My Life in 2016 So Far

Last March, I wrote a post called What Life Has Taught Me So Far in 2015. Almost exactly a year gone by and my life has completely changed. Since that last post, I’ve experienced 3 major life changes:

  • FINISHED COLLEGE
  • GOT ENGAGED
  • WENT BACK TO WORK FULL TIME

Yeah. Graduation officially happened in September last year but my engagement to the BF and new job happened back to back at the beginning of the year so when I say it’s been a whirlwind, I mean Whirl. Flipping. Wind. And I know you know what it’s like cause these seasons come to us all. For better or worse, everything gets flipped upside down and inside out and you’re left trying to catch your breath and find a new equilibrium. I can happily say however, that this whirlwind is definitely for the better. Still kind of catching up with everything but while the year is still relatively young and while I’ve got a few moments on the treadmill (yes, I’m on the treadmill), let me catch you up on my thoughts on my life in 2016 so far.

I had plans to write some pithy post about what life has taught me but right now, I just need to dump. Nothing profound, nothing special–just simple, raw thoughts. You may pass it up if you’d like, I don’t mind. This one’s for me. I need to unclog my brain and share a little of what’s been going on up there.

Thoughts on finishing college…

I feel like I’ve been working on my degree forever! I took a slow, more unconventional boat to getting my B.A. and now, in my mid-twenties, I can finally say I’ve got a degree. And while I must say it is quite lovely not to come home from work and have assignments waiting for me, my education has only just begun (and best better believe Karen Carpenter is singing in my head right now too). It was during the last year of school when I discovered that there were so many other things I wanted to learn about. Things like content marketing, passive income, writing, neuroscience, relationships, the benefits of reading, healthy lifestyle habits, productivity, etc. My reading list has just gotten longer and longer and I keep thinking, goodness, if I could just get paid to read and research I’d be set! In no way does my degree mean that I’ve arrived. I took some great classes and it’s a great foundation I wouldn’t trade but that’s what it is – a foundation. And a foundation is only worth something if you build on it. So even though I’m done with college (for now, anyway) I’m continuing my education. I’ve just shed the assignment deadlines :).

I don’t have as much time as I’d like with a full time job but one of my goals is to really take time to further my personal education, to indulge in the things that spark my intellect and creativity.

Being engaged to your best friend is the most wonderful thing ever 🙂

I was thrilled when the BF asked me to marry him. Being engaged to my best friend is the coolest thing and I love it. I truly love the man more and more every day. However, this new phase of our relationship does have its own set of difficulties that I wasn’t anticipating. Nothing bad, just challenging. We live over an hour away from each other and mostly only see each other on the weekends so finding time to get things done is sometimes tricky. We’ve got different priorities and navigating through and coordinating our own processes and procedures, if you will, is uncharted ground for me. And while sometimes it feels like the wedding is so far away, the days are flying by at such a pace that I feel like I’m never going to get anything done! That’s why I’m so thankful that God gave me a man who is not only a sweetheart, he’s also reasonable, understanding, and not high-maintenance. Cause while being engaged is all very romantic, it’s also a time when you’re forced to think practically and seriously about the future. We’re building a life, after all, not just planning a wedding. Being engaged to a man who gets all that and helps keep me balanced is such an incredible blessing!

HE ASKED SHE SAID YES
HE ASKED SHE SAID YES

New jobs are like new mission fields.

If there’s one thing I know about jobs, it’s that you’re not there just to make money. When you spend the bulk of your week at a place with a group of people, you have one very important responsibility: shine a light so that people’s lives are made better because you were there to be a positive influence for God. I believe that if you let Him, God will hand pick your place of employment, not just so you can pay the bills, but so that lives can be touched-yours included. I love the people and environment of my job, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. My goal for however long I work at my office is to stay positive, work hard, and be His hands, feet, and voice. It’s not easy, especially when the day is stressful but I count it a privilege and I’m every grateful.

And for now, that’s all she wrote! I’ve been hard pressed to find time to write this year and I’m working on finding a new groove. I’ve got so many ideas for posts and things I want to share so I will get it together eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to take it all one day at a time, allowing God to lead and things to fall in place in His time.

Y’all enjoy the rest of your day <3        

5. You’re Not Good at Everything | 31 Days

This is post 5/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

One point. One measly, stinkin’ point. How in the world did I fail by one point?!?!

This wasn’t my first CLEP exam but it was my first fail.  Standing there with my score in hand, my fried brain feeling so utterly at sea, I had no idea what to do next. The worst part about the whole thing was I had to wait six months to retake the test. Stupid test.

It was my first attempt at the College Algebra CLEP exam. Math. The one subject that always been my arch nemesis in school. I don’t have a natural liking or ability for it so any good grades I managed to receive came from long hard hours of working at it. And I generally did not enjoy it. Math. The only subject I’ve ever been tutored in while in high school. And now, after all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into prepping for that exam, I failed. By one point.

