Then I grew up and realized I’m not perfect and I will never be able to convince myself or anyone else that I am perfect.  It made me angry and bitter.  I lashed out.  I’m still lashing out today.  I think that it just isn’t fair that I’m not perfect.  Because perfect is the best, right?…right?  I’m learning it isn’t the best…and it never was, at least not for me.

Being perfect, for me, means being fake.  It means not being sincere or real or authentic with ANYONE.   If you let even one person know that you don’t have it all together than the word spreads and you can’t stop it, you can’t control it.  Being perfect means lying to people you care about.  Being perfect means hurting people who you’ll never truly get to know because there will always be a wall between you.  Being perfect means you will never be satisfied.  Being perfect means a lifetime of company with one entity…your ego.  And believe me when I say, your ego sucks!  Or at least mine does.  He tells me I’m awesome one minute and awful the next.  He tells me that my dad isn’t proud of me when I KNOW FOR A FACT, he is crazy proud of me.  My ego tells me that if it isn’t perfect, or if I can’t be the best, it isn’t worth trying.  Yeah, this guy really, really sucks.

Worst of all, being perfect means you never truly know who you are because you’ve never thought about what drives, fulfills, or excites you outside of what others think.

I don’t want to be perfect anymore.  I want to be me…whoever that is.  I want to be me more than I want to be right.  I want to be me more than I want to be liked.  (That song from Mean Girls Musical is in my head now so I’ll have Spotify play it, just for the fun of it)  I’d rather be me.  I’m not going to believe that all too familiar lie that being liked is everything.  It’s not.  Those who like me, for who I really am, mean more than a sea of fans who don’t know the first thing about me.  (You know who you are. <3)

So what does being me mean, practically speaking?

  1. I do what I say I will do when I say I will do it.
  2. I don’t lie (not to save face, not to seem better than I am, and not to myself)
  3. I don’t need to impress anyone else to feel good about myself
  4. I put others before myself (specifically my family)
  5. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I continue to improve (for myself)
  6. I am the same person everywhere I go (no matter who is or isn’t there)
  7. I finish the hard stuff first

I want to be a person I would be impressed by.  I want to be a person I admire.  Now I sound like the speeches Matthew McConaughey gives at graduations and award ceremonies! *roll eyes*  But he’s right when he says we should compete with ourselves, the person we will be in five years.  I want to be her.  I can see her.  She’s amazing.

She doesn’t care what other people think (and not in a “I don’t give a f*ck” kind of way), in that it’s irrelevant what other people think.  I know I sound like a poster with a kitten on it saying “Don’t give up!” or something stupid like that but this is just me processing.

Cut back to me in five years.  She’s a leader in her community.  She sets an example.  She takes care of herself.  She looks out for her family.  She keeps a clean home and cooks semi-decent meals (I’m not expecting miracles here lol)  She has written and published her first novel of many.  She has a job she adores to pour her soul into without fear.  She has a guy by her side that she is devoted to because she knows she does not hide anything from him.  I know right!  She’s fricken awesome!

Today, I am not this girl.  I’m not even close.  But that’s the point.  I’m not going to get down on myself and hate myself for not being her.  The truth is, I haven’t even tried.  On the contrary, lately, I’ve given up.  So if you wonder if you’ll ever see your dreams become a reality, know that I understand.  It’s not easy to come up with a plan that can make your goals feel possible even for just a second, but that’s why you can’t quit.

You can’t quit, because I see your potential.  Just like my friends and family see it in me.  You might be thinking, “Sarah, you don’t even know me.  How could you know if I have potential or not? Pssshhhh.”

Ok, first of all, the “psshhh” was unnecessary. Lol.  Secondly, I see your potential because I know we all have potential inside of us.  God made each and every one of us.  (If you don’t share my beliefs, that’s fine, but just keep reading)  You have a purpose.  There’s a reason you are here and you aren’t going to know what it is until you’re 80-something sitting in your rocking chair looking back on your life and you’ll smile.  (Now I sound like Tony Robbins and his rocking chair theory, lol)  You aren’t supposed to know.  If I knew where I was headed it would take out all the fun in getting there.  You’re supposed to give it your all, while not knowing.

