Hello again

OK, it’s time to get serious.

I knew I wouldn’t keep this up at the beginning of the year. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.

But I guess it didn’t hurt to try…

A lot of things happened which made it difficult to keep up with a blog. My schedule at work was erratic, I was having trouble with anxiety attacks and things just got super, super busy. So the posts stopped.

If you’ve come here and seen the sidebar with my Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads info, you have seen that I’m still around. Just not writing very much.

I do really, really want to write, though. I’m proud to say that I’ve kept up pretty well with my reading, which is the first step in becoming an author. I’ve read 85 percent of the books that I need to for my 2015 Reading Challenge. So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing in my free time.

I'm hopeful this will give me a little bit of a creative boost!

I’m hopeful this will give me a little bit of a creative boost!

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, just came out with a new book — “Big Magic” — that’s kind of like a self-help book for creators who are stuck. And boy am I stuck.

My character for this novel I have sitting in my head is just sitting there and because I haven’t really sat down to flesh her or her story out, she’s kind of fading. I can’t let that happen because I know she needs to exist on the page.

So I’m really excited to read “Big Magic”! To supplement my creative studies, I’ve also been listening to her podcast called “Magic Lessons,” that’s kind of an extension of this book. I’ve already felt really inspired by her episodes and definitely feel like I’m going to learn a lot from the book. I have a highlighter ready to go so I can mark the most inspirational bits.

The plan is to keep up with my thoughts on creativity on this blog. I’ve even done a little bit of an update design-wise to give me a boost to keep this thing up.

I’ve had a bit of a life change, too, in that I’ve changed jobs that enables me to work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., which is great because now I can get myself on a schedule to write! I do certainly want to keep it up.

A Bullet Journal set up I did for this past Monday.

A Bullet Journal set up I did for this past Monday.

But I don’t think I’ll only be writing about writing (ha!). If you know me at all, I really enjoy organizing, planning and journaling. I started this thing earlier in the year called Bullet Journaling. Which, if you don’t know the logistics of it, you should visit this site, because the creator really does a great job of explaining it because, you know, he created it.

There’s this whole world out there of people who kind of combine this with a form of scrapbooking, which I didn’t realize when I first started it back in March. So when I wanted a better way of keeping up with things at my new job, Bullet Journaling came back at the forefront of my mind and I began adding a more artistic approach to it. I absolutely LOVE it and it’s a great creative outlet for me besides writing.

So you may see a few posts (or a lot) here about that. It’s just so much fun and I love gathering inspiration from other Bullet Journalers.

Anyway, that’s my update. I want to do this thing for real and you don’t become a runner by not practicing … so I can’t see myself becoming a writer without some practice either.

Lessons from hiking

Pano at the top

I wrote this for my online paper last Wednesday. It’s hard to believe it was practically springtime weather-wise a week ago when I went on the hike I talk about in this post. Right now it’s 36 degrees and blustery. Yuck. Is it spring yet? 

On another note, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all have a lovely day enjoying the love from a significant other, friend or just from yourself. You deserve it!

Without further ado, my column:

Baillie in the woods

Hey there! Remember me? The girl who said she’d keep up a column here every week and write every other day the rest of the time on my blog?

Yeah, it’s still me. But I just haven’t been so great at actually keeping up with that promise.

Resolutions hardly ever stick for me unless they’re more of a silent promise I make to myself. I don’t know why, but I tend to lose interest in the ones I make aloud. I suppose it’s a quirk of mine — it seems the trend for others to keep their resolutions is to have some sort of accountability. Not for me!

Now is about the time I start to feel guilty for making promises I couldn’t keep. For me, guilt is the major reason I fall off track. Trying to save money and spend just a bit too much? Answer: BUY ALL THE THINGS!! Have a goal to eat better and cheat with a cookie? Answer: EAT ALL THE COOKIES!! Trying to write in my blog every day and miss a day? Answer: Continue to not write.

