Book Reviews, Project 4

Les Misérables – Book No. 17

This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!

72. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862)

Dates: 6/1/20 – 7/14/20 (43 days)

Plot: A French historical novel that follows the lives of several, seemingly unconnected characters throughout the years following the French Revolution.

Experience Before Reading: I saw the 2012 movie, but didn’t remember too much. Other than Do You Hear the People Sing?.

Takeaway: This is a classic. Forget what I’ve said about most of my other reviews, this is a book that everyone needs to read.

I don’t know what it is either. Maybe it’s because the book is so long (it’s the longest on our list!) that you become so attached to the characters. Maybe it’s because the brilliant intertwining of each character’s journey with another. Maybe it’s the way Hugo spirals and rambles about seemingly nothing to capture the zeitgeist of the French Revolution. But seriously, this book should be read by everyone.

My only criticism – because really, you’ll never love everything – is that Hugo’s tangents can result in chapters of nothing related to the plotline. Histories of the French sewers, practically a full reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo, an aside on slang and linguistics. It’s everything. There’s a rumor Victor Hugo was paid by word – which I couldn’t back up with evidence – but my oh my, does it go on forever. According to Wikipedia alone, nearly a quarter of the novel is spent on digressions. When you consider how long the entire book is, it’s like you’re reading several 30,000 word books within Les Mis.

Which brings me to one of my most important points: listen to it as an audiobook. This was my first ever audiobook. While the audiobook is 60 hours, I promise it’s worth your time. I was hesitant about audiobooks, since I can be a distracted listener, but the experience was heightened from listening to it, I think. Plus, it saves your sanity from some of those digressions.

As much as I’d love to go on and on about the characters, I don’t want to ruin it. What I will say, is I found these characters well-written. Maybe not as much so as Atlas Shrugged, but still so vivid. Especially Jean Valjean. I feel like I understand him as a character and can very clearly delineate his values.

Lastly, I want to talk about the way these characters co-exist together. The way some of these characters foil is remarkable. The way their paths cross and blur the lines of enemy and friend is beautiful. It’s almost Shakespearean at times. Don’t believe me? Read the end of book two and tell me it’s not like a comedy. (Note: There are five “books” within the novel).

I’m looking forward to checking out the musicals this weekend. While personally I’m not a musical fan, I have seen the 2012 movie and did enjoy that – some of those songs are really, really catchy.

Would I Recommend It?: Yes.

Abbey’s Review

Dates: 5/18/20 – 5/31/20 (14 days)

Experience Before Reading: I am very familiar with this work. I have seen the musical multiple times (it’s incredible), I have seen the movies multiple times (skip the 1990s one), I have watched the miniseries once, and last year while working in the office doing mind-numbing paperwork I listened to the entirety of the novel in a week. Since I am currently working from home in a quiet apartment, I decided to make the most of my work hours and listen to Les Mis again!

Takeaway: This is truly such a wonderful work of literature that focuses on the importance of sharing love and spreading goodness to the people around you. This novel and subsequent adaptations have inspired revolutions and songs from the musical can often be heard at protests around the globe. A life changing work of literature.

Would I Recommend It?: I feel like I have rated this lower than it deserves, but I think since I am so familiar with the story, it doesn’t hit me as strongly as it once did. However, I still feel that this is a must-read work – it is so ingrained in our culture. The message of the novel is simple and lovely. But remember to prepare yourself for some long winded descriptions that are mildly infuriating. I find it helps to remember that Victor Hugo was paid per word for his book, so can you really blame the man for that chapter about the sewer system?

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Book Reviews, Project 4, Uncategorized

Fahrenheit 451 – Book No. 16

This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!

27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

Dates: 7/6/20 – 7/12/20 (6 days)

Plot: In a dystopian future where firemen start fires instead of putting them out, one of the firemen becomes cognizant of the horrors of what they’re actually doing: burning books.

Experience Before Reading: I was assigned this book in 10th grade and I detested it. A little strange seeing as I definitely agreed with the themes – but we should never claim to understand high schoolers. It was probably cool to hate it at the time. Either way, I didn’t finish it back then.