So, instead of being a flake who makes promises and never gets around to them.  I’m making myself a promise.  I’m going to keep this promise.

*raises right hand and crosses heart*

I promise to never be anyone but myself.  Good or bad, pretty or ugly, right or wrong.  I promise to be the best version of myself every day.  I promise to be grateful for the gift of a second chance.  I promise to be myself.  Just me.

I hope you found some value and relatable thoughts in this post.  Let me know what you do to process things like identity, personal responsibility, and growth.

Bye guys,

-Sarah January

Nixola Research

Hey all!

I bet you’re wondering…I wonder if Sarah is ever gonna finish that book she talked about writing.  Have no fear!  Life has been crazy and I’ve been thrown a few curve balls but I’m still here and I will bring Nixola’s story to life if it kills me!  Figuratively speaking of course. *wink*

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me tell you a little bit about my current WIP (Work In Progress).  Back in May, I graduated with a Masters in History.  In order to graduate I had to write a thesis.  I was allowed to pick from a vast choice of subjects but I felt drawn to journalism.  Specifically, I wanted to write about female journalists.  Next, I needed to narrow down a time period.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Gilded Age and the Industrial Era, so naturally, I wanted to see what happened next in the story of America.  What comes next is called the Progressive Era.  Note: Don’t think too much of the word Progressive.  It doesn’t mean today what it meant back then.  I started combing the time period for at least three female journalists that spoke to me.  Of the three I chose, Nixola Greeley Smith stood out the most.

Clipping from The Evening World - Newspapers.com

Nixola Greeley Smith is the granddaughter of Horace Greeley, a man who established The New York Tribune.  She worked on The New York World for most of her career as a journalist.  She interviewed well-known figures like Thomas Edison, Helen Taft, members of New York’s high society.   My favorites articles concern much more common issues of the day.  For example, for most of her career, she kept a love advice column.  (Think Sex in the City but just set in 1901, LOL)  She offered an award to “working girls” (prostitutes) to allow her to interview them so she could show the world what it was really like to become a “working girl.”  Nixola covered the Thaw Trial which was the first time a woman took the stand and had to describe her own rape in public.  She wrote about girls wanting to be boys so they wouldn’t have to follow so many rules.  She wrote about women cursing.  She wrote about marriage, about children, war, women’s votes and any other subject that struck her fancy.  This is where I think she shines.  She didn’t care if no one else would say it.  She knew the people wanted to hear the truth.

Recently I have made some tremendous progress in my writing.  I have finally finished 5000 words!  Eeeeeeekkkkk!  The most fascinating part of this process is the list of subjects I’ve researched.  It is an odd list.

  • Turn of phrase during the turn of the century
  • Curse words-native to the time period
  • Clothing for both middle and upper class
  • Vehicles, carts, trolley’s etc
  • Restaurants, vendors on the street etc.
  • Telephones, telegraph, messengers
  • Office environments, cubicles, set-ups
  • Brooklyn Bridge-when was it finished?
  • Common names for the time period
  • New or common food for the time. e.g. Gum

See what I mean.  I never thought about all these little things I would need to know a little bit about in order to recreate an authentic replica of the time period.  And I’m only three chapters in!

I didn’t think about needing to understand basic turn of phrase that fits the time period.  I found this to be the most fun subject I researched.  For example, a talkative woman was sometimes referred to as “a church bell.”  If you wanted to call someone brave, you might use the adjective “bricky.”

What is your research process like?  Do you use any particular sources?  Do you research before/after/during your writing process?  Let me know your tips and tricks!

Til then,

-Sarah the Nerd

My Theatre Shenanigans

Some of you may or may not know, I love to volunteer at my local theatre!  I’ve dreamed of auditioning for a long time and I think I just might later this year.  Currently, my community theatre is running Beauty and the Beast.  Though I miss some the fantasticness that comes with the animated film, I really do love this play.  Belle is by far my favorite princess.

