Portlandia Nostalgia

I’ve lived in Ohio for a more than a few months, but the longing that I feel for the state of Oregon is still as strong as ever. This couldn’t be more true after opening my old Portland Community College inbox and seeing a ton of emails; Pacific Northwest sustainability events, PCC campus talks, and Phi Theta Kappa activities. The best message was a sweet “just-reaching-out” email sent from my past mentor and Stress and Human Health course instructor.

After answering these emails at 11: 24 pm last night, I resigned myself to the fact that I might always miss Portland; like a family member you didn’t say goodbye to or an unresolved break-up.

I accepted that I needed to Mope a little. My current situation is that I attend college for free in the same state I was born in, but my heart is in a different place altogether. A place with a sh*t ton of rain clouds, cold beaches, cedar trees, food carts, and voodoo donuts. A place I can eat plants, wear flannel, and go brunching to my heart’s content.

I moped, but with that moping comes knowing that I left for valid reasons. I left for discounted college tuition and greater family bonding, as most of my blood relatives reside here in Ohio. I also left to distance myself from that “bubbly” feeling one gets when one lives in one place for too long. I needed to (literally) expand my horizons.

I’m a sad little cloud, but my brain reminds me:

“If it’s meant to be Lauren, you will be back. Oregon will still be there. Portland will still be there. The donuts will still have jam in them and mini-pretzel rods sticking out of their hearts.”

The silver lining? On New Year’s Eve (tomorrow) I get on a plane to make a 6-day trip back to Portland.

In that case, I can stop being nostalgic for a little while.

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Honestly, I Don’t Give A…

I’ve spent a long time giving a damn about what others have thought.

I won’t say that I  currently never care about how I’m percieved in other’s eyes. That’s not realistic. But compared with my past, shy self, I’ve taken a few strides.

I’ll share a few tips that have actually helped me.

  • Give yourself credit. Basically, a self-pep talk. When you complete a tedious project at work, smooth over a bumpy social situation, or ace an exam…don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself an A+. You know better than anyone else about how hard you worked, even if others tear you down by suggesting otherwise.

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  • Feel free to brag a little. Know that this isn’t an invitation to be “all that.” It is an invitation to sell yourself a little. Whether it’s at a job interview, on a scholarship application, or at a social gathering, it doesn’t hurt to share a few of your greatest exploits. It can be great for networking and also shows people that you’re a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Comfort is key. I’m no beauty guru. But I can still say with certainty that trading ‘trendy’ for ‘casual’ is a good idea (within reason). I know that when I wear my blanket-soft, blue hoodie, I give my best (non-capstone related) college presentations, make better small talk with strangers, and leave the house ready to face global warming.
  • Binge-watch Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Nothing helps better prepare you for telling the world to talk to your hand. It only takes a few episodes of learning from Chloe. From her hooker toothbrush habits, to the jam fetish website, to her constantly badass repartee, she’s the female Johnny Bravo who can properly teach the art of not giving a f—.
  • Do your research. Confidence goes along with knowledge. College? Auditions? Opening a business? Know what to expect so you have the upper hand in your sword fights. Ask questions.
  • Buy a witty t-shirt. Whether you’re telling people that you’re a mermaid who’s working Leg Day at the gym, or you’re sporting the phrase “Wingardium Mimosa”, let your smiling toasts and cats-with-shades shirts rock it on your frame. Unless you’re wearing “Doormat, Step Here”. Plus, it’s way easier to break the ice.

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  • Appear laid-back. This may not be in the cards for your job interview, but if you sling your arm back in a booth or chair, mind science says that you look a thousand times more confident. Essentially, try to look like any situation isn’t your first rodeo.

 

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  • Pump the iron. Exercise. (This is sort of the answer to most issues in life. I swear it’s on every list.) If you are working out and feeling the “runner’s high” you’ll be a bit more deaf to the pudge-pokers and general Debbie Downers.

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  • Make a list. On the days that you don’t feel accomplished, make a list of the things you’ve done. Whether it’s climbing a mountain, winning an award, finishing a huge project, or meeting your favorite celebrity, write it down and read it back to yourself. If you’re feeling precocious, type it up and save it for an emotionally rainy day.