Takeaway: This book hits differently years later. I enjoyed it this time around. Ray Bradbury expresses his thoughts so well on abstract issues, I thought it would be most impactful to take some of the themes I noticed and give you some quotes that really resonated with me:

Mass Media and Condensation of Information:

Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!

p.55

Ignorance is Bliss:

We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it.

p.58

Impacting and Absorbing the Human Experience:

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

p.157

‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.’

p.157

He’s so eloquent, it really makes you think. Several of these passages made me stop just to really make sure I felt each and every word. I’m not sure to what extent I believe his messages, surely I find some element of truth – but I want to digest(-digest-digest!) these words before I make a definitive call on what I believe.

However, I do have to criticize this book a little bit because I thought that the world-building and character development was really lacking. This is a crazy dystopian world that could have been unpacked and it wasn’t. It’s just assumed to be normal. The characters aren’t anything to get attached to either. The main character just one day wakes up and sees everything around him. There’s no build-up at all. This was all such a missed opportunity.

This book has had a strange history. A novel that harps on the dangers of censorship, saw censorship itself. Schools have blacklisted the book from English classes. The publisher even made a censored version. In some ways the ironic boycotts may have even fueled popularity for the book. It really does hammer home Bradbury’s point, does it?

Also, just as an aside, I want to really commend Bradbury for predicting so much of the future. In this book, which was written in the 1950s, there’s flat-screen TVs, wireless headphones, and hand-held tablets. Whether he meant to predict or not, I was very surprised at how the technology did mirror present day.

All in all, there’s so much to like here, but it wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty little package. It seemed like an essay of someone’s convictions with a plot line loosely added to make it a “book.” That being said, it is a good essay.

Would I Recommend It?: Yes. In fact, I already did. Maybe I’ll update this post after my boyfriend reads it.

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Project 4

Announcing Reading Week! (Again)

Okay, let’s face it. I’ve sucked at reading in the past month. Actually, I haven’t finished a single book this month. It’s mostly due to starting a new job, I haven’t entirely found my rhythm. Some nights I come home and immediately crash.

So in the most DJ Khaled way, I’d like to announce a reading week next week. Anotha one! From July 13 to July 17, there will be a new book review every single day!

Don’t worry, I’m not completely unprepared. It’s not like I haven’t read at all this month, I’ve got a few books that are partially complete. I’ll finish them all and deliver the good (or bad) news to you!

It’ll definitely be a challenge, since the first reading week was filled with the shortest books on the list, whereas this one has some longer reads. In fact, why not just announce it now? I’m almost finished with the longest book on the list: Les Miserables.

As for Abbey, I’ve picked a few books that she’s already read, but work has been busy for her too. She hasn’t promised anything, but there will definitely be a few of her reviews present too next week.

I would announce the books, but frankly, I’m not entirely sure which ones will make it and which ones won’t, so I’ll let it be a surprise for all of us! I suppose I’m open to recommendations, which classics should I read for next week?

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School

But Wait, What Happens to Standardized Testing?

The education system is currently in a rapid state of flux. COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for massive changes to schools and universities – for better or worse. In the midst of reopening decisions, students are forced to make big decisions about standardized testing. With each type of test having a different policy, they may or may not be able to even take it. And the ones that are still scheduled… will it even happen?

While it’s certainly not the most pressing issue in the world around us, I thought it’d be interesting to discuss the status of standardized testing because really, it serves as a metaphor for the response to COVID-19 in the United States: inconsistency.

As a law student myself, I’m not out of the woods yet. I’ve got two tests left to go: the Bar Exam and the Patent Bar.

The Bar Exam (generally)

The Bar is the most gruesome test of our careers, passing means we can practice law in that state, but failing means we’ve got to wait 6 months before we can try again. It’s also a curved exam, which means only so many of you will pass. The Bar is a brutal experience.

Each state has their own Bar Exam, but many states have adopted the Universal Bar Exam (UBE) in recent years, which standardizes the experience. Though many states have individual requirements and state-specific portions.

To take the Bar, you apply as a candidate. The application process lasts about a year and a half. During this time, you take an exam on professional responsibility, get hammered with character and fitness evaluations, and shell out thousands of dollars. To put it simply, it’s a big deal.