I’m only a prop runner, which is an important but rather trivial role.  So, that means I have a lot of time to watch.  I like to learn from watching.  I watch the dressers turn the characters into completely new ensembles in under 30 seconds.  I watch the director give orders and the music director coordinate the musical numbers.  There are different kinds of actors.  Some actors concentrate very hard on their next lines, while others seem at ease even when they make mistakes.  I enjoy spending time with the actors who really enjoy what they do.  Even though they don’t get paid a dime for their time and effort, they really put everything into each performance.  They have such big hearts and they welcomed me like a second family.  ❤

Some actors are very kind to the dressers and the crew, and some are not.  They complain about being there and I wonder why they came in the first place.  I wonder if I’ve ever lost my passion for something I used to love.  Not ever second of volunteering is going to be fun or eventful.  I realize that, but shouldn’t you be able to find something you love even in those crummy moments?  Maybe I’m just rambling but what I mean is, instead of complaining, or quitting, I’d like to be like one of my favorite volunteers (let’s call her, Barbara) and be happy even when the director is grumpy, even when she gets bad feedback, even when her costume is heavy and hot, even when she can’t get other volunteers to help with a task.  She still wears a smile and genuinely has a blast almost every night!  Yeah, I want to be like her ❤

If you think about it…she’s a little bit like Belle.  She’s a little odd, but it’s her uniqueness that makes her so intriguing.  That’s why we love her.

Below: My personal copy of King Arthur that is currently being used as a prop in the play!

Til next time,

-Sarah

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Just Being Honest…

I’m not sure what it is…I’m just going to be honest about it.  I haven’t been blogging since the start of 2019.  I didn’t even really do a proper post when I finished my #40booksin2018 goal!  I want to be honest about my absence and quit making excuses for myself and maybe then I will be able to figure out what’s going on with me.

I’m not always motivated to write.  I love to write, but sometimes I deliberately avoid it.  It doesn’t matter how much time I do or do not have, how many positive quotes I save as my lock screen wallpaper, or how many times I say to myself, “I’ll write later today.”  I still don’t write when I don’t feel like it.

For the first time in my life, I’m actually sick of my feelings running my life.  I don’t “feel” like working out.  I don’t “feel” like getting up early.  I don’t “feel” like writing.  I don’t “feel” like working on that project.  True I don’t HAVE to get up at 5am.  I don’t HAVE to work out.  I don’t HAVE to write a blog.  However, if I want a different kind of life, don’t I HAVE to do the things most people would not do?  Yes.  Getting where you want to be is not easy.  I used to think if I was just making progress, I wouldn’t care how hard it was to get it done.  That’s definitely not true.  I care A LOT.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to sticking it out.  When things get tough, I tend to bail.

I rarely look at my shortcomings because it makes me so uncomfortable.  I’m not doing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m facing this reality because you have to admit when there is a problem or you will never start looking for a solution.  The hardest part of the solution to my problem…is the fact that it is simple.  Easy answers are always the hardest to implement.  I simply have to ignore how I feel and do what needs to be done regardless of whether or not I’m in the mood.  Easier said than done, I know.

So, obviously…I need a plan.  *cue the dramatic music*

So if you don’t already know, I am a journal freak!  I have way too many and I use them for different things.  I have a traditional journal where I write on big days in my life (birthdays, graduations, etc.).  I have a complaining journal where I’m allowed to say whatever I want even if it’s hurtful (it helps me work through my feelings and thought processes). I even have a time-of-the-month journal…go ahead and judge me if you want. Lol.

close up journal

This is a journal by Atticus, an amazing poet (which is no longer available, unfortunately, *sad face*)!  Get his second book, The Dark Between Stars here on Amazon and follow him on Instagram @atticuspoetry

He also has some amazing prints for sale on his website at: www.atticuspoetry.com

I’ve decided this will be where I write down my victories.  I will plan them and I will execute them, one at a time.

My first priority is an illustration project I’ve been working on for over a year now.

My second priority is to read at least 100 pages a day.

