Wednesday, August 30, 2017

mid-week rambles.


- Like many, my heart is breaking for the people (and animals) of Houston as they suffer from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. While there isn't a whole lot I can do from Florida, I decided that I wanted to skip a lunch out this week and donate what I could afford to a meaningful cause. There are so many different ways you can help, and if you're not sure where to start, this article really helped me decide exactly where I'd like to donate.
- I'm one week into my last year of my grad program and it already feels like it's been a month. Last minute, I was placed into a private practice setting for my advanced clinical practicum. In other words, I'm actually working off campus in a clinic that isn't affiliated with the university when I was supposed to be at the campus clinic for one more semester. In other other words, I have a bonus externship - WOO! I'm already learning so much and I'm so thankful...but I am also super overwhelmed and desperately trying to find a balance. Currently feeling thankful AF for planners, to-do lists, and a patient boyfriend because I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be a busy couple of months for me.
- Taylor Swift forever. I will admit I had to listen to Look What You Made Me Do a couple of times before I was hooked/on board. Now? I know every word. If you're an active listener of Taylor, you've probably noticed her slow transition into pop music since the Red album. After 1989, I was down for full-on pop Taylor, so her new song really didn't surprise me the way it did for a lot of people. I am so ready for Reputation
- Margaritas over everything. After my friend's bachelorette party this weekend, I'll be trying to cut back on my favorite sugary alcoholic drink for a month or two. As much as I love tequila, I'm not so sure it loves me back. You know what that's like. But sometimes you just need one (or two), and sometimes said margaritas need to be the size of your face. After the launch into the semester I had last week, you beeest believe I started my Friday night with a classic marg + trio dip + lettuce tacos (because...balance? sure).


What's on your mind this week? 






Tuesday, August 22, 2017

on blogging | finding a new direction


As of late, I've had a little bit of difficulty with this space - my little corner of the internet. I've had a bit of difficulty with myself as a blogger, period. I don't know my direction anymore, if I even have one at all (or if I ever have...ha!).

When I started this blog in 2014, I was working my first job out of college...a job I once loved that I'd grown to not love. I quickly became obsessed with the blogging world - I discovered BlogLovin', started following my favorite bloggers on Instagram, and thought of a million post ideas a day. I was so inspired by the hundreds of former cubicle dweller turned full-time blogger; I wanted to learn everything I could about it so I could become one, too. I was brand new to it all, and the world felt like my oyster.

So I started writing about my life - little ramblings, personal updates, plans for the upcoming holiday season, opinions, etc. And I wrote all the time. I loved it! In 2014 and 2015, I had upwards of 90 posts per year (as compared to my 43 posts to date in 2017). I never got comments, I rarely ever used quality photos, and there still wasn't a whole lot of planning that went into my content, but I loved doing it...until I started reading posts about "how to monetize your blog! and grow your following! and get 32948 repins!" and I figured out that, as much as I loved writing alllll about my life in my little blog, it wasn't going to grow the way I wanted it to if I didn't start cranking out informational, Pinterest-pinning ready posts. So that's what I started to do, and somehow between now and then, I managed to get a few more readers, a better following on Instagram, and more comments.

But even doing that, three plus years later, I still hardly have much of a following at all. There's no rhyme or rhythm to my content or post consistency. I'm not all that great at "branding myself." I don't even have a Facebook page for my blog because I get so nervous about people I know in real life judging my every word and move (I know I need to get way past that...meep). I guess that, to this day, I still don't feel like what I write here, what I post on Instagram, how I try to portray myself as a writer in general is legitimate enough to promote...and I feel like a bit of a "blog failure" because of it. And I know, I know, that's all on me.

BUT.

Anyway. 

I'm rambling myself into a rabbit hole here - back to my direction (or lack thereof). I suppose I feel like I run into a few problems with this one. Even after all this time, I'm having trouble finding my "niche":

I love fashion bloggers, but I don't consider myself one. Primarily because I'm lucky if I can coordinate shorts and a tank top with a pair of sandals that don't make my legs look like pork sausages. That, and I don't have much of a disposable income for new clothing right now. That, and I am so lazy about taking good blogger photos that aren't glasses of wine with a pretty background. Props to all my blogger pals who style cutie outfits, pick a destination, and shoot looks because you are far more ambitious souls than I.

