Yesterday, I sat in the waiting room at my doctor's office—don't worry, guys, everything's okay, but my injured tendon and I are living proof that running is terrible for you and should be avoided at all costs—when I heard a little beep come from my phone.
Looking down, I noticed that I had an e-mail from a producer at the online magazine Thought Catalog (if you haven't visited their site before, please do. There is a plethora of wonderful content hidden in their pages). I grinned when I read that my submitted article had been accepted and was live on their site.
Immediately, I rushed to the website and experienced two conflicting, strong emotions: intense, ohmygodisthisreallyhappening excitement and an overwhelming, unwelcome fear.
What if their readers didn't like it? What if my own readers didn't like it? WHAT IF SOMEONE FOUND A TYPO? (Truth of Life: It doesn't matter that my official job title is Editor and I correct grammar for a living—I'm not perfect and, yes, sometimes there are typos in my pieces.) In my head, these were all practical and imminent scenarios.
And in my flurry of elation and anxiety, I had a thought.
Vulnerability is terrifying.
Submitting my article made me shake with nervousness. Seeing it live on the website did the same. After posting every blog entry, the same thoughts run through my head: Did I stay true to myself? Will my readers like it? Do I like it? What if nobody reads it?
We as living, breathing humans experience this every single day.
Putting yourself in a position for critique can be so difficult, no matter the situation. It's hard to stand on a pedestal and say, "Here I am, world, do what you will!"
But, guys, it's so worth it.
Without positive feedback from others, we would lose a source of many warm/fuzzy feelings: love, acceptance, appreciation. And without honest, constructive criticism, it sure would be difficult to make ourselves better people.
Opening yourself up is the only way to grasp what you're capable of. A flower that never blooms is stuck in the ground forever.
Learning to make yourself vulnerable, and especially embracing the potential benefits of that vulnerability, is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Learn to love the chilling, soul-shaking quiver of knowing that you could mess up, that you could be wrong. And even better, learn to crave the incredible feeling of knowing that you've done well, that your hard work and presence are important.
So what do you say? Tell that person you love them. Submit the big, important project you've spent months working on with your head held high. Invite someone into your emotional space that's never been there before. Do that thing you love, opinions be damned.
Close your eyes, open your arms to the sky, and jump. I promise you won't regret it.
Friends, it's officially Autumn! We have the windows open, letting all that glorious cool air rush into the house. I can hear the leaves outside crunching under cars and feet—it's a glorious sound. Now to the main event: this week's Sunday Link Roundup!
Food for Thought
Our lives our busy and full of things constantly attempting to thwart our productivity. Maybe some of these Simple Hacks That Make Our Lives Run Smoother from Cupcakes and Cashmere can help.
Are you a workaholic? Do you ever take time to completely remove yourself from your work (mentally as well as physically)? If these questions hit a nerve, you might be experiencing career burnout. Read this article from Refinery29 to see what you can do to help yourself now.
Around certain people, I'm not much of a hugger. I have friends that are non-huggers, and our unspoken agreement to never wrap our arms around one another makes life easier. Delve into the mindset of someone who prefers to keep her arms to herself here (Confessions of a Non-Hugger; Man Repeller).
Bad moods hit most of us often, and usually at the most inopportune times. This list from Higher Perspective offers five techniques to easily break out of your funk.
I've read another of Rob Bell's books, which was quickly devoured in one sitting. I'm looking forward to putting on my spirituality cap and diving into How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living one of these brisk fall days.
I am drooling over this Migdalia dress from Boutique 1861. All I need is a cappuccino and a pair of black tights to go with it and I'm set.
This mustard-colored sweater from Ann Taylor Loft is begging to be worn on a chilly autumn day with some knee-high boots, chunky glasses, and a cute scarf.
Things I Want to Eat
It's a rule universally acknowledged that Sundays in Fall call for soup. On