Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SOCIAL MEDIA & ME IN 2018


2017 found me shyly sticking my toe into the proverbial social media pond to test out the temperature before jumping all in. Feeling the cold and icy atmosphere that makes up a large portion of the internet made me fearful of fully immersing myself. So there I sat, for an entire year, with nothing more than a toe inside the water. This coy behavior left me feeling sad, confused, tired and muted. I didn't speak up for what I believed in, I didn't join any hashtag armies, I was just watching the world crumble through a crack in the doorway. By nature I am a very vocal person and am not afraid to ask questions when I don't understand your views on something, nor do I shy away from telling you how I feel if I am passionate about a subject. I think these are important details to share so you can full understand why this period of silence was so difficult for me and so taxing on my mind. I experienced a lot of personal battles in 2017 and I think that I just didn't have the mental energy or capacity to fight for anything more at the end of each day. Not only did I feel defeated by my own demons but also by the demons running about the world today. 

2018 started with no resolutions and no goals. I kind of stopped doing that a few years back when I realized that 1 January was not anything more than a calendar reset. I still use the New Year hype to reflect on where I am currently and where I am headed in life and that is exactly how I realized that I didn't really use the time I had in 2017 to "fight" for anything I am passionate about. Again, this is a huge deal for me and may not be for others. Some people do not like to vocalize their opinions and that's A-O-K, but if you know me, you know that is not the case here. 12 days into the New Year (it's 12 January that I'm writing this) I have whole-heartedly decided that 2018 needs to be the year that I share my views on the things that I feel are so wildly important. How else can I expect anyone to know how I feel?

I think one of the main reasons I stayed so quiet in 2017 is because I thought the only way to voice my opinion was to be argumentative or confrontational. Like I said, I've had to overcome some personal obstacles recently and that really put my head into a negative space. The last thing I needed was more negativity. You often see this type of "standing up for your right" speech on social media when someone sticks their nose into the business of the opposition and tries to dig up dirt or find flaws in the opposing argument instead of just focusing on their own beliefs and trying to show through action why what they are doing is better. They give attention to the negativity, and I don't want to be a part of that. When you jump straight into the "you're wrong" accusatory responses, it gives you no opportunity to share your side of things because you've already turned off the opposing side by being so immediately hateful. I want to talk freely about things I believe in without being negative or confrontational to others. I think the best way for me to do this is to just focus on myself and my beliefs and to share what I'm doing to better myself and how I'm translating my words into actions. 

I am in no way jumping head first into the social media pond this year. Instead, I am about to wade waist-deep into the muck in the hopes that sharing more of myself with the pond can help the other do-gooders clear out some of the bad energy. Here are some of the things I am working on in my personal life that are also things I hope to take about in 2018;
- Respect for people, animals and the earth.
- Sustainability and low-impact living.
- Ethical consumerism.
- Movement, "A body in motion stays in motion".
- Veganism, continuing to discover reasons I choose to be vegan. 
These are all things I am very passionate about and things that I have been working on in my personal life to try to "practice what I preach". I'm not perfect, and I think that sharing that imperfection is important. You don't have to get it right the first time, you just have to keep trying.

Here is some other ish (get it? stephanieish?.... no? Ok..) I'm interested in;
- Delicious vegan meals and snacks.
- Pretty places, I appreciate that both city and nature in their own unique ways are absolutely stunning.
- Plants.
- Beauty; makeup, skincare, hair, nails and enjoying these commodities as sustainably and ethically as possible.
- Art and personal expression through different mediums like painting, filming, writing and so on.

You know, another thing I noticed while reflecting on social media in 2017 was that I was "sick and tired" of hearing about other people's personal lives. I was watching the highlight reels of superficial people and thinking about how sad and boring my own life is. Granted, my day-to-day life is actually very monotonous, but my life isn't sad and there is much more to me than just my daily activities and errands. Up until now I had assumed that my monotony could not compare to these extravagant and exciting, shocking and dramatic lifestyles of the social media moguls. What I didn't realize is that a lot of it is a facade and that it can only be sustained for so long before crumbling. Being your authentic and genuine self and sharing your personal beliefs isn't going to meet an end unless you do. This was a big mistake on my part and I think this made up about a third of the personal battles I was losing each day. I was comparing my authenticity to something disingenuous. Of course the two will not be the same!

In addition, I have noticed a shift in the way social media works as a whole. The actual platforms have been making changes to best fit the influx of more and more creators but I don't think these changes are actually working beyond the surface. I think too many people want a piece of internet fame and instead of uploading for the sheer wonder of getting to share your content with arguably the largest audience on earth, they are looking to make a quick buck and are drowning out the people who have a genuine message to share. It has dawned on me that when I started sharing content online, thinking way back to my nail art tumblr circa 2010, I was doing it for fun and using the internet as my outlet and connection to the outside world. I was just so in awe of how close of a connection the world could have, the internet being the tool. You didn't make a Myspace to be famous unless you were a band and you didn't sign up for Tumblr to be a "baddie". You were just there to share what you liked and find people who also liked those things. No one was trying to monetize every post, unless they were professionally blogging on a website they had built and that was a whole different ballgame back then, too. Fast forward to today, you can't go on Instagram without finding at least one photo with a #ad in the caption. You run the risk of watching a Youtube video uploaded by someone you trust, buy a product on their recommendation and then find out they did not properly disclose their sponsorship by the company to speak about this product. It feels like a sham, a numbers game and feels more like a competition every day following. Everyone is so focused "on the grind" and losing sight of what really matters! This is never something I wanted when I started sharing content on social media. It is truly a little nightmare come true.