I'm in graduate school, but I don't consider myself to be a college blogger. While I still love and follow so many college bloggers, I fall into a much different role than most of them. For some reason, even at 26, I love reading about "must-haves" for your first college dorm - but it doesn't really make sense for me to write those kinds of things.

...and while we're on that topic, I don't think the blogger world needs one more list about how to become a morning person. Or, at the very least, no one needs to hear about that from me (everyone else can keep those coming, though - maybe one day I'll catch on).

As I mentioned, I'm not super consistent with my content, which is actually the number one rule of blogging: be consistent. Because there's small part of me, a tiny voice inside my head, that screams at me every time I publish a post, "what's the point? does anyone really care what you have to say? not so much, dude." So sometimes I just don't write. If I think it's something other people wouldn't want to read, I throw it out. And that's the last thing that blogging should be about. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's rule number two of blogging: blog for yourself. And if I'm blogging for myself, I want to look back and remember moments, feelings, personal events, small victories, big triumphs, powering through frustrations. I want to look back on these posts and be able to live vicariously through my past self. That's what I want from this blog...even if that doesn't get me sponsorships or 100 new readers a week.

Because at the end of the day, I love writing. I just think that what I'm finally realizing and owning up to is what I don't love writing about. I don't love writing about how you can "become a better person if you just do XYZ." I don't love writing about my favorite new cardigan or what I bought from the Nordstrom anniversary sale (no hate, though - I love reading those posts! I'm just not a fan of writing them myself). I love writing pieces that people can connect with - stories, little bits about daily living, etc. Does that make sense? Am I still rambling at this point?

From the beginning, I've been pretty honest with you guys, so I wanted to give a heads up as to where my mind has been lately, so here it is. Maybe my "direction" is just a new direction. Things might change around here a little bit...or they might not. Maybe my content won't be all that different at all. Maybe I'll just finally be okay with being a person who has a blog vs. being a full-time blogger (for now anyway...ha).


Has anyone else ever felt this way about blogging before? Am I a crazy person? Does this make any sort of sense at all? Asking for a friend.








Friday, August 18, 2017

On My Heart This Week | Charlottesville.


Guys, I know you're trying to stay caught up with your friends' babies and funny puppy videos, and everyone is invading your social feeds with opinions about this past weekend's events in Charlottesville. But I'm not here to talk politics, because truthfully, I don't believe this to be a political issue at all: I'm here to talk about right and wrong. I'm going to be so honest here and I truly mean it with the utmost respect: if you aren't deeply disturbed by the events that took place in Charlottesville this weekend, you aren't paying attention. 

If you haven't yet, I urge you to watch Monday's episode of HBO's Vice. It's difficult to watch, but so necessary. My jaw dropped. I cried. Then Ryan watched it and forced me into a hug at the end of the episode.

"Jews will not replace us."

"This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal n*****s!"

"We're not nonviolent. We'll fucking kill these people if we have to."

"Fuck you f*****s!"

Actual quotes from white supremacists. Horrific, isn't it?

Guys, that's me they're talking about. I was born to a Jewish father. I have Jewish family. I have a Bulgarian brother-in-law. I have black friends and a black "uncle." I have gay friends. And if it were up to these disgusting individuals, we'd all be exterminated. Literally. 

What did you think about when you first learned about the Holocaust? The Warsaw Ghetto? Auschwitz? That it could never happen again? That we wouldn't allow it? That someone, somewhere would speak up, do something, anything?

I saw a great quote on my friend Chelsea's blog this past week: "If you are wondering how you would've acted during Nazi Germany or during the Civil Rights Movement, look at how you're acting now." It's so true. It's easy to think that we've evolved as a society, as a country, as humans. But if this weekend proves anything, it's the exact opposite.


So speak up, friends. Say it's not okay. Call it what it is. Say it in your out loud voice to the people you care about, to people you don't know, to people who need to hear it. This kind of deep-rooted hatred is unacceptable. And know that if I get "too political" for your liking on Twitter or on my blog, it's because I'm actually terrified. Because it affects me. Because it affects people I love. 

