10 mistakes I’ve made so you won’t have to.

Thanks to Jeff Hilimire, I’ve got the #Blindpost bug. What’s a blind post, you ask? Well, I just told you. I hyperlinked it, right back there. Back where it says #Blindpost. You see? Oh hell, I’ll link it again. Here is what a #Blindpost is. The #Blindpost I’ve chosen to write is on Jeff’s post, 10 mistakes I’ve made so you won’t have to. So attention Internet! I’m 28 now, and lived a long and interesting life, full of blunders and bruises. I don’t necessarily regret my mistakes, but, hey, if someone can learn from me and prevent themselves from embarrassment or disaster, more power to them. Do not do the following.

Photo from theeatteam.com

1. Sign up for a credit card in exchange for one pizza.
I’m not sure what it is about pizza that makes a college kid go, “How high!?” But pizza is like the crack cocaine of 20-somethings. When I was in college, Chase Credit Card Services decided this would be a fabulous time to exploit me, and my fellow 20-year olds, to sign up for a high interest rate credit card, in exchange for one pizza. And guess what. I fell for it. I also decided that I needed some new clothes, and quickly maxed the card out. What a nightmare! Don’t worry, it’s long paid off now. But the moral of the story is, go for a better interest rate credit card, down the line, when you actually NEED a credit card. You DON’T need one in college. Not just for a free pizza, anyway. Shame on your Chase Credit Card Services, for luring in kids with pizza. Shame on you.

2. Try to get on a plane with an expired driver’s license.
When Mark and I went to Disney World (the one in Orlando, Florida) in January 2013 (a mere 10 months ago!), I totally got onto the plane with an expired license. My driver’s license was a couple of months out of date, yet I boarded, and departed, twice, with an invalid license. The worst case scenario would have been that I ended up stranded in Florida, and unable to return home, trapped for trying to board a plane with an expired license. I could have missed work or potentially had to ask someone to drive to Florida to get me. It could have been very bad. So don’t do it! It’s risky! I totally could have been out-of-state, with no way to get home. Although I would have been trapped in the land of Disney characters, so actually maybe it wouldn’t have been that bad…

3. Ignore parking tickets, assuming that they will never catch up to you.
Something must be wrong with my brain. Freshman year, I decided I was too good to park in my assigned college parking spot. Living in Pennsylvania, the sidewalks get icy, so instead of parking three blocks away in my assigned parking spot, because the sidewalk was too slippery, I decided to park one block away in an illegal spot… for three months, acquiring several parking tickets along the way. This is actually a lot more serious than I even realized. My car could have been repossessed or my parents could have gone to jail if they didn’t have the money to cover the tickets, since their name was on the title. That was really dumb of me. Don’t ignore parking tickets! They actually do keep track of them! Go figure!

Photo via stefiecakes on tumblr

4. Sneak into an R-Rated movie at 16.
This might be one I recommend, instead of discourage. This is one of those classic coming-of-age things that kids do. When I was 16, I decided I wanted to adorn myself in goth make up, with my best friend Lori, and sneak into “Freddy Got Fingered.” (A horrible waste of a movie.) Needless to say, my genius mother tracked me down, and drug me out of the theater mid-movie by my ear, with the help of the movie theater manager. How embarrassing!

5. Drink 1/3 of a bottle of Southern Comfort, because your big, beefy, football player friends can.
Sophomore year I was just soooo cool. I had a scrotum of steel and a bladder of bronze. I decided that I could match my college bros shot for shot. I ended up running around the halls of the dorm, riding a fire extinguisher, and making a complete ass of myself. And puked a whole lot. Don’t try to keep up with college dudes when drinking! They are much bigger than you!

6. Leave your car unlocked, when it has your mother’s antique camera in it.
At a time in my life, I was sometimes too lazy to “always” “lock” my “car.” (Yes, I am actually doing the quotey fingers.) So I ended up leaving my car unlocked in the grocery store parking lot, with my mother’s antique Nikon on the seat of the car. Needless to say, the door was opened, and the camera was stolen. And I still feel horrible about it.