Ugh.

I have a confession to make. I wasn’t going to share this but…I snoozed again this morning. Yeah, I know, Monday morning and I already fell off the wagon. Now I’m behind in my routine. Again. 

We all have a list of things we’re not particularly good at. Those things we can’t seem to conquer, master, or get over. Sometimes they’re such simple things and we don’t know why it’s so tough to just do it

I should be able to do this! My friends can do it, why is it so hard to get it done?!

We compare, we calculate, we reason, we make excuses. 

Stop it. Let me tell you something. 

You’re not good at everything.

You’re just not. And that’s okay, you don’t have to be. I think we all know this intellectually but then we face a task or situation that requires us to perform and we kick ourselves for not being able to deliver. It happens in school, on the job, in our families, with our friends. 

So I want you to say it. Go ahead and say it. 

I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be.

Now the pressure is off and you can focus on two things: 1. cultivating and capitalizing on the things you’re naturally good at, 2. searching out the help you need to work on the things you’re not good at but still need to get done or delegating the task to someone else who is actually good at it.   

Obviously, that College Algebra exam wasn’t something I could delegate, so I got a tutor to help me work through the material and prep for a re-take. I passed the second time around and washed my hands of math classes forever.

Until my final term at TESC when I had no choice but to fulfill a three-credit slot with a math class. Are you serious!?

Sometimes you don’t win. You have to grin and bare it.

I’m still not great at math. I still snooze in the morning and struggle with my routines despite my best intentions. I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be. I do know what I want to be good at and I have to work hard at it until I am. However, I won’t kick myself when I fail at the things that don’t come naturally to me. I tried and I’m going to try again. I tried and I’m going to figure out what needs to change in order to get it right the next time around.

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The BF and I have this saying about knowing enough to figure out what we don’t know. And that’s education. You know that there are things that need to be done and knowledge and expertise that are required to accomplish them. So you figure out how to get it done, you don’t just leave it or do it halfway cause you’re not good at it.

You know you need those credits for school so figure out how to get it done. You may not like the subject and that class may not apply to anything in your real life but you have the satisfaction of figuring out a problem and doing your best.

You know that project needs to be done at work or in your home so you figure out how to get it done yourself or delegate it to someone who will do it for you. Now you have the satisfaction of a job well done and the added experience tucked in your pocket for next time.

You’re not good at everything. That doesn’t me you can’t or shouldn’t get it done, you just have to put in extra effort to make it happen.

I’m through with CLEP exams and I’ll never take another math class (fingers crossed) but that just leaves room for the million and one other things that I’m not good at but need to figure out a way to get done. So I’ll keep learning and growing so I can master and conquer.

I’m not good at everything but I’ll do my best to do my best at everything.

#write31days

1. Speed Limits | 31 Days

This is post 1/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I was listening to The Music Makers podcast the other week and the host featured an article about this guy who got his degree at Berklee College of Music in two years. It wasn’t his plan. A former student/professor from Berklee told him “I’ll bet I can teach you two years’ of theory and arranging in only a few lessons. I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit.”

This 17-year-old student took the professor up on the offer. With his help, this young man did, indeed, get his degree in 2 years from the Berklee College of Music.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

I was about 17 when I started out on my path to college. Still finishing up my high school requirements, I was made aware of something very similar to the Berklee student.

You can get your degree in two years. CLEP tests, DSSTs,…transfer credits…work at your own pace. You can get it done fast. And you can do it debt free! 

A BA in two years. Yeah, I was up for that.

Yeeeeeah, that’s not at all what happened. It took me more like…*ahem* 8 years.

Total fail.

People pleasers don’t like letting other people down. I’m a people pleaser who told people I was going to get my degree in less than the standard 4 years. Cause I was going the unconventional route. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, with lots of grand notions about what my educational path was going to be, I was not ready for what was to come.

By the time I was 20, I knew I’d lost out on my window of time. Resigned to the notion that I needed something more substantial than the Communications degree I was pursuing, I went to medical assistant school. In 8 short months, I’d interned at a hospital, and landed a job in the front office of a dental clinic. Seventeen-year-old me was not looking for that.

But I had a job. And I was still pursuing my degree. And I hadn’t gotten sucked into the vortex of college debt yet.

The following year, after taking as many CLEP tests, DSST exams, and Straighterline courses I could possibly take, I transferred them to Thomas Edison State College. By that time I was working in a medical clinic. I had a job. And I was pursuing my degree. And I finally had my first college loan. Small vortex, but sucked in just the same.