My third priority is writing either for my blog or for my novel, every day.  It doesn’t matter the volume.  Simply write every day.  I need to create that habit of writing.  You’ve got to write a lot of crap so you can get to the good stuff.  lol

Let’s see if I can make my New Years’ resolutions last a little longer than February 1st. lol

-Sarah

bookshelves far shot

Reading Funk/How Do I Get Out!

What do you do when you lose your motivation to read?

It can happen to anyone. You can’t really find anything that sparks your interest…no book covers are catching your eye in the stores. You start half a dozen books only to quit a few chapters into the story.

It’s a listless existence when you lose your bookworm bug 😔 I’ve found myself in such a funk lately and I have a few solutions that are helping me!

1. Read from an author you LOVE!!

Go back to a feel good writer that inspired you and made you want to write something amazing yourself. You know what author I’m talking about. It’s the one that made you stay up for hours turning pages because putting the book down felt wrong or even sacrilegious! I decided to read the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series. *Sigh* L.M. Montgomery is a genius.

Note: A good book cover never hurts when you find yourself in a funk 😉 Don’t believe what they say, a good bookworm always judges a book by its cover 🙊 Check out these AMAZING Anne of Green Gables covers by Jacqui Oakley!

2. Read a feel good story

In general, find something sweet. An easy feel good read that is consumed much like a chick-flick or an episode of Friends on Netflix. It helps if the reviews say it’s funny too 😂. Laughter always makes for a quick read! Couple of options here:

3. Read short books!

It’s not rocket science, but it works. Read a book that’s only 150-200 pages long. You’ll feel like your a speed reader, if only for a moment 😉

All these books are under 230 pages and they definitely helped get the ball rolling!

4. Read on Audible!

I can’t say enough good things about Audible!! I have read so much more with Audible than I would ever be able to with physical books or e-books. Some say it’s cheating, like it’s not real reading. However, I would argue that listening to an entire plot, keeping up with complex characters, and holding focus is much harder than it appears. 😉 Some studies show it’s good for you to alternate between different kinds of reading. My favorite way to read is to have the physical and audio version and use both simultaneously! It can be expensive but you can always get the book from the library like me! And with Audible, audiobooks aren’t expensive at all!

My favorite audiobooks of all time:

I hope these tips and tricks helped you get out of your reading funk! Do you have any suggestions or ideas to break the stop-start-stop reading cycle? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading! 📖

-Sarah

Coincidences/Mystery Read/Kate Morton

the lake house

Do you remember the first time you read Sherlock Holmes or the first time you watched Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray the crime-solving duo?  Perhaps you binge-watched the Benedict Cumberbatch version with the nail-biting arch nemesis, Moriarty?

Either way, I’m sure you remember the first mystery you ever read.  You remember the way it made your heart beat faster, your head started swimming with all the possible endings, and you turned the pages so fast you damaged a few.

 

 

 

These are the kinds of books I like to read around Halloween.  I like to go on a journey where I become totally engrossed in a world I’ve never seen.  It’s intoxicating!

I have recently discovered a new author with a knack for mysteries.

Her name is Kate Morton.

Here is a quote from Kate about writing:

I started writing because I wanted to recapture the joy of reading as a child. As soon as I learned that the black marks on white pages were doorways and that it was within my power to go through them (and the back of the wardrobe) whenever I chose to, I was hooked. I read everything that I could get my hands on and could usually be found hiding in a bough of one of the avocado trees in our garden, book in hand. I’m still chasing that feeling of complete immersion, which makes the real world disappear. There are ups and downs as a writer, but when the fictional world starts to live and breathe, there’s nothing like it.

This woman is a true talent with adorable bangs and an admiration for history.  It’s like we were separated at birth.  It has been a while since I connected with an author like this!

The first book I decided to read by Kate Morton was merely just a cover that caught my eye at Barnes and Noble.   I never thought I would read it for 5 hours straight.  It’s been a long time since a book has captured me like this.  With every twist, I would come up with a new theory on “who dun it” LOL.  I would think to myself, “Aha!  I have it.”  I decided this writer was nothing more than another two-bit mystery writer like all the others when she spun me on my head and up was down while down was up!  I love when that happens!  Something amazing happens when the whole story hinges on one sentence, and Morton did just that over and over again!  I’m not going to even go into more detail.  I wouldn’t dare do any *SPOILERS*  Just read it!  You won’t regret it!