7. Get one of those stupid Columbia House CD subscriptions.
Any of those horrendous hidden subscription services are always too good to be true. 12 CD’s for A PENNY? SPICE GIRLS AND HANSON? No. Put it down. You sign up for that, and you will be on the phone with a customer service representative, fighting them over random charges to your card. If it seems too good to be true, it frigging is. And beware, the fine print usually says, “Free for 30 days, until we steal your first born child and your soul.” Guys, you will want your first born child and soul. Trust me.

8. Try to cover up a freshly pierced, irritated nose-ring piercing with make-up.
When you get a hole punched in your face, the piercing spot is going to be a little bit unhappy. Your skin is trying to tunnel out, and therefore going to be slightly red, icky and agitated. Don’t try to cover up the healing process with Maybelline foundation and powder. It just makes it worse. Instead, take daily hot steamy showers, while putting the piercing under the steamy water flow, and let it air out. No lotions or make up!

Photo via ayearofthoughts on tumblr

9. Sacrifice food because you’re in a bad break up.
I had broken up with a long-term boyfriend, and decided that eating was for squares. So I stopped eating for a few days. And when your body doesn’t get food, guess what? It doesn’t work good. So I got up to give a presentation in front of my science class on the Ozone layer. I ended up standing up to speak, getting nervous, and fainting. I woke up lying on my back, with my feet propped on a trash can, peering up at my confused teacher and classmates. They ended up calling the EMT’s who made me eat sugar, which wasn’t so bad. But I was completely humiliated. Hey, at least the teacher gave me a C! Lesson learned – eat food! It helps you to not pass out!

10. Go for the broken guy, assuming you can fix him.
I dated a guy about 6 years ago, who was the “bad boy” we all try to date. None of my friends thought it was a good idea, but for some reason, I went for it. Everyone told me he was a cheater, a terrible boyfriend, a guy who was disrespectful to women, a restless soul, and a guy that I just couldn’t tame. They were right. Moral of the story… listen to your friends! And don’t try to change someone who has a bad history. History repeats itself, and trying to change people never works out in the end. People will be who they are.
After reading Jeff’s post… I see that this is not quite what he was writing about. But, still, I think it’d some good advice. 🙂

What mistakes would you warn others about? Leave them in a comment!

Living the Geeky Life (with purpose!): A How-To Guide.

Sometimes we become overwhelmed with all the little stuff in our everyday lives, that we forget to take a look at the bigger picture. What’s our purpose to life, and are we living it purposefully? My favorite example of a purpose-filled life is that of good old Charles Xavier. Charles is a mutant, with a mutant ability (aka an amazing superpower!), who builds his entire life plan around this ability.

Charles’ life story, the X-mansion, and its inhabitants, are the perfect parable for how one can live with geeky life with purpose. Charles had some struggles from the get go: a physical handicap, some toxic relationships (*cough Magneto cough*), and some cultural oppression from mutant haters. Charles sought to better the world, and wanted to train young mutants to use their abilities. He wanted to do mankind a solid, and to prove to the world that mutants were not a threat, while overcoming all of his obstacles.

His “Geeky life with purpose” consisted of creating the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning – aka the X-mansion and home to the X-men.

So how can you create your own X-mansion? Chances are, you’re not a telepath with a Westchester mansion at your disposal. But if you are, please call me. Anyway, to create your own X-mansion, take my advice.

1. Determine your purpose(s).
What cause do you care greatly for? What makes you happy? Maybe you love gaming, and want to share this love with others. Maybe you want to write a fantasy novel. Maybe you want to open a cosplay yoga studio in SoHo. My purposes are: To use my creativity to make art that spreads joy and positivity, to connect others with similar passions via the Internet, to build relationships with other positive geek women, and to empower others to do the same. These purposes help me to decide which projects I want to take on, and which ones I don’t.

