Blogging Reflections

As more changes come to my blog this month, I think about what I saw my blog becoming when I first created this space. 2020 is my fourth year with rewindandunwind.com, and there is still so much I expect out of it. I still live in the past and allow it to shape my future. I’m not living in the best moments—such as knowing what I have accomplished academically and within my career. I don’t just live in the past of all those fantastic trip memories or laughs that my friends and I shared. I allow the negative moments to impact me at times when it really shouldn’t.

My first blog post outlined where the name Rewind & Unwind” came from and what my readers may find as they pull back the curtain and glimpse at micro-moments in my life:

We all do it—live that is. I mean sure eventually life happens and then ends, but that isn’t what I am blogging about. If there is a blog space after the end, then I am sure you can follow-up on my eternal life there, but until then, here is where I rewind and unwind on my times in this life.

I view the past rather simply: we are built from it, but it does not necessarily define us in our present and future lives. We achieve different goals, overcome obstacles, and transition, if you will, into the person we destined to develop into. I recognize my past, as well as the past of others, to see the person we became because of it, but it isn’t a tool used to judge another.

Who is the person I have become since blogging? What has my writing journey brought me, and what doors have opened since that I don’t give enough credit to or recognize? What remains valid from the past four years?

I find myself setting short-term and long-term goals for myself. I collect dates and reflect back as years past and notice what has changed. I rewind, if you will, and see how I gain a new understanding of where my life is now.

When life happens it is really easy to get wrapped up at the moment, and that is where I need to unwind. You can encounter life changes at any moment during any day. There really isn’t any standard on how to prepare for life, you just kinda have to get through them. As lackluster as that sounds, there are definitely lessons to be learned and tips that can be shared.

After four years, I think a lot is still the same as how I view this blog’s future. I still have a long way to go before seeing what I would like from this blog; I still am incredibly proud of its journey thus far. Rewinding and looking at what has happened this past decade and the decade before makes a difference. The anniversaries and dates that mattered then don’t matter less. They feel more distanced as more events follow in suite.

There is still so much more that I want to reflect on and learn from as I continue my writing journey. I look back on where my writing was before my masters, and I see there is still so much to learn and share. As I continue evolving my blog, there are so many blogs that I pull inspiration from, but here a few that I think you may like too:

http://steffysprosandcons.com

http://www.poppydeyes.com

https://www.aladyinlondon.com

https://noellesfavoritethings.com

Check out some of my recent blogs below:

14 Septmember 2016

I had to share this shot because it gave me major Taylor Swift folklore vibes, except I did it first in 2016. There are times I miss Colorado while living in this city. I miss the air’s freshness, the mountains acting as a backdrop, and the way the trees fill the empty spaces around you. These photos … Continue reading “14 Septmember 2016”

Goals For the Season

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

MARK VICTOR HANSEN

Four years ago today, I sat overlooking the Rocky Mountains on an afternoon trip to Estes, Colorado, with one of my best friends. We spent the day hiking around the lake, driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, touring the Stanley Hotel, and photographing our journey along the way. I held my mother’s film camera tightly—just like I had in London, Paris, and Italy, right before this trip to Colorado. I still didn’t understand aperture, f-stops, or what to set my lens speed to, but that didn’t stop me from snapping through a film roll. I had always wanted to understand the rawness that film captured, and at the time, I was learning to love the light leaks and imperfections my processed photos held.

Right before this trip, I had let go of my biggest goal of the season and focused on what would come of grad school and writing. Around this time, the idea for my first novel came to me in the parking lot of the Elementary school where the kids I nannied each day attended. That idea later manifested into my fascination with the love that hangs in the words of a handwritten letter and how that interest and prompt would then become the thesis for my master’s degree. When I spoke about grief this time in September four years ago, I had no idea that later I would experience my grief more than ever before.

At the time of this photo, I was in a brand new relationship with its issues. I struggled each day to see the longevity of that love. At the time, my trustfulness gave power to the process of just following what felt right. I knew little of my callowness, but I later would learn that I did know something—I was trying to navigate the same raw and imperfect emotions that I would one day learn to love. I did everything I could to make the view come into focus for photography, but I needed my personal view to focus on what I was experiencing.

What I needed to improve on in 2016 sometimes feels like the same thing that I need to improve on in 2020—allow myself to be imperfect. 

