Getting out of your comfort zone.

We went hiking on one of our first dates. I say "one of" because neither of us can remember which "one" it was. I think it was the sixth or seventh, and Kyle thinks it was, "Maybe the fourth? Fifth? I don't know."

Here's what I can tell you - it was late enough in the game that we were comfortable spending an hour and twenty minutes in the car together, yet it must have been in the EARLY stages, because I remember waking up at 6 AM to shower and "get ready".

Get ready. For hiking.

A day in the woods. Weaving through trees. Climbing over rocks. Walking through spiderwebs.  Doing that thing people do where they take really big, wide steps over puddles and act all, "What? Like it's hard?"

Advice for the grads.

The first time I brought Kyle home - like "home" home, as in "meet the parents" and "let's see how long it takes before my mom breaks out the baby pictures" home - it was Easter weekend. Of last year. He had met my parents once before when they were visiting in Chicago, but I had considered that more of a 'practice round'. A 'by the way, this is the guy I've been hanging out with -- see, I told you he's not a murderer!' sort of thing. This was the real meeting. The "family holiday" meeting. The "staying for a weekend" coup de gras (my parents live in Ohio, so it would have been tough to turn around and drive back after dinner.)

My parents are not the kind of parents who live to embarrass me. In fact, when my mom suggested "We should dig out those old home movies! Kyle, do you want to see Jennifer's first Christmas when she was a baby?"- my dad mumbled to my mom, "I thought we said we weren't going to embarrass her. Remember...?" and she was like, "Well, THAT'S not embarrassing! She was so cute! It's only the FIRST Christmas."

'It's only the FIRST Christmas'. Not the fourth or fifth when I turned into a real diva about Santa and got really specific with my Barbie demands "Dear Santa" Christmas-list-letter.

So my parents dragged out the old home movies. And the baby pictures. And the articles I wrote for the county newspaper during my journalism internship as a high school senior.

"Did Jennifer tell you that she had a journalism internship as a HIGH SCHOOL senior?" my mom asked Kyle. And of course Kyle was like, "Why no, she didn't!" 

Thank God for moms. Right?

Out and about!

Full disclaimer: I am not a photographer. Sure, I take a lot of pictures – but that’s essentially all I am: a picture-taker. When purchasing a new camera, photographers are people who consider things like shutter speed, lens selection, aperture, and various camera-words-that-I-don’t-know-because-I’m-not-a-photographer. Meanwhile, in the other camp, a “picture-taker” will pick out a camera based on… “I don’t know, is it easy to use? Is it heavy? Do I have to know stuff about cameras to be able to use it? Will it take better pictures than my iPhone?”

These are all real questions that I asked when searching for a new camera.

Photographers don’t like picture-takers (I’m just guessing). At least they don’t like the picture-takers who like to call themselves photographers. (Again, I’m just guessing.) I feel like if I had taken a lot of time and practice to hone my craft, I’d be pretty annoyed with the person who shows up with an iPhone and an Instagram account and refers to themselves as a “photographer”. Congratulations, you officially have as much photography experience as Chrissy Teigen (who, for all I know, could actually be a very skilled photographer.)

My Blogging Goals | November 2017

There are two kinds of bloggers out there: the kind who have goals and a media kit - and the other kind, the kind who have to Google "what is a media kit?" when someone reaches out to them for a sponsored post and -- well, actually, first they have to head on over to the blogging forum and ask, "Hey guys, how do I handle a sponsored post? So-and-so is reaching out to me and I don't know what to do", and someone says, "send them your media kit"

I still don't really understand what a media kit is. But that's okay, because it sounds a little more "professional" than what I am currently set up for.

Around the middle of October, I was playing around with this new blogger site that I found called Canva (game changer, by the way) that allows you to make graphics and banners and all of the professional-looking-images that you see the professional-looking-bloggers have.

I got really excited. I felt like I'd stumbled into "the big secret" that all of the professional bloggers already know. I found a fancy graphic site that is going to CHANGE EVERYTHING...

How to purge your closet when you think you need everything in it.

Ugh. "Purge". It's one of those words like "moist" or... "moist". It's not the way it sounds, it's just - you know, what it is. Purging stuff. I feel like I'm writing about my closet throwing up remnants of old college t-shirts and Target Mossimo tags. 

I've always thought the idea of "cleaning out my closet" sounded like a terrible idea. Like this monumental chore. Because it basically felt like opening up the door to my own personal landfill of Victoria's Secret shopping bags (that I, for some reason, struggle to throw away) and shoes. So many shoes. WHY do I have so many shoes? I have two feet. I do not need twenty pairs of shoes. 

But, you know, some day, "I might wear them" - or so I tell myself. I have clothes in there too. Some clothes. Not all of my clothes. A lot of them used to end up in piles on the floor. Because they wouldn't fit in my closet. And the floor seemed like as good a place as any to keep them - you know, because I could see them. No sense opening up the pesky old closet and reminding myself what a mess it is in there. 

And then I moved in with my boyfriend. Who is not like the boys you met in college with McDonalds bags stashed under their beds and dirty clothes spilling out of the hamper (thank God) - he's, like, an adult. He's sanitary. And while I know he loves me, I figured it wouldn't take long before he would get frustrated with me using my side of the closet as a landfill for VS bags and the bedroom floor to layout my clothes. All of my clothes. You know, so I can see them. Because you can't do THAT when they're in the closet. Too many other clothes in the way. Some shirt you love might be squeezed between two shirts you hate - and then you'll miss it. And then you'll be sad. 

THAT TIME I BLEACHED MY HAIR.

I wasn't allowed to dye my hair growing up. It wasn't a 'religion thing' or a 'Conservative thing' or an "afraid of chemicals" thing - my parents just told me that I wasn't allowed. End of story. My mom said I had "beautiful hair" and dying it would be like "ruining it".

These kids today walking around with "Mermaid hair" will never know the struggle.

I mean, I get it. My natural hair had "dimension" (I think that's the word that hair-people use). So many shades of brown - natural highlights, natural LOW-lights - just growing out of my head. And it was healthy! Ugh. SO HEALTHY.

But, you know, I was a teenage girl and thought that dying my hair was the equivalent of a Mia Thermopolis make-over. (Dye hair = look like Princess of Genovia.) But my mom wasn't having it. "Pick your battles", they say, and this is the one that she picked.

A lot of parents put their foot down about partying and premarital sex, but my mom has never been like a "regular" mom. She's a cool mom.

(Also, I didn't get invited to parties in high school and boys didn't talk to me. So if she really wanted to put her foot down about something, the hair thing was kind of all she had.)

The day my yoga pants went to yoga class.

I love yoga. I mean, I'm not good at it or anything - I don't know what I'm doing, or how to breathe, and it took me a year just to figure out what "cat cow" was.... But I love yoga.

I love rolling out my little, pink yoga mat in the middle of my living room floor, and picking out a yoga video from my favorite yoga YouTube channel, and pretending that I'm confident and relaxed as I stumble (and sometimes fall down) through the twenty or thirty minute sequence of my favorite YouTube yoga instructor saying "just breathe".

I LOVE YOGA, or whatever it is that I'm doing on my living room floor (mostly just trying to twist my body into weird shapes and pretend that it's totes relaxing). It makes me feel good. But to say that I actually "do yoga" feels a little bit like saying I'm a salsa dancer after taking a couple of Zumba classes. It's just not the same. My yoga pants have spent more time grocery shopping and walking to 8 AM college classes than they have on yoga mats.

But we all have our "things". Mine is pretending that I'm flexible and mildly coordinated.