It's bigger than Trump versus Hillary, Republican versus Democrat, conservatives versus liberals. Above all else, this is about human life. Be a spokesperson for love and acceptance. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Simple Moments | July 2017

I know we're nearly halfway through August already (um, what) but I've been on vacation, so please excuse my lateness!

1 - We were house sitting at my parents for the first two weeks of July, so we threw a little Independence Day gathering. I made my first fruit pizza, sipped on Tito's & grapefruit, and indulged in both a cheeseburger and a hot dog because #YOLO, right?


2 - One of my best friends, Sable, took me out to a late birthday brunch at my new favorite Clearwater breakfast spot Wildflower Cafe (you can read my friend Kahla's post allll about this adorable spot here!). We ate mini waffles and omelettes, drank mimosas, and talked about her upcoming wedding, my graduate school journey, and everything between.


3 - Shortly after 4th of July, I fell sick, and decided to take advantage of my mom's garden tub. About an hour before hopping into the bath, Ryan went off to the gym and I thought to myself, "I would loooove some pho right now...maybe I'll text Ryan. Eh, we have food here. I won't make him go out of his way." Friends - relationship telepathy must be a thing, because as soon as I settled into the tub, Ryan shot me a text: "hey babe, how about some spicy pho since you're not feeling well? text me where i should pick it up." I didn't think I could love that man anymore, and yet.


4 - A date night at Russo's Pizzeria...where I actually put on a full face of makeup and did something to my hair and looked like a real person. Whereas Ryan...he just woke up like that. Sigh.


5 - Sasha getting handsy at Dog Bar on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. We normally turn into pumpkins by about 4 p.m. on Sundays, so it was fun getting to check out a new bar in St. Pete with friends (both furry and human-esque).


6 - A brief 20 minutes of relaxation toward the end of the semester with a new book, a cup of coffee, and a nosy pooch.


7 - Our first trip to Zoe's Kitchen. I got the cauliflower rice bowl which was okay, but I don't think I'd get it again. Next time I think I'll try their power grain or mediterranean salad trio bowl...if you're an active Zoe goer, let me know what you recommend!


8 - Sipping Coronas and margs out of inflatable flamingos was the perfect way to end the first year of graduate school with some of my fabulous friends. Not pictured: the large pizza & garlic knots we ate later while watching To The Bone, a movie about eating disorders. Irony at its finest.


9 - A quiet moment just before the sun went down during my nine hour flight over to Europe...where I had the entire row of seats to myself. What. A. Life.


What were some of your favorite simple moments in July?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice for your First Year of Speech-Language Pathology Graduate School.

Note: This post is for my fellow or future SLP graduate students! Non-SLP following - you're more than welcome to read on, but if you're not interested, come back later in the week for more travel/personal bits :)

I can't believe my first year of speech-language pathology grad school has already come and gone. I start my second (and final!) year in just a couple of weeks, so I wanted to share a few bits of advice I've gathered from my experience as a first year speech-language pathology student for anyone who's about to start their program this month, or anyone applying in the future! I hope you find this at least a tiny bit helpful as you begin your journey! I certainly don't know it all (I don't think I even know half of it all), but after reflecting on the last year, I've found these to be true:



No amount of observation will prepare you for treating your own clients. Going in, I knew that I had no real idea what I was doing, but I didn't realize how true that actually was...ha! Every client is different, and finding what works while making sure it's an evidence based practice plus making it entertaining for your client (especially the kiddos) can feel especially daunting. But you will learn. Some days you'll want to cry, but you'll always learn!

Staying humble is key. It's no secret that these programs are tough to get into, so it's safe to say that you are one smart cookie! But as a student, or even as a seasoned SLP, you don't know everything (duh!). It doesn't matter how many textbooks you've read, how high your undergrad GPA was, or how many hours of observation you've logged (read above!). Be respectful of your supervisors, keep an open mind to your classmates' ideas, and always be kind. Remember that your supervisors and professors have years of experience with what works and what doesn't and you get to piggy back off that experience...pretty cool, if you ask me! Having said that, never be afraid to ask "why," or to ask if you can try something new.

Finding "your people" (or your person) in the program is so important. From clinical triumphs to formulating appropriate goals, complaining about a tough session or simply wanting to talk about your future profession - there are certain things that your classmates will just understand better than your parents, non-SLP friends, or significant other. These programs are tough, and you'll need someone to bounce ideas off of, to study with, to grow with. You're all in grad school now, so the competition is out the window (heads up - there will still be some people who are competitive AF...I say either kill them with kindness, or ignore them altogether).