If you’re a psychologist and have an explanation for why I do this, please, enlighten me. And then tell me how to fix it.

Of course, there are a multitude of other reasons I didn’t keep up with my goal, some small and some quite large, but I think those reasons deserve their own column — or at least a blog post.

I went for a hike at Edwin Warner Park with my dog on that beautiful Saturday we had last weekend and it really cleared my head. I didn’t listen to any music and didn’t really have a plan on where to go. I just walked. My walk turned into a hike and took me to all sorts of beautiful places within the forest.

Since it was so warm and sunny, many people came out to the park, but I still was able to spend a good amount of time with just my thoughts and Baillie. And that’s when I decided it didn’t matter I hadn’t kept up with the blog. It’s only affecting me, so why should I care about what others might think?

Plus, I realized, I should focus on what I have accomplished since Jan. 1. I have been active at least three days every week. I do generally eat healthy and I’ve been keeping up with my vegetarian diet for nearly three years now. I can find a positive spin on things even when the situation seems grim. I’ve reduced my overall screen time (minutes I spend in on a computer, TV or phone) and have stopped looking at my phone before bed. Oh, and I read FOUR (!!!) books in January.

I think the ultimate thing, though, is that I’m trying. That’s all we really can do. Sure, goals are great, but just the mere fact that we can humbly say, “I think I need to work to better myself,” is a huge deal. That’s more than many people do.

How are you all handling your resolutions? Still at it? Or have you backed off? Let me know in the comments section below!

I will definitely continue striving toward writing every day, but I’m not going to hold it against myself if I don’t get around to it. I think you should do the same.

Get rid of your cable — all the cool kids are doing it!

cutting the cord

You may have heard stories about people cutting the cords in the sense of cable television.

You might not know anyone who’s done this. Now you do.

Cutting the cord is possibly the best thing I’ve done for myself in the last decade. Before I decided cable TV was not for me, I would come home from work, plop down on the couch, and watch whatever was on.

I didn’t ever have anything in particular to watch. Sure, I had certain shows that I wanted to watch, but as a new professional journalist, many times I was out covering a meeting and missed whatever programming I enjoyed.

When I did finally get home, it was hours of reruns of the Big Bang Theory or something similar. I love that show, but I’ve seen nearly every episode, so I really didn’t need to keep watching it.

We were a Neilsen family at the time. You know, the company that tracks what people are watching. Ever wonder how they do this? Well, they select various families in specific regions, strap a big black box to the back of their TV and track what they watch and when.

I told the guy when he asked us to sign up that it would be mostly PBS and the History Channel. Boring and unexpected for a couple in their early 20s. But it didn’t matter.

Plus, we got paid ever few months to be a part of the study — double because we were younger. Having just graduated from college, any form of compensation was a win for me.

Grant and I began to notice we were wasting a bunch of time watching stuff we weren’t necessarily interested in. Neither of us are into in sports, either, so we didn’t have that to keep us tied to cable.

Once the Neilsen study was over, we were done with cable. I often get questions like, “How do you get the news?” or “How do you keep yourself occupied?” (Because TV is the only thing to occupy your time with? But that’s another matter), or “What if there’s a show you want to watch?”

Really, the simple answer is, “The Internet.” I get most of my news from Twitter — it helps that I work in the news, too. If I feel like watching something, I will generally watch it on YouTube, Netflix or Hulu. The latter actually has current programming on it, albeit a day later, but who cares?

If there is a show I want to watch, I wait. I’m a patient person, and I know my life won’t necessarily be better by watching a television show. Although, I’m counting down to when HBO offers their channel a la carte online. I would very much like to watch “Girls,” “Veep,” “The Newsroom” and “Game of Thrones.”

Truthfully, the future is in cord cutting. More and more people look to get rid of their expensive cable bills, and I will be the first to say my life is much better because of it. I pay $7.99 a month for Hulu Plus and the same for Netflix streaming. I can choose between using my husband’s Xbox to stream it onto the TV, or use our Chromecast.