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  • Connect with the squad. Kind of self-explanatory. Call, tweet, or text the squad. Better yet, go get pizza. Strut your stuff and get the support from the people whose opinions you truly care about.

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  • Distance yourself from the hate. It’s the other part to # 9. Block your ex from calling. Don’t cross the Internet troll bridge. Overall, keep yourself away from people who bring you down. This includes family members and supposed friends. If you’re surrounded by negative vibes, it can get to you.

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  • What Would ______ Do? We all have an idol. Insert their name here and ask. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Don’t regret it later. If I’ve learned anything, it’s go for the gold. (Olympic pun intended.) Life is to short not to do or say what you feel, whether it’s studying abroad, going in for the kiss, or paying a simple compliment. While there might be consequences (it happens), you won’t be up at night wondering what might have been.

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This isn’t an all-inclusive list. If I’ve missed something important, let me know. Also, comment below on what makes your confident self tick. It could make it into a part 2…

Spread Too Thin

Question To Self: What time do you have in your schedule to rest?

Answer: 4 hours a night.

This was my allotted shut-eye time during college in the last year.

Before focusing on self-care, I was spread thinner than a tablespoon of peanut butter on a Hash House a Go Go pancake.

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Positive Side Note: I ate this. Guys. It’s the size of a pizza.

I volunteered monthly for the Red Cross, was the Vice President of Scholarship for my Phi Theta Kappa chapter, worked in the Environmental Center at Portland Community College (PCC), had a hourly job as a dietary aide, and was The Green Initiative Fund Southeast Representative for PCC. Etc., etc.

The responsibilities continued. I wasn’t giving myself the time of day for self-care. I was slipping beneath the surface. I wanted to breathe again, but I couldn’t stop myself from saying no to new opportunities. I was drifting away from my social circle and my bed. I was drowning on a perfectly dry patch of land. I needed help, but disliked asking. I thought I could have it all. But really, it was wave after wave of responsibility.

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Being busy has always been important to me. When I was little, I actually dreamed about the day that I would have to write important papers and draft reports. As a 6-year-old, I loved having an excuse to write and stay busy. When I got older, the reality was harder to shoulder.

In college, I also happened to be surrounded by these awe-inspiring people who  excelled in project management and networking. They were students too…just like me. I felt like my actions weren’t reaching far enough and I needed to better impress. Who was I impressing though? Myself?

Based on what I experienced, I feel certain in one respect; Juggling and time management has become a symbol of status.

It seems that the busier you are in the American individualistic culture, the more successful you’re perceived. I mean, how can you be successful if you spend your day doing any one thing, or working at any one job? To be rich, powerful, and knowledgable, sleep should be at the bottom of your list. Naps? You can’t even.

This is what I thought.

I found that the things that I achieved in the past came with a buttload of stress that overshadowed everything I did. It was like walking with this raincloud on my head. I knew I was in a funk. Lacking in sleep, I think my body was aging faster on some cellular level I couldn’t consciously perceive. The late night snacking became more than just an occasional weekend splurge. It was a personal tactic to keep me from falling asleep. If I was making macaroni and cheese, I couldn’t go to bed and leave it to burn the house down. Plug in my computer and set up my station on the kitchen counter and I was stuck on wide-awake mode. Cheesy noodles included.

The pressure to study, email, write, calculate, and finish everything by the required deadlines sapped me. Burnout was real, and I was scorched by the end of the last academic year.

And if you can believe it, I was working with my Phi Theta Kappa chapter on a project that centered on self-care. Ironic stuff, right?

If there’s a few things that have changed in the last few months, it’s my habits. I say N-O to projects that I can pass on. I ask for help. I delegate with reason. I’ve sacrificed my morning to-do list to the Sleep-In gods. My alarm clock snoozes a bit more. My food stays fully clothed in the cabinets at 4 in the morning. And I take the self-care I can carry. Sure, I might not be busy enough for smoke to spout from my ears, but it allows me to live by a better mantra. You’ve heard it before. You know it. And maybe you can learn from my prior habits and make it work for you.

Quality over quantity.

While I might have to argue the pros and cons as this idea applies to peanut butter and pancakes, I will say that it does apply to a person’s workload. Being busy doesn’t equal success.

