Declining Opportunities is Okay

Thanksgiving feast

Well, hi, December. Where did you come from?

November blurred by in an unusual way this year. Every day felt like I was riding a roller coaster and couldn’t figure out how to get off. There were highs and there were definite lows. And you might think that’s just how life always is. You’d be right, but this was different.

This was a month punctuated by wonderful weekends with friends, but overcast with stress and worry and dropping every normal priority. Writing went out the window (BYE NaNoWriMo, #fail), along with reading and all momentum with DBK Photography. Because while I had a beautiful birthday weekend, a beautiful last weekend of true warmth shooting mini sessions, a beautiful weekend in Denver, and, at last, a perfect Thanksgiving weekend, much of the month my thoughts were occupied by The Big News.

The Big News. The news that Ryan received a job offer in Iowa, to start quite nearly immediately. As in right after Thanksgiving. As in before Christmas. As in, life as I knew it was potentially about to completely change, and right around the holidays, at that. And I just didn’t know what to do with that.

We started planning. Ryan would take the job. It seemed like a good opportunity. I wanted to be supportive. We scoured Craigslist for apartments. We Googled the weather. We started gathering things we’d need. I bought plane tickets to fly him home for Christmas and fly me back and forth. I started to wonder how long we could live in two separate cities while he determined how he liked the job and I got ready to give notice to my employer. I didn’t want to leave my job, and for that reason I hoped we could maybe last a few months. Then I remembered the familiar ache of long distance and felt like cowering under the covers and forgetting everything altogether.

In the end, the day before Thanksgiving, we decided to decline the opportunity and stay. And I couldn’t explain to you the type of relief that went through me. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I did not want to leave my home, my job, here. I had worried that we would feel a missed opportunity if we didn’t go. I had thought maybe this was a chance for adventure, for Ryan’s career to take off, for me to set real time aside for my writing and photography. But in that moment, I realized how great we have it here. I realized I have all I need right here.

And let me tell you, that realization was a sweet one for Thanksgiving. I made a list of all I had to be thankful for regarding Ryan, family, friends, jobs, and this place we live in, and it seemed to have no end. The long weekend spent here at home was that much sweeter when I thought about the idea that we could have been spending the time packing up the car and driving the 17 hours to Iowa. What else made it sweeter was hearing our friends and my parents tell us how glad they are we’re staying–just after they’d been voicing their wholehearted support for our decision, something I couldn’t have lived without when thinking of moving. What good people I have in my life.

That’s all. That’s the update. I can breathe freely again. And plan for another cozy holiday here in our little apartment, the two of us, right near family, just like I’d been hoping for before.

Any big news in your life lately? Any happy holiday plans?

love always, Delia

Belated Weekend Recap + Currently

Bringing in November

I realize that it is now Friday, which means that last weekend is already blasted from your mind with your excitement for this weekend, but, you know, sometimes you just fall behind on things because life is a little overwhelming.

The period of October turning into November is a favorite of mine. The time span happens to include not only your general, wonderful fall weather and cheer, but also Halloween and my birthday. A lot of people like to think of November 1 as the start of the holiday season, which I have mixed feelings about because while I love amping up for Christmas, I don’t like skipping another important holiday in the process.

Anyway, the whole point of me writing here today was to update you on what I’ve been up to, and also kind of just humble brag about my awesome weekend.

We didn’t do too much for Halloween this year. Which is kind of embarrassing because I love, love Halloween. I don’t know if it’s just because my birthday falls two days after, or if it’s because of all the fun memories of trick or treating, or if it’s because of the general awesomeness that is dressing up, but Halloween is probably my favorite holiday right after Christmas. But anyway, the idea of going out became increasingly exhausting as nine o’clock approached. (Signs of aging? I hope it was just a fluke.) But, my plan to carry out Charlie Brown and Lucy costumes, complete with a beagle as our Snoopy/Red Baron was a success, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it, so we’ve got that going for us. Plus we watched Casper while eating pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, so I’d say the night was a win.