Man, Men, Hand, Person, People, Male, Portrait, Human

States are all over the place on what to do with the July Bar. While some states have offered diploma privilege – an exception where having a law degree is enough to be admitted to the Bar, bypassing the exam entirely. Other states have pushed back the Bar to September/October. From these, some have gone fully online and those that are still trying for an in-person exam, haven’t announced the testing center.

All in all, I’m glad I’m not taking the Bar this year. What is the most stressful time in a law students life is amplified by uncertainty to the highest degree. Watching classmates deal with this is devastating. Their careers are on the line. Most have large amounts of debt and no savings, so the thought of not being able to work at a law firm for months is understandably stressful with the current job market.

The Patent Bar

The Patent Bar is an exam for any person looking to work alongside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This includes patent attorneys. To qualify for the Patent Bar, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering/science. Since I do, I qualify for it now. I can take it whenever I want. My only restriction is that once I sign up, I have three months to go to a testing center and take the exam.

There is no generally accepted time to take the Patent Bar. Some students take it while in law school, others once they graduate. Personally, I want to make sure I’m in a good spot for job hunts next summer, so it was something I wanted to do this summer.

The material covers the 29 chapter joy that is the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) – which you get on the test. Though when you realize that you have to answer 100 questions in 6 hours, you realize that you don’t have much time to look through the MPEP.

I’ve been hesitant to start studying because if it’s about memorization, I want to be able to take the test as soon as I’m ready. With testing centers pretty much closed, it doesn’t seem smart to start going through the weeds.

Flashcards, Cards, Paper

Last weekend, thinking I was smart, I made a set of flashcards on the table of contents. It’s several hundred cards of sections and subsections because I thought it would familiarize me with the manual. I use it a bit for work too, so it seemed practical. After three years of not being updated, the MPEP was updated THE DAY AFTER I made the cards. So now I have to go through all of my cards to make sure the chapters and sub-chapters still match. Just my luck.

Everything is such a mess. I can’t possibly predict what standardized testing will look for me or any other student. I’m thankful I’m not a student that requires a test this summer. To all of my fellow students out there, has this year affected your studies? Tell me your stories and we can all stress together. I promise you’re not the only one panicking.

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Uncategorized

My Favorite Blogs – June 2020

I have been reading so much great content over the past month, so I thought I’d shout out some of my favorite content I discovered in June. Seeing as my blog is an amalgamation of all kinds of creative energy, pretty much any blog can provide insights on goals and hard work.

I thought it would be fun to focus in on newer or smaller creators to give them a little spotlight that they most definitely deserve! Sometimes I fall a little behind on my Reader, so it’s also a nice chance for me to spread the love. So with that, let’s talk about some of my favorite bloggers I found in June:

Reading in the Wildwood

About Megan: Megan is a book blogger. She writes such thought-provoking book reviews. Not to mention, when she does have a book, she takes a beautiful picture of it out in nature. I mean just look at this instagram page! She’s also so sweet and open, be sure to say hello!

Recommended Post: My Most Anticipated Summer Releases

The Madalyn Diaries

About Madalyn: Madalyn tests beauty products and reviews them. She gives her honest thoughts on the different products she uses and she tries to use them completely. So insightful if you’re looking for new products! Plus, it’s just so satisfying to see all of the used make-up in one shot!

Recommended Post: JUNE empties

Unsettled Essence

About Unsettled Essence: If you’ve ever thought of drastically changing your life, but wanted to do it responsibility, Unsettled Essence is for you. She quit her job and is now pursuing the RV life. Reading about her adventures is so inspiring because it’s so evident actual planning went into her journey.

Recommended Post: I Quit My Job and I Feel Great

One in a Million

About Aditi: Aditi is a book blogger, but aside from reviewing books, she writes book-related content. Just in her most recent posts she goes through her Harry Potter house sorting, discussing character archetypes, and short stories. So much creative energy.

Recommended Post: Creating Instagram Feeds for ‘The Raven Cycle’ Characters

Books and Pixels

About Jacob: As you may have guessed, Jacob writes about books and video games mostly. His posts are full of creative energy. There’s a lot of effort that goes into each of his posts and does not go unnoticed. The post I recommended just shows how much work I mean.

