The Blog

Being authentic and true

authenticity, orlando, heart mural, positivity, life, inspiration, Maybe it’s because I’m a Scorpio, but it’s impossible for me to hide my emotions.

Whether I’m stressed, or excited, or upset, I do a pretty bad job of hiding it. If I’m feeling a negative emotion, I get anxious, I stop talking and I can’t make good eye contact. You can read my poker face, because I don’t have one. It’s just not in me.

I’ve often been hard on myself for this, and it’s also caused me guilt. I’m hypersensitive, so if I even detect a slight shift in mood in somebody else, I immediately think it’s my fault or they’re upset with me. Nine times out of ten, they’re probably just having a bad day. So, that’s where the guilt comes in for me, because I know I’m sure I’ve done that to other people with my inability to mask my feelings.

Now, sometimes it is with a person I’m upset with. I really don’t get mad at people often, but I just can’t fake like everything’s fine if I have an issue with somebody. I’ll be civil, but I’m not going to go over the top and try to make it seem like everything’s OK. I don’t fake smile, and honestly, I don’t like when other people do. Let’s be real about our feelings, guys! Being fake just makes people not trust you…but that’s a topic for another day.

Really where I’m going with this is authenticity. Concealing emotions to either spare someone’s feelings to just try to convince yourself you’re fine are more outward forms of what I’m talking about. But what I really want to get to is being authentic, meaning your true self.

Like most people, I’ve pretended to like stuff so people would like me, mainly in high school and college. I once ate sushi with a group of new friends so I wouldn’t look disagreeable (I HATE sushi). I’ve sat in a coworker’s car listening to country music, assuring them I was totally good with country (again, not my cup of tea). And (this is infamous in my house), I pretended to like the film The Minority Report when I was just months into dating my now-husband (never again will I watch that thing – I think I fell asleep). These are super minor things that honestly aren’t worth raising a fuss over, except sushi. Never eat food you don’t like. I put my foot down there.

As I’ve grown up a bit (and let’s be real, I have a lot more to do), I’ve realized there’s a power in being honest about what you like, what your values are and who you are. I’m still figuring all those out, but I definitely have a better idea now. And you know what else I learned? The more true to yourself you are, the happier you’ll be. You’ll attract people who are like-minded and radiate that same energy, and in turn, make meaningful friendships and relationships. You’ll feel more fulfilled and purposeful.

In the past, I’ve wanted to appear a certain way to people and would put my needs to the side. So I said “sure!” and “yes!” a lot, even when it was difficult or uncomfortable or just plain un-fun for me. Now, I say no to things I don’t want to do, or don’t make sense to me. I say no to things that aren’t fun or meaningful to me. Do I get anxious at the very thought of it? I say no.

Does that seem negative? Well, no. Not to me. Because when I say no to things that don’t make sense for me, or require me to drain all my energy that could be spent on something more productive and healthy,  I’m saying yes to myself. I’m embracing who I am, what I want and what I was meant to do.

I’m being authentic. And I’ll say yes to that every single day.

What about you? What have you learned about being honest and authentic? Let me know in the comments. I love this stuff.

Thank you always,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

My debt to pay: A lesson in accountability

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Anyone who mildly knows me probably knows that I love Taylor Swift with all my heart, mind and soul. So naturally, when she released her latest promo single, “The Archer,” I immediately went to my room, put in my headphones and took a deep breath.

In the song, she sings “And I cut off my nose just to spite my face/Then hate my reflection for years and years.”

Admittedly, I had never heard that expression before, so I Googled. Basically, Google/Wikipedia says it’s “an expression to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem.”

Wow. That’s me.

Now, this post isn’t really meant to talk about overreacting to stuff. Have I done that? Yeah, I think everyone has. But, in one instance, it snowballed into a situation I feel bad about years later.

I think there are times when we hurt people and we know it immediately. We pour out tear-soaked apologies, and we feel instant pangs of guilt for hours, or days, or more. We know, either because it was obvious or the person told us, that we were wrong and hurtful.

But, I think there are also times when we don’t realize immediately that we hurt someone. In fact, there are times when we don’t believe we did anything wrong or even that the person deserved it. To reference another Taylor song, we think “look what you made me do.”