For the first half of 2020, I began setting goals and then painstakingly laid the foundation of who I want to be and where I want to see myself in 2021 and 2025, and 2030. These goals became my benchmarks for recognizing change within my life. This included goals like “make two new friends,” “get a job,” and “start paying down student loan debt.” I have kept track of these goals in my 2020 planner—something many believe was the worst purchase of 2020, but for me, it was one of the best investments because it set into motion the process of becoming the person I most wanted to be.

My planner allows space for me to track my goals and to feel productive with my time. I feel best when my day is full, where I am productive, and I am working towards who I want to be. I hold myself to this standard because I know how good I feel when I get up early and tackle the day. At the end of those days, I feel tired and sleep better than any other day. At the end of those days, I look back at all the little red checkmarks and believe I made something of myself.

But because of that, the biggest challenge I face is allowing myself the space to be imperfect and making room for error. I look at an empty week in August and wonder what happened? Where did the desire to be productive go? Why wasn’t I proactive for my future? 

My negative self-talk can be all-consuming. Sometimes, I get angry at the girl from 2016 who was learning to love raw and imperfect emotions. What happened? Where did your desire to be productive go? Why weren’t you more proactive? Why didn’t you think of me, our future, and how your impulsivity brought me heartache?

I knew I would curse that Hannah for years to come. How disappointed I was in her for just rolling over on one of our goals and forging through the warning signs that she ended up internalizing. But something I am learning to understand is just how important those decisions in 2016 were for a growing me.

What I was learning in September 2016 is the same goal I am setting for myself this autumn. The goals I have set for this season include focusing on how I spend my time and allowing myself the space to learn from the past and what I deem as “imperfect traits.” 

Journaling and tracking my days are just some ways where I feel like I can take control of what I want for my future. I have found that I lose track of time quickly—weather it is scrolling aimlessly, binging the next season of a Netflix series, or cleaning all day while I put off what I really should be doing. A goal is to spend shorter intervals of time on tasks and breaking them up into sprints instead of marathons. And with that goal comes the responsibility to allow room for rest days.

This trip to Estes feels like a lifetime ago, but it was one day that put my future into focus. When you overlook the world’s vast beauty, it changes the way you view how small the imperfections are in your life. At that moment, I didn’t think about what I should be doing to better myself for the future; I was thinking about how beautiful a moment could be. So here’s to finding the beauty in imperfections and setting ourselves up for futures we sit in awe of when we set out dreams in motion.

A Love Letter to London

A man named Harrison once believed I was in love with him, but what he never understood was he is the one person who reminded me of my love for London––he was the strongest tether to the feeling I still struggle to describe even today. 

My love never belonged to Harrison; hopefully, he knows that by now as any kind of romantic feelings towards each other have washed away with time. He was a man that I met through a dating app. We must have matched around the 27th of September, roughly eight days into my study abroad trip.

To this day, I still don’t understand how we matched. He lived in Portsmouth, and I lived in London, around 80 miles of rolling hills stood between us, but somehow he slipped into my 5-mile parameter and caught my attention.

Now, imagine spending nearly three-months of your study abroad time consistently talking to one man as you learn to love yourself—like really fall into the person you‘ve dreamt of being. We never met in person, but towards the end of my time in England, I knew I should goodbye. Before my flight took off in December, I had a few more texts left on my burner phone, so I drafted him a message and said my final farewell. His reply sent me into tears.

“Fu** me that went fast! I will definitely be keeping in touch and it’s nice to know you thought of me before you go back. Have a safe flight home and have a good Christmas IF I don’t speak to you before xx”

You are right Harrison, those three months did go by too fast. Saying goodbye to him, meant I finally was saying goodbye to London, and that was never something I could draft in a 160 character text message.

I sat at Heathrow airport, two hours before my flight, bawling into my chest as I sat on the leather seats and I stared down the departure board waiting for my gate to appear on the board. I wiped away tears on my emerald peacoat and shifted my legs as feelings of anxiety and nervousness overcame me.

I had spent the Uber ride to the airport sucking down tears, as I was sharing it with a roommate of mine I barely got to know over our three-month stint living abroad. At six o’clock in the morning, it was hard to know how much my anxiety and emotional state was due to sleep deprivation versus pure sadness, but I came to know just how depressing leaving London would be.

