Wednesday, May 20, 2020

May Questions and Answers

Happy Wednesday! Today is my last "work" day of the week, and I am pretty excited. I meant to have this month's question and answers post go up last week, but I took an impromptu break during the week and am finally getting to posting it now. Y'all asked a lot of fun questions over on Instagram that I enjoyed responding to here. Hopefully you either learn something new from these responses or are entertained! 

What’s the hardest part about blogging?
Lately, it has been dedicating time specifically to blogging. I am so used to spending any time working from home working specifically on the blog, and now that I am working from home for my regular job, that sense of normalcy and balance has been skewed. Now I feel like any time I’m using my brain power at home, it should be for my real job, which isn’t necessarily the case if I’m not on the clock. It has been an adjustment for sure, and I’m hoping it’ll only feel that way temporarily. 

Favorite Trader Joe’s products?
This could be a whole post of its own. I love Trader Joe’s way more than anyone should probably love a grocery store, but lately, their Toasted Coconut Granola Bark tops my list (you can read me rave about it here).

How are you, especially with so much uncertainty right now?
Overall, I think I’m doing pretty well. While I by no means love not getting to see my friends who have been quarantining in their hometowns, I recognize how lucky I am to live in a house that provides my roommate and me with some elbow room to work from home (also very thankful to have a job that I can do from home), in a place where the weather has been incredibly comfortable allowing me to get outside a lot, and remain healthy during all of this. That’s a concise list of what I have to be grateful for, but it’s a good reminder when I start getting frustrated by selfish thoughts about how I wish I could be at a baseball game or a large social gathering on the weekends. I think the times that this has been toughest for me is when I start to overconsume information about the virus online and get in my head about how long it will last and what that may mean for me. 

Advice for recent college grads or biggest shocks you had your first year of being on your own?
I think what hit me the hardest was that no one is really taking care of you (not to discount my parents because I feel like they are continually taking care of me even just by checking in, but since they were 8 hours away it still felt distant) when you feel responsible for taking care of so many people. This could just have been because I was teaching and, in turn, taking care of my students and their parents, which was a lot more than I was used to coming from the student teaching perspective. With a lot of friends scattered further away, it felt like I was solo aside from my roommates and a few friends left in Greenville. I also found myself prioritizing taking care of other people instead of myself, which certainly didn’t help.

You just won $10,000 – what are you going to do with the money?
I think the first thing I would do is pay off my car. My parents were generous enough to get me a new car (as in put an initial amount of money towards it) when I graduated from Furman with an agreement in place that they would cover the payments for a while, and they did that until January of 2019. Since then, car payments have been on me. I pay more than my required amount each month, which will mean that it should be paid off than the statement initially estimates, but it would be nice to completely pay that off and put that amount towards savings instead. As for the remaining amount of that $10,000, it would be smartest to put it into savings, but I’d also be very tempted to spend a little of it on this robe I’ve had my eyes on for a while.

Did you follow a plan when training for your half marathon? If so, what was it? 
In the beginning, I was building up miles just to build up miles and explore more of Birmingham. Once I decided to run the Seaside Half Marathon, I then consolidated a few training plans I had found online into my own plan. I did this mainly because I wanted to make sure I could mix up my long and short runs based on my schedule each week. I shared more about that training plan and my half here

What are your favorite basics (tees, tops, etc.)? 
This is an excellent question since lately, I have felt like I have no casual t-shirts to wear with jeans or jean shorts when I do opt to actually get dressed. I recently got this top from Loft and need to order it in more colors because it’s really cute and comfortable.

What have you been doing during quarantine? 
Does struggling to be productive count? Because that has definitely been part of my reality. I’ve been on so many walks and runs that I really wish I had thought to record all the miles I’ve gone just to know for my own curiosity. Aside from that, I’ve been cooking and trying new recipes, getting to know my neighbors, and flying through a few TV shows with my roommate.

Are you hoping to make roots in Birmingham, or do you want to move home to Fairhope?
I’m not sure at the moment. For now, I love Birmingham and can’t see myself leaving any time soon. I would be happy to settle here for a while (and who knows, maybe forever), but Fairhope would be an excellent place to be as well. The joke in Fairhope is that it’s full of newlyweds and almost deads since it has become a place mainly for families and people retiring, so I don’t see myself heading there anytime soon. 

