Day 30: What are your goals for the next 30 days?

How is it day 30 already? It really is incredible how quickly a month can pass by.

In the spirit of continuing to set goals for myself in small, but attainable ways, I’ve come up with four things I’d like to try over the next 30 days (I know that things are meant to be in threes or fives but five seemed too many to be reasonable and four is my favourite number so I’m sticking with it).

GET UP WHEN MY ALARM GOES OFF

I’m the WORST when it comes to getting up in the morning. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of setting my alarm for earlier than I actually need to get up so that I can hit snooze multiple times. Either that, or I’ll wake up when my alarm goes off but then just lay in bed for an extra 15 or 20 minutes. What’s the point in that? I either never quite end up falling back asleep or I’m starting my day scrolling through Instagram and all of a sudden I’ve spent 20 minutes on my phone before I’m even out of bed. I’m curious to see if I notice a difference in my energy throughout the day, and mostly I just want to see if I’m capable of doing it!

READ 15 PAGES PER DAY

When I was growing up, I was the kid who would sit at the lunch table with her nose in the book, or at the dinner table with my parents (how they ever dealt with that I’ve no idea!), and I have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just to finish a book more times than I can count. Yet somehow, along the way, I lost it. I’m curious to see if my focus changes by adding reading back into my day, and if it will help to settle my ever wandering mind.

STAY OFFLINE ONE DAY PER WEEK

We are the social media generation; for better or worse, we’re always virtually connected. What would happen if I take one day away from my laptop, Safari, Instagram, and Facebook? I figure that starting with staying offline one day per week is a good start - who knows, if I like it enough maybe I’ll upgrade to one tech free day per week! But now I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see how one day offline per week - let’s say Saturdays - goes.

WRITE ONE POSTCARD PER DAY

When I moved to London, I made all of these postcards and gave them to friends and family, thinking that we’d write back and forth constantly. Of course, it didn’t exactly pan out that way. I’ve not been good about writing them, and so I can’t expect my friends and family to be good at writing them either. So leading up to the New Year, I will write one postcard per day to a friend or family member. Keep your eyes peeled on your mailboxes people! You’ll be hearing from me soon :).

Day 29: What were your highs and lows for the month?

One of my favourite dinner table traditions from when I was younger was that each of us would go around the table and say our high and low for the day. My older brother, Ryan, always rolled his eyes without fail whenever I brought it up, but I loved it.

I fell out of that habit long ago, but I’m happy to be able to do it for this challenge!

Without further ado, here are some highs and lows for the month

HIGH: VISITS FROM FRIENDS

I don’t know what it was, but I went from basically having all but one visitor (shout out to Kaitlin) for my first sixth months here to having a visitor every few weeks. This last month I got to see two of my best guy friends from Uni, Rob and Radler. I sang with both of them in Penns, my Uni a cappella group, and was ecstatic to have them both visit. One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is that I really get the quality time that I love and need. Since I live in a different country, most of my friends are either coming over by themselves or in pairs, which essentially means I get them all to myself while they’re here. It’s been so fun showing people London as I see and experience it - doing it with loved ones just makes it that much sweeter.

LOW: FRIENDS LEAVE

I truly appreciate that flying to London to visit me is a much bigger deal than taking a bus or driving down to see me in Washington, D.C. for the weekend. And I’m so grateful to the friends and family that have visited me so far (and those who will in the future). But no matter how long or little they stay, I always feel a pang of sadness when they leave. I do so love the life I am building for myself here, but it does make me sad that the city I love has to be so far away from my family and friends.

HIGH: I’VE HAD MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD DAYS

This month was a reset in a lot of ways, and I’m grateful to have had more good days than bad days. I was dazzled by the cast of Chicago. I watched the Eagles win at Wembley Stadium. I had dinner dates with an old family friend. I got caught in a rainstorm in Kensington. I at healthily and worked out more. I went out and drank less. I filled my week nights with more activities than usual, rather than going home to an empty flat each night. And overall, I feel like I put in more of an effort to continuously be around people who make me feel good!

