Winter Reflections

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Typically, I hate winter.  This year, however...I'm feeling it.

I like the sun.  I tan easily.  I love swimming in a pool/ocean/puddle of mud.  There's nothing like the feel of sand or grass between your toes.  Summer has always been my thing.

This winter so far is brutal.  For the first time in years, there was snow on Christmas.  The next week was FRIGID.  It wasn't the type of winter you could play in the snow (the only kind I've ever tolerated).  So why am I so content?

The week after Christmas, I decided I was going to buck with tradition and instead of staying the week at my parents', I went back to my apartment on Christmas.  The building was quiet.  The heat was on high.  My boyfriend was back home with his family.  I was aware of how completely alone I was.  The next few days were pretty much the same.  I plugged in the tree lights and the lights I have framing my living room window.

I struggle with prioritizing and slowing things down.  I'll jump to say yes and help others before helping myself; sometimes, I need to be a bit more selfish and fight for me before I can fight the battles of others.  In the end, I find myself overwhelmed and deflated with the amount of things I've let pile up.

2017 was rough for me.  My best friend stopped being my best friend.  I inexplicably stopped sleeping.  While I love my friends, all of their weddings left me struggling to pay my bills on time.  My grandmother died and while that was hard, it really broke and changed my Mom - she's always been my rock.  I looked in the mirror and there was someone I didn't recognize staring back.  I was left with the feeling that I'd never be able to catch up.

Each day I woke up at 5:30AM, based upon the advice of my favorite motivational Youtubers, and made myself breakfast.  The rest of the day was spent reading (mostly You Are a Badass), writing, and really getting in tune with the things that made me happy.  I created new routines and goals that I found exciting to work towards.  I also made amends with the things I could not change and promised myself to continue to love all of those in my life and to not hold them accountable for those who burned me.

The snow and 15 degree weather made it perfectly okay for me to stay home and figure things out - there was no guilt or nagging inside of me to make that return to Target right this minute or the feeling that I should be breathing in some fresh air.  During the summer, I don't think I could have kept the world out in the same way.

On the last day of vacation, I curled up with my favorite coffee mug and I closed my eyes, feeling incredibly grateful for the alone time.  There is a major difference between alone and lonely, I learned.  There is so much strength to be found when you are alone.  Opening the curtains on that first day of 2018, I was a little bummed that the cold weather could no longer protect me and keep me inside.  But I knew, walking out into the world the next day, I had a new focus and drive to carry me through the rest of the year.

I Turned Off Style Requests - Here's What Happened

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

At 5:30 AM on January 7th, I woke up to 70 (yes, SEVENTY) style requests .  Some style requests were from the same person looking for suggestions in Cocktail Attire and Cozy Staples.  I sat down at my desk with my dual monitors and I got to work.  By 8:30, I was burnt and fully understood how much of a waste of time the style request option was for someone like me.  I, very happily, turned the ability off in my Posh Stylist settings.

Previously, I approached style requests by sharing a sign in my closet which notified the user we were style matched.  Why?  I saw so many sellers on Instagram frustrated with buyers who blocked them for sharing to their closet - all because they didn't realize that seller was one of their stylists.  I made the sign probably a week into the program launch.  I don't think anyone blocked me so in that sense it was effective.
Secondly, after I shared my sign, I reviewed the sizing of the potential buyer and shared items in that style request category. I probably shared anywhere from five to 20 items.  As the weeks wore on and more and more Poshers dropped from the stylist program, I limited myself to ten maximum.

I got one sale.  On one item.

By Christmas, I was over it.  A week before the holiday, I turned my setting off and sort of walked away from Poshmark all together.  Personally, I was using the week off that I had as an opportunity to do some introspection and the constant nagging of a style request would be less than helpful.

As 2018 rolled around, I decided to hop back in and really do my best to figure this thing out.  If the program was still out there, it has to be working for somebody....right?

So I switched up my tactics a few days in - this time, I wouldn't share a bunch of items into the void, never to hear from those shares again.  I shared my sign BUT I directly tagged the user and asked them for what they were looking for.  I used this tactic when someone didn't have a size.  Sometimes they responded back, but the majority of them did not.  However, it saved me a ton of time because I wasn't sharing items to someone who wasn't interested.  I could much better spend the limited time I have sharing my own items to the feed or sharing others.
Nine people got back to me.  Out of 90 people I reached out to.  Nine.  Just about all of them requested items that were not even in the same category that they chose for styling.  I shared to them all, thanked them all, and promptly never heard back.  Well, one girl skipped some of my shares so at least I know they were looked at.

I'm not a stylist.  I can barely style the outfits I put together each day.  I was really anxious about this program rolling out and the fallout from not participating.  I'm not a fashionista and I don't think I have to pretend to be one to be successful.  Those requesting styling are Looky Lou's.  They're just interested in what's out there and I don't entirely blame them.  But I'm not seeing return on my efforts, so I'd rather stick to targeting those looking for the specific item I have.

