February 2017 Recap: Blogging Triumphs, Mishaps, and Discoveries

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What’s on Repeat: Shape of You ¦ Despacito ¦ Chantaje

Did I complete my goals?

In my last recap, I listed my goals for the month of February. One of my main goals was to get on a blogging schedule and stick to it, which I kinda (?) did. I made an overly ambitious schedule that required me to post everyday and made a bank of post ideas to work on. This worked for the first 9 days, but I burnt out soon after resulting in an inconsistent schedule.

What I learned: While posting everyday did increase the number of views I received, it isn’t worth the burn-out and inconsistency. Also- I really need to work on a promotional schedule/system that doesn’t take me too long to set up because setting up Hootsuite did not help with my burn-out.

What now? After tweeting a poll, I discovered that most people prefer 2-3 posts a week.

What did I read/review?

Thief of Lies Goodreads Review (3 stars) ¦ Guardian of Secrets Review (4 stars)

Books I received for review:

The Princess and the Page via Christina Farley ¦ Garden of Thorns via Blog Tour/NetGalley ¦ Island of Exiles via EntangledTeen ¦ Off the Ice via EntangledTeen ¦ Secrets of a Reluctant Princess via EntangledTeen ¦ Ensnared via NetGalley ¦ Paper Hearts via NetGalley

 On the blog:

Discussions – 20 Things to do Before Turning 20 ¦ What is Minimalism? ¦ Guide on Who Can Make Political Comments ¦ Meeting Lin Manuel Miranda

Series/Tags – Netflix Book Tag ¦ TTT Books I Wish Had More Pages ¦ TTT Book Boyfriends I’d Spend Valentine’s Day With ¦ Sunday Smiles Intro + A Kitten

Promo – Starfall Book Blitz ¦ Guardian of Secrets Blog Tour

Community Posts:

It’s always important to spread the love! Here are a couple posts that I loved:

Jessica @ The Book Bratz convinced me to Help Bring a Bookstore to the Bronx (after my next paycheck!)

Alice @ Arctic Books put together a visually pleasing February Uppercase unboxing and review!

SERIESous Book Reviews created one of my favorite Perfect Match, ‘if you like this, then try this’, posts.

A Small Wardrobe wowed me with her minimalist One Week of OOTDs.

Looking Ahead:

Since I have many personal goals in March, I will be keeping my bookish goals to a minimum! I learned a lot in February and plan to apply this knowledge to the future.

  • Read all the books I was sent to review
    • This will be the hardest, but since I’m not currently watching any shows on Netflix I should be able to do it.
  • Post 2-3 times a week
    • I definitely do not want to burn out again!
  • Create an easy promotional plan
    • I want to start utilizing Pinterest on top of Twitter, but often find myself dreading scheduling tweets or taking pictures. My plan is to try out a couple of systems to see which one will ease the dread.
  • Write
    • Anything, please!

How was your February?

Journey to Minimalism: What is Minimalism?

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Journey to Minimalism is a series on my blog in which I record my experiences as I declutter and attempt to live a life free of distractions. 

When you hear the word minimalism, what do you picture? For years I believed that minimalism meant ridding my space of all the items I owned, except for the bare essentials, and that terrified me. I used to picture all white rooms with a bed and some plants. Something like this:

While I absolutely adore how this room looks, I know that I can never minimize (or even maintain) my room to resemble this. The room is absolutely breath-taking, but there isn’t a bookshelf or a space to sit and read. I own over 200 books and cherish every single one of them, so I thought that minimalism could not work for me.

Whenever I would stumble across a minimalist’s page I would also see pictures of their wardrobe. A pattern that I often noticed is the lack of colors in most of these colors, which is saying something since most of what I own are either black or jeans. Take the following picture as an example:

This closet is extremely visually appealing, but doesn’t reflect my style. I love colors and I love being able to dress casually one day and dressy the next. With the clothes I currently own I cannot minimize my closet as much as most minimalists do without eliminating some style options. I’m also in a situation where I do not have the ability to purchase a completely new wardrobe that can fit all my needs in as little items of clothing as possible. So does that mean I cannot be a minimalist?

In fact, what is minimalism?