LOW: THE BAD DAYS WEREN’T THAT GREAT

Like I said, this month was a reset in a lot of ways. It was also about self-discovery beyond even this writing challenge. Some days, even if just for a few minutes or hours, my anxiety was debilitating. I’ve had some pretty tough conversations this month - I’ve admitted that I messed up in some areas and acknowledged where I need help with others. BUT, it’s all about perspective and I know that the bad days were few compared to the good ones.

HIGH: I STARTED RUNNING AGAIN

I’d been in a bit of a workout rut, and since I apparently am into these 30 day challenges I decided to do one with running. I’m about halfway now and I can already feel a difference in my attitude and how I feel about myself. I don’t run far all the time, but getting back into the routine of doing something everyday, no matter how short, has felt great.

LOW: MY BODY HURTS ALL THE TIME

Unsurprisingly, starting to run again means that I’ve been using muscles I haven’t for awhile and so I’m literally sore all the time!

Day 28: Write about five blessings in your life

Family

My family is incredible and means the world to me. I’m very lucky to have supportive parents who have my back no matter what, who push me to be the best version of myself I can be. I’m lucky to have siblings that I get along with and an extended family that can’t be beat.

Friends

My friends are the bomb. Honestly, I’ve no idea where I would be without them. Most of my friends I’ve known my whole life, others popped in during Uni, some showed up post Uni, but all of them are wonderful and amazing people. I could myself lucky to have the quality of friends that I do.

A good job

One that allows me to be self sufficient and is the reason I’m even able to live in London in the first place. I wouldn’t say it’s the dream job (although I don’t really know what would be), but it definitely keeps me on my toes.

Travel

To ability to travel to other cities and countries is a huge blessing to me. I get a lot of joy from exploring new places, meeting new people and seeing how much the world really has to offer.

Health

My health is a major blessing and something that I am focusing on more and more. I’m grateful and lucky to be healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is important to me.

Day 27: Conversely, writ about something that is kicking ass right now

If I’m being honest, I feel like I’m kicking ass everyday for the simple fact that I’m living in London. That might be super cheesy and spark some eye rolls but hey, it’s the truth.

Today I feel like I’m kicking ass in work right now.

Let me start by saying that this week has been absolutely mental. This was my last week doing holiday cover for a colleague, which means that I essentially stepped into her project and kept the ball rolling for the last three weeks. In true fashion, I was absolutely flat out all week. It ended up being the busiest week of the three I’d had with the client - I held 11 interviews with employees, wrote 13 job descriptions, and prepared everything to hand back over to my colleague, all within three days.

On top of that, my upcoming project team was trying to get my attention and get me prepped early so that when I show up on Monday I at least LOOK like I know what I’m doing. And on top of THAT, I had an outline to write for a blog post on cyber-security talent that I had to write for 10am this morning.

Essentially, it was a perfect storm and I’ve been concerned all week that I was going to let a ball drop or I wasn’t going to meet everyone’s expectations.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

When I handed back over to my colleague, I was worried that I hadn’t done enough. I was pleasantly surprised that both my colleague and manager were extremely pleased and said that I’d done more than either of them had expected.

When I walked into the meeting to review the outline, I immediately said to my Senior Manager ‘you’re probably going to think that this is absolute crap.' Again, I was pleasantly surprised that she actually liked everything that I’d written.

Oh, and the prep for my next project went really well also.

So yeah, I definitely feel like I’m kicking ass this week.

It’s funny that we stress so much leading up to an event, or an interview or a meeting when 9 times out of 10 we realise that we really didn’t have anything to worry about in the first place.

Day 26: Write about something you'd like to improve

Just one thing?!

There are many things which I would like to improve. I don’t really believe that we are ever done ‘learning’ or ‘improving’. There is always a new skill to learn, new knowledge to gain, and more self-discovery to be found.

Since most of my posts have been focused on self-discovery (duh, it’s in the title!), I’m going to focus not on something that I would like to improve within myself (because I think I’ve touched on some of those things already) but rather a skill that I’d like to improve.