Time management time management time management. In some ways, graduate school is a bit easier than undergrad. I can't put my finger on why that is exactly...maybe because getting into grad school is so difficult in itself that once you're actually there, all you have to do is survive. However, it requires a lot of time management. Unlike undergrad, you have to be readily available at any point for a meeting with your clinic group, your supervisor, or a team project. Add in your individual client, making treatment plans and writing SOAPs plus homework (and you know, existing as a human outside of grad school), and you can get overwhelmed real quick. Keeping a planner is important, as is being flexible...like, real flexible.

Understanding what you're learning and actually being able to apply it as a clinician is far more important than getting an A. I know, I know. We want all the A's! But remember that when you're interviewing in the future, they're not going to ask you about your 4.0 GPA - they'll be more concerned with your clinical experiences.

But it's also okay to not be interested in every single thing you're learning. As an SLP, you can wear a ton of different hats over the course of your career, but you probably won't be wearing them all at the same time. So don't feel guilty if learning about swallowing disorders and feeding tubes doesn't appeal to you. You'll find your niche!

You don't have to devote all of your time, energy, and mental space to school. 
And you shouldn't. Study hard, but make time for fun things and don't feel guilty about it.

Most importantly? Enjoy this time. Even when it sucks (because it will). Your classmates will become some of your best friends - take advantage of getting to see them every single day because you'll miss it when it's gone (AKA like I will be when we're all at different externships & in different classes this semester). 

If you're currently in a program or a seasoned SLP, any tips for incoming first years? Or if you're a graduate student for a different kind of program, what's the best piece of advice you could give, or that you've received? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Europe Update | What I've Been Doing & What I Haven't.


I'm halfway through my two week European adventure, and I think I have finally caught up on the time change. Up until about two nights ago, I was staying up until four in the morning every night and sleeping until noon - AKA 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. my time. Ha! I don't even keep that kind of sleep schedule back home (although maybe my Europe-self is on to something here).

For many reasons, it's safe to say that my life in Europe is definitely different than my life back in the states (obviously!). Out here, I've been doing a lot of:
  • Drinking wine. Haven't been able to find margaritas in the places we've been so far. One night I was given a glass of sauv blanc with chopped bits of raspberries and strawberries (at a bar!) and it's all I've been wanting to drink ever since. 
  • Reading. Finished What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. Started & finished Wonder by RJ Palacio and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Now I'm onto Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I've definitely been in the mood for light & easy summer reading, and I'm absolutely loving my Kindle Paper White, especially for a trip like this.
  • Eating salad. Shopska is a super popular, traditional salad here in Bulgaria - made with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and parsley, topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sirene cheese (very similar to feta). I've been eating it with every lunch and evening meal and I have yet to get sick of it.
  • Going to the beach. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that most of my pictures have been at the beach. We spent a couple days in northern Greece in a small beach town just south of Kavala on the Agean Sea, followed by three days along the southern seaside bits of Bulgaria on the Black Sea. I didn't anticipate a beach vacation but I have been loving every second of it.
  • Spending time with my sister (obviously). Since she lives in Europe, I only get to see her about once a year, so I love getting to spend one-on-one time with her out here!
I haven't been doing a whole lot of:
  • Straightening my hair (or doing anything with it at all).  brought my hair straightener, but it doesn't plug into the European converter my sister had, so it's been safely tucked away in my suitcase for the last week. 
  • Wearing makeup. I have yet to see a full face of makeup on anyone here, so I haven't been wearing much of mine either. A bit of foundation for sunscreen purposes, bronzer so I don't look like a ghost, and a swipe of mascara has been my go-to routine and it's been wonderful.
  • Mindless scrolling. I'm not doing a "roaming" plan out here, so I have to be connected to Wifi for my phone to work. So when I find it, I upload a quick picture to Instagram and give Ryan a call. Not a whole lot of time to check social media the way I normally do, and it's been great to disconnect a bit more than usual.


It's hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, I'll be back in school mode! Trying to "summer it up" out here as best I can until then. What have you been doing to celebrate summer?







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