growing up, life changes, life lesson, money money money

My need for change (literally).

living_intentionally

I’m going to be honest. I’m rotten with money.

R O T T E N.

Knick knacks are my number one weakness and food comes in at a close second. I am a “comfort shopper” — I look for happiness in things when my anxiety is high and my mood low.

Problematic for many reasons, most of all being the fact that buying these things has yet to make me feel better long term — or hell, longer than 5 minutes after leaving the store. It’s a quick fix that provides a distraction. At least until I check my bank balance which will, without fail, result in lots of cringing, regret, anxiety, and of course, a touch of self hatred.

So I’m trying to come up with a plan.

(CONFESSION: I just had to stop myself from buying financial help books on Amazon because THAT’S THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO HERE, ANNA.)

I’ve always poked into the wonderful blog, “And Then We Saved,” always admiring Anna’s self control and ability to save, and always clicking away in shame… But the last couple of days I’ve been reading it inside out as I make a “financial freedom” plan of attack.

One big realization I’ve made lately is that I want the freedom that comes with having your finances under control. So far I’ve imprisoned myself in my spending behavior, repeating bad habits all the while longing to change. So that’s what I’m wanting to put down in words as a record right here: I will empower myself through the freedom that comes with healthy financial habits.

Maybe I’ll keep updates here, maybe not. But I owe it to myself to make note of it now. To hold myself accountable (pun 100% intended.).

Some rad resources & posts from And Then We Saved

 

“Making money is a hobby that will complement any other hobbies you have, beautifully.”  -Scott Alexander

 

Standard
2016, anna im ausland, anxiety, growing up, hamburg, hamburg 2016, ocd

2016 hopes, etc. etc.

Since the start of this fine year, I have been forcing myself to do that which must be done.
For example.
  • Should a letter need to be mailed, I get up and I do it the day of. No waiting till the mailbox is “on my way” to somewhere else, no putting it off for days at a time like I normally would do.
  • Should I need to call about my internet bill I do it as soon as possible. No putting it off for a few weeks until it’s absolute dire that I do so.
  • I made all important doctor’s appointments that I’ve been meaning to schedule for ages.
  • I put my clothes away as soon as they’re done drying instead of letting them set on my couch for ages.
  • Doing small tasks in the moment to save a lot of time in the end.

 

These may seem like really rudimentary practices which an adult should be employing on the reg., but for me it’s been a real feat.
This brings me to my next point.
What is normal or common for most doesn’t mean it’s common or normal for others.
I usually struggle calling about appointments, especially when it’s in German. Phone calls trigger my anxiety to the max.; mix in the fact the conversation is in German and bam! you’ve got the perfect storm of insecurity.
So those phone calls to challenge a bill or set up a doctor’s appoint are a big deal for me, and that’s ok.
Next on my list of things to conquer (or try to conquer) in 2016 includes not comparing myself to others. Because if there’s anything that will eat you alive, it’s comparison.
Instead I’ll keep my head down, focus on my own achievements, no matter the size.
And i’ll try to leave my Netflix nest more on the weekend.
But aside from that, I think 2016 is ours for the taking, folks.
Deal?
Deal.
Standard
growing up, hamburg 2015, healing heartbreak, moving on, november 2015, vulnerability, write it out

When nothing goes unsaid.


Have you ever puked on the subway? Well, not on the subway, exactly — or the Tube, in my case — but gotten that feeling of utter nausea, the kind that starts in your heart and the next thing you know you’re running off the train to find the nearest trashcan, bush, whatever?

I have. This past weekend, in fact.

I went to visit some friends in London. London and I have had a lot of interesting moments together. Mostly brilliant. Some rather sad. London isn’t a city where you have a mediocre time. It’s really not. You either have the most magical time on Earth, or you end up puking on the Tube from sadness, or maybe you experience both in a mere 12 hours span, as was my latest adventure.

I could go into details. Give you the play-by-play of what happened. But I think there are some things that should be reserved for my personal memories… or until I’m a little bit less fragile.

But here’s what I do want to say: if you have something to say, something near and dear to your heart, say it. I know my saying that probably comes as no surprise, I’ve had a pretty strong track record of doing just that.

This weekend I did it again.

And it wasn’t pretty. It was full of ugly tears, confessions of love, and utter rejection. A lost friendship to boot.

(And some puking on the Tube.)

But I walked away with not a single regret, well, aside from wishing i hadn’t done that type of sob where you can’t catch your breath; the one that takes you back to when you were 3 years old and your mom wouldn’t buy you that doll you had to have.