2. Spread positivity to the other hoomanz.
We’ve got like 100 years (if we’re lucky) on this planet, and then we venture into the great beyond. And while to die would be an awfully big adventure, we need to make this experience right here, right now, a positive one …for as many people as we can. This means making ourselves happy. This also means making others happy, including people we don’t know. This means smiling at the jerk who cut you in line, and imagining he needs someone to hug him. This means random acts of kindness. This means making eye contact with people, listening to them, and connecting with them emotionally. This means loving ourselves and being secure in our mind, body and spirit, even though it’s not perfect.

3. Pick inspiring role models.
Some of my favorite geeks include Wil Wheaton, Nathan Fillion, Amy Poehler, Felicia Day, and Pewdiepie. They are giving, loving, humble, caring, funny, and fun! To me, they represent the ideal geeky life with purpose. On Geek & Sundry, for example, Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton allow talented vloggers to have their own part in the show, and they take auditions for new vloggers too! I also adore Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – it’s positive geekery, that encourages. Their motto is: “Change the world by being yourself!” And Pewdiepie ran a donation campaign for Charity Water, using his fame for good! I would love to see you guys list examples of geeks doing good in the comments below!

The Holstee Manifesto

4. Make goals, timelines, inspirational posters, daily affirmations, calendars, lists – organize the purpose.
Get a big chalkboard, and bright colored chalk, and write down your purposes in big letters, for you to read every day. Buy a Holstee poster, and hang it over your bed, or write your own Manifesto. Write a little encouraging jingle, and sing it to yourself in the shower. Make a list of daily affirmations and say them every morning before you get out of bed. Cut photos out of magazines or newspapers that align with your purpose and hang them all over your house as a reminder. Determine where you want to be in 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 5 years. Write everything down in a journal and read through it when you are feeling discouraged.

5. Get others involved.
It can be difficult to stay motivated if the only person you have to answer to is yourself. But if you start a geeky endeavor with other motivated and positive people, the snowball affect can be fantastic. Whenever I feel discouraged or lazy about a project, I know that others are excited for it, and depending on me! That makes me want to press on! For them, for me, and for the people involved in the project. Co-running NEPA BlogCon and the Geek Girl Pen Pals has taught me that the amount of energy I have can be multiplied exponentially when other geek girls get involved. My project cohorts are like my flux capacitor, always charging me full to 1.21 gigawatts.

6. Allow others to encourage you.
Surround yourself with positive friends and family who will cheer you on, “like” your status updates, and wave flags down at the finish line. If people are making snide, condescending and negative remarks about your work, cut them loose! Allow positive people to be the Chewie to your Han. Going out for Geek Girl Brunches in NYC has been a wonderful way for me to talk to my geek girl friends. We grab mimosas, chat about our projects, and just spend time together! Remember to make time for real world encouragement, not just digital.

Photo by Monika Kusheva of her Marmal brand

7. Develop your brand.
Having a strong sense of self and identity, built on top of your purpose, is a great way to have something to hold onto, and share with others. Coming up with a name, a look, a business card design, a phrase, a photo that you love: They can all work to be the bricks in the wall of the X-mansion.

8. Let your mind wander. Make time for the geekery, but make time for the nothing too.
As a geek, it’s easy to be obsessed with our computers. I am constantly blogging, Googling, Tweeting, and staying connected. But a healthy and purposeful life means getting back to our disconnected roots. It means leaving the phone at home and going out to the park with your dog, while letting your mind wander. It means getting enough sleep, and not sleeping with our phone. It means prioritizing our lives and giving attention to all parts of it. Ever notice how you get your best ideas right before bed, or right when you wake up? Let your mind wander and you might find your purpose comes to you quicker than you expect.

How to Maintain a Healthy Balanced Lifestyle (and Still Have Time to Look at Cat Videos.)

I’m the kind of person who notoriously burns the candle at both ends. I tend to take on an extremely large amount of work/projects, and then either only do the 75% of the things I can handle, or work myself into a sickness. Yes, I have given myself the flu before. And let me tell you, it was not pretty. Although I did have a lot of time to catch up on Downton Abbey…

One of my goals is to figure out how I can healthily balance all of my tasks, taking on as much as I can, while still finding time for a glass of wine, and a cat on my lap. I has devised, the pie chart of my magical perfect life balance and rainbows. See figure a:

figure a: the pie chart of my magical perfect life balance and rainbows.