*UPDATE* As I mentioned earlier, I started to write this on 12 January. Late night/early morning of 16/17 January I received an email, along with many other small Youtubers, getting official notice that our involvement in the Youtube Partner Program was being terminated because we did not meet new threshold requirements for watch time or subscriber count. I myself am not affected by this monetarily because Youtube has never been a source of income for me, however I am very sad for the  Youtubers that I watch and enjoy that were relying in part on this monetization option of the YPP to supplement their income. Youtube's reason behind the new policy change was that this is a new "safeguard" against the Youtube ecosystem. Without going into too much detail, I feel as though they are punishing smaller channels for the irresponsible actions of a larger Youtuber. This is a prime example of how platforms are adapting to fit the content from their creators, and how a lot of times it reflects unfavorably on the real and raw passionate crowd of creatives. If you're interested, I was up late last night tweeting about this; @stephanieish_

-Stephanie

Friday, October 13, 2017

A WEDDING PLANNING RANT

One would think that reducing the size of a wedding would reduce the amount of time or money spent on said wedding. At least, that's what I thought. And, to a fault, that theory is true. We don't have to pay for as many meals or for as many favors or desserts with a lower head count, but the discounting pretty much stops there. Spencer and I have been trying to pave our own wedding day path, rather than follow any traditional "templates" put in place by many of the couples before us. Unfortunately, the farther you stray from tradition, the more time consuming and expensive your wedding can become. 

I've never really been a "normal" person, I threw the rule book out the window a long time ago, and because of this I never thought I'd be the type for a traditional wedding. That being said, I still feel a small amount of outside pressure (maybe a little from myself as well) to maintain some traditionalism in our wedding. Lucky for me, I've found someone who tolerates my eccentricities and dreaming up our non-conformal-yet-conforming wedding was relatively easy for us to do. This creative thinking process however, has been both a blessing and a curse. I mean, sure, it's fun to dream and think up different ways to celebrate your love and relationship but things can turn sour when you concoct a "genius-never-before-seen" plan that does not align with your budget. Having to tell yourself "no" over and over again because of money is emotionally and creatively exhausting! Thankfully, after many mildly stressful changes to the plan, Spencer and I have found and settled on a wedding day that is both traditional and uniquely ours. 

Spencer and I are a creative and skilled unit, and a lot of the extras that we would otherwise shell out hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars for are going to become our DIY projects over the next several months. But this hasn't been all sunshine and ponies. What you save in money you lose greatly in time. Wedding work has absorbed most of my free and working time and I'm ready for it to be over. I enjoy dreaming, I enjoy planning, I even enjoy coordinating plans with outside vendors. What I don't care for is the mess of paper scraps, lace and twine strewn across our kitchen table while I put together our handcrafted invitations. I don't care for the hunt for the perfect table setting or the ideal dessert table display. I like pinning beautiful pictures on my Pinterest wedding board but turning all of my inspiration into our own unique reality without breaking the bank is a challenge that leaves me very tired. Also, #done.

I'd be lying if I said I hated every part of this wedding planning process. There are many positives and they do outweigh the few negatives I've mentioned in this post. I'm just being dramatic, this is a rant after all.... 

-Stephanie
๐Ÿ’


Friday, September 1, 2017

THOUGHTS OF A NOVICE BULLET JOURNALIST


INTERESTED IN SEEING THE DRAWING PROCESS OF MY SEPT '17 COVER PAGE? CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL

I've never been a super organized person, but I've never been disorganized either. For a while I was able to keep my schedule in my head. Most of what I do on a daily basis is determined at the start of each day and not something I need to plan ahead for. I love stationary, pretty pens, doodling and writing, so it's no surprise that during particularly busy periods of my life I've been coerced into buying fancy planners with the expectations of becoming a super organized person. Alas, a few months in I'd always seem to fall off track. After a certain point I let go of trying to be picture perfect on paper and allowed my planning tendencies to unfold in a natural and unforced manner. I've found that I work very effectively off of a running to do list, and have been trying to find a system that works with that planning style instead of against it.  

I have known about bullet journaling for a while now, my first exposure being a photo I saw online of a woman proudly displaying her journal. What caught my attention was the list on the page and how organized and perfect it seemed to be. I remember watching vlogs wherein people would talk about their new experiences in the bullet journaling world, but I never took the time to research this style of planning further because I figured it was too much work for me. I'd already found that making lists in random journals and on scrap paper was working well enough, why bother fixing something that wasn't broken? 

