Wordless Wednesday #20

Cinque Terre (May 2015)

Dear Friends,

Here's the deal: My current employment ends this week. I think the one downside to watching kids for years and years on end is that you grow attached. I mean – they aren't your kids, but you love them. So emotional roller coaster there.

I was hoping that another position would pop up in the area where I had been working. To continue seeing many of these kids on a daily basis would definitely be a win, even if I wasn't caring for them; however, nothing came up. My search and hope was fruitless.

Instead, a position on the other side of town is now screening me for employment. Same work, longer commute, longer hours, less vacation time. (Higher pay, though + paid holidays.)

Honestly, I have no idea what this will mean for my blog. On top of the first emotional roller coaster of moving out of an area I love so very much, I've had to deal with yet a second emotional roller coaster with regards to my blog. I love writing, editing pictures, and sharing my travels with you all. I love the community I've found. But I am currently not in a position where I can rely on blogging to make ends meet.

August will be the roughest month I go through, if I get this job. Many days will be 9.5 hours of work + 3 hours (total, without considering traffic) of commute time. I had originally planned to share 30 days of Miami+ Key West in August, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen. Working with a slow computer makes me … slow. Luckily, my husband has agreed that if I get the job, I can get a new computer! So yay!! (And use Photoshop and Lightroom CC.)

So, anyway, I just wanted to share all of this with you all. My abnormal silence isn't about you, it's about me. It's about a new life stage and working through my emotions… I hope you understand. ❤️

Wordless Wednesday #19

NYC skyline at sunset
NYC (July 2016)

Forgive my silence. I'm making a difficult decision today. Life changes are always hard. And complicated.

What are you doing on this beautiful, summer day?

Weekend Getaway Sale with Swagbucks & MyGiftCardsPlus (Ad)

I don't usually share ads with you all, but this one seemed fitting… 😊

You know how everyone is planning trips and getaways this summer? Well, what if you could save money on services you are already going to be paying for, anyway?

Like… with Delta for those expensive flights you have yet to book…

or Groupon when you find the most amazing hotel at a killer price…

or IHOP because everyone's gotta eat breakfast. (And breakfast for dinner is always a win!)

Well, Swagbucks is teaming up with MyGiftCardsPlus to help save you money and simultaneously help your money go further. You buy gift cards there and get cash back (in the form of SB points on Swagbucks) for your purchase! As a special Weekend Getaway Promotion, they're offering an additional $1 (100 SB) bonus through Sunday, July 16th when you get a gift card for: Hotels.com, Delta, Southwest, Groupon, or IHOP.

While I realize $1 doesn't get you very far (a soda from McDonald's perhaps?), I'm always striving to save every penny I can when I travel. And with this promotion, you can redeem the offer five different times: once for each one gift card you purchase on MyGiftCardsPlus from the participating retailers (Hotels.com, Delta, Southwest, Groupon, and IHOP).

So, let me break it down for you:

1. You go to MyGiftCardsPlus to sign up. (Also sign up at Swagbucks.com)

2. Find the ideal gift card from Hotels.com, Delta, Southwest, Groupon, or IHOP

3. Get a percentage back from your purchase. (Right now they are advertising 3% back for Delta gift cards.)

4. When your gift card is shipped, get an additional 100SB (the promotion from this post).

5. REDEEM on Swagbucks.com for more gift cards! #Win!

To learn more, visit MyGiftCardsPlus.

Have you finished vacation planning for the summer? Will you be taking advantage of this promotion?

Wordless Wednesday #18

Cinque Terre (May 2015)

With Bastille Day right around the corner, I can't help but think back to last summer when we were exploring the coast of Brittany, France and the city of Versailles. We probably shouldn't have gone (money, timing), but I don't regret it in the least. I remember how striking it was seeing crystal clear, turquoise water for the first time (The Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of the US can be kind of murky and not nearly as pretty.), eating delicious crépes, finding the world's most cooling gelato (It was hot!), seeing fireworks and fountains, exploring gardens, and getting Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" stuck in my head.