Halloween weekend in sum.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with birthday festivities and my embarking on my first ever attempt to complete NaNoWriMo. That in and of itself is quite an accomplishment, because every year November rolls by and I think, next year will be the one I actually try and start a novel. Next year, next year, next year. And here I am and my novel has kind of, sort of, begun to start. So that, combined with the great company of friends in the back room of a Macaroni Grill, and their thoughtful gifts I didn’t expect (aren’t those just the best kind?) made me pretty happy with my weekend.

And with that, I’ll leave you with another dose of currently:

Reading Mockingjay because I am behind everyone else in actually reading the Hunger Games series and because I must finish before the movie comes out this month.

Wishlisting can we talk about one thing I’m not wishlisting any more? That would be a new laptop. In case you missed it on Instagram, my hubby spoiled me rotten this year with a swanky new Acer Aspire S7 to replace my old, faithful, dreadfully slow HP.

Loving my laptop? How about loving Ryan for using his graduation money to buy us a new laptop? Am I obsessing too much about my new laptop? Fine. I’m also loving Taylor Swift’s new album like woah. Okay, now you’re really telling me to figure something new to talk about.

Appreciating my friends for being so fun and thoughtful and supportive all the time. I’m lucky to have this handful of people in this world who really know me.

Creating a novel. Woah. Excuse me while I go hyperventilate in a paper bag.

Now tell me what’s new in your life.

Linking up with Jenna and Anne!

love always, Delia

On My Love for Taylor Swift // 1989 Out Today!

Taylor Swift 1989

As you may or may not should be aware by now, Taylor Swift just popped out a new album TODAY. I may or may not have just picked the deluxe edition at Target on my way to work. (Answer: yes, that happened. And yes, I was that person waiting at the door as they opened, running down the aisles to get my hands on it and get back out to my car.) A new Taylor Swift album means a whole new set of lyrics my best friend and I can text back and forth to each other, and a whole new soundtrack to get me through the colder months. (If you didn’t know already, Taylor always releases her albums in the fall, i.e. they’re all I listen to on repeat through February or March. Maybe April.)

If you’ve reached this point in reading and decided I’m another one of those T Swift lunatics you can’t stand, #sorrynotsorry. You might want to skip this one.

But that does bring me to a point—why are people so quick to judge Taylor? I get it if her music isn’t your cup of tea. Well, I don’t get that, but I can respect it, I guess. But all those people who just can’t stand her? Why? Does she really seem fake? Because I find her to be one of the most genuine stars out there. She is fully aware of her privilege, and tries as hard as she can to run her life like a normal person. She runs her own social media accounts, and often takes time to personally reply to her fans and give them advice. She has admitted to stalking the social media accounts and blogs of her fans, just like the rest of us. She could be reading this right now. (Doubtful, but one can hope.) What other star has planned a secret mission to attend a fan’s bridal shower, and gifted her with her own baking and a freakin’ Kitchenaid? If this all seems like an act to you, then I really think you’re overestimating her acting skills. The girl is on it all the time.

Other reasons Tay Tay is awesome/quite possibly secretly my best friend:
  • She appreciates the awesomeness that is Friends.
  • She appreciates the awesomeness that is the 80s pop sound.
  • She’s obsessed with her cats.
  • She isn’t afraid to dance like no one is watching.
  • She loves baking, and shares her recipes with her fans.
  • She doesn’t need to be followed by the media to help a good cause.
  • She is true to herself and her image, and doesn’t need to resort to fitting in with the “sexy” or “edgy” trends in Hollywood to be successful. She’s never fallen into the partying bandwagon, either.
  • She plans her album releases around my birthday, every time. (Let me keep this fantasy, okay?)

Anyway, I’m sorry, I just really don’t understand her haters. I mean, I’m pretty convinced Tay and I are secretly best friends, so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt, but I don’t know how you couldn’t at least respect her, if not become completely charmed by her, if you were to pay slight attention.