For so long I’ve been intimidated by the image that surrounds minimalism that I didn’t even bother to ask myself about the fundamentals of it! After doing plenty of research, I discovered that there are so many different definitions of minimalism, but they all share a common value. I believe Joshua Becker from the Becoming Minimalist blog puts it best:

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

And if we were going to become minimalist, it would have to be a style of minimalism specific to us. It would require us to ask questions, give-and-take, identify what we most value, and be humble enough to change course when necessary.

Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from everyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than everyone else.

Although the Pinterest and Instagram minimalists seem to be more ‘minimal’ than you, that doesn’t make your ‘style of minimalism’ any less authentic. As Becker says, minimalism is about ridding your life of distractions.

What do you want to do with your life, really think about it. Now look around. Are the items that surround you going to help you get there? Do they hold any value/significant meaning to you? Do they make you happy? I’m afraid that’s not the case for me.

Time to get to work.

January 2017 Recap: Books, Posts, & Music (OH MY!)

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This year I really want to revamp my blog by introducing new content and ‘series’, such as the monthly recap! I’ve seen these types of recaps floating around and decided to try it out.

Current Music Obsessions: Bad Things ¦ I don’t wanna live forever ¦ Chicago album

January has been quite an emotional ride for me- it marks my first month as a college graduate, America inaugurated a new president (yikes!), I worked my butt off working on an application to my dream grad program, and I began my journey to minimalism. January also (hopefully) marks the beginning of a new era on my blog! As I mentioned, this year I want to prioritize blogging and try to encompass all of my interests in one space. As the year progresses I hope to continue expanding on the variety of posts here.

But before we start looking into the future, lets take a quick look at what’s happened this past month!

What I read and reviewed:

Due to the fact that I’ve been focusing on my grad school application I was not able to read as much as I hoped. I read and finished The Hidden Oracle and A List of Cages. I am currently reading Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Hyperion Reviews: Shadow Magic & The Hidden Oracle

Tags I completed:

I love tags and hope to complete more this year!

Bookish Resolutions Tag

Promotional Posts:

I’m so happy that I started signing up for more promotional posts. They’re really easy to put together and I love helping get the word out about new releases.

Cover Reveal: Black Bird of the Gallows

Till Death Trailer Reveal

Lifestyle:

I am over the moon excited about introducing lifestyle posts to my blog. It’ll definitely motivate me to blog more and keep me accountable!

30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge (Announcement)

Journey to Minimalism: Set Your Intentions

Fun:

It’s always fun to include creative posts to break up all the reviews, promo, and tags that can sometimes feel repetitive.

My Dream Crate: Creating the Ultimate Loot Crate Subscription Box

Community Posts:

Spread the love! Here are a couple of posts I loved from other bloggers that I wanted to share.

The Book Bratz discussed What Blogging in College is Really Like (I also contributed to this post!)

Growing-Up Booknerd shared her experience seeing Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

The Writing Duo introduced a new series called What’s on my Night Table

A Small Wardrobe discussed Minimalism and Adapting Your Space

Looking Ahead:

In the month of February I hope to:

  • establish a schedule that assigns certain days to lifestyle posts and bookish posts- that way you guys know what to expect when!
  • read 3 books
  • get back to writing
  • continue my ‘journey to minimalism’ posts
  • publish some discussion posts

What are your goals for February?

Journey to Minimalism: Set Your Intentions

Earlier this month I shared that I will be participating in Muchelle B’s 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge. Although I haven’t documented my journey so far, I have already started decluttering my room. As I predicted in my first post, the process of decluttering takes me longer than a day for several reasons:

  • I have a lot of stuff
  • I get distracted by food
  • I get tired and take a YouTube break
  • I have to clean/wash the items I’m decluttering

Admittedly, the process would go by much more quickly if I dedicated entire days to decluttering, but since I’m working, blogging, and in the process of applying to scholarships and a grad program, I have a certain amount of time to declutter. Due to this I will not be strictly adhering to the challenge, instead I will go at my own pace and declutter what I can, when I can.

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Day 1: Set Your Intentions

Why? Why did I decide to take this journey and why now? As I touched on in my first post, I just graduated college and am a bit lost. I think I know where I’m going, but the future is unpredictable. The only thing I know for sure is the present and I want to focus on living it to the fullest. I decided to embark on this journey because I am not entirely happy with how I’m living my life and I think the first thing I should focus on is my physical space. My room has always been a hot mess, but after working two jobs with a full load of classes I barely had any time to do anything except sleep in it. Now that I only have one job to keep me occupied, I can now prioritize my room.

