The Quiet Before the Storm + My Tips for Productivity

Hello, hello! I hope everyone is having a fantastic Saturday.

The quiet before the storm. It’s happening. It’s that time in the semester a little less than a month before finals where suddenly…there is a lull. The dangerous lull that is the make or break time determines if you’re going to end up writing a twelve page research paper over Chaucer the night before it’s due, or be responsible work on little pieces of it at a time.

A painful time. The lull is so real.

The temptation of sleeping my mornings and evenings away, eating handfuls of Raisinette’s at a time is overwhelming. bad. 

Two weekends ago was the Southern Literary Festival at UAFS, and while it was incredibly fun, it was incredibly exhausting. Running social media means you have to be there when breakfast starts, to the last readings of the day. Including getting ready in the mornings to trying to squeeze in seeing ze boyfriend at the end of the day, I was averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night after a day on my tootsies.

Say what you want, but for Miss 9 Hours of Sleep is the Perfect Amount over here (me) this was hell. Fun hell. But hell.

All in all, the festival went smoothly. I got to attend bomb workshops with some crazy amazing writers, and I had a pretty hefty book haul, full of the winning pieces from the festival, as well as some of the featured writers. I plan on doing a post dedicated to that exclusively, because it truly deserves that kind of recognition.

The last two weeks have been rather chill since then. I’ve got to focus on my writing a little more, as well as physical health. All in all, I’ve been feeling pretty good, getting psyched up for summer, telling myself how easy breezy life will be, and how much time I’ll have to stretch my writing muscles, as well as my arm and leg muscles, with extra time for longer yoga sessions and more pole classes.

That being said, I still have a solid month standing between this life and that life. I was brought to this rude awakening when I was casually flipping through my planner when I realized I have three final projects due in the next 3 weeks, the first being a Capstone presentation on the 18th. Three days from today. Gulp.

What I’m getting at, is I don’t have time to not be productive. So, in case any of ya’ll are anticipating a stressful and/or busy upcoming weeks, here are some of my favorite tips for conquering the storm.

  1. Write EVERYTHING down. In a planner, on a sticky note, anywhere. The idea behind this is that once you’re physically writing it down, it actually makes it easier to remember. Ideally you would write it somewhere you check or see often, which is why I prefer to copy my entire life down into my planner. In my experience nothing is too small to write down, because let’s be honest, we usually forget the small stuff first.
  2. Lists are key. If I know I have a busy week, weekend, or even day, ahead of me I like to take a moment to make a list. Depending on what the list is for, I will take my planner out as a guide, and list all the things I need to get done. Usually I put things in order of priority, like assignments that are due soonest, or things to get done while I’m in Fort Smith. If it’s a list of cleaning I need to get done, or errands I need to run, I usually list them in least fun to more fun- because duh that’s the most grown up way to handle it. Lists make it easy for me to condense what I have left to do, without getting distracted or discouraged by upcoming responsibilities that don’t yet need my attention. Nothing is too small to add to the list, especially if it’s as simple as, “Take vitamins” or “Feed kitty.” Any chance you have to mark things off the list, take them. It may seem silly, but checking things off a list is rewarding as heck, and makes you feel hella accomplished. My dear and super organized friend, Tulsa, introduced me to an app called MinimaList, which is simply a digital to-do list app. You add things to your list, reorder them as you need, and cross things off with your finger when you’re done. If you’re techy, or just lose things like lists before you can get the things done, this might be perfect for you.
  3. Get up early. As a non-early bird, this is heck of a lot easier said than done, don’t get me wrong. Even if it’s 15 minutes early, just do it. I don’t really understand it, but it’s invigorating to get up earlier than you need to. For me it feels like I’m that much more ahead of my day. As far as I’m concerned, I stay 15 minutes ahead for the rest of my day.
  4. Take time for yourself. Ya’ll knew this was coming. I had to put a self love plug in this post somehow. I’m not sorry. I’m serious guys, taking time to treat yourself, let yourself relax, encourage yourself- it’s important. Learning to know that you deserve a quick nap after a long day, or to swing through and grab a chai latte while you’re conquering your daily list. A lot of people feel guilty about doing something for themselves in the midst of a busy day, but how can you do your best, and be productive if you’re not mentally working towards being in your best head space? If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed, or stressed, or can’t focus. Take a break. It’s okay. Fifteen minutes to put your brain back in focus is a lot less time consuming than an afternoon of scrambled, stressed thoughts. Drink some water, do some yoga breaths, stretch, make a quick playlist to help you power through, reevaluate your list, and tell yourself how productive you are. You got this.