If I didn’t have either of these, I could hook my computer up through my TV’s HDMI port and watch it that way.

Seriously, the possibilities are virtually endless.

So join me in the cord-cutting revolution! You’ll find more time to do things that are more enjoyable, and you won’t be tied to your couch at a specific time on a certain night.

And the major plus? You won’t have that crazy cable bill to worry about.

Deep discussions are fun!

I kind of lost my groove over the weekend. Well, my three-day groove.

I did write something on Friday. I started a short story, but got busy halfway through it, and I haven’t finished it yet. I’m going to continue working on it and I hope to get it up this Friday Jan. 16.

Part of the reason I got out of my groove is Grant and I had a friend come over Thursday night. We all stayed up incredibly late talking about existential stuff and I think we all had a ton of fun, but staying up late always makes me go out of whack.

It just kind of makes me think about how great it is to have friends in your life and to have someone to talk to, especially about existential views. The three of us all have differing views, but we like each other enough that when we debate and discuss things, we don’t really offend each other — even if someone else’s view is near polar opposite of another’s.

It’s really great and just reminds me how important it is to have those kind of discussions — as long as you’re being cordial and not insulting anyone. I think people tend to box themselves in with how the view the world and the world after this, and don’t open their mind or their ears to listen to someone who may very well have a valid point, even if it’s different.

This is the way we can learn to cooperate with one another. Friendship and respect for what one another believes; politically, religiously, or anything else. It all boils down to treating others as you would like to be treated.

Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there. I hope you all had a wonderful day.

You don’t know cold like I do

quinzee huts

My nose began to itch as I walked my dog this morning.

Not just a regular itch, but a light tickling, prickling sensation caused by breathing in the frigid air. My nose hairs were freezing.

The sensation brought me back to my time in Canada, camping on Lake Temagami, six hours north of Toronto.

My group went up the week before Valentine’s Day.

I remember bundling up in three or four layers, silk long johns, two socks on each foot, hardcore boots, wool hat, wool scarf, gloves and Gortex mittens over those. *No cotton.*

We used snow shoes to walk through the forests. They keep you from sinking into the deep, deep snow. They were necessary. I learned the hard way.

Walking on the ice was another story. Every step was a test of your balance, every few feet, the type of ice would change — crunchy ice was safe, bumpy ice, not so much, smooth ice, forget it. I lost count of how many times I slipped and fell.

The trip was a program required by my high school. We had done a trip the year before in June. It’s one of the best experiences of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The winter trip on the other hand …

We slept outside in “ice boxes” because there hadn’t been enough precipitation to build the traditional quinzee hut — the snow equivalent of an igloo. The ice box was colder. Just my luck.

This sleeping arrangement consisted of digging a foot or two deep into the compacted snow/ice and measured about 11×9 feet. Then we covered the area with a tarp and slept under that. Very pleasant.

The best part, I think, was sitting by the fire and then filling our Nalgene bottles up with boiled water and sleeping with them. Waking up — especially to pee in the middle of the night — was not so fun.

We learned other things like making a camp fire to cook on, following a compass and other survival skills.

But what I learned most was how appreciative of modern heating I am. At night, temperatures reached a balmy -17°C. That’s about 1.4°F.

But the 5°F this morning was close enough for me. It brought back happy memories, it brought back cold memories. But, as I rushed my dog along so we’d both stay warm, I smiled, because it happened.

I’m glad it did.

Je suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie

Today is a sad day for journalists across the world.

The people who work for a satirical newspaper in Paris, “Charlie Hebdo,” were the victims of what François Hollande, the French president, is calling a terror attack.

According to the New York Times, three gunmen entered the “Charlie Hebdo” building and shot and killed 10 journalists, including the chief editor and graphic artist, along with two police officers.

This kind of attack is something I fear as a journalist, and something I’m sure every writer, designer and editor has had pass through their thoughts at some time.

But we are journalists. We are freedom of speech. We are the voice of the people. We are the watchdogs.