This pie chart is specific to my life. I tried to break it down by what I perceive to be all of my obligations, and how much of my life I believe should be allocated to them.

Let’s break it down. 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. That makes 168 hours in 1 week. Minus 55 hours a week for sleep, that leaves 113 hours. Minus shower time, commuting time, waiting in lines time, eating time… we’ll say I spend 10-12 hours a week doing that. That gives me approximately 100 hours to allocate on my perfect life balance.

Faith – 12 hours: You will notice the Faith piece has a big circle around all the other pieces. This is because I think it’s important to use faith as the foundation for everything else. Faith for me includes prayer, Bible reading, and trying to use each day to give glory to God (and seeing God’s glory in all His creation).

Family – 34 hours: Mark, mom, dad, Natalie – family. That means picnics, game nights, chit chats, and general bonding time with my inner circle. I think this should be the biggest piece of the pie. I love spending time with my loved ones.

Work – 16 hours: I work 40 hours a week… but I think a part time job would better suit my ideal balanced lifestyle. I think work is really important: it gets your mind off of everything else, and onto a focused task. It allows you to feel accomplished and contribute to a team. I love my job, really!! But it can take up too much of your life, and free time.

Social – 8 hours: This means chatting with a friend on the phone, posting to their Facebook page, catching the latest horror flick, or going out for post-work martinis. Social time is super important, and I tend to go stir crazy without it.

Projects – 8 hours: Internet projects, the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club, running my Etsy store, shipping packages, prospecting sponsors, and writing for my blog. I believe a good amount of time is 8 hours a week on outside-of-work projects. I consider projects another form of work. I like to think about it this way: 3 quarters of the work pie is work, 1 quarter of the work pie is projects.

Reading – 7 hours: I want to read more. I plan to devote 1 hour a day to reading. I have a pile of Nicholas Sparks book that are lacking tears on their pages. Q_Q Plus I need to finish Harry Potter, book 6. Yer a weezard, Harry!

Exercise – 7 hours: A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and spirit. I plan to devote 1 hour a day to exercising. This means walking along the River, taking Couscous to Kirby Park, getting on my elliptical, putting on one of those girly cucumber face masks, or taking a hot Epsom salt bath.

Pet Love – 5 hours: This is a time to bond physically and emotionally with my pets. Cuddling the cats, checking them for buggies, taking Couscous for a walk, grooming time, or generally caring for their health.

Nonsense – 3 hours: Cat videos! I knew I would find time for you somewhere. This is just whatever silly, crazy thing I feel like doing. I could put on a clown nose, and run down the street screaming show tunes if I wanted. But I probably won’t. So don’t get your hopes up.

This list is super personalized for me, but I encourage you all to make your own list! It really shows you what parts of your life you have been neglecting, and what parts you know in your heart you want to focus on more.

Tips to help maintain this perfect life balance.

  • Keep lists. Digital, physical, whatever works! I use Wunderlist app on my phone (which syncs up to Mark), and I also have a big supply of pads of paper and notebooks. I make lists about my lists. I really love these Buttoned Up Lists and any of these notepads from Knock Knock Stuff
  • Know when to turn it off. Been at your computer for 3 hours? Make sure to stretch often. And make sure to power off, and maybe go read a bit, or go for a walk.
  • Combine tasks to knock out 2 birds with 1 stone (poor birdies). I like to catch up on Netflix or my local news while I’m on the elliptical.
  • Ask your friends and family what they think. Do they notice you are heavily involved in 1 task, but ignoring others? Make sure you aren’t neglecting anything.
  • Don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan. Don’t hate yourself for not adhering to a strict weekly goal list. Stress will ruin this entire plan. Just take it easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy. If you think positive, your will be able to keep to your lists easily.

Featured image from scienceblogs.com

I would LOVE to see what your chart would look like. Please leave it in a comment below.