Again, there are many, but right now I’d like to improve my photography skills. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and had no problems being the friend who would take everyone’s photo. I’m also fairly certain that my camera was around my neck roughly 98% of the time I studied abroad in Italy.

I’ve read a few articles and dabbled a bit with editing (Adobe Lightroom is a gem), but I’ve never put a concentrated amount of effort into getting better at taking or editing them. I don’t really know anything about exposure, white balance, angles, perspective, yada yada.

I feel like my writing is improving with each post (at least I hope so) because I’m writing more regularly. I suppose taking that same approach with photography might have similar results.

In fact, it might be an idea for another 30 day challenge…

Day 25: Write about what you think 'what if' about

Everyone’s minds are different, and some are more active than others. By that I mean that some people, like myself, have monologues of conversations with themselves in their heads while others seem to somehow be blissfully free of that mental overdrive.

I’m someone whose mind is on mental overdrive.

Let me caveat all of this by saying that I look at my life and realise that everything that has happened in my life has led me to the exact spot I sit in now. On a couch, in my flat, in London of all places. And for that, I am grateful.

I have a tendency to start with one thought and then within a matter of seconds could have gone down different tangents to end up ruminating on something that has nothing to do with what I first thought about. I could not tell you how many ‘what ifs’ I think about because, quite frankly, I don’t think I could name them all.

Most are inconsequential; What if I’d walked instead of taking the Tube? What if I’d gotten soup instead of salad? What if I ate that entire sleeve of Oreos?

Some are humorous; What if I just started talking animatedly to the strangers in the elevator? What if I died my hair purple and just showed up to work? What if the floor actually was lava?

Some are contemplative; What if I could know one thing about my future? What if I’d told him how I felt? What if this isn’t reality and it’s all just a game?

Some are negative; What if something happens to my parents? What if I never settle down and I’m on my own forever? What if I can’t make the anxiety go away?

Overwhelming, isn’t it?

You might be reading this thinking ‘How could she possibly have this much going on in her head?’ I really have no idea.

You also might be reading this thinking ‘Thank God someone else thinks about all this random shit too.’ I got you babes.

I learned a long time ago that living in your mind and thinking about ‘what ifs’ all the time can be dangerous territory. Obviously, I’m not doing very well at it (see above), but it’s really only the negative ‘what ifs’ that I’m speaking about specifically. Those are the sneaky ones you need to look out for. The ones that weigh you down and you can’t shake after you’ve started thinking about them. I try my best to not get too bogged down by those.

Because ‘what if's’ won’t change the past and they can’t predict your future.

All they do is pull you out of reality and hinder you from being truly present.

Now that that’s settled, it’s time for me to go back to thinking about what if the floor actually was lava.

Day 24: Where would you like to be in ten years?

This one is very interesting because when I think about where I’d like to be in ten years, it is far away from where I am now. So far, that it leaves me in wonder of how my life can and probably will change over the next ten years.

In ten years I will be 36. I would like to be happily married with maybe a baby (or two), with close friends nearby, maybe family (but who knows, seeing that right now I’m in London), and living in a home that I love.

Just thinking about that is crazy to me. Realising how my life will change, and who will come in and out of it over time. And someday, somewhere, ten years from now I'll be rereading this post and laughing that I ever found it crazy to begin with.

Our brains work 24/7, 365 days a year. We think when we’re awake. We dream when we’re sleeping. There is never a moment where there isn’t some sort of activity happening in our brains.

Day 22: Describe 5 things you're good at

I’m a good listener

At least, I like to think so. I try my best to be an active listener to whomever I’m speaking to. I like to think that when friends or family confide in me it’s because they now that I will listen to them and do my best to support them.

I’m a good singer

Again, at least I like to think so! I grew up around music and have been singing for longer than I can remember. I was heavily involved in my school’s music department, sang in an a cappella group at Uni, and am even part of a work cover band. In the past few years I’ve grown more confident in my voice and I’ve really grown to love it.