Quality over quantity.

Trust me. People notice the difference.

A Pocahontas Dilemma

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2014

I could not have been more excited to go to college. Freedom to pick classes, majors, and a future career. I was so prepared it was ridiculous. I already knew the steps that I needed to take to secure my place in medical school and how to go about researching and applying for internships. Not only that, but I was already looking at my options for specialization within my career, which was something that I wouldn’t need to worry about for at least ten years.

I left high school desiring a career in dermatology.

I entered college desiring a career in dermatology.

2016

I have finished two years of college, and reached a fork in the proverbial river of life. I could best compare it to Pocahontas’ dilemma. In the animated movie, she sings one of my all-time favorite Disney songs that details the choice she must make. She could choose the smoothest course; the path as “steady as the beating drum.” But maybe, just maybe, she could choose the more uncertain one.

In that respect, I am Pocahontas. I am finding my path. A path that is less linear and comes without my pre-planned map.

I know at this point, I am at the fork. I have just transferred colleges. I have a fresh start. With that, I have choices to reconsider. There is still time for everything to change.

I can’t describe the feeling, but I know that right here, right now…

I am literally changing my fate.

Everything has changed.

The excitement is palpable as I discover the opportunities waiting just around the river bend.  Hold on self, we’re steering this canoe in a new direction.

 

Getting Proverbial While Fighting Bed Head

 

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This morning I tried to go back to sleep, but all I could think about was how to word my first blog post. I was half asleep and had basically planned out the entire thing. It was perfect. Flash forward twelve hours to my current state, and I’ve forgotten everything. Thanks brain! Short term memory, you’ve served me well.

This morning I was also battling a serious food hangover. And before you roll your eyes, I have to assure you that, yes, food hangovers are not the stuff of legend. They are a real thing.

Basically, I woke up on the couch with no memory of falling asleep during a three-movie marathon, but pretty sure that the bag of spicy tater tots I’d consumed had been a mistake. Those super-delicious apple cinnamon pancake-vixens from the freezer were getting some side-eye as well. I then went down into the basement, to the room that I share with my sister while I’m visiting at my dad’s, and went back to sleep. I woke up later knowing I had the job of sweeping the Haunted Mansion study and staining some woodwork. I tried to complete my morning routine but somehow ended up falling asleep in the middle of the bedroom floor with my backpack as a pillow.

By the time I woke up for real, the beautifully imagined blog post was gone, and I was left with the words you see here.

Maybe there’s something poetic about the way I woke up today. Maybe it means that my perfect first blog posting can’t exist. However, that doesn’t mean that me getting up in the morning is poetic in any sense of the word. Nor is it the summer morning routine to inspire others. I didn’t wake up and make my bed, and then eat a few spoonfuls of yogurt with artfully tossed granola and oversaturated raspberries. I did, however, wake up with serious bedhead, heartburn, and a desire to write something semi-decent on a webpage.

So what is my blog all about? Not dissing YouTube morning routines. Trust me, I’ve watched my fair share! (I couldn’t even tell you why I’m so addicted to them.) Like my blog’s name might imply, I am hopelessly in love with toast. However, as I continue learning and now enter my (technically) junior year of college, I’ve realized how small my world has been for a really long time. That’s not to say that I’ve never left my house, but as a kid I always thought that I could just exist and success would come with age. I thought I knew where I was going and how to get through the Gumdrop Mountains. How wrong was I? I’m 20 now and the crux of the problem is that I’m still searching, thinking, and dreaming. Hell, college made me rethink my dead-set plans. I went out in the world, and the world introduced me to some rad stuff. Sometimes I don’t know whether to blow the world a kiss or flip it off …

In essence, my blog is a way for me to connect with other inspiring people and be a part of something bigger. I want to travel, learn, and eat some damn good vegan food along the way. However, I want to share my thoughts on school/college, food, being vegan, traveling, and essentially learning about the world around me. However, I’ll also be sharing a few mistakes I hope others can avoid. I want to think outside the proverbial toaster. I’ve spent so much time eating toast, how do I know I won’t find something more delicious once I get my butt out in the world and have the chance to try it?