Haters gonna hate

As a last point, if your issue with her is her dating history and/or its involvement in her songs, I will just leave you with two points for thought. First, how unusual is it, really, for a woman her age to have had a grand total of 6 boyfriends? No one would care if these weren’t famous people, and it’s no one’s place but her own to judge her dating history. PLUS, how many male celebrities do you see chastised for the same behavior? Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate but she’s just gonna shake shake shake shake shake it off.

Secondly, writing songs about love is what songwriters do. Taylor does use her music as a form of a diary, but who are we to judge her for that? And why do no other songwriters (ESPECIALLY men) receive such flack for writing about their current and former love interests? The men who date Taylor must be fully aware of the probability that they will be featured in one of her songs, whether in a good way or a bad way, just as the people who date any other songwriter must be fully aware they’ll appear somewhere in the songwriter’s lyrics at some point. At least Tay’s mostly coy about it.

End rant. If you got through all of that, I applaud you. I’ve been needing to get some of that off my chest for a while now. Now, on to listening to this album on repeat. SO EXCITED.

Are you a Taylor Swift fan? What’s your favorite song?

p.s. if you need any more help learning to love Taylor, read this.

love always, Delia

All About Those Books

Did you imagine singing that title in the tune of “All About That Bass”? I can’t claim complete credit for that—there’s already a pretty awesome video remake of the song that made the rounds of the university book publishing email list serve a couple of weeks ago.

In Its Time

Today I’m here linking up for The Circle with Kiki of In Its Time to talk all about books. Books, books, books. I don’t get make enough time to read for pleasure anymore, but the child who couldn’t keep her nose out of a book and felt her heart flutter when the Beast shows Belle his gigantic library of wall to wall books is still a huge part of me. And while I don’t read as many books as I’d like to at home, I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy reading them as part of my job.

What book did I just finish?

The book I most recently finished reading is My Salinger Year, which I actually wrote a full review on here. Let me just say that having not even known about it until my mom got it for me from the library, I was in for quite the treat with that one.

What book am I reading next (or reading now!)?

Right now I’m reading Catching Fire, after having finished The Hunger Games just before starting My Salinger Year. These are examples of the very few books I’m guilty of reading after having seen the movies. I know! I’m sorry! I just couldn’t get down with the concept until someone finally talked the movie up enough for me to watch it. And then Jennifer Lawrence did her thing and I was hooked. Don’t worry though, I’ll definitely be finishing Mockinjay before I go see that movie. :)

There are quite a few other books I hope to add to my list before the end of the year, too, including another UNM Press book Sophie’s House of Cards, along with, perhaps, The Year of Magical Thinking, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and The Happiness Project. We’ll see!

What are my favorite books of the year?

I’ve been reading a whole lot of great books this year, which makes me very happy to say. While I’m not reading as much as I’d ideally like to, I am reading a heck of a lot more than I did last year! Woot! Faves include Love Letters to the Dead (review here), Looking for Alaska, Leaving Tinkertown (by UNM Press!), and My Salinger Year. So, you know. Basically all of the books I’ve read this year.

What were my favorite books as a kid?

I was still am ALL ABOUT Harry Potter. I haven’t re-read them all the way through in a couple years. Maybe that needs to be my holiday reading :) Aside from the magical world of Harry Potter, though, I grew up loving the Eragon series and Watership Down.

What book would I take with me on a deserted island?

Do I have to choose just one? I’m pretty sure I’d be content with any one of the Harry Potter books, although books 3, 6, and 7 are my faves. If I could take them all, then I’d truly be 100% happy. Hmmm. The Great Gatsby would be another winner. I did my senior thesis on that book, so if I’m not tired of it after that, then I’m good for life, pretty sure. Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead are both future classics I could definitely live with reading over and over. I can’t decide. Please don’t make me!

What about you? What are some of your favorite books? What have you been reading, or hope to read soon?

love always, Delia

Shooting My First Wedding

shooting-first-wedding

It is already a month ago that I drove myself out into the mountains to photograph the wedding of an long-time friend of mine. Well, okay, Ryan drove and I worked on my breathing. But now the photos are edited, signed, sealed, delivered and I can finally share them with the world!