Ugh.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

The Berklee professor-turned-music-studio-owner was completely right. There is no speed limit when it comes to education. That message resonated with me when I heard it but dug up a tinge of chagrin. My plan was that two-year degree. Homeschoolers are known for being unconventional and disregarding the standard pace. But my story didn’t go as planned.

Thankfully, the logic works both ways. No speed limits means that it’s okay when you have to slow down. No one is keeping track when there are detours and pit stops.

My story is my own, rich with experience that I am forever grateful for. My education was my own unconventional creation, done on my terms which was the point in the first place.

I’m in no way saying that college is wasted on the young but I will say that, as mature as I’m often told I am, I know that 24-year-old me appreciated some of those later classes more than 20-year-old me would have. I cranked out more seasoned work and the zillion papers I wrote came from a richer place. That’s a good feeling.

Now, 25, I sit in the open air of the early morning. The sun is waking up, my morning tea is getting cold in the delicious a.m. chill and I’m waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail. Lol. I’ve gotten other pieces of paper accolading my accomplishments but this one is different because I worked hardest for it. Like the tortoise in the story, I kept up my pace, slow as it was, and finished the race I’d set out to complete.

I am content with my story. It was not perfect. I would tweak it if I could. But I love the journey I took and I’m grateful for the experience I have now tucked into my pocket.

There is no speed limit. I will hang my diploma on the wall and continue with my unconventional life.

#write31days

 

CLEP Prep Resource List

With the cost of education these days, students are looking for ways to get a quality learning experience without breaking the bank.

That’s where college level exams like CLEP & DSST come in.

I tested out of more than half of my college degree. It was tough and while I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, I wish I knew then what I know now.

If college level exams are something you want to pursue, let me give you what I wish someone had given me when I was starting out – a resource list. Whether you’re taking one or two tests or almost two dozen like me, CLEP prep should be painless because, after all, you’re trying to save time and money!

Maybe you’ve got a textbook or a study guide but you’re looking for something else to shake things up and give you some variety.

These resources are all available online, you don’t have to go anywhere to access them. All but two of them are free or have free versions but those two that have fees are well worth checking out. I’ve used all the resources myself and many of them have just gotten more awesome since my testing days.

PINTEREST CLEP-DSST Resource List Cover

Fill out the form below to get your free copy of my resource list! 

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If you have any questions about CLEP, DSST, or how I tested out of half of my college degree, you can leave a comment below or drop me an email at elyssanalani@purpleinkstudios.net.

Happy Tuesday!

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

(This post contains affiliate links)

The last paper I wrote in college was a 20-something page piece on the reading brain and why it matters. I did 12 weeks of research only to barely cover the surface of a subject that I grew to love more as the term progressed.  I’ve always been a bookworm and writing a paper on why it’s so important to read was extremely fun ( I know, really nerdy).

This blog is hardly the place for such a long paper but I do want to share some things I found out while researching this project. So, lister that I am, I came up with 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

1. Reading strengthens your brain.

According to Rita Carter, science writer and presenter of BBC’s documentary, Why Reading Matters, the brain doesn’t have a central reading system. Reading happens in, what she calls, a “cerebral internet”.  In other words, it takes several regions in different areas of the brain to make reading possible. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squidsays that, unlike all other human behaviors such as vision or speech, reading has no direct genetic program that is passed from parent to child. We’re not born with neurological ‘reading tools’. Our brains form connections between regions designed to perform other functions in order to process and understand written language. Rita Carter interviewed Dr. Cathy Price of University College in London who gave a simplified explanation of how this works:
“There are no areas of the brain that only respond to reading. All the areas that are involved in reading are also involved in recognizing objects, in speaking. In order to read, it’s the connections between the visual inputs and the component sounds that need to be linked together. So this doesn’t involve any new brain regions. What it involves is stronger and more efficient links.”
Our brains possess what is called neuroplasticity, which means it is capable of learning new things and forming new habits by making and strengthening new connections. Reading is one of the best examples of this. The more you read and deepen those connections, the more you’re exercising and strengthening your brain.

2. Reading boosts your empathy.

BBC’s Rita Carter also brought up the fact that stories can help us become more empathetic. According to an article in Psychology Today, we were meant to tell stories, they provide order, and they connect us with others. Stories give us space to exercise our emotional responses to other people’s situations. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns talks about this in an episode of Crash Course

“By understanding language, you will, 1). have a fuller understanding of lives other than your own, 2). will help you be more empathetic…Reading critically and attentively can give you the linguistic tools to share your own story with more precision. Reading critically gives us better tools to explain corporate profits and broken hearts and it also connects us to each other.”