So, I turned off Style Requests - and nothing happened.  I'm still selling on my average and now that I have more time available to focus on buyers who actually are interested in buying, I'm optimistic.

**Update**  Yule at @beabellacouture mentioned to me that Poshmark sent out an e-mail recently that they will be removing Seller Stylists who did not respond to at least 3 Stylist Request by January 24th. (I didn't get this e-mail, but I never get any of the e-mails - and that's because I have Announcements turned off so I just fixed that!)  I recall reading complaints that people had about not actually receiving any Styling replies when they requested it.  Maybe this is their way of revamping the system or forcing people to respond?  As of January 25th, I still have the option to turn my Posh Styling settings off or on.

Things That Make Me Laugh

Monday, January 22, 2018

I've become an avid Youtube watcher recently (including TED Talks!) so I'm not sure which video exactly (if I find it, I'll link it here) that mentioned simply smiling can uplift your mood.  I've been compiling things that make me bust out laughing and when I'm really down or having a hard day, I pull a funny meme or two up; my attitude changes almost immediately and I'm able to really let go of whatever was holding me back.  So here's a short list of things that make me bellyache.

Kristen Bell vs. The Sloth
I hope to feel as excited Kristen Bell feels about a sloth just once in my life.

The Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bear Review
Take a deep breath of oxygen before you dive into this're gonna need it.

Chris Pratt Bloopers & Outtakes from Parks & Recreation
Anything from Parks & Recreation is gold, but these are just a little bit extra.  Like, how does he keep a straight face?!?

Dwight & the CPR Dummy
I really don't know why but it kills me every single time.  This whole scene is fantastic - including the singing.

Part Time Poshmark Sharing Goals

Monday, January 15, 2018

My original title for this post was Part Time Poshmark, Full Time Drama.  It didn't make sense but it made me laugh so now I'm forcing you to see it.  You're welcome.

I have a full time job as a grants administrator working 8:30-4:30PM.  For the past 3 years, I've dabbled in the art of freelance writing - specifically resume writing.  Resume writing comes with pretty strict deadlines for first drafts and rewrites within the space of a week.  A few years ago, I also started selling all of my junk (and my grandfather's) on eBay and last January I started to invest in Poshmark.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that I am also a Full Time Certified Procrastinator.

With my day job, resume writing, reselling, and procrastinating, my schedule is tight.  Basically, reselling is a side hustle after my main side hustle.  In 2018, I plan on reducing my resume writing and replacing it with reselling.  Will I ever take it full time?  I don't see it.  However, I also have no idea what my grown up job is going to be, so maybe - but that's a philosophical pursuit that you aren't here to travel with me today.

As we all know, the magic of Poshmark is heavily based on your interactions with it.  A day without sharing is a day down the tubes.  For 2018, I made this sheet that I have hanging above my desk detailing how I am going to participate and boost my chances within the ever-elusive algorithm.   I wanted a way to keep myself accountable, map growth, and notice trends.  Sometimes, Poshmark feels like a vacuum of activity with no trackability.

There are a bunch of motivational tidbits to make me smile and get my butt in gear (I made this on Canva, by the way).  It also lessens my anxiety by making me feel like I'm in control in some weird way.  It isn't an overwhelming amount to struggle with either early in the morning before work or when I'm mid-evening chowing down on an unhealthy dinner and binging YouTube videos.  I also like that I can spread out completing these goals over the course of the day and I don't have to make room in my schedule for the 30 Minute Method (which this is loosely based on).

Each day is preset and I can pursue other things in my life without feeling the need to glue myself to my computer or phone...unless I really feel the need to creep on the Instagrams of all of the Married at First Sight past cast members.

I don't list daily - I'm not there yet and it gives me weird anxiety to have items just sitting.  I'm aware this could also affect the algorithm but really, guys, where would you like me to fit in procrastinating in with a schedule that also involves daily listing?  #priorities

I'm hoping my little sharing plan will evolve with the year.  Do you all have any useful ways to keep yourselves accountable?

Music to Listen to While Crushing Goals

Friday, January 12, 2018

I truly listen to music 24/7.  At work, I have my earbuds plugged in from the moment I walk in until the moment I leave; I'm constantly jumping out of my seat when a co-worker stops by to drop a file in my inbox.  It's become a running joke.  My apartment has never known the sound of silence while I've been in it, at least.  Honestly, I don't know how the guys below me haven't angrily banged on my door or passive aggressively left trash behind my car (I would have).  Especially since my boyfriend got me a Bose speaker for Christmas - we now have BASS and LOUDNESS my friends.

I like to set my moods and activities to music.  Currently these are some of the song I'm bopping to when I'm trying to stay amped about whatever goal I'm trying to crush.  These songs aren't specifically talking about goals or crushing at life in general but

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things - Taylor Swift
I'm aware this is a revenge-like song, but it feels empowering.  It makes me feel like a total badass which I am most certainly not.