This happened to me recently. Something had continued to bother me years later, and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just forget about it. And then it hit me. I owed someone an apology.

At the time it happened, I didn’t think anything of it. But now, as I practice more empathy, I have a new perspective – even if the person never told me they felt hurt. And again, taking cues from Taylor Swift’s public moves and seeing her reconcile with Katy Perry (yes, I know I’m insane), I reached out one last time to this former friend with a long, deep, sincere apology. I didn’t ask for forgiveness. I didn’t ask to be friends again. I just made it clear I was sorry, and that apology should’ve arrived much sooner.

One lesson I’ve learned, especially since starting my current full-time job, is that accountability is essential to growth. It makes you stronger. It makes you be honest with yourself. And, people respect you for it. Learning to not blame others and instead take responsibility for your actions is key to growing up.

I chose the elevator photo for this post because it symbolizes to me a sense of moving up and on – and taking the high road.

And even if that friend never replies to my message, at least I can move on and forgive myself, because I finally admitted I was wrong.

I think this applies to all situations – family, friends, work, even interactions with strangers. Being willing to take a step back, look at things through an objective lens and muster up the strength to say “I’m sorry” will go a long way.

It might not repair a friendship or a relationship. But it could provide a chance.

XO,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

My journey into freelance writing & making dreams come true

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Hi there! It has been a really, really, really long time since I’ve blogged. That’s because life has been absolutely hectic and chaotic and a lovely mess of dreams coming true. And the reason for that is some hard work happening behind the scenes.

Back in March, I experienced a setback that crushed me. It was something I’d built up in my mind, something I was sure I would get. It was huge. And when I received news that it had just slipped from my grasp, I was crushed. I even left work early because mentally I felt so defeated. I cried the entire thirty minutes home, repeating over and over again: “I thought I had it.”

My gut said yes. My gut said big things were happening, and this was it. So when reality hit that wasn’t the case, I felt so incredibly low. I felt like I couldn’t trust even my own intuition anymore, because I always found my gut to be right – about people, about choices I had to make, and even about what song would come next on shuffle. Well, that last one wasn’t always 100% accurate.

I allowed myself to feel defeat and sadness and discouragement. I wasn’t going to suppress those emotions, because what had happened was truly disappointing and I had to deal with how I was feeling. But once I woke up the next morning, I had a thought.

“I’m going to be a freelance writer.”

I had been toying with this idea for years. I wanted a way to further hone my writing skills and also build something of my own. I have my fiction writing, yes, but I wanted something that would materialize more quickly. I wanted to do any and all kinds of writing – whether it was blog posts, podcast notes, resumes, or website copy.

So, that next day, I set a goal: I would begin freelance writing on April 1 and would manifest two projects in that first month. That’s all I set out to do. Two writing projects in the first month.

I’m happy to say I had four projects in that first month, and it’s only been growing since then. I still work full time in PR and love it, but this really gives me a chance to strengthen my skills even more.

My point in writing this is that good – actually, freaking great – things can come from bitter disappointments and let-downs. If I can offer some unsolicited advice (hypocritical, because I hate when people give me unsolicited advice), take those hard times and grow. And no matter what, chase your dreams. Put the hard work in, and I promise it will be worth it.

And, I could write a whole different post on this, do not let anyone try to talk down your dreams or make you feel like you can’t do it. Chances are, they’re projecting their own feelings of self doubt on you. And you don’t need that. Show them the door.

Thanks so much for reading, and I’m hoping to make this a regular thing once again. I’m really on about happiness, inspiration, and growth lately, so you might see more of that.

XO,
Elizabeth

 

 

Staying motivated in writing – when it seems impossible

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I have a confession to make: I don’t want to work on my book. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I love writing. It’s my absolute passion and calling. And it’s not that I don’t like my book idea and my current work in progress. But, I’m in the dreaded I-could-write-and-it’s-not-writer’s-block-but-I-can’t-bring-myself-to-do-anything.

So what do you do when you hit this wall? I’m still trying to work it out. But, hopefully, the first step to moving past it is recognizing it!