Recommended Post: Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Curious Words Blog

About Raven: Raven writes a little bit of everything. While this does include book reviews from time to time, there are so many whimsical thoughts all over that it’s just a breath of fresh air. You just have to read it to believe it.

Recommended Post: Never Bake a Cake in a Hurry

I could honestly go on and on, there’s so much good content out there. But I’d also like to pass the question off to you, what great blogs have you discovered recently? Feel free to shout them out, let’s support those that we admire!

Lastly, I’m thinking of making this a monthly series, what you do think?

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Motivation, Uncategorized

Reflecting on 6 Months of Blogging

It’s official: I’ve been blogging for six months. I’m not sure when I can accurately carry the title of blogger, but seeing as I got up early to write a whole other post and only after I finished realized it was my six months, we can definitely say I’m in the blogger head space.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my experience. Because why not?

What I’ve Written

My content has taken a variety of forms as I learned which direction I was heading. I thought it could be fun to revisit my favorite post from each month and see how I grew.

January: Hello World! – My Very First Project

My first project was technically to CALI a law class – which is basically just earning the highest grade in a class. Since then, the project has evolved into general law school success. I was surprised re-reading my original thoughts. What a long way the project has come.

February: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a 12(b)(6) Motion

I was really hesitant to write anything about the law because really, what do I know? I was just a first-year. Anyway, I gave it a shot and it was one of my first posts that I was really proud of.

March: Atlas Shrugged – Book No. 6

This was probably my favorite book I’ve read in Project 4. It was so thought-provoking. This was also when I realized that I had to put a bit of work into writing a book review. There was so much to unpack and trying to stay spoiler-free was tough. Book bloggers: much respect.

April: Cleaning Your Closet with Color Theory

This was one of my first posts that involved research. I did a deep dive on why you don’t wear certain shades of color in your closet. It was the first time I’ve developed my own theory about something – something I’ve done more and more of in the past few months.

May: What I Learned from Blogging Every Day

This was a self-reflection post. It’s pretty meta to reflect on a self-reflection post, so I’ll just leave it with that.

June: How To Learn a Basic Calligraphy Alphabet in a Few Hours

It’s always fun to see success. My calligraphy project has been nothing but pure fun and something I didn’t expect to enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing where this project can go.

What I’ve Learned

What I’ve Learned about Blogging

It’s actually way harder than I was expecting. Writing a post in your head always sounds so much better than it does when you read over what actually made it to paper. Coming up with consistent ideas is impossible and finding the motivation to make sure they all go out on time is comically hard.

But I’m not here to be hard on myself. One of the reasons I write about my projects as I complete them is to reflect on the good and the bad. No journey is ever easy. There are setbacks and failures left and right.

On a more positive note, I think my writing has improved. Or at the very least, I think I’ve found a voice. I write much differently on this blog than I do for anything else – I treat this as a quasi-stream of consciousness, I hear myself talking in my head.

Also, I’m pretty proud of how the blog looks. This is something I touched on yesterday, but I’m proud of the style I’ve created around my content. Besides, there’s only so much you can do on a personal plan and I’m not about to upgrade.

My numbers are still small which is fine with me. I’m still under 100 followers and not many people see my content. This doesn’t bother me at all. My numbers are small but mighty. I’ve met some truly amazing and inspiring people by doing this.

What I’ve Learned about Goals

So if you just did the math, you might realize that that means I started my blog on January 1. While it’s true I went live at the beginning of the year, it was not a new year’s resolution. But hey, if it makes you believe that you can follow through on a new year’s resolution, by all means use me as an example.

This actually is something I’ve really learned about goals: they don’t operate on the same calendar we do. I used to start goals when I finished another task or maybe on the first of the month. This is such a mistake. Start goals while you have the motivation, don’t wait until the time’s “right.”

I’m also very proud of the progress I’ve made on some of these goals. Particularly Project 4, before this project, the last time I read a book was in 2014. Now I’m six months in and I’ve read 15. I’m definitely still learning how to pace myself, but I’m getting better by the day.