What? My main goal is to make my room a place that I can escape to so I can think about nothing, read, write, and blog. I don’t want it to be a place that stresses me out and makes me think of all the things I need to do. In order to do this I need to purge mercilessly and I have some guiding questions to help me:

  • Why am I keeping this? Is it because I value it or do I feel like I have to keep it because of X reasons? Believe it or not, I keep a lot of things out of guilt (like birthday cards) because I think that since someone cared enough to get me something I have to keep it.
  • Do I use this? I own a lot of things that I do not use and don’t see myself using in the future. This one is always tough for me because I always have that nagging voice at the back of my head saying “but what if one day you need it?” I need to find a way to shut this voice up if I want to succeed.
  • Is it broken/stained? This pretty much speaks for itself, if it’s unusable why keep it?
  • Does it make me happy? Ah, the age old minimalist question. However, I am going to tack on something to this question. Are there memories attached to this that I can’t imagine parting with. Call me a bad minimalist, but I have no intentions of taking pictures of letters or stuffed animals that hold great joy to me. I’m not going to keep everything, but I will not let go of things I’m not ready to let go of.

Hopefully, by the end of this challenge, I will have eliminated all the physical objects in my life that are distractions and do not bring me joy. I also would like to have a clearer head space and be able to focus on the projects that mean most to me while working my way up.

When? In small, easy doses. I know myself and if I start a huge project and get overwhelmed I will freak out and throw everything into a big pile and ignore it. By taking this challenge in bite size pieces I will be able to tackle this project successfully and happily. I am also tackling this in phases- I’m going to get rid of a lot of physical items in the first phase, but since I’m probably going to be unsure/miss some things I’m going to redo this process on a smaller scale in 4-6 months.

How? This is a great place to put in a quick disclaimer that I will be interpreting the challenge the way I see fit. I do not agree with everything the creator, Muchelle B, says (which is perfectly okay!). I also will not be fitting into the minimalism aesthetic. I don’t have plans to live out of a suitcase or to get all white furniture and a neutral wardrobe. If that’s what you’re here for I’m sorry to disappoint. I’m basically just downsizing to my minimal necessities- which will not fit the current aesthetic to this lifestyle. I want my life to stop revolving around things and to start focusing on dreams and goals- which, I believe, is the entire point of minimalism.

I hope you guys stick around for this new adventure! I will try to keep my blog up to date on my progress, so until next time!

30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge!

Today I’m putting up some different content on the blog, mostly because I’m going to start introducing some non-bookish elements on here! But no worries, I’m still going to be publishing loads of reviews and bookish posts in the future.

A few days ago I stumbled across Muchelle B’s YouTube channel and discovered the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge, which immediately intrigued me. Muchelle B created the challenge in order to encourage and help support people who want to ‘simplify their lives’ by decluttering it. The first two weeks are focused on the physical decluttering of your space, while the last two weeks are focused on the mental decluttering of your life. You can definitely check out her videos about it here to learn more!

Since I graduated from college in December I’ve been feeling a bit lost and confused. My life literally feels like a mess and it doesn’t help that my room reflects the mess I feel inside. During my last semester I was so busy with my 5 classes and 2 jobs that I barely had time to do anything but sleep in my room, which resulted in the state of un-organization it’s in. It also doesn’t help that I literally keep everything!

With the new year and a new chapter in my life starting, I want to start clean. If I had the money I would probably get rid of all my clothes/sheets/ and non-sentimental items but I am a broke, recent college grad that needs to save as much money as possible for grad school. So I’m going to do the next best thing and save only the bare necessities.

Which brings us back to the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge! Here is how it is set up:

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I can already tell you that some days(like declutter your wardrobe and paper) are going to take me more than one day since I start working again this week. But I’ll balance it out by lumping together electronics, digital space, and social media all in one day.

Hopefully this will be as life-changing as I’m imagining, but if all else fails at least I’ll have a tidy room. I am planning on documenting my journey on this 30 day challenge on my blog, so I’ll be back soon with an update!