I am saddened and sickened by this attack, but it makes me want to stand up for what I believe in even more. Despite your politics, despite what you believe journalists are, we are part of the reason this whole democratic thing works.

I had planned to write something whimsical and fun today, but I have been inspired by this sad turn of events.

I must mention, also, the judgement some will endure because of these masked men. No matter what religion a person is, that does not mean they carried out this attack.

Not every person who practices Islam is an extremist. Not every one of them believe violence, control and the elimination of those who don’t share the same beliefs is the answer.

Hate leads to extremism. Let’s love one another. We must not let prejudice and fear cloud our judgement.

The victims, their families, friends and the people of Paris are in my thoughts. I hope they catch the culprits.

This attack has only emboldened journalists to continue what they do best: question everything.

I am a journalist. I am freedom of speech. Je suis Charlie.

Here we go

Like many, every year around this time, I pledge to do a number of things to better myself.

I have my typical resolutions: drink more water, stay fit, do more yoga, don’t kill myself worrying about everything.

I think the yoga and fitness was one I upheld, but am still not so great at getting the necessary daily amount of water in my system. I drank four cups yesterday, though, which is huge for me!

Regarding yoga, a few months into 2014, I received the opportunity to do a work/study at my studio, Steadfast and True Yoga. I traded cleaning the studio and washing towels for yoga classes. So the responsibility was a motivator which led to more yoga and, ultimately, staying fit.

I told myself, also, that I would take the stairs at work. At the time, I worked at Gannett in the 1100 Broadway office and had the option of taking a scary, but lazier elevator, or four flights of steps to my office.

I can say that I accomplished this up until I left to come to Home Page Media Group — where I have no choice because there is no elevator.

As for 2015, though, I was sort of at a loss of what I’d commit to. Besides, of course, to stop making mental health symptoms the butt of my jokes.

I had just kind of decided maybe I wasn’t going to try any crazy resolution this year, but it all just kind of clicked Monday night.

I want to write a book.

I spent a bunch of time over the holidays watching videos on the Crash Course and vlogbrothers channels on YouTube. I linked to a few Crash Course videos in my last column, but if you don’t know about either, you might know one of the vlogbrothers as the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green.

Anyway, Green is what I want to be — an author. In the multitude of videos available by Green and his brother, Hank, there are quite a few that are somewhat of an inspiration to me.

In his video “How to Become an Adult,” Green suggests those looking for inspiration and guidance to “get an Ilene.” Ilene Cooper served as a mentor to Green and helped him write his first novel, “Looking for Alaska.”

In another vlogbrothers video, writer Maureen Johnson subs in for Green while he is on paternity leave and discusses writing books as a profession. She talks about how much time goes into learning to flex your writing muscle and that you need to do it all the time if you intend to become an author.

It takes a lot of practice to get good at writing and to get good at writing all the time, something that I surprisingly don’t do every day. I edit every day, but I don’t write.

This also requires reading a ton of books, which I don’t think I do often enough. I read several articles a day, but not books as often as I’d like.

So, where does all of this lead? Stay with me, I’m getting to the point, I swear.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind, associated with howstuffworks.com, had a great podcast on Jan. 1 about “brainhacking” and learning to make your resolution a habit.

They mentioned writing 100 words every day to work your writing muscle and to get into the habit.

After listening to that podcast, and the culmination of videos I watched over the weekend, I had my resolution. Work to become an author.

I plan to accomplish this by writing at least 100 words a day and attempt to read 26 books (that I already own, but haven’t read yet!!) this year. That’s one book about every two weeks.

So there you have it. That’s my resolution. I don’t plan to have a book done this year, but I want to start in the right direction. I plan to update this blog as I go with a small bit of writing each day. I’m crossing my fingers I can make it through the month, then we’ll see about sticking to the whole 365 days thing. Resolutions are so intimidating.

Wish me luck, and I hope you’re able to keep your resolution for the new year as well!