3. Reading increases your vocabulary.

I especially like this one cause I love trying out new words that I find in books.  It is true that we pick up words from television and conversation but the truth is, we don’t speak the way we write. Written word is much richer lexically than spoken word. In other words, we use better and more varied words when we write than when we speak. The same goes for syntax–we structure sentences better when we write.  A great study done by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith Stanovich explains that children who read will have a richer vocabulary and better grasp of syntactical structure than their peers who watch television.  Reading enhances their ability to process language, both written and spoken. And because our brains are plastic, it doesn’t matter what your performance was like in school, the same can be true for adults as well. 

4. Reading makes you a better communicator.

This is points 2 & 3 at their best. A rich vocabulary isn’t the only pre-requisite of good communication. Effective communication is a two way street where both parties must take turns at being sender and receiver. Understanding and sympathizing with another person’s situation (empathy) and the ability to effectively express yourself verbally makes for a great communicator. Why? Because it’s not only about having something to say but also ensuring that what you’re saying is of value and how you’re saying it is thoughtful and appropriate. Because there is order, logic, brain connectivity, and emotion at play when we read, we are strengthening those areas that make us effective communicators.     

5. Reading actual books is a unique experience.

This isn’t something I was able to add to my final paper but I still find it important so I’ll include it here.

I have a Kindle and I think it’s a great way to consume material on the go but there is something about reading an actual book that is unique and beneficial in ways that cannot be recreated by any other medium.  An article in Medical Daily says that the tactile experience of holding a book, turning the pages, and moving from left to right aids in the ability to comprehend and remember the text. E-books, with often fragmented text and links to the net also disrupt focus and concentration. Your brain is going through a very complicated process in order to read and actual books facilitate this process better than e-readers.   

6. Reading is the best way to relax.

I didn’t include this in my paper either but I think it’s also important. One article I came across in my research explained that a study showed that reading is a more effective stress reliever than taking a walk, listening to music, or drinking a hot cup of tea. Subjects of the research experienced lowered heart rate and decreased muscle tension.  Reading helps us relax, and takes our minds off the day’s commotion which makes it the perfect thing to do before going to sleep. 

7. Reading is super attractive.  

Lastly, this also didn’t make it my paper but as much as this is my nerdy opinion, I’m not the only one who thinks this. You’ve heard it said intelligence is sexy? It’s so true. Why? Because readers are more emotionally and cognitively intelligent.  A well-read person bolsters their knowledge base and that makes them better conversationalists. When you read broadly and smartly, you have more to offer in your relationships, your families, your careers, and your communities making you more interesting, useful, and, well yeah, sexy.

If you don’t consider yourself much of a reader, then I challenge you to change that. Reading is a privilege and something we shouldn’t take for granted. History tells us that the number one way people kept control of others was by keeping back the written word (think Dark Ages and American slavery). We know knowledge is power; take advantage of it.

In my opinion, I think a good percentage of the mischief people get into would vanish if they would just read good books. And while I’m all for good literature, I’m also an advocate for great non-fiction. If you currently read mostly novels, re-consider your book list and add a healthy dose of spiritual growth, history, social science, biographies, art, business and other subjects that will give you insight and help shape a healthy, well-informed worldview. It’s a part of good maturity which this generation could use more of.

There’s a lot to learn and even more books to learn from. Pick up a book and see what wonderful things you’ll discover within the pages!

Happy reading!
 
 

May To Do List

MAY TO DO LIST

Here so soon, May?

I cannot believe it’s already May!!! That means that I’m almost done with college! Aghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! I don’t think my brain even knows how to process that thought. Everything I’ve worked so hard for is coming to an end and it’s crunch time FOR REAL. Which means I shouldn’t try to load the next 4 weeks with a heavy to do list. Here’s what I’ve got on the schedule:

1. Survive Finals – That’s pretty self explanatory. If I can just stay alive with my sanity at least partially intact for the next 4 weeks I will do well!

2. Apply for Graduation  – Also self explanatory. I’m finishing too late to have applied for spring graduation so the whole diploma loveliness won’t happen till the fall and I need to apply for all of that. But no sweat, I’ll just be happy to be done!

3. Read 3 Books – I’m pretty sure I can manage this even with my study load. I’m a booknerd, yeah? We find ways.

4. Get new photos taken – I need new profile, social media shots for this site. What I’ve got up now is just a screenshot from a video project I was working on and it’s got to go. 

5. 31 Days of Prayer – This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. May is going to be intensely tough and busy – all the more reason to be intentional about my prayer life like I’ve never been before. And as I open up into this new phase of my life, I need God’s wisdom and direction and the grounding of the Word. Sooooooo, to kind of help me out, I bought this book:

31 Days of Prayer for the dreamer and doer

I’ve had my eye on it for a bit and decided to give it a go this month. For more information on this book, check out The Well Studio.

Recurring Goals (I have to keep up with these):

  1. Work out daily, M-F
  2. Blog M-W-F
  3. Practice piano for at least 30 minutes a day

Spring is in full swing! What do you have on your to do list this month?