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The world looks so different with just a small bit of change.  We usually point our fingers outward thinking we know the source of all our problems when in reality a slight shift on the inside could transform everything.  I’ve personally experienced this feeling in my own life.  Perhaps that’s why I related so much to this book.  You can change your whole life by simply looking at it differently.

Some have criticized this book as predictable and full of convenient coincidences.  However, I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences.  The word “coincidence” is scattered throughout the entire book, so much so that it’s almost a joke.

Some are so pessimistic when good things happen in their lives.  I know I have.  We think life can’t be that wonderful, but it can.

I’ve seen it.

I’ve felt it.

swing.jpgI’ve watched Providence step in and change everything.  Where hope was non-existent, opportunities now flourish; where doubts had flooded in, courage grows effortlessly; where loneliness overpowered, you discover friends.

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the main characters of this book was a writer.  I don’t think it was an accident that I picked this title over all of Morton’s other books.  You can feel it when inspiration is hitting you.

I can feel something really amazing on the horizon.  Just because I’m looking at the world in a new way.

 

Some of you may or may not know, I’ve decided to write a book.  It’s a book about a woman who inspired me when I was writing my thesis.  Her name is Nixola.  She was a journalist in the late 1890s.  I love her writing style, her quippy sarcasm, and her tireless search for the truth.  I want to tell her story.  It needs to be told and the world needs to hear it.  It’s going to take some time and hard work, but it’s going to happen.  I never thought I would do something like this, let alone want to, but here I am.  It’s funny how things turn out, but it’s not a coincidence.

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-Sarah

No Barriers/I Broke Through One of Mine/New Location

This book…you guys.  This book.  If you follow me on Instagram (@nerdnamedsarah) you might have seen how much this book got to me.  If you read this book (and I highly suggest that you do) you will need a box of tissues for sure!

No Barriers is a book my mother gave me.  I thanked her for it but didn’t think much more about it since non-fiction is very difficult for me and this book is 454 pages long!!!  Yeah, I never thought I would pick this book up.  However, as of late, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching.  I’m trying to learn how to communicate better, with myself and with others.  You would think it would be easy to tell yourself what you want, what your dreams are etc.  False.

Interestingly enough, it is not easy to be honest with yourself.

Y’all, self-sabotage is a real thing.  It sounds stupid, but in the moment, it really makes a lot of sense to shoot yourself in the foot. 😆 You regret it later, sure, but will you learn from it?  No.  Will you get past it since you learned the hard way?  No.

It turns out, it’s a choice.  It’s a choice to break barriers in your life.  Let me show you what I mean.  Or rather, let’s have Erik Weihenmayer show you what I mean.  *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

At first glance, Erik Weihenmayer is a blind daredevil.  A crazy dude who likes to pull stunts even though he hasn’t been able to see since high-school.  However, if you look with more than just your eyes, you’ll see so much more in this inspiring man’s life.

The odds of Erik contracting the disease that took his sight were about as good as winning the lottery.  It could have happened to anyone, but it happened to him.  He grew up learning to cope through climbs and hikes.  True, he couldn’t catch a ball or throw a frisbee, but he could do a lot of things most kids don’t do with perfect vision.  As an adult, Erik helped start a movement dubbed “No Barriers” that sought to break the stereotypes of disabilities.  He was inspired by veterans that barely lived through the injuries that took their limbs.  He learned lessons from blind children in Tibet who fought against the cultural belief of feeling worthless.  Erik learned by looking outside of himself that others have it rougher than even a blind guy who likes to climb mountains (Someone else will always have it worse than you-NOT a constructive thought in my opinion).  An idea kept coming back to Erik.  The idea that there is a choice.  The choice you make when you’re on the edge. “Déséquilibré. It means…that point of imbalance.”  It’s that moment where it feels normal to give up.  You think to yourself, “I’ve gone far enough.  It’s only logical to stop here.  How could I possibly go farther?  There’s something in my way.”  A barrier.