What I’ve Learned about Relationships

I’ve become a better friend, girlfriend, and daughter since starting the blog. This is done in two ways: 1) experiencing a fire inside of me, and 2) becoming more cognizant and sympathetic to other people’s goals.

With concrete goals, I’ve been more alive in these past few months. Feeling the roller coaster that is trying something new reinvigorates you. It also has made me really want to bring that out in others. The feelings that I’m feeling, I want to share them.

Understanding motivations is something I’ve tuned into a little more too. I wrote about this a little with the post on my and my boyfriend’s different lifestyles. While he’s more interested in completing daily and weekly goals, mine tend to be so much farther in the future. Learning that these goals were just as important to him as mine were to me allowed me to connect with him in a way I couldn’t before.

That’s about all the self-reflection I have in me at the moment. But let me know down in the comments below, how long have you been blogging and how has your journey changed your surroundings? I’m interested in hearing how people have perceived their own journey.

As always, appreciate you all. Thanks for making this experience so enjoyable.

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Blogging, Brand Building

An Introduction to Visual Branding on Your Blog

Lately I’ve been doing a little studying. I’ve tried to find popular blogs and compare them. What do they all seem to do? What ideas seem universally successful?

One thing I noticed immediately was that all of their posts had the same cohesive look. You could open any post by them and know it was them. They all had strong visual brands.

Why Visual Branding Is Important

For a brief period in my life, I worked with start-ups. It was my responsibility to help them cultivate a target audience and strategize how to reach them. I was a marketing “consultant.”

I used to teach new entrepreneurs how to set up an identity. What’s your target audience? What colors will you consistently use? What emotions do you want those colors to evoke? Which fonts will you consistently use? What does your company’s voice sound like?

Questions like these may seem simple and maybe irrelevant. But it’s crucial that a new company presents themselves in a consistent way for the consumer to learn their brand.

Examples of Blogs with Strong Visual Branding

You probably see where I’m going with this – your blog is your brand. You have an opportunity with your blog to express yourself and make yourself stand out. This was something that quite a successful blogs did. I want to show you a few that I saw that were strong in their voices – and they’re all still active! Send them some love! I linked to posts that I really liked and also showed strong branding.

Caitlin Althea

What She Writes: Caitlin is a book blogger.

Visual Branding: Caitlin’s blog has a light blue and green color scheme. She uses blue and green flowers as separators within her post – something that definitely catches the reader’s eye. Her sidebar contains green watercolor links. There’s something very warm and inviting about her graphics. This is one of the most unique blogs that I’ve come across, you can tell she put effort into showing off her personality.

What We Can Learn from Caitlin: If a reader can tell you’ve put a lot of effort into producing comments, they’re more likely to do a deeper dive on your content.

Forever and Everly

What She Writes: May is also a book blogger.

Visual Branding: I mean, come on, this blog is cute. She focuses on a floral theme, including pink flowers that separate her posts. They look hand drawn. I really recommend checking out the post I linked and just scrolling because you can see so many visual branding elements, and yet it’s not overwhelming.

Side note: I think we use the same font for our signatures, I swear it’s just a coincidence!

What We Can Learn from May: May is creative and she’s come up with graphics that others might not think about. She puts her hand drawn flowers over her picture to hide her face. She also has a “Shall We Chat?” graphic at the bottom of her posts. Think abut graphics that speak to you and your content.

Thoughts Stained with Ink

What She Writes: Pretty much everything. From video game reviews to publishing her own short stories, Nicole’s got a little dose of something for everyone.

She’s also done a few fantastic posts on Black Lives Matter and her journey in educating herself on how we can all better combat racial injustice. I’ll link to the first one here – highly recommend them.

Visual Branding: A focus on black, white, and red that gives a little bit of a spooky feel. Her graphics are all cohesive, she maintains the same shade of red in all of her content. Take a look at her sidebar – it’s a cute caricature that has all the personality in the world (did you notice her tattoo?), social media icons that look like medieval banners, and sword-bearing headings.

What We Can Learn from Nicole: Get creative. Find a visual brand that speaks to you. No matter how over-the-top or how intricate, you can incorporate it into the content that you produce.