I can say the alphabet backwards

You can thank my dad for this one. He taught me how to sing the alphabet backwards when I was little. I assume he did this so that I’d have something to be preoccupied with in the car, but it really did stick. Sometimes I think I can say the alphabet backwards better than I can forwards. Plus, it’s a (relatively) cool party trick.

I’m good at doing things alone

This one may sound a little morbid but stay with me. Travelling for work in the States Monday through Thursdays nonstop really got me comfortable with doing things alone. I can go to a restaurant by myself, or to a bar by myself, and have a perfectly good time. I’ve gone to the movies alone. Hell, I even moved to London alone. I’ve definitely figured out how to enjoy my own company.

I’m good at pulling people together

I love to plan things with my friends, and I love getting my friends and family together as much as possible. If I want to go back to Penn State to watch The Pennharmonics (my Uni a cappella group) sing, I will reach out to every single Penns alum and see how many I can get to go with me. If I’m in Philly visiting my cousin Marykate, I’ll reach out to Anna and Ryan to see if they want to join us. There are not many things that I love more than having the people that I love all in the same place.

Day 21: Describe 5 things you're bad at

I’m awful at sports

There is a reason why I only did music-related activities growing up! My sports career started and ended with Kinder-soccer.

I can’t sit still

I feel like I’m always fidgeting; readjusting my position in my seat, crossing or uncrossing my legs, tapping my foot, the list goes on.

I can’t pick favourites

I’m honestly the worst person to ask ‘what’s your all-time favourite movie’ or ‘what’s your all-time favourite Broadway show’. I love too many movies and too many shows, and all for different reasons, so I always find it difficult to answer those questions. I can tell you that my all-time favourite colour is blue though.

I’m bad at asking for help:

See Day 18.

I’m bad at getting out of bed:

I love being in bed. Love it. And when I wake up in the morning, I just don’t want to get out of it. I have to set my alarm for way earlier than I need to get up because I know that when I wake up I’ll just lie there for awhile and enjoy being snuggled up under the covers. Once I’m up, I’m great. Primed and ready for the day. But actually getting out of bed? That’s the hard part.

Day 20: Your earliest memory

Memories fascinate me. They always have. What sticks within people’s minds. What they carry with them.

Equally fascinating is how differently people remember the same event. I was inseparable with two pairs of sisters growing up, and whenever we’re together we inevitably walk down memory in some form or other. A few of us remember something that the others don’t, and even things we all do remember, we remember differently.

Maybe what fascinates me about memories the most is that some of them might not even be real.

A recent study actually suggests that many first memories are actually fictional and based on photographs and family stories.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the radiator in my grandmother’s next to my grandfather, Pop. The radiator has a blue cushion on top of it and is only big enough for two people. He’s wearing jeans that are splattered with paint, and I’m seated next to him, little as ever at maybe 2 1/2 years old.

Such a cute memory right?

The truth is I don’t know whether or not this memory is real.

Why?

There’s a photograph of me sitting next to Pop on the radiator in a green photo album my mother made for me so that I wouldn’t forget him after he passed away a few months later.

Is it a real memory or did I conjure it based on the photograph? If I close my eyes I can see his paint splattered jeans through my 2 1/2 year old eyes. You may not be able to see the paint on his jeans in the photo, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s a true memory.

Another early memory is from when I was a few months shy of being 3 years old.

My family was on vacation in South Carolina (I had no idea where we were but my parents kindly provided this context) and I learned how to swim in the hotel pool. My dad went somewhere (again, I’ve no idea where), and while he was gone my mom and my brother, Ryan, taught me how to swim underwater and to swim the length of the pool. I was so excited to show my dad what I’d learned while he was gone, and happy that we pulled off the surprise when he came back.

This one I know to be real.

Why?

There are no photographs or home movies as evidence that this took place.

Whether only one of these memories is real or not, both are of me being with my family. That’s good enough for me.