We’d rather give up than fail.  We’d rather not try than miss the mark.  Why don’t we get a kick out of at least saying we tried?  Another good quote from the book, “I want to run more, but I think I’m going to fall a lot.  Falling sucks, but that’s just a part of it.  I’ve got to get up and keep running.  I guess what I mean is that you can’t run if you’re not willing to fall.”  I have trouble with this in my own life.  Irrationally, I expect to be perfect right out of the gate.  When it gets tough, I bail.  Can’t fail if you didn’t really try.  It’s MUCH easier.
Erik goes through so much in this book.  He loses his brother to alcoholism.  His best friend is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  He experiences a traumatic adoption with his son from Nepal.  Not to mention, he fails to be able to kayak the Grand Canyon, his first dream since reaching the top of Everest.  Now before I turn you off to this book entirely, stay with me.  Just keep reading.

That’s a lot to go through in a lifetime, let alone a couple of years.  We say the phrase “face your fears” like it’s easy…like we can see the benefit on the other side in the midst of the storm.  Here’s the catch.  There is NO hindsight in the moment.  Through the struggle, the pain, the tears, you can’t see the way out until you are there.  BUT, you can’t get there, unless you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears.  It’s an investment.  Sometimes they’re risky, but whether the outcome is good or bad (unlike with money) you always get a lesson out of these investments.  Erik tried so many things to get where he is today.  He tried out a crazy weird mouthpiece that creates sensations and draws shapes for the brain to interpret (like he’s seeing with his tongue. How cool is that?! 😃).  He tried different kinds of kayaks to find out which one worked best.  Erik tried countless radios and other forms of communication so his guide could effectively lead him through the white waters of the Grand Canyon.  It’s difficult for us to try new things because it removes us from our comfort zones, but only then are we able to grow into the person we want to become.

So here’s the part where I tell you something about me.  Have you ever thought you knew something about yourself?  It’s a thought you have pretty much set in stone.  You say, “I KNOW this about me.”  You don’t think it will ever change.  But then it does.  It shakes your reality a little bit.  You don’t know which way is up and which way is down.  I’ve always thought I didn’t belong in Midland, Texas.  It’s a city I’ve lived in for ten years.  I got the chance to be somewhere else for a bit, and I took it!  With glee and joy in my heart, I took that chance and ran with it!  I didn’t realize how much I would miss it.  I didn’t know how much this city is a part of me.  Being away wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  I thought it would be a chance to see new things, be a different person, finally spread my wings.  How arrogant was I?!  Reality check.  You don’t change with your location.  You change you.  If you’ve got something you don’t like about yourself, GET UP and DO something about it!  After all, what’s stopping you.  Oh yeah, that barrier, right. 😏

Here’s the truth about barriers.  They are a choice.  It’s a choice because the barrier is all in your mind.  If a man without arms or legs can climb a mountain or learn to surf, if a deaf woman can write original songs, if a blind man can kayak through the grand canyon AFTER climbing Mount Everest, then you CAN choose to break your barrier.  🙌
I know what you are thinking.  “Sarah, you don’t get it!  I have a real disability or I don’t have the same options you do or I REALLY do need a change of environment.”  Are you telling me that’s IT!?  You’re just going to accept that barrier as a part of your life now? Hogwash!

There’s ALWAYS a way around, under, between, through, over, behind, beside, or beyond your barrier.  The ONLY reason you are still on this side, the only reason I’m still on this side of it…is one choice.  It’s my choice.  It’s your choice.  You don’t have to live in fear of your barriers anymore.  You don’t have to give up.  You don’t have to turn back.  Choose to stick it out.  Choose to face your barrier.  Decide, today, you will live a life with NO BARRIERS! 🙋

-Sarah

P.S. Erik eventually kayaks the Grand Canyon successfully!  Just in case you were wondering. 😉

P.S.S. Thanks for the book, mom 🙊

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves.

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
-Marianne Williamson