I hope everyone is having a sunny weekend. Sending all the love.

xx, Aubrey

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Just a Bunch of Kids Playing Instruments// Middle Kids & Cold War Kids Show at George’s Majestic Lounge

Haaaaappy Tuesday ya’ll. Can you believe its April? I really can’t. This is the time of year that kind of flies by- which let’s be honest, in the midst of finals and awkward weather, isn’t always a bad thing.

Now that March is over, I think I can say the thing we were all thinking. March is a weird month. It’s the tentative start of festival and concert season for most, but offers no guarantee of providing actually enjoyable weather. These spring months can be cruel, cruel times.

Example. The week of the Cold War Kids show, we were averaging about 75 degree days. Sunny. Beautiful. Perfect. Saturday, the 11th, rolls around. Frigid. Of course. Because it’s Arkansas and life is often times unfair. Cute spring outfit ideas flew OUT the window, and I reached for my wool socks and leather jacket for the 1000th time.

The concert prep started out early. Grayson (part-time concert companion, full-time cutie pie boyfriend) and I started the trek to Fay around three. I have this terrible habit of wanting to get to shows about 10 hours early because I have been spoiled with wonderful seats for the majority of shows I have been to, as of late. Our afternoon drive consisted of my pre-concert playlist ( “Ch. 21 Cntd.” on Spotify if you’re curious ) some trail mix for him, and a cookies n’ cream candy bar for myself. We’re a pretty simple pair.

Grayson and I have a really bad (okay, this is debatable- it could be a good thing) habit of going to the same little spot in Fayetteville every time we are in the proximity of Dickson street. Tokyo Sushi and Bar is our go-to, and I really think we’ll never be able to quit it. (Take this opportunity to hit me up with some of your favorite places to grab a bite in Fay-town) By the time we were filled with sushi and happiness, ready to do some Dickson street strolling, maybe grab a chai latte to really treat myself, we were greeted with the cruel arrival of snow.

I hate snow.

We stood outside of the restaurant for a solid two minutes, getting thoroughly showered in the snow while I was trying to make up my mind if a seven minute walk down the road would be worth a latte. I decided it wasn’t (shocker) so we headed back to the car to kill time until the George’s doors opened.

The cool thing about Grayson is that he is perfectly okay with sitting in a car for an hour waiting for the doors to open so you can get to the front. He is also okay with finding out that you were completely wrong about the time the doors open, and waiting a whole another hour in the car.

It was all worth it in the end, of course. Middle Kids were just brilliant. In case you haven’t heard of them, I would recommend this song to sample some of their Australian indie glory. Don’t you just love when opening acts exceed all of your expectations?

Cold War Kids was tons of fun, lots of groovy bass lines, and Nathan Willett’s voice did all of the things Nathan Willett’s voice is supposed to do. One of their encore songs was even a cover of a Rihanna song. All in all, a successful show.

That being said, I am ready for concert season to hit in full swing, which is typically right after Spring Semester ends. So far on the lineup of 2017, my two standouts (like I said- so far) are U2 being opened by The Lumineers for the 30 year anniversary tour of Joshua Tree (!!!) in May and City and Colour at Cain’s Ballroom in August. I cannot wait to start sprinkling in more shows in the upcoming weeks. Lemme tell ya, folks…2017 is going to be a sweet year.

xx, Aubrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hairy Situation // My Hair Journey

Wow, I really should be ashamed of that title. It’s bad. I know.