Here are some steps I’m taking to get back into the groove.

  1. Recognize your feelings. Acknowledge that you’re in a slump, that it’s going to be okay, and that you will move past it.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. While writing every day would be fantastic, unfortunately it’s not always realistic. Sometimes, it just doesn’t flow. It’s okay.
  3. Try to pinpoint why it’s happening. Are you struggling with a plot point? Querying another project and feeling discouraged? Or, maybe you’re just dealing with a lot of other stuff in your life. Don’t fret about it – prioritize and find where you can make time to write. If you’re struggling with the book itself, take some time away to brainstorm.
  4. Start small. Ease yourself back into your WIP. For me, I always strive to hit 1,000 words per session. Sometimes, I think this very goal gets in my own way. If you inch back into your story – even if it’s only 100 words – it’ll help get you back in the swing of things. Plus, you’ll be writing again!
  5. Understand that it happens to everyone. Remembering that you aren’t alone, and that everyone feels unmotivated and discouraged at times, can really help you get past your dry spell.

I’ll admit – I find this feeling even more sinking than writer’s block. So while I did come up with the above, I also asked my Twitter followers for their advice. Here’s what some of them said:

Sometimes I’ll work on another WIP, or a side project related to the WIP, like a scene that helps me understand a character or is just for fun even if I have no intention of including it in the WIP. – @ashleydhansen12

What I do is sometimes I just need to force myself to write, so I’ll write a couple sentences and see how I feel or I reread the last chapter to get back into it. Or, I go to the last spot I enjoyed writing and work from there. – @ImBrittanyEvans

I change it up. Write somewhere new, like a lunch spot. Write longhand. Brainstorm with a friend even if they don’t have a clue about your book. Just explaining stuff kick-starts the ole brain. – @AbbeyKirberger

But the most consistent piece of advice I received? Don’t give up, and keep working on your book anyway.

I would have to agree.

Do you have go-to practices to spark your motivation? Drop them in the comments!

XO,
Elizabeth

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: One of Us is Lying

unnamedHi everyone! Wow, it’s been an absolutely insane month. I’ll admit I haven’t been making writing a top priority, but I’m chalking it up to a lot of personal stuff that went on the past few weeks. However, I’ve still kept up my reading! February’s book is ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus, and I have to say, I LOVED IT. Before I get into specifics, here’s the official overview from McManus’ website:

Pay close attention and you might solve this:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention:
 

  • Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule

  • Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess

  • Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing

  • Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher

  • And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s
    notorious gossip app

 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom alive. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. He died on a Monday. But that Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates. Now, all four of them are suspects in his murder. Are they guilty? Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
 
They all have a motive. They all have something to hide. They all have a history with Simon. And one of them is definitely lying.

Whoa. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of young adult fiction. Not saying I don’t like it – it’s just usually not my first choice. But, a lot of people who know me know that I love Gossip Girl, so naturally this premise clicked with me from the start and I had to pick it up. Many people have described it as GG or Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, which in and of itself makes it a must-read. So, grab your backpack and cell phone – we’re going back to school.

First, let’s talk about how seamlessly McManus executes the multiple point-of-view writing. We get glances into the minds of the four remaining students – Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate – but it never feels confusing. This is a super difficult thing to pull off, but McManus does it. She writes them differently enough so that you can tell which character’s mind you’re in, but not too much so that it become distracting from the plot. Well done. I enjoyed getting to view the story unfold through the different perspectives.

I also loved her voice. Her writing style was rich in detail, but also kept the story moving and didn’t ever feel stifling or self-indulgent. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a plot girl, so I like when writers keep things moving with a strong premise. I also love mystery and thrillers, and I’ll admit, even with my lofty consumption of thrillers and determination to solve it for myself, I didn’t see this ending coming. Without giving too much away, it was an interesting concept, and the motivation behind the killer was timely in a dark and painfully real way.

In addition to an unforeseen ending, we also learn deep secrets about the four main characters themselves. As each one unfolds, we realize the murderer could be any of them – and that’s what makes it so gripping. I kept going back and forth on who could’ve done it – but when I ultimately learned the truth, and why the killer did it, I was pretty shocked.