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I went through such a roller coaster of emotions from the time I signed on as the photographer for this wedding to the time I handed over the final images. First I was super excited. Then panic set in. Then a frenzy of research and the pressure seemed to subside. The nervousness waxed and waned up until the wedding day, and then it was time to just see what I was made of.

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I think I rose to the challenge. In the end, I delivered a set of photographs I was proud of, and that I knew the bride and groom would really appreciate. While I worked harder on this than any other photography project I’ve had in the past, I wholeheartedly would love to do it again. And again. This could become a thing, in fact.

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There was a lot to learn as I went along. Wedding photography is definitely one of those challenging things you need to do before you know how to do it, and now that I’ve done it, I’m itching for the chance to do it again, only even better this time.

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Notes to self for next time:

People will get in your way. This seems somewhat obvious, I know. I mean, obviously weddings are filled with lots of people who are going to mill around and not consider that they’re getting into the photographer’s shot. I knew that. I was just somewhat unprepared the first time around for just how often and how difficult it would be!

Don’t worry about getting into other people’s way. Call me timid, but I just don’t like blocking people’s views of things like the toast or cutting of the cake. I tormented myself trying to finesse a balance between getting the shots I needed and being that annoying person blocking the view. Not that I’m going to just stand in people’s way all the time next time, but I don’t think anyone would fault me for lingering there a little longer to get my shots. It’s what I’m there for, after all.

You’ve got to be fast, and you’ve got to have a system. Not every wedding will have the photographs set as high on a list of priorities as I would have. As much as I’d love to take the whole day to capture the wedding party and the bride and groom portraits, in reality I may have only a matter of minutes. That makes having a real game plan essential. Which brings me to the next point.

Don’t be afraid of being bossy. Chances are, most of the people in a wedding won’t know what’s going on or what they should be doing or how they can help make things run more smoothly. Instead of feeling out of control because no one is ready yet, or passively following along with the flow, take charge! It’s actually comforting for the bride and groom to see you know what to do–even if it means telling them to “get more in the shade” 800 times :)

You actually can take too many photos. If you know you got the shot, move on. This is not to say to be lazy and not try for different angles and poses of the same thing, but taking ten shots of the same exact thing just makes future Delia hate you as she has to filter through them all. Also, if there is a down moment, there is no shame in taking a breather and not feeling obligated to snap random shots you know you probably won’t use, anyway. It’s harder than it seems, keeping that finger off the trigger!

Things like this really can only be learned through firsthand experience. Sure, I knew what to expect as far as the wedding schedule, and I knew what to do as far as getting all the proper moments and details, but it’s more than that. I hope this may help some other budding photographers out there, and I hope you like the photos! Check out my photography blog to see more! If you’re in Albuquerque, or the New Mexico area, and need photography done, shoot me an email! Let’s work together :) (Shameless plug.)

Do you have any tips to add? What is something you’ve dreamed of and then done for the first time?

love always, Delia

2014 Fall Bucket List

As much as I hate to be a bandwagon jumper, the idea of making a fall bucket list is just too perfect for me to pass up. I mean, you already know I love lists. And by now you should also already know that I adore fall. So combining the two seems like an inevitable act that will bring joy to my heart, regardless of how many people have already beat me to it! Sorry not sorry ‘bout it—and so here it is:

Fall 2014 bucket list.

My Fall Bucket List

  1. Find the best vantage point and watch the Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes Rodeo.
  2. Bake pumpkin zucchini bread.
  3. Make my own perfect #PSL.
  4. Bake this pumpkin cake.
  5. Bake the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
  6. Carve jack-o-lanterns.
  7. Toast the pumpkin seeds.
  8. Roast marshmallows with friends.
  9. Go to McCall’s Haunted Farm.
  10. Go shooting with Ryan.
  11. Go to White Sands & photograph the full moon rising.
  12. Hike the Sandias when the leaves start changing.
  13. Walk through the Bosque, also when the leaves are changing.
  14. Take a notebook, and maybe a picnic, and sit outside to write.
  15. Jump in a huge pile of leaves.
  16. Do something crafty for the apartment.
  17. Fall-themed photo shoot.
  18. Celebrate my best friends’ birthdays and my own birthday.
  19. Update my wardrobe.
  20. Listen to Taylor Swift’s new album 800 times.
  21. Charlie Brown & Lucy photos with Wally (Snoopy).
  22. THE BLACK KEYS CONCERT IN DENVER.
  23. Throw Friendsgiving celebration again.
  24. Give 30 days of thanks.
  25. Start Christmas shopping early.
  26. DON’T get sucked into Black Friday shopping.