My Visual Branding

You may have noticed already, but I’ve updated my posts to include a variety of graphics to my blog. I’ll include the ones I chose to make here, maybe to inspire you.

I went with a simpler black and white look. I prefer clean graphics myself, so I wanted to focus on simplicity. Graphics here include: a banner of which project you’re reading about, a featured image (to also tell you which project you’re reading about), a graphic I put at the bottom of our book reviews, a photo for my sidebar, a graphic that links to our list of classics, a social media graphic, and my signature (which is the same as my old one, just bigger).

How You Can Start Developing Branding

Use Canva. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it’s an online, free editing platform. There’s thousands of templates and it makes creating graphics incredibly easy.

If you don’t know where to start at all, I recommend this guide. They walk through statistics on why visual branding is important, how to position elements in a photo, how to pick colors, and more. It’s honestly such a useful resource.

I also would recommend this post, where they walk through step-by-step which graphics they’d create for a fake blog. Getting to see the reasoning can be more than helpful if you’re lost.

Lastly, this post is all about creating images to advertise on social media, so if that’s something you’re doing, check this out.

That’s about all that I’ve got for you today. If this interests you, let me know! I have many more thoughts on all of this and materials I used to give to start-ups I was helping. I’d be happy to write more about how to visually brand or maybe even create a downloadable guide. But also, I pass the question off to you: what do you do to help create an identity for your blog? What did I miss? Let’s talk down below.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Productivity, Resources, Time Management

What Your Daily Life Says About You

I have a bit of a confession: I’ve always been a daydreamer. A full-blown Capricorn, I thrive on setting goals far into the future – hello, welcome to my blog! When it comes to working towards improving myself in the short-term, I’ve never really understood it.

While I’m not the messiest person on the planet, I don’t make my bed. I never have. The concept of it bewilders me: why tidy up something I’m just going to make a mess later that night? The times I’ve made my bed are strictly limited to when I think there might be evening visitors.

Girl, Bed, Hair, Bedroom, Relax, Person, Indoors

On top of that, I adhere to a strong indoor-outdoor clothing policy. This might sound strange to some people, but I only wear clothes that are a little bit rattier that in the house. The clothes I wear outside of the house are a little higher quality, so I don’t want to wear them out but running them through so many clothing cycles. Seeing as I like many others have been staying at home for the past few months, my appearance hasn’t been the cutest.

My boyfriend is the exact opposite of me. The yin to my yang, he dresses up every single day, cleans his house every night, and spends time working on the little things. While I’m not a slob, my little quirks drive him crazy. He sat me down to explain his reasoning recently and honestly, it finally clicked. I understood.

The Formula That Changed Me

He argued that our daily life is the majority of our life. Most of the time, we’re just doing what we’re doing. He rationalized it as: if you dress like a slob every day, you become a slob. That one line stopped me in my tracks. I quickly realized the formula applied to every aspect of our daily lives: if you don’t do your dishes every day, you’re a person who lives in a house with dirty dishes.

Understanding that extending self-care to the minutiae of your daily life, you see maximum improvements in overall productivity and confidence. It’s really that simple. Living in a clean house just makes you happier. Sometimes these little things make all the difference.

Bed, Bedroom, Closet, Furniture, Lamp, Light, Betstand

As someone who didn’t understand this until recently, I felt like I was experiencing a breakthrough. Seriously, my mind shattered. I focus on the long-term and didn’t realize the short-term can help you get there. I shouldn’t be surprised either. After working on projects like organizing my life, I’ve been feeling the difference. I even wrote a whole post on it a little while ago. I guess I just didn’t connect the dots.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can just be a better partner/friend/family member. Grooming makes you more attractive and confident and a cleaner house is more inviting. Make your loved ones happy!

Edit: My boyfriend read this post and added: “if you’re half a percent better every day, that’s a lot of percents better in a year.” Okay, so he’s not the most eloquent – but you get the point. Maybe he should take on Project 4 with me.

Let’s talk about the little things: what little things make your day a little more productive or happier? I’m curious where else I can improve my daily life – help a girl out here.