Day 19: Five ways to win your heart

Alright boys, listen up! I know that every eligible man out there is curious about how to win my heart. OK, that was a major exaggeration. However if anyone IS curious about how to win my heart, I’m about to make it a lot easier for you.

  1. Make an effort to really get to know me. I think it’s surprisingly easy for people to spend a lot of time with each other without actually getting to know each other at all. It’s exciting for awhile, someone new to pub hop and explore town with. But I usually find that I usually get put off after awhile if I feel like I’m putting in more effort to get to know someone than they are to get to know me. What are your dreams? What do you absolutely love doing? What do you hate? What are your best qualities? What are your worst qualities? I want to know what makes you, you. I want to know it all! And I want you to know me like that too.

  2. Be spontaneous. A friend from D.C. once described me as a ‘yes’ girl, because she knew that she could message me asking if I wanted to go to California, or anywhere really, and I’d say yes without hesitation. Flying to California is a little extreme (even though I’ve done it); it could be something as small as jumping on the tube and picking a random stop to get off at outside the city, making an impromptu road trip, or deciding last minute to see a show. Please don’t get me wrong, I like to have plans and things to look forward to just as much as the next person. But there’s something about being spontaneous and just down for anything; it’s a big plus. I think that the best days are fuelled by spontaneity, when you don’t really have any expectations and you’re just winging it.

  3. Spend quality time with me. If you’re distracted or on your phone the entire time, it doesn’t count. This doesn’t mean that we need to be sitting on the couch across from each other having the world’s deepest conversations. Anything we can do together is enough; let’s play board games, exercise together, go to a coffee shop and curl up with a hot chocolate and read our books. The point is that these things are done together.

  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Being driven is important, having dreams is important, but being able to make a fool of yourself is equally as important to me. If you can’t laugh along with me when I start dancing like a lunatic to a random song, or better yet join me, then it just won’t work. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. You have to be able to deal with me making weird faces at you. You have want to join me in doing the most cringe-worthy synchronised dance moves at the pub and not care about how ridiculous we look. Let’s both be silly as hell and still love each other anyway.

  5. Have similar dreams to me. I think it’s very important for people to have their own dreams that are completely individual to them. However, it’s also important that your life dreams are similar to mine. I may still not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know that I want to live in a house filled with travel souvenirs and walls covered with photos of adventures, family, and family. I want to come home to a person I love and live somewhere that makes me feel alive. I want to get married someday and have kids that are more thoughtful, more brave, and more successful (with whatever they want to do) than I could ever dream of. I want to live my life so well that when my loved ones describe me to people after I’m gone, those people say ‘I would have loved to meet her.’ Those are my dreams, and I need someone whose dreams compliment mine.

Day 18: Share something you struggle with

I may be living in London and having the time of my life here, but to say that my life is perfect would be a stretch.

I, like most people, try to put my best foot forward on a daily basis. My best attitude, my best efforts, and my best image on social media. Also, like most people, that image isn’t necessarily a reflection of everything that’s going on in my life.

You may think that I’ve not got a care in the world by looking at my Instagram profile, but that didn’t stop me from crying on the phone to my mother in Schipol Airport yesterday.

You see, I’m a very sensitive and (sometimes) emotional person. This means that certain situations or things may upset me more than is considered ‘normal’. It can be something as silly as some colleagues poking fun at me for saying that my ideal date would be to get mint chocolate ice cream and walk through the streets of London. Or when some girls that I thought I’d be close friends with really didn’t want to be close with me too.

Situations like those can really drag me down if I’m not conscious or aware enough to confide in someone (usually my Mom or Dad) and talk through it. And even though I ALWAYS feel better after talking to someone when I’m twisted up about something, I STILL am not that great at it.

Why would I want to burden someone with thoughts or feelings that are inadequate or irrational?

Why would I want to risk them then thinking that I AM inadequate or irrational?

I know that my loved ones will, and would, never think those things about me. I know this because I will, and would, never think that way about them!

But the mind is a fickle thing and sometimes, for whatever reason, I am just absolute shit when it comes to voicing how I’m feeling. I like to think that I’ve gotten better about reaching out to people when I need to, but I also know that I still have a lot of room to grow.