All in all, if you love mystery, suspense, dark secrets and high school drama, pick up ONE OF US IS LYING. You won’t regret it.

Buy the book here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Know a book that I should read next? Let me know in the comments!

 

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: Hunting Annabelle

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Hi everyone! Thanks for bearing with me – it’s been a busy last few weeks, but I’m back on the blog. This week, I’ve got the January edition of WHAT I READ THIS MONTH! My January book was adult psych thriller HUNTING ANNABELLE by debut author Wendy Heard. I’m so excited to dive into this with you, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Also, if you haven’t seen – I’m now on YouTube! Catch me here in a video review of the book and subscribe for future book/writing/life content.

All right, here’s an overview of HUNTING ANNABELLE from Heard’s website:

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

First off – wow. Personally, thrillers are my favorite genre of literature, particularly psych thrillers. This premise struck me as so original, while at the same time masterfully tying in inspiration from real-life serial killers. Not only that, but the twist at the end had me yelping. Sean, our narrator, is unreliable to say in the least and certainly serves as a red herring in himself. I thought, like the police and basically every other character in the book, that Sean would end up being responsible for Annabelle’s disappearance. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this – don’t be so sure of whatever you’re thinking. Heard has a big trick up her sleeve with this one.

If you’re like me, you enjoy a more plot-driven story that has you gripped from the first page. Not only does Heard accomplish this, but she also develops rich characters with whom a reader can make a connection. At times, I felt sympathetic toward Sean, even though he’s a troubled man with a murderous past. Heard wonderfully shows his complicated relationship with an overbearing mother, and that dynamic in and of itself made the book fascinating to consume. At times you feel bad for Sean – he’s in love and desperately trying to find this woman with whom he found a real connection. But his honest confessions of feeling violent toward women pull you back into reality. And that truth is that Sean can’t be trusted.

And even he knows that. Several times, he questions if in fact he is responsible. And isn’t that the scariest part of all? Feeling like your reality may not be real at all? Whoa.

On top of this, Heard’s beautiful use of language makes her debut novel a triple threat. Not only is her plot strong and her characters developed and complex, but her voice is compelling. She writes in tight, succinct sentences that pack a punch. She doesn’t bore you with useless detail – everything she writes and describes has a reason. As someone with a journalism background, I always appreciate encountering that in literature.

All in all, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of HUNTING ANNABELLE. It’ll take you on a roller coaster you’ll never want to get off.

Buy HUNTING ANNABELLE:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

Looking back & ahead: New Year’s resolutions

 

I love the idea of a fresh start. The notion of reinvention and rebirth is fascinating and inspiring, and it’s something I think about often. That’s one of the reasons I love this time of year. Like most people, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting as the year draws to a close. Things I accomplished, things I learned, things I’m proud of, and things I could do better in the new year.

Here, I want to explore some of those and share what I’m aspiring to do in 2019.

2018 in review

What I’m proud of…

  • Finished writing my first book
  • Had my manuscript requested by agents
  • Launched my blog (woohoo!)
  • Transitioned my Instagram to a business account, focusing on Disney content
  • Completely revamped my mindset
  • Found joy in simple things
  • Started writing my second book

Lessons…

  • Happiness starts with the internal – not external. It’s on you.
  • Don’t let negative opinions dim your shine.
  • It’s scary to put yourself out there, but it’s so worth it.
  • Toxicity and negativity have no place here anymore.

Looking to 2019 

Goals…

  • Maintain a healthier lifestyle
  • Finish and revise my second book
  • Read two books a month
  • Buy more pink clothes
  • Keep a positive mindset

In short, my rule for 2019 can be summed up in three words: Good. Vibes. Only. As great as those external resolutions are (being healthy, financial responsibility, etc.), for me, the most important goals have to do with cultivating a good attitude. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. For me, it’s been life-changing.

And lastly, I want to say Happy New Year to those who follow and read my blog. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to awesome things coming in 2019!

Have your own goals and resolutions for the new year? Drop them in the comments below!

Happy New Year!

Elizabeth