Anyway- hello, hello! Happy 2nd day of SPRING! We made it, guys! I don’t know about ya’ll but for me, the last few days have been full of sunshine and general joyfulness because of Spring Break.

 I decided to kick off the start of a new season with some change and pampering. It was time to get my hair done.

To be honest, it had almost been a year since I had gotten my hair cut and colored, so as you can imagine- things were looking bleak. To really enhance the tragedy, I went in to the salon with fourth day hair, ya’ll. I wish I could say this is a rare occurrence- but in reality I have just mastered the top knot + dry shampoo combo. I was beyond excited to give my hair some TLC, especially after the journey that these tresses have been on.

After a traumatic hair bleaching experience around the summer after my freshman year of college that left my long healthy hair about three shades of orange-and I swear- pink at the tips, I was all but ready to swear off hair dressers and leave all future hair endeavors to my own devices. I remember crying for about 6 hours straight, and my saint of a mother made an appointment with a sweet girl at a local salon in Alma to dye it back to a safe shade of light brown. The next afternoon I chopped off my long hair into a blunt long bob in the safety of my best friend’s bathroom, ready to do anything to make it feel less like a bundle of burnt hay.

The following months I turned to an almost black brown box dye, because of course I was trying to muffle all hints of bleached orange horror that haunted my past. Little did I know, this was potentially a worse mistake than the original bleaching incident.

Around Spring Break of my sophomore year of college, I decided it was time to brighten things up.

I went to Caroline at Roots Salon (my now tried and true salon that has my whole heart, and the only place I trust in solidarity, to this date A-MEN) with the expectations of leaving with golden face framing highlights. Now anyone who is reading this that has had box died black hair KNOWS that poor 19 year old Aubrey was trippin’. Hard.

I quickly realized the error of my ways and accepted that it was going to be a hot minute until I had the blonde locks that I dreamt of. In the meantime, Caroline began the process and slowly the darkness was lifted bit by bit.

Since then, I have made numerous trips to Ms. Caroline, and every trip she takes my expectations and just blows my mind. This last trip I am proud to say I reached a nice cool ash blonde that after that first trip to Roots back in 2015, I was never really sure I would be able to obtain.

*Single tear* Anything is possible.

It may seem strange to be writing a post about hair. But let me tell you. This was a journey. And I am proud. Let me have my moment.

I’m going to go ahead and post some pictures of my hair timeline, in case you’re curious as to why I am so proud of where I am now in terms of hair. Maybe you’ll cut me some slack.

 

Look at that box dye mess and sub-par kissy face. Embarrassing.

 

Embracing the warmth. Baby steps.
Graduated warm gold ombre. Baby. Steps.
And then that one time I chopped it into an asymmetrical bob that I still love.
Growth- and finally, some blonde.
4th Day Disaster to Ashy Dream, amiright?
The glow-up is real, ya’ll

And all this being said, dreams really do come true with patience, Olaplex, and a lot of dry shampoo.

 

Okay kids, go soak up some sunshine. Drink some lemonade. Enjoy your spring break! And for the love of all things good, stay away from black box dye.

xx, Aubrey

 

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes//Southern Literary Festival & New Job!

Hello, hello!

It is March. How on earth…is it March? Goodness. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way.

ALSO it is officially Spring Break-and my last Spring Break as an undergraduate at that. I’m still absorbing this information, honestly.

Anyway.

I just wanted to hop on here for a second because my fingers have been itching to write, but in the midst of a 19 hr senior semester I haven’t had as much time or mental energy building up to midterms. Boo.