Through Blue Eyes is already helping, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve even written this. I’ve already revealed more about myself within the lines of my posts than I ever thought I would.

After all, it IS scary to write something and publish it on the world wide web, where it could literally be read by anyone with an internet connection. The reality may be that not many people will even read this, but that’s irrelevant - it’s still out there for anyone to see!

In a short time Through Blue Eyes has already morphed from just being a travel blog to something a bit deeper; a way for me to improve my own understanding of myself and to write in a way that hopefully rings true with other people as well.

I’m already becoming more vocal (albeit in writing). It feels great, and I’m just getting started.

Day 17: Three things your proud of

  1. I’m proud that I went after my dream to live in another country and that I moved to London. It was the scariest thing I’ve done in my life, moving to a new city and new country without knowing anyone, but it’s something I’m most proud of.

  2. I’m proud of my commitment to this 30 day blog challenge!

  3. I’m proud of my roots; my family, my friends, my hometown, and my upbringing.

Day 13: Three pet peeves

  1. Loud chewing and/or chewing with your mouth open is literally like nails on a chalkboard for me

  2. When someone starts telling me something but stops and says “actually never mind I can’t tell you this”; I’m such a curious person and so if I wasn’t curious before then you better believe I’m curious now!

  3. Snoring! Pretty basic, I know, but I’m generally such a light sleeper that snoring can just drive me mad :)

Day 12: Bullet point your whole day

  • Woke up around 6:30

  • Put running kit on and met Claudia by the canal to do a short tempo run to start the day

  • Walked back to the flat with Claudia, who had to pick up her laptop charger

  • Showered and got ready for work

  • Ate an apple and grabbed lunch (leftover eggplant parmigiana) and put my work bag together

  • Left the flat and walked to the bus station, which I took Kings Cross / St. Pancras, where I got the Thames Link to East Croydon

  • Listened to Spotify and read Girl On the Train while on the train (ironic, right?)

  • Arrived at East Croydon station and walked to my client office, where I gave my ID to security and was escorted in

  • Settled into a desk and began working for the day, during which I had a few calls and a couple of meetings

  • Left the client office around 17:15 and walked to the train station to catch the train to Victoria Station because I was meeting my team

  • Met my team at Munich Cricket Club for leaving drinks for Joe, one of the guys on the team who is leaving the project and switching to a different practice within EY

  • Had a glass of Pinot Grigio and chatted with the team and met some folks I hadn’t met before

  • Left Munich Cricket Club at 18:45 to walk to The Other Palace to see a play that EY is supporting called Soldier On, which is put on by a theatre company for military veterans (it was absolutely wonderful, by the way)

  • Left The Other Palace after the show was over and walked with Kate to Victoria Station, where we jumped on the Victoria Line

  • Took the Victoria Line to the Highbury & Islington stop, where I switched to the Overground and took that one stop which dropped me off right behind my flat

  • Walked home and then got into the flat, where I immediately changed into pyjamas (it was around 22:30 by this point)

  • Ate some chicken curry salad as I hadn’t eaten dinner, and made myself some Lemsip because I’m coming down with a cold

  • Logged into my laptop to write my daily blog entry and tada! here we are

Day 11: Five things you can do to take better care of yourself daily

  1. No technology in the bedroom (she says as she writes this blog post from bed) - seriously though, having a break from technology and social media is important and something I don’t do often enough

  2. Get enough sleep - I’m someone who’d be happy if she could get 9-10 hours of sleep per night; while this may not always be realistic, it’s an easy way to take better care of yourself!

  3. Workout consistently - my workout consistency has historically come and gone in waves and is something that I want to get better at

  4. Read a book each month - sometimes I just want to take a break from social media and find myself a quiet corner somewhere to curl up with a good book

  5. Put myself first - life gets in the way all the time, but putting your well-being at the top of the list of ‘to-do’s’ is majorly important, and something I’m continuing to work on