***

Now that I am older, and four years removed from my time in London, I now know I don’t need to hang on a physical being to feel the pull England has on me since the beginning. There was happiness hidden in every Sunday roast, pint of cider, “mind the gap” painted pavement, and brightly-colored townhomes.

Before London, my past seemed to mimick feelings similar to asphyxiation. I felt like I struggled for air under the pressure of not feeling whole––not feeling like myself. I felt out of place for so much of my young years that it was hard to feel like I wasn’t drowning in a skin that wasn’t mine. London allowed me to exhale then inhale with new beginnings for the first time.

Much like the days of my stay fell to the past, the green leaves on the trees in Notting Hill slowly faded into the colors amber, orange, and scarlet until they fell gracefully and collected at the bottom of the tree trunks. They painted the pavement with colors under the dazzling street lights, and every day I returned to my flat, I was entranced. I did not mind that this love was solely a one-way street. I could not overlook the happiness loving London brought me, thus teaching me how to love myself. 

I have only returned to London once since leaving that faithful day in December; that trip was three months later in March. That’s right, I lasted 13 weeks before getting on yet another transatlantic flight back to London. I was only there for a week, but that was enough to remind me that the city wasn’t going anywhere, and my love would continue to ignite in my chest like an ember refusing to submit itself to the ash surrounding it.

So, instead of saying goodbye in March, I knew that I will always feel the love I have for the city. The coordinates from the photo above hang around my neck with the words “Bloom & Inspire” engraved into the gold. For me, that spot in Regent’s Park, in London, was my time to shed everything that felt wrong hanging off my body and rebloom into the dreams that have always inspired me. This blog would have never exsitied had it not been for London, so I keep the city with me in my heart and feel the warmth of my time there until I visit there again.

There are very few cities that I have had such a tremendous effect on my life, like London, but I am looking forward to talking more about the growth I experienced in the town, no matter how short or long my experience there may have been. At times I can feel brokenhearted, as I leave so much of myself behind when I move on to another chapter. But, I am forever indebted to these cities and I wonder will ever be my home once more.

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

It may not be lost entirely, partially because I am doing everything I can to revive the sweet satisfaction of sending and receiving letters through the post, but it is an activity of our past that today’s technological advances continue to bury.

I love that I can pick up the phone and listen, see, and talk to my loved ones all over the world, but there is something so romantic about the act of grabbing a greeting card at the local shop, sealing an envelope with a kiss, and marking an envelope with the address of a loved one.

There’s a delay of satisfaction as days or a week goes by until they receive it in the mail which prompts a smile as the last thing they expected in their bundle of bills was their name written in familiar handwriting.

In May, I attended Book Con and had a chance to talk to a few volunteers at the Thinking of You Week Booth. They had set up a card shop where large rotating, greeting card stands surrounded tables filled with stickers and markers. People filled every table as they spent time scribbling long notes, detailing sketches, confessing their innermost thoughts, or telling someone how much they miss them.

Because a letter literally translates into showing someone you are thinking of them and it makes the recipient’s dopamine sing sweet serenades of satisfaction. And that is precisely what this week is dedicated to, showing your loved ones you are thinking of them.

There is something about a freshly sharpened pencil pressing into a crisp card —there’s something about watching the way the ink bleeds onto the page that makes your thoughts come to the surface. I find it so exciting to sit down and write to a lover, friend, or family member. I love the way you can personalize a simple birthday wish or holiday greeting and know that theyTOYW_Badge_Undated.jpg will read the letter and feel the warmth in your words.

The group at Thinking of You Week celebrates sending a card and delivering a smile. On their website, you can find thier mission, “Thinking of You Week is an international movement to celebrate the joy of sending and receiving hand-written notes and greeting cards. Between September 23-29, 2019, help us create a wave of happiness across the globe by letting people know that we’re “Thinking Of You”. Thinking of You Week is all about the personal touch!” 

I encourage all of the you to take a moment to write your loved ones this week and remind them how much they mean to you. It’s a small, but a grand gesture to spread positivity throughout the world. I love writing letters, but something I will always love more is receiving them — I love the reminder of how pure my relationship is with someone and having a little memento from them to look back on in years to come.