True To Your Heart - 98° and Stevie Wonder
I dare you to try to listen this and not immediately feel like you can conquer the world.  It may or may not have been in my Top 5 Played Songs on Spotify in 2017 while doing my dishes...(it totally was).

American Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Don't dive too deep into the lyrics, but if you just listen to the drums and that'll understand.

Sorry Not Sorry - Demi Lovato
Imagine listening to this song while you succeed and shaking your head at all the haters.  I have no haters, but I have a super active imagination and this goes over really well in my head.

...Ready For It - Taylor Swift
I didn't want to add ANOTHER Taylor Swift song to this list, but the title speaks for itself.

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
Need some perseverance?  Look no further than this story of sticking through it no matter how tough things get.

The Fighter - Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood
Interestingly, my most played Spotify song of 2016. 

Rescue - Yuna
This song is about pulling yourself up.  For a brief period in 2016 when I was determined to run (a story for another day), this song gave me so much motivation to do it for myself.

Faith - George Michael
Because most importantly, you gotta have faith!

I Gave Up Social Media for 8 Months

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yeah, that's not clickbait.

I went without Facebook and Twitter for 8 solid months.  I went 5 months without Instagram, but I maybe had 30 followers and I didn't (and still kind of don't) follow any celebrities or other groups that if I popped open the app, I wasn't falling down a rabbit hole.  These days though, I creep on the entire cast of Vanderpump Rules and after each episode I absolutely stalk their most recent photos and comments for clues to the current status of their relationships with one another.  I should probably give up cyber creeping but that's an issue for another blog post.

Anyway, I eliminated all of these apps and found myself with a lot more time to read and spend with those around me.  I was living with my grandpa in New York at the time.  I still had text messaging to reach out to friends and family.  I started writing resumes as a freelance gig and started making decent money on the side.  I used (and still use) social media as a way to procrastinate - even on the things I actually want to do.  It's pure distraction.

(Sidenote: the election and all of the wasteful posts regarding it actually helped curb my attachment to Facebook.  I unfollowed anyone who sounded violent or overall extreme and my news feed became far less exciting.  It's mostly filled with those I talk to weekly anyway; I don't even have the app on my phone anymore).

My birthday fell during this period and it was really interesting to see who reached out to me.  We rely on Facebook's birthday reminders pretty heavily.  I received far less Happy Birthday messages, but those messages that did come through felt far more genuine and meant that much more.  Overall, I kind of felt more full.

When I decided I wanted to start blogging in the spring of 2015, I recognized the worth in connecting through social media and reactivated my accounts.  I've dropped off using Twitter altogether, however, and mostly function through Instagram now, and I kind of like it that way.  It feels far more personal and simplistic.

The biggest lesson I learned in my social media cleanse was the pure value of disconnecting.  I don't run to respond to every message sent my way.  I'm far more likely to continue enjoying the moment I'm in.  I don't feel it necessary to compare myself to those posting their perfect selfies.  I'm probably addicted to Instagram, but when I see the tell-tale signs, I just delete the app for a day or two and login from a computer to check in on my @decoratethesoul handle.

I'm still torn on social media and the immense pressure it creates.  For example, if you were on bad terms with someone (pre-social media), you could just take some time off from the relationship and cool down.  Now, you're stuck seeing everything single thing they do - where they've checked in for dinner or their live thoughts on The Bachelor.  Absence used to make the heart fonder, but if you can't take a time out because you essentially carry them around with you in your pocket...then what?

Still Alive

Saturday, January 6, 2018

In college, I had a friend who would repeatedly text me "Still alive?" and react astonished when I replied in the affirmative.  Eventually, it became an inside joke to antagonize me, even when I was standing a few feet away from him.

This year, the answer to that question was barely.  This year was tough, guys.  I'm still struggling (through therapy and multiple self-help books/programs) to admit that I'm struggling with depression.  I'm not sure when it started, but I think the tip of the iceberg was in March when my friend was coming to visit me for the week and I didn't sleep for about 40 hours straight with no logical reason.  Since then, I've struggled with sleeping through the night (if at all) and the lack of energy caused by that lead me to dropping the ball in so many areas of my life.

I chose to whine, cry, and essentially hole myself up at home wondering why I couldn't perform the most basic of human functions: sleep. So, basically, I just stopped doing anything.

Two months ago I really started a journey to assessing my environment, my diet, and general attitude.  They were all pretty crappy and doing nothing because I'm tired was just compounding the issue.

I'm still exhausted half of the time, but I'm working on it and keeping a positive attitude.  I'm shifting my focus to the things I can control and reigniting my passions - like blogging! - and remaining hopeful.

So, am I still alive?  Yup.  Alive and kicking..

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