You seem very mature and responsible for your age, do you have very strict parents?
Thank you, that’s quite the compliment! For fear of sounding conceited, I have to give it to my parents that I think they did a pretty great job at the whole parenting my brother and me thing. It’s funny because they recently had a similar conversation with each other about this, and I sure hope that’s not the first time they felt that way given that he and I are 26 and 25, respectively. I remember jokingly telling them at one point that I was an easy teenager and could have made life a lot more difficult for them to which they pointed out that was because of their parenting and not solely because of my own choices. I’d say that my parents aren’t all that strict but had solid expectations for us growing up that impacted the decisions we made without feeling like it came across as being told what to do or having super-specific rules. I also should point out that although we are very close in age, my parents were careful not to compare my brother and I and had separate expectations for both of us. For example, my parents recognized that I cared more about my grades and performance in school than they ever could and always emphasized that if I was doing my best, then that was good enough for them. My brother, on the other hand, is naturally very smart, but that made his work ethic in some things a bit lazy. They would pretty consistently check his grades online to make sure he was fully reaching his potential while they never even asked me for a password to check mine. Often it seems like the wildest kids are the ones with overly strict parents since they may feel a need to “rebel” as a way to feel more independent. I hope that one day I can be half as good of a parent to kids as my parents are to me.

What are you doing to stay positive during all this virus craziness?
I don’t know if this is just to stay positive or just to stay sane, but I’ve been talking on the phone with friends a lot. Going on walks has definitely been another way to attempt to stay positive, and working outside has done that for me too. I’ve been trying to be better about truly appreciating where I live, that I have a roommate, and that I have a job that has allowed me to work from home in an attempt to keep selfish inconveniences in perspective.

Do you miss teaching at all? 
I feel kind of bad saying this, but no, not really. There are aspects of it that I do find myself missing, but it’s not typically to do with the act of teaching but instead the people I surrounded myself with while teaching. 

How do you make your “What I Wish I Were Wearing” posts? 
I actually make them using PowerPoint. I did a tutorial a long time ago about how I create graphics for my blog post, and it still rings true now.

Where is the first vacation you want to go on after quarantine? 
Hmm, I actually don’t know. I didn’t necessarily have any significant vacations planned that had to be canceled, so the traveling aspect of quarantine wasn’t as much of a bummer to me as it may be for those that have been more impacted by it. I’ve been lucky to be able to drive to the beach and stay with people I’ve already seen, so getting out of Birmingham on occasion has made me slightly less stir crazy. 

Do you use any presets/can you recommend any? 
I don’t have any purchased presets I use, but I did create my own preset on Lightroom that I use to edit most of my pictures. I would recommend trying to make your own if you know what you like to normally do to enhance a picture. If not, I feel like I’ve seen lots of bloggers selling their own preset bundles over the years. 

What are your favorite white sneakers?
My favorite is this pair from J.Crew that I’ve had since my junior or senior year of college. I wear them all the time for work when I have photoshoots and love that they don’t make an outfit feel frumpy.

If you have lived alone, do you have any tips? Moving to a new city by myself for a job after college and would love tips.
I have never lived alone, so I may not be the best person to ask for that specifically, but I have done a post all about trying to make new friends. Hopefully, that helps you out as you transition into a new job and city!

What is your favorite face sunscreen?
I am actually looking for something new. I’ve had a sample from Supergoop that I liked for a while, but when I was at the beach a few weeks ago, it got in my eyes and irritated them. I tend to use whatever I am using on my body on my face but would love any recommendations y’all may have. 

What is your favorite way to make work from home life more exciting right now?
Coffee, lots of coffee, and breaking up my day with walks. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. 

Do you still wear Lilly? 
I do still wear the Lilly I have and love, but when purchasing new clothing items, I try to buy things that I can wear over and over again in several settings and ways. Sometimes with the bold patterns Lilly has, that makes things difficult, and I know I won’t get as much wear out of one of their pieces, which can be hard given the price you’re paying. I still love Lilly and check their site often, but when being responsible with clothing purchases, I am not able to justify their pieces as well as some others.

How do you avoid burnout? 
Remember, it is ok to take a break. I have to remind myself of this often since I definitely am not the best at it, but taking a break usually makes me more excited to come back to something.

Feel free to leave me your sunscreen and making work from home more exciting recommendations in the comments! 

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