Hello, October // Currently (v.2)

Currently smelling

You guys, today is a very exciting day. It’s the first of October! I can hardly contain myself. October is by far one of my most favorite months of the year. There is so much to love. The chill that enters the air. The leaves starting to change. Hot air balloons gliding across the city. Halloween creeping right around the corner. My birthday looming two days after that. Pumpkin flavored everything. Corn mazes and haunted farms. Boot and sweater weather. The promise of the holiday season, so close.

Ah, I can just hardly contain it. This is what I’m up to, currently:

Smelling green chile roasting, pumpkin baked goods, and the cinnamon in my morning coffee. New Mexico fall smells, you guys, they can’t be beat.

Loving this photo from the wedding I shot a couple weeks ago:

Michelle & Jeremy Nature Pointe wedding

Planning oh so much for this, the greatest of months. I have a couple friends coming into town this month, along with my brother and his family, and Ryan’s dad. So there will be lots of social time with people we hardly get to see. I’m hoping to make it to our Balloon Fiesta lookout point one morning, to watch the balloons go by while sipping my homemade coffee (and not the overpriced stuff they sell at the Balloon Fiesta Park!) I’m also hoping to make it to White Sands next weekend and catch some photos of the full moon rising. Then of course there is Halloween and my birthday. I’ll be keeping busy in the best way :)

Baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, and apple muffins. In other words, my apartment smells like heaven.

Celebrating the fact that Gilmore Girls is now officially on Netflix, and, most importantly, that Taylor Swift’s new album drops in 26 days. Just in time for my birthday, as always, because obviously Taylor is secretly my best friend.

WHAT’S UP. Okay I’ll try to resume my breathing now. Best month ever.

What are you up to currently? Do you have as much to be excited about as I do?

Linking up with Dearest Love and Anne in Residence for their Currently series!

love always, Delia

Remembering My Wedding Day (Getting Ready)

I’ve mentioned a couple times here that I had gotten the amazing chance to photograph my first wedding for a long-time friend of mine. Well, the big day has finally come and gone! Last Friday consisted of me taking the day off work, sleeping in, not being able to sit still for the next three hours after waking up, and finally making my way into the mountains to the wedding venue with Ryan, my trusted second shooter. Guys, I can see why husband and wife teams seem to have the most fun together. I’m so glad he was able and willing to help me.

The whole experience brought me right back to our own wedding day. As we watched the chaos last weekend of wedding party and family arriving hours before the ceremony, trying to help set up and get ready for photos, I remembered our own frantic gathering of picture frames and table numbers and seating charts and guest books and all of my outfit accessories. And when the next morning I began going through the photos I took, I found myself also going back through the photos taken of my wedding, by the amazing Sweet William Photography. (And I’ve decided, after now having done a wedding myself, that Will is probably a wizard. He is so. good.) The memories just kept pouring in.

Getting ready.

I woke up long before I wanted to on my wedding day. As much as I tried to will myself back to sleep for another couple of hours, it was not going to happen. I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to the kitchen, my stomach a knot of nerves. To-dos were still streaming through my head. After my mom took the time to make eggs for breakfast, and we had the chance to sit around the table and eat with our family staying with us, we all got to work on throwing the rest of the wedding together. My mom made my wedding cake, so she had tending to that to do, while everyone else began getting the arch decorated with flowers and I set forth on printing out our seating charts and getting photos in their frames. I hit panic mode when I couldn’t find the prints for a good several minutes, and when it reached 12:30 and I told my maid of honor I hadn’t even had the opportunity to shower yet, she was a doll and ordered me to do so.