2017 has been a trip already- in the best way. For those who don’t know, I’m now running all the social media for a precious small business in Alma called The Potting Shed. Basically I am surrounded by everything rustic, galvanized, and good smelling all day. A dream. Definitely take a moment to check out the Instagram or Facebook (@ShopThePottingShed & The Potting Shed) to see all the precious things we have and to see some Flash Sales and Giveaways coming up! (Shameless promo moment because I love this shop so much.)

Another large chunk of my time and focus have been going to my role as Social Media Coordinator for the 2017 Southern Literary Festival that the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith is hosting this year. This is such an amazing opportunity for students, the community, and our university alike. Even though I will be working the festival, I am so excited to be able to listen to the readings of the authors we are bringing in, as well as attending the workshops and mingling with the amazing writing community. In short, we are all in for a treat. If you’re in the Fort Smith area, you are more than welcome to stop by for an author reading or to attend one of our off campus open mic nights! (Instagram- SouthernLitFestival // Twitter-SLF2017 // Facebook- Southern Literary Festival // http://www.southernliteraryfestival.com )

At this point you’re probably rolling your eyes, “Aubrey only posts about random life events, ~positivity~ and ~mental health~ why do I ever read this thing ?” because I know I would definitely be saying that too if I read this blog.

That’s okay. Because yes. You are right.

I’m not about to say I’m going to stop posting about all my hippy dippy positive energy- but I will say I have a hefty list of blog posts coming ya’ll’s way that have nothing to do with that stuff.

Yeah yeah yeah, you’re welcome.

That being said- please stay tuned for some exciting new posts I’ve been working on!

I hope everyone has a very lucky, green, and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

xx, Aubrey

Inspiration is Important + A Photoshoot

Hello hello, I hope you are well. This last week has really had me thinking about the importance of who you surround yourself with, mainly because lately I have been surrounded with some pretty fantastic individuals.

Surround yourself with people who get excited about the same things that you do; like lovely white brick walls and My Chemical Romance playing on outdoor speakers downtown. Surround yourself with people who tell you write everyday and will go eat $1 bar tacos with you every Thursday. Surround yourself with creative kind of people that ask you to model for them for a Valentine’s Day shoot (and so you can have perfect pictures of you and your precious boyfriend.)

I think most of all, it is important to surround yourself with people who inspire you. Inspire you to do what you love, inspire you to be better, and inspire you to love yourself. It’s not a matter of them blatantly telling you to do what you love, be better, or love yourself, it’s watching them do what they love, doing it well, and loving themselves for it.

Brittany Reeve is a perfect example of this. Over the last few months this darling gal has become very special to me. Beyond the extensive ways Brittany is an A+ individual as far as character goes, she is also one of the most talented people I know. She gets up every day and goes to work doing something she loves, for herself- and she does it well. Very well.

I am going to take a moment and shamelessly promote this boss lady’s photography business. I am not lying when I say she can do anything. From Indie Wedding Fairytale to Emotional Home Birth, Brittany can create a session that will not only capture the moment impeccably- but make you want to show off the pictures to everyone you come in contact with because of how utterly cool she will make you feel. (Ex: How I am with the pictures she took of Grayson and me) Definitely take a moment and check out her site and her blog. Her sessions are glorious and you should book with her immediately.

After looking at her work for approximately .07 seconds you’ll understand why I was absolutely thrilled when she asked if Grayson would model for her last week. Free pictures that are guaranteed to be perfect from one of your favorite people? Sign me up, immediately. The weather was 75 degrees, windy as could be, with a shining sun providing excellent lighting. Add a handsome man with long hair and a  flannel shirt, and you have yourself a perfect scenario.

I guess in short, be inspired, these pictures are perfect, and I love Brittany Reeve.

xx, Aubrey

 

 

Some Early Spring Cleaning

Hello lovelies.

I have returned again, pretending that spring is right around the corner because of this unseasonably warm weather. (Of course.) I’m definitely not mad about it being 80 degrees on this first week of February, but my poor heart is already mourning the cool weather that I know is bound to return again, probably sooner rather than later.