It was some time in the middle of April, freshly engaged and trying to close on our house that I realized Spencer and I were headed for the busiest period of our lives thus far. I decided that keeping little piles of to do lists on scrap paper just wasn't going to cut it, and chose to dedicate my most used journal (that I use for note taking and doodling) as the only place I would make the lists I use to organize and schedule my life. It worked well for a little, but I was still using the journal for my writing, note taking and doodling, and honestly keeping my scheduling and my free-writing in the same place proved to be a total mess. 

It wasn't until about a month ago that I had my real exposure to bullet journaling. I logged into Youtube and found a recommended video with "Plan With Me" in the title. I had some time to spare and sat through the video. I was mesmerized from the start, bullet journaling was not what I thought it was. I kept watching video after video of people's bullet journal spreads, realizing that bullet journaling was anything you needed and wanted it to be for you, the possibilities were truly endless. By the end of that day I'd decided that this was the perfect way for me to corral all of my scheduling/planning lists into one place, and a great way to encourage my creativity to flourish. I purchased a bright sunflower yellow journal, a Leuchtturm 1917 dotted to be specific, online and anxiously waited for it to arrive. 

Creating my September 2017 spread was a lot of fun. Filming it and making a voiceover video about it was equally great, almost therapeutic! It was a good excuse to take time for myself to doodle and reflect. My friend, Kiki, recently mentioned that she can tell creating makes me happiest and that I should keep doing it. She's totally right. Often times I can forget what makes me truly feel alive because I'm so busy trying to use up my time in other "more productive" ways. My passions sometimes feel like hobbies, and I don't know if I'm the only one who feels like hobbies can sometimes be a waste of time, but bullet journaling has opened my mind to the idea that maybe that isn't such a waste of time, or perhaps it's a necessary waste of time. A time to take for your mind to slow down and tune out the chaos that is the world we live in today. 

-Stephanie ๐Ÿ“’



Thursday, August 10, 2017

BEGIN AGAIN


I seem to have a dirty habit of starting a blog, running it for a year or so and then shutting it down. I've done this, what, three times? I grow a small and loyal following (the best kind!) and get some sweet free products to try from amazing small businesses, and then I throw it all away. I'm indecisive by nature and have always been very critical of my own work in whatever for it takes on; writing, painting, sketching, organizing and designing have all fallen victim to my relentless personal criticism. It is when indecision and intense critiques combine that I catch myself destroying my hard work. I've scrapped numerous paintings because of small details I personally cannot get over. One small imperfection can ruin an entire work for me. Honestly, I'm not even a perfectionist and I'm not nearly as critical of other people's work as I am with my own. But the hunt for perfection has been an endless one for me, and although I fully and logically understand that perfection is a facade, I still cannot stop trying to catch it. 

I've had a long break from writing and filming and creating. While I was gone I wondered if I was finally "over it" all. Writing and sharing, filming and creating, were these all just momentary interests I mistook for my passions? My mind has been consumed by stress and hard decisions, a myriad of challenges placed in front of me and at the end of each day I was physically too tired to think about it any longer. I mistook that fatigue for disinterest. I was still very much consuming creative content and dreaming of publishing my works once more but was too overwhelmed by the real world to put those dreams back into motion. 

Today, and at the beginning of each day following, I challenge myself to begin again and this time I don't want it to stop. I don't believe that writing is a phase for me, I mean, I've always loved to write. I've always loved to draw and sketch and paint and create. Filming is the baby of my creative passions but I do believe it is here to stay. Story telling, connecting, sharing and learning. These are my passions. I want to see them through. This is my fourth blog, and I challenge myself to make it my last. No matter how hard and relentless my inevitable critiquing will be, I want to write and create and learn and film and share until I am very very sure that I have had enough. 

Something I want to touch on before ending this post; some may be asking why not just write and create for yourself instead of sharing it with others online? It is true, you do not need a public space to create. But I feel like it gives me purpose. I'm not talking about my life purpose here, I haven't the slightest idea of what that is. However, I feel as though publishing my content online gives me a sense of purpose. Sharing my content allows me to connect and get reactions, and perhaps even learn from someone else. It's that extra human connection outside of my normal surroundings that draws me in. I love my fiancรฉ and my mother, they read my content and I appreciate that more than they know. But I know that no matter how interested in my content they say they are, they are ultimately consuming that content for me. I never want to make someone feel like they have to do that. Maybe I'm not explaining this well enough, but it all makes sense in my head and that's all I have to say about that. 

-Stephanie ๐Ÿ“ท
     ๐Ÿ“ธ      

Friday, July 21, 2017

JUST ANOTHER PHOTO


I needed a test post for reference while "building" this blog. I wrote some nonsense for the text body and paired it with this photo I took back in May 2017 while Spencer and I were in San Francisco. Although this is not my typical photography style, it is one of my favorite photos. What a wonderful city, both busy and quiet, unique and familiar.  I didn't expect to fall in love with it as much as I did! Anyway, as I finished up with the design of this website, it came time for me to delete the test post I'd been using as reference over the last month. I quite enjoyed looking at the photo so frequently, and now I feel like it's just a piece of my blog I'm not willing to part with. It is not just another photo, but a return ticket back to a wonderful experience and a beautiful place. And so it stays!
-Stephanie ๐ŸŒด