It was amazing and completely different from every trip to France I had taken before.

Every time I return to France, it's a new experience.

And each time I return, it only seems to get better.

So, this is my reminder to my readers: go out and live your life. Accomplish the things on your bucket list. Be ready for new adventures. And look back not with regret but with contentedness. You only live life once.

Is there something you've done that, looking back, probably wasn't the best idea but is an experience you don't regret having? … Even knowing what you know now? 


July 4th

At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).

June Goals (I didn't have many…) –
✗ Stick to budget

✓ Read a book.

Additional Successes –
✓ Planned trip to Key West/Miami (checking a few things off of my 101 in 1001 list)

✓ Replaced the transmission in Justin's truck.

July Goals –
Read a book.
• Get caught up on blog comments.
• Decide/plan trip for the solar eclipse in August.
• Write email regarding my car.
• Get car fixed?
• Continue asking around for possible employment opportunities.

IWSG Question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Just a life lesson really but WRITE FOR YOURSELF FIRST. I remember getting assignments in college both in writing classes as well as in art classes that I simply could not relate to. How do you write or create when you don't feel inspired? I found that if I turned the assignment around (perhaps upside down or inside out, just found a new way to approach it), I could frequently make the topic more relatable for me. If the topic was relatable, I was more likely to get a good grade, impress the teacher and please myself. (Not to mention how much easier the project was to complete!)

So, for example, when I went into the master's teaching program at my local community college, I decided to focus on two of my strengths: art + reading. Specifically, I began researching how early childhood reading and how the reading of Pulitzer Prize-winning books affected children in areas outside of the arts and language studies. Did it help them with math? history?

Even to this day, I love challenging myself with blog post "challenges". I may not have anything to say about "dinosaurs", but maybe I can talk about how one of the churches in Dresden, Germany was rebuilt over the past twenty years to become the magnificent and beautiful piece of architecture that it is today. The church is a "dinosaur" because of its age, even if it is not necessarily what you'd refer to if you were teaching children about the Mesozoic Era.


A Message to Inspire Women to Lead from Julie Foudy, Morning Edition on NPR

A few weekends ago, my husband and I took my father-in-law out to eat for dinner and some grocery shopping. (Don't ask.) At the meal, he commented on how he was going to print out all of his images from his travels with his wife. I asked, kind of condescendingly (because I'm against wasting paper), what will you do with all of those pictures once you print them out? Thankfully, he didn't take offense to my comment. Calmly, he asked me … "Well, what do you do with all of your pictures?" Taken aback, I commented that the printing process for me is usually a bit more complicated than merely sending my images to print. I edit them, print them, and then edit them again, hoping I will get it right the second time. Printing pictures, especially the same pictures, over and over again gets expensive and feels like a waste of time, money, and paper. So, eventually, I give up. I mean – yes, sometimes I don't stop until I get it right, but sometimes I stop prematurely because I'm frustrated. Then, my husband's dad said something I've been told frequently but never taken to heart. He asked me if I have seen all of the crud people sell at festivals as good "art". He said "if they can sell that, you can sell your work" and he encouraged me to keep trying, keep printing, and not be so hard on myself.

Of course, the same goes for writing. Mine and yours. :) Keep doing your best, keep working at it, keep producing. The more you practice, the better you get.

I especially loved reading this article from NPR so soon after hearing my father-in-law's encouragement. We (or perhaps more specifically I) tend to overthink everything I do. I want to put my best foot forward always. If you show that you aren't good enough, if you post or share something that isn't your absolute best, you won't get the job, the praise, or the recognition. But in this article, Julie says to produce your work, do your thing, lead the way you do, anyway. Don't let your worries about being imperfect keep you from playing the game. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. It is not a position (like a boss) but a state of mind.

Your Turn

How is your summer going so far? Are you enjoying lazy days or have you found yourself surprisingly busy? Did you have a wonderful and enjoyable July 4th?

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