Some of my favorite things about these random spurts of warmth (besides the extra serotonin and general comfort) are the waves of inspiration, productivity and positivity that float in with the sunshine. I wake up earlier, happier, and with an extra pep in my step. As a college senior taking 19 hours this semester, I can use every bit of pep that I can muster at the moment, especially in the morning.

Even though I am over the hump of my infamous seasonal depression, it’s the days like today that remind me of how much happier I am with a bit of extra sunshine and weather over 60 degrees. I walk around with a stupid grin on my face, and I am honestly certain that I am singing under my breath 95% of the time. (As of lately one of these two songs- Tomorrow x The Shakey Graves // Old Friends x Pinegrove)

Let me clarify really quick-I’m not being melodramatic and saying I’m never happy. I am extremely happy. I have five thousand reasons to be happy every day. Reasons. But once that sun peeks out, and that temperature starts rising, it’s like my subconscious chimes in and says “All clear to be entirely happy for absolutely no reason!”

I don’t know if it’s like this for anyone else, but when I’m happy and feeling extra awesome, I just want to give myself some self loving and get stuff done. A fabulous combination-and it helps that getting my ish done makes me feel good. I will always stand by the stance that productivity is a form of self love.

So that’s what I did today.

I had some errands to run downtown, so I marched my jacket free self downtown, got an absolutely stellar paleo iced latte (coconut oil goodness with iced coffee that I promise you need in your life) from The Artistic Bean, and headed to do some downtown boutique shopping for some fun surprises going on later this week. I even had time to drop by my father’s work and present him with some mid-day coffee and sweet potato chips (because who doesn’t love surprise snacks?) and pop into Savers on my way back to school and pick up some steals on a few pieces of artwork that I now have big DIY plans for in the near future.

Things as simple as a latte, a 15 minute walk around downtown, or trying on some pretty spring clothes are enough to clean the mind and keep the spirits lifted. Never underestimate the power of setting aside some time for yourself- even if it’s  just to read a few chapters of a book, or to make yourself a cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be for you.

We are so close to spring, I can feel it in my bones. That being said, I believe that it is the perfect time for some early spring cleaning. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. All of it. Nothing is safe from a solid spring cleanse. That being said, I see a lot more paleo lattes, checked off to-do lists, and downtown walks in my future. Care to join me?

xx, Aubrey

Here Comes the Sun

It’s been a hot minute hasn’t it?

4 months might be a little longer than a hot minute.

It’s a whole new season.

Let’s talk about denial. It’s really easy for me to turn on my “I Survived October 2016” Spotify playlist, find a place to hide in the back of the library, turn my back to a window and let my hair soak up the sunshine- pretending that it’s still 90 degrees outside and that I’ll be galavanting off into the sunset with wearing the cut off shorts my mom hates, hair far from clean, and my heart full after class is out for the week. Denial.

If only I could hide in the library non-stop from October to March.

If this blog is supposed to be a representation of my happy levels, it’s probably looking a little grim. My goal was to write, encouraging a mindset of appreciating the things that bring you joy. I can assure you there have been heaps and heaps of wonderful things that have happened in the last four months that brought me joy. But, I’m going to practice some emotional honesty really quick, and just own up to the fact that I’ve actually been pouting for the last couple of months. With life getting busier and the days getting shorter it is quite difficult for me to keep my attitude light, and my mindset positive. It is extremely frustrating because here I am, blessings being passed my way left and right, people who love and support me, and all my seasonally affective brain wants to say is “Yeah, but it’s cold outside so I am curling up in the fetal position and scowling until I can wear sandals again.”

And that just isn’t right. I’m working on it, though.

So today, I am writing this for myself. Reminding myself to be a beam of light. Reminding myself to be warm, shine my focus on the positive things, and use my own energy to create my own happiness.

For others who get the winter blues, don’t worry. I get it. And it gets better. Every day is one day closer to a little extra serotonin.

From an aspiring beam of light, to you.

xx, Aubrey