But ugly tears be damned, I regret nothing.

When I’m 40 or 60, I’ll never have to wonder “What if I would have just said how I felt?”

I said how I felt. And that’s all I can do.

That’s all we can ever do.

Love, love, love. I’ll keep on if you promise you will.


“I hope one day 5 years from now you stumble across me when I’ve grown out of you and finally then after not seeing me for all this time it will break your heart.”

Standard
august 2015, germany 2015, growing up, hamburg 2015, life decisions

Questions I cannot answer at this time.

[The stairs to my apartment.]

With your twenties, and starting your career and the like, come a lot of questions. Some from caring family members. Most from curious acquaintances. As an expat I receive a lot of the latter.

Unfortunately, I cannot give a definite answer to a lot of the questions I am presented with.

They include but are not limited to:

Why are you here, like, besides for work?
How long do you want to stay?
Do you want to raise your kids here, or in the States?
What do you miss most about the States besides your family and friends?
How are the States different from Germany?
Do you like German healthcare more?
What’s your favorite thing about Germany?
Do you want to marry a German?
What’s the biggest difference between America and Germany?

It’s funny, because most of the people who ask me these questions ask in passing, as if I have a one-word answer I can give them about any of the above. Most days I simply explain that it depends on XYZ, and change the topic. Other days I give a straight-faced answer that is absurd, like if they ask what I like most about Germany, I will just stare at them and without skipping a beat say something like, “Haribo is far cheaper here.”

Because sometimes you’re so exhausted from your own questions you ask yourself to deal with the inquiries of curious minds.

Standard
a list of sorts, growing up, joy that little things bring, life lesson, thought catalog, wise words

Embracing the Painful Truths

In what seems like a mere flash, I am now twenty+five. I feel as though I blinked at the age of twenty+three and reopened my eyes right into the present. Twenty+four was a blur, but this is not a post about my inability to process the speed at which the years are passing. This is a post written I read on Thought Catalog (among many that have struck a chord in my heart) and wish I could say I had written myself. But, sadly, I did not. The lessons I wholeheartedly agree with, however, and it’s wisdom I think should be spread far and wide. 

Without further adieu…

23 Painfully True Lessons You Learn By Age 23, by Sage Michaels || Thought Catalog

1. You are not your failures or rejections. You are not the boy who couldn’t love you, the job you couldn’t get, the school who wait-listed you.

2. You are, however, your passions, your convictions and the company you keep.

3. Blocking toxic people out is hard, healthy and needed. You may regret blocking people out. But you will ultimately rejoice in a toxic-free life.

4. You are unique, and your experience with people is unique. Your relationships can never be repeated, replaced; only remembered.

5. Have the courage to be yourself all the time.

6. Show your love. Especially to your parents. We are all living on borrowed time, don’t waste the moment you could have said, “I love you, Mom and Dad.”

7. Don’t be the life of a pity party. No one enjoys the tear-stained favors or melancholy attitude.

8. Trust your intuition. Period.

9. Know when to fight. More importantly, know when to walk away. And keep walking.

10. Never regret speaking your mind and respecting yourself. Even if it compromises your reputation, your relationships or “looking psycho”. Never regret loving yourself enough to call out people who don’t.

11. She’s no you. And you aren’t her either. So stop comparing yourself, there is no comparison.

12. You can only overcome self-harm with self-love.

13. You were created to be something magnificent. Honor that.

14. Continue to be outspoken. Some will find it scary, some will find it sexy, but you will find it liberating.

15. You may not have the person you want, but you have your integrity. Hold onto it. It will get you through difficult periods with grace and poise. Don’t succumb to low levels of revenge and desperation. Continue to be dignified even when it seems unfair or unresponsive.

16. Before you do something, question your motives. We all have demons but we all have a responsibility to tame them before they turn into our monsters.

17. If you apologize, mean it.

18. Be good to the ones who are good to you.

19. God will speak to you through other people, dreams, and music. Listen.

20. We have so many different chapters in this lifetime. People are not meant to be “main characters” throughout our story. That doesn’t mean we won’t find our happy ending.

21. Some people will take you for granted. Some will emotionally abuse you. This is their problem. Unfortunately you will be casualty in someone’s personal battle, but again, this is their problem.