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Project 3

Finally More Music – Sugar by Brockhampton

As I’ve been getting used to my job, I’ve also had the opportunity to spend time on parts of me that have been lost to law school. While I use the blog to channel these outlets, it’s been tough to find time for any hobbies or interests outside my scheduled projects. The one thing that law school took from me that hurt the most was music.

Before law school, I was constantly listening to music. My Spotify averaged 6 hours a day. I knew all the new releases, the underground hits, and was known as the girl who could make a mean playlist. It’s was a part of my identity.

But since being in school, I’ve found that I couldn’t listen to music while doing my readings (back when I was an engineer math and music went hand-in-hand). By the time I finished work, I was fried. No time for any enjoyment.

Slowly, I started losing track of what was coming out. When I did have a chance to listen to anything new, I felt out of the loop because I didn’t know the context behind the song’s release. Older favorites seemed tainted with memories of when my friends were around. Every song reminded me of the person I first showed it too. After a while, the fun was gone.

Starting work has given me that sense of fun back. I’m listening to music at my desk, so I can passively listen to music and make new memories with it. It’s become exciting again.

Listening to music made me want to make some myself. One song I’ve really enjoyed lately is Sugar by Brockhampton. I thought I could get the basic beat in the background – using the same steps as I explained in my covering songs post. Here’s what I came up with:

It’s not great. Currently, it’s not a real guitar, but I plan on recording myself playing the guitar part. I also tried to add a bass, but for some reason I’ve always had trouble with 808s.

I’m just excited I actually made some music. This song especially sound lackluster without the vocals, but the weekend is close, so maybe once I’m off work I can fix this beat a little bit. I’ve got some ideas for how to make the guitar part a little different. Who knows, maybe I’ll record vocals too?

Anyway, that’s all for now. What do you think? Are there any songs that have resonated with you lately?

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Motivation, Project 5

Let’s Talk About Evolving Goals (Project 5)

There’s something so pure about the feeling of completing a goal you set. Not only do you have the satisfaction of completing whatever task you laid out in front of yourself, but it actually can increase your confidence and make you more likely to complete future goals. But when your goal keeps changing, are there different rules?

First, we have to ask why the goal is being changed? If you’re lowering it to something more attainable, then you’re not changing it, you’re settling. Or maybe you’re setting an intermediary goal to work towards what you actually want.

Changing your goal, on the other hand, shows that you’re internalizing it. You’re taking active steps and saying “Wait, wouldn’t it be better if I ____?” It shows self-awareness and evaluating what’s actually important to you.

Evolving goals are completely normal and healthy. I challenge you to look at goals you’ve set and haven’t worked on and ask yourself why you’re not actively working towards them. Do you need intermediary goals or are you just not interested in the goal you set?

My Evolving Goal

This was something I realized recently. I’ve always been in the habit of creating larger-than-life goals and telling myself that it wasn’t the right time to work on certain goals. I didn’t realize it was a sign.

You may have noticed Project 5 has been a little, well, quiet. Besides posting the project topic, it doesn’t seem like I’ve worked on actually writing a book. Abbey and I had this fantastic story, but putting words to paper was something both of us put off.

But we had the outlines of the book – it was a mystery novel. It had the twists and the turns. We planned out the characters and the settings meticulously. It was something we were interested in. But when it came to writing, we had no interest.

I think it’s because neither of us actually want to write a book. At least not at this point in our lives anyway. But we knew we had a story we wanted to see come to life.

I’ve mentioned before that Abbey and I are big fans of the Nancy Drew games. They’re essentially virtual escape rooms, filled with puzzles and clues. We’ve played so many, we’ve begun to recognize patterns in puzzle making. That’s when I realized that that was a way to express our story: making a game.

Everything clicked and fell into place. That’s what we’d do, we’d make a mystery game out of this story. We’d build puzzles and create dialogue and make a playable game. Who knows what form the game takes? Video game, board game, murder mystery party. It’s all something we would actually want to try. Also, wouldn’t it be fun for me to share some of the puzzles with you guys as we make them?

So with that, we have an evolved goal. I’m curious if other people think this way about goals, have you ever changed a goal you’ve had? If so, how did it turn out? I’m really interested if evolving goals have a higher success rate.

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