Getting ready.

After that, the house entered a state of greater chaos as more family and my bridal party began to arrive little bits at a time, though every one of them was as helpful as could be. One of my bridesmaids, Madison, called me as she was heading over and asked if I wanted her to pick me up something to eat on her way. “I’m not really hungry,” I told her. “I had eggs earlier.” Apparently, I can’t eat when I’m nervous. But that Madison, she kept prying until I conceded to having a mini mac and cheese. Good thing I have friends who know what’s best for me when I can’t think.

Getting ready.

This luck became even more apparent when it came time for us to make our way to the wedding venue. It was greatly disorienting leaving the house not carrying a thing, while my beloved bridesmaids all made sure to pack up all of the decorations along with my dress and veil. And my shoes, which I totally would have forgotten if it weren’t for my maid of honor. Point two for her. Point three goes to her, too, for calling me on our way to make sure I’d remembered to bring my birth control. I hadn’t.

As seems to be the theme for weddings everywhere, we were running late getting to the venue and starting the photos. At one point, I had two people working on my hair and one person doing my makeup, as I sat there trembling that we wouldn’t have time to get all the photos in, or that one of our vendors wouldn’t show up (which is a whole other story I may get to in some other post), or that the rest of the family would for some reason or another not arrive in time for photos beforehand. Yes, I think I’d classify myself as a worrier.

Getting ready.

We did, in fact, start the ceremony late, but it was no fault of our own, and frankly by that point I wasn’t even remotely keeping track of the time.

You know what’s funny? If I didn’t have the memories associated with the craziness of this day, I’d look at these photos and think everything looked so put together. So Pinterest worthy. I guess that’s the beauty of a great wedding photographer. They capture the best, the beautiful. Thank you always to the amazing Sweet William Photography!

The story of our wedding is to be continued (as I tend to babble on a bit)…

love always, Delia

If you love books, you’ll love My Salinger Year.

Book My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff

Today I want to talk a little bit about the latest piece of literature I have had the opportunity to read. It’s not often that I write a review post—in fact, by my count this is only my third one in total—which is actually kind of weird because I silently write reviews of every movie I see and book I read all the time—so you know that this is something that really struck a chord with me.

The book in question today is a memoir called My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff. Joanna is a young woman who, fresh out of grad school, moves to New York City and lands a job as an assistant to the literary agent who represents J.D. Salinger. When Joanna first enters the world of this literary agency where typewriters and Dictaphones still reign (though it is 1996), she is struck by the different approach agents, particularly her boss, take towards literature. While she grew up loving to read classic literature and pursued an English degree, her boss thought of all manuscripts as potential business deals. Money, it seems, is more important to the literary world than she had thought.

It is also more important to living in New York City than she might have hoped. Though she notes the wealth all around her in New York, Joanna cannot even afford a decent sandwich on her lunch breaks, and shares with her boyfriend a one bedroom apartment that has no heater and no kitchen sink.

This memoir is about the year Joanna worked for J.D. Salinger’s agency. It is about the year in which she was tasked with answering Salinger’s fan mail, in which she spoke with the somewhat legendary (and secluded) Salinger on the phone, and brought herself to read all of his books in one emotional weekend. But do not think this memoir is about Salinger.

No, the best thing about this memoir is that it is all about Joanna, about the literary and publishing worlds, about New York City, about the state of the world as computers first began to step foot on the scene, about reading and writing, about youth and growing up and love and hope.

I would suggest that anyone with any remote interest in any of those things read this book. You will see the timeless New York City come alive with Joanna’s eloquent language. You will feel her conflicted emotions working for an agency, wanting to be a writer. You will see her struggle living with her boyfriend, wondering if she made the right choice leaving her college boyfriend and California behind. You will see the world of publishing unfold; talk of contracts, rights and permissions, and electronic rights (a newfangled idea the agency always denied publishers) eventually make their way into Joanna’s vocabulary, something that particularly moved me, as I myself experienced those same new learnings just over a year ago. You will find yourself immersed in the not-so-distant past, where email is a controversial subject and cell phones aren’t even on the radar. You may find yourself wanting to read or re-read many of Salinger’s books. But above all, this book will leave you wanting to live a little deeper, to love a little deeper, and to find something, some experience of your own that might move you to tears and make your mark.