22. It is never too late to change and grow.

23. Forgive. Forgive your enemies and forgive yourself.

Standard
bloggers, blogging, ethics, growing up, journalism 101, my inner journalist, Summer 2014, writing from the heart

What’s in a blog: An Airing of Grievances (kind of)

 

I started collecting quotes I liked on thinkexist.com around 9th grade. This was pre-tumblr, pre-blogging–or rather, my discovery of. But I loved the inspiration I gathered and filed away into neat little folders on my account. It’s where I would go when wallowing in the throes of whatever highs school heartbreak I was experiencing that week. It was as though those quotes could snap me out of it; a smelling salts of reality, if you will.

Then I discovered blogging.

I happened upon inspirational blogs during what I would argue were “the hay days” of inspirational blogs. I was immediately hooked. So many souls with similar hopes sharing their bits of wisdom and finds as if we were all on a team, cheering each other on with advice and proverbs of sorts.

Then Tumblr came along and things shifted a bit. But this didn’t affect the main blogosphere too much. The two actually coexisted brilliantly–almost complementing one another somehow.

And, of course, Pinterest.

Which may have taken a bit away from the main blog stream, however, I’d say it created a hybrid of mediums, making it easier for people to draw inspiration from multiple sources in one spot. My mom, for instance, can’t manage navigating through a blog roll. Well she can, it’s not that she’s incapable. She just doesn’t have the patience or time to go through them, one by one.

Understandable. Life happens. Blogging is a part of life. It is not your life. 

But I digress. 

In the last few years a shift has occurred in the blogosphere. And not one that is particularly positive. First it was the influx of sponsorships, and, when done ethically (proper acknowledgement of said sponsorship, etc.) it was seen as being a smart, savvy way to make money while running your blog–still is. Still can be.

I get it. The blog world got it. No big deal.

And then, little by little, design blogs became live advertisements for scotch tape, mommy blogs began shelling bleach pens, and salad dressings were being hocked on party planning blogs.

And again, money. I get it.

But then affiliate links starting trickling their way into everyday posts.

I saw a post about a recently passed author which included links to some of her books. Links that, when clicked, earn the blogger money. Besides this being, in my opinion, a bit tacky, there was absolutely no disclosure to the links.

I have seen endless bloggers “curate” gift guides only to provide an endless list of gifts with affiliate links to product after product. 90 percent of the time these links are not disclosed.

My university’s School of Journalism had extensive courses on ethics. In said courses we discussed whether or not you could accept a meal comped as a food critic and had endless debates on accepting gifts of any kind from sources. We listened for hours about the importance of proper sourcing and the importance of your credibility as a writer, editor, etc. I always thought these debates were excessive, often baffled that people couldn’t draw a line between right and wrong–how conflict of interest was such a difficult concept for some, and how it could affect your reputation in media.

Then I looked at, about, ten “big name” blogs. And I was flabbergasted by the numerous things so glaringly unethical. What’s worse, sometimes even illegal.

Do I think the FTC will actually hold these bloggers accountable and we can soon look forward to an “Orange is the New Chevron” miniseries of said violators? No. Do I think it’s still incredibly tacky and a little offensive that some bloggers think I’m dumb enough for such click bait to pad their pockets, literally? Absolutely. 

The problem with this new formula for success — though wildly lucrative for the blogger, from what I have researched — is the fact it dilutes the quality of content, diminishes the trust with readers. Blogs I once looked to for inspiration and new ideas have become one big advertisement.  

Is this post really endorsing X because you liked it? Or did you get $ for a quick mention and photo of your using it? 

It’s become a guessing game.

I understand that these blogs have become self-described brands. There’s no harm in branding your online presence. It’s actually quite a smart move. But if you brand yourself as a business, you have to start acting like one.

I’ve heard the argument many times from these bloggers that “magazines are like one big advertisement!” This is true. But magazines have to follow regulations, pay their writers legally, and are held accountable for their content. Magazines receive endless amounts of negative feedback, as any publication does. It’s part of the game. If you’re selling a product, your consumer will expect a product of quality. Magazines also report their earnings in their taxes. (Which I’d be surprised if many bloggers do this at all, when applicable.)

These magazines, in turn, do not flood to their proverbial twitter soapboxes and cry “bully!” when their product/content is called out.

The difference with these blogger/brands is that they love to toe the line.

One week it’s all sponsored content, because “they’re a business, after all.” The next week they are “just being brave putting their lives out there!” 

Unfortunately, with the internet, some negative comments are neither constructive, nor particularly eloquent. But there are a lot of constructive, poignant comments on many “brand” blogger posts that are deemed “bullying” and that is absolutely ludicrous.

