A Rosy New Year’s Day

Today is the first day of 2014 and I’m smelling roses. Both figuratively and literally.

For the past two decades I’ve spent this day more or less the same way. Probably my most continuous New Year’s Day tradition is watching the Rose Parade with my mom early in the morning, bemoaning that we’re stuck inside our home in snowy Michigan rather than outside in the beautiful California sunshine “ooo-ing” and “ahhh-ing” at the floats in person. We whine, complain and say, “next year, we’ll be there. Michigan State will play better. We’ll save more money. We’ll do this. We’ll do that. We’ll have all of those things we don’t have now.”

Well believe it or not, two decades later I’m at that Rose Parade – my first trip ever west of Chicago.

This trip is a big deal.

I don’t travel much. I don’t have a lot of cash. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a lot of things. But I am at the 100th Tournament of Roses – something that last year, although I may have resolved with my mom that we would go, I thought would be another unmet resolution.

Each year I reflect on what I want to change about my life – what’s left me restless or disappointed. I spend all of this energy focusing on how to improve the bad but I very rarely ever make it a reality. This year if my trip to the Rose Bowl will have taught me anything it’s that I’m better off focusing on the “making” part. Rather than reflecting, which I think us writers too often have a propensity to do, I’m going to take action this year.

I’m going to go out and get that job. I’m going to write that novel. I’m going to travel. I’m going to do all of these things rather than think about doing all of these things. And then I’m going to write about them.

Ashley HaglundAshley works in corporate, health care and non-profit communications. She loves starting new writing projects; is a media junkie; enjoys studying science, technology and patent law issues; and has a love/hate relationship with semi-colons. To see her face and be her internet friend, follow her on twitter.

A Good Day at Work

Illustrated by Tina Fey memes, Buzzfeed style.

Check your email and decide you can’t work from home today and thus must change out of your pjs.

Source: http://selfloathingsunday.tumblr.com/post/59347002086/taking-a-practice-gre

Have a call that makes you question your profession. You still have an hour until lunch.

Avoiding confrontation and conflict

Source: http://humorinrecovery.tumblr.com/post/61915169001/avoiding-confrontation-and-conflict

 

Have a meeting with your boss where you are recognized for the work you’ve done.

image

Source: http://get-karied-away.tumblr.com/post/60459935527/you-hotttt-sexy-as-f

Sometimes you’ve just got to savor those good days. In the words of Chelsea, treat yo’ selves blogosphere.

Ashley HaglundAshley works in internal communications. She loves starting new writing projects; is a media junkie; enjoys studying science, technology and patent law issues; and has a love/hate relationship with semi-colons. To see her face and be her internet friend, follow her on twitter.

In Exchange for Inspiration

I’ve been feeling the fuzzy blanket of bland nothingness Lauren so expertly articulated in her search for inspiration. I write all day. All kinds of projects. All kinds of copy. But when I go home, not a single creative thought enters my mind. Some days I can’t even figure out what to eat for dinner, and if you know me, you knows that’s very unusual.

But there’s an upside to this creative sinkhole I’ve found myself in. I refuse to blame my job because my job is awesome. I love it. And I love what it provides me with. Experience, new friendships, personal growth, sure, yes, of course. But also: cash. The freedom to buy whatever I want (within reason), whenever I want.

So, in exchange for inspiration, I’ve made a few purchases.

Keen walking sandals, $67 on sale. Because walking gives me ideas, and my old Keen sandals smelled.

Four prints from Society6, $84 with free shipping. Because if I can’t come up with my own ideas, the least I can do is support artists who can.

Copper mug, 20 cents, half off. Because Value World is great and Moscow mules are delicious.

Vodka, ginger beer, other accouterment, $20-ish. Because fancy hipster drinks don’t come cheap. Trying to trick myself into creativity. Trying to drink myself into creativity?

Sushi, $20. Because some days you need expensive sushi dinners. And when you have a job, you get to treat yo self. Sinking into creativity-loss denial with expensive, expertly arranged raw fish is just an added bonus.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere really. Not until I find that inspiration again. Except maybe on a walk in my new sandals.

Chelsea currently works as a copywriter at a software company. She is a syntax enthusiast and always enjoys a good dinner party.

Life, Edited

Age 19

My mom laughed when I told her I wanted to go to Europe. For whatever reason, I felt a distinctive tug to go and — I don’t know — explore, find myself, spread my wings, eat food…whatever. “You?” She smiled, “Honey, you’re so shy.”

She was right. I have always had this paralyzing fear of the world — and for no reason other than I am happily an introvert that would rather curl up with a book on a Saturday night than go out to a club. I don’t blame my mom for laughing. If I had really listened to myself, I would’ve laughed too. I would never make it.

Age 20

My professor asked what I wanted to do with my life. It was a question I had gotten too many times in my life, and my rehearsed answer was “work in a publishing house.” It was true — I even had my job title picked out: Acquisitions Editor. My professor, Laura (I’ll tell you more about her awesomeness later), nodded. “Where?” I hadn’t quite thought of that. Wasn’t picking out a job title enough? I shrugged. Laura asked, “Would you ever live abroad?” I blinked and answered, “Sure,” because I was scared and I wanted her to interrogate anyone else but me and that was a quick answer. “What about Ireland?” she asked. “Okay,” I said.

Age 20.8

In front of the security gate, flanked by my mom and my older brother. In a few hours, my flight would take off and I’d fly far far away from everything I’d ever known for three months. I was terrified. There was nothing I wanted more than my mom to tell me I didn’t have to go. Instead, she kissed me, told me to be safe and that she missed me already.

Age 21

Duplex in Dundrum, Ireland. I was handed a stack of thick manuscripts of everything from poetry to fantasy, from history to crime novels. “Read them,” they instructed, “let us know if any of them are good.” And so I read, and throughout the course of the summer, decided the fate of over 200 want-to-be-novelists.

Age 23

Cubicle. I work at a college in southern Michigan now. I’ve been away from MSU for over a year, and from Ireland for almost two. I’ve learned a lot since I came back, but I think one of the biggest things I learned is even though I lost a lot of things because I went overseas (my then-best friends, my then-boyfriend), I’ve gained so much more. I know I am capable of so much more, I know so much more about the professional world, and most importantly: I know (and like!) myself. I like who I have become because I took a leap of faith based on a hunch I had when I was 18, and based off a professor’s whimsical suggestion.

It all boils down to this: if something deep down is telling you something, trust it. It might be outlandish and out of your comfort zone and your mom may roll her eyes at you, but you know what? That’s okay. Because I did what I thought I needed to do and it was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. It changed my life, as cliche as that is. I took a leap of faith.

Maybe you should too.

Lauren is a social media guru/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.