5 Ways to Make Progress Towards Your Goals

5 ways to make progress on your goals

I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on life or even achieving your dreams. While I’ve read and heard the opinions of the masses regarding finding happiness and success in life, and I’ve seen a lot of inspirational quotes on Pinterest, the truth is that I’m only 23, and I have a lot to learn before I can deem myself a successful adult or become any sort of expert on anything.

That said, in the past few weeks I have made a few personal discoveries that have demonstrated to be beneficial to my achievement of my goals. I often find myself overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do and hope to accomplish. I want to keep up with this blog, but also keep up with my creative writing. I want to grow my photography business, but also remain invested in my day job now. I want to live a healthy lifestyle complete with a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen, but I also want to bake all the sweets in the world. I want to try new recipes, keep a clean house, and still have time to watch TV with my husband. I want to host parties and go out with friends, but I also want to stay home and veg after a long week. I want to travel the world, but also save money to invest in a home.

It’s enough to make you just want to bury your head in your pillow and never come out of bed. And I know I’m not alone in this dilemma. But over the weekend I came to a sort of sense of peace. I realized in which ways I can change to make myself more productive towards achieving my goals, and I also realized that it’s okay to not be able to work towards them all at once—because, well, that would just be impossible.

Thus, the five things I, the total non-expert, suggest for anyone who hopes to strengthen their progress to their own goals:

  1. Ask for what you want. If you don’t let your desires be known, then no one will have any reason to grant them to you. I have always had a hard time with this. I am a naturally quiet, people-pleasing person. I don’t like to raise a fuss. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this a few times lately. When I found out there would be an editorial position at the press opening, I went straight to our editor-in-chief and asked him what he’d suggest I do to best be considered for it. I turned down another opportunity at the press in hopes that the editorial job would pan out, and it did. If I had just sat around and taken what was first offered to me, I would not be in the job I’m in now. Similarly, I would not be shooting my first wedding in a couple weeks if I had not reached out to my friend who was searching for a photographer. Putting myself out there with my desires known was terrifying, but it has paid off time and time again.
  2. Start the day off right. Sometimes, my favorite thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to park myself right in front of the TV for a lazy couple of hours. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can get me started on a lazy streak throughout the rest of the day. Last Saturday, I woke up at 9, got myself a bowl of cereal and some coffee, and delved into my writing project all morning. Starting off the day with doing something productive actually made me feel ready to tackle the other things on my to-do list, like doing the dishes and adding to my photography website. Then I got some relaxing time in later, and felt better about taking it.
  3. Balance your time between your tasks and pursuits. If you have several things you NEED to get done during the week, don’t overestimate your time and energy and expect to get them all done at once. I get much less stressed if I divide each day during the week by tasks. For example: Monday I’ll catch up on blogging; Tuesday I’ll take care of photography business; etc. This doesn’t always work out, especially since there are other things that do have to be every day, but it helps me feel better when I reach the end of a day and realize I had no time for blogging after I worked, went to the grocery store, worked out, made dinner, and did creative writing for half an hour.
  4. Come up with realistic short-term and long-term goals. Strive for something you know you could achieve in the short term, if you put your mind to it. And keep all your short-term goals in mind when you think of your big, long-term goal. It’s okay if it seems unattainable at first. It’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to go through a lot of short-term goals before you’ll reach your long-term one. It’s okay. Your goals will keep you focused.
  5. Pray and/or meditate. Whether you’re religious or not, taking five minutes out of your day to recount your blessings, ask for your wants, and free your mind of all preoccupations has such an effect on your zen. It’s freeing.

Happy pursuits, my friends. Did I miss anything on my list? What do you do to increase your productivity?

love always, Delia