I remember my first creative writing workshop class at college. I remember the tears stinging my cheeks as my writing was ripped apart. And I’ll never forget the comment scribbled in pen across the title page of my first piece: “A lawn mower manual was more exciting than this drivel.” 

I also remember my friend calling my bullshit when I said I was being bullied.

She looked at me across the lunch table and said, “Anna, get used to it. We’re writers. This is what we signed up for. Do you wanna get better? Then remember the comments that stung the most next time you’re writing. If it stung it must have been on to something. Was your story boring as a lawn mower manual?” 

It was. 

And, in fact, while writing this I can already feel it venturing into “lawn mower manual” material…

The point I’m trying to make is this: if you’re in the business of blogging, in the literal sense, take pride in your work. Respect your readers. Don’t put more value on a dollar than your reputation. And, if you are putting it out there, own it. Not everyone will like you. You will get heartless comments sometimes. You will also get comments that are constructive, learn from these.

The good news is this: not everyone has to like you.

But people will respect you a whole hell of a lot more if you respect yourself enough to have pride in what you put out there.

As the brilliant Nuala O’Faolain once stated: “Stand by it.”

That’s the blogging we used to see; That’s the blogging that I miss. 

 

Standard
articles, growing up, life lesson, little reminders of life, read it love it, wise words, words for the heart

"Be careful what you tell the heir to your throne."


Be careful what you tell your children (column) by Chloe Allyn

Be careful what you tell your daughter. Take care with the words you lend to her ear. 

Imagine your voice as the thunder on a summer evening, moments before she leaves to see her friends. Your diction is either lightning, striking down on her youth, or the familiar rumble of summer cloud cover. Your parting words will come as a rainstorm or a blanket of deep blue-gray warmth against the breeze of nighttime. 

Be careful what you tell your daughter. At the dinner table, she should open up to you, her stories should bubble up and out to glide softly into your heart. Listen, empathize, empower. Do not spell “why did you let him do that?” in her alphabet soup when it’s not her motives that must be questioned. 

Be sure your hands conjure a force, a tornado raised from the ashes of sacrificed women before her. Instill within her the majesty of a queen, who loves her kingdom, will sacrifice for her kingdom and will lay down her pride for her kingdom. 

To teach your daughter how to walk down the street and turn every head in awe is the goal. You must build her up, not break her down with the stigmas that she is but an instrument of beauty. 

Your daughter is not just beautiful. She is bold, she is human, she is graceful, she is intelligent and she is the unforgettable whirlwind of charm that leaves behind strands of hair like tokens for all who will praise her. 

Do not teach your daughter that she’s capable of anything less than the distance to the moon. Your daughter is not a mother; do not treat her as one. Tell her every day that until she dies that she still has time. Tell her that until her parting breath. She has the same amount of potential in her pen, in her ballet slipper, in her tennis shoe or in her theories as the universe has energy. 

Never limit your daughter to merely a role in the kitchen, a role as a victim or a role as a supporting part. Your daughter is the hero, your daughter is the antagonist, and your daughter is the author. 

Be careful what you tell your son. Do not replace his tears with daggers. Do not teach him the flaws of the past. His gender and skin color do not define his power. 

Remind your son that he’s made of atoms that once composed the silken petals of roses. That the definition in his biceps is for raising people up, not striking them down. Be cautious that you are not the third Little Pig; do not build your son with stone. 

Never justify your son’s mistakes with “boys will be boys” because boys will be foolish, boys will be heart broken, boys will be warriors, boys will be nurses, but boys will never just be boys. 

Do not teach your son to be a puzzle piece, that he belongs somewhere. Teach your son to be a beacon. Teach your son to be a leader, to be an individual. 

Encourage him to watch scary movies. Encourage him to be afraid. Encourage him to be bold enough to check under his bed for monsters. Teach him that fear isn’t meant to be hidden, teach him that fear is meant to be faced, and at no time does shame marry the feeling of terror. 

Teach your son that he is every color of the sunset; he is the pink blush of gentility, he is the rich gold of success and he is the vivid orange of creativity. 

Be careful what you tell your son. Tell him that he has every right to be a man and a stay-at-home father, a choreographer or a fashion designer. Your son was not born to be just A Man. 

He was born to be himself. 

Be careful what you tell the heir to your throne. Be kind and thoughtful in the messages you convey to the flowers you grow. Do not define the limits they will reach. Do not confine the limits they will reach. Do not intervene with heights they will reach. 

Be careful what you tell your daughter, be careful what you tell your son, and be careful that you don’t limit their access or love of this kingdom under the sun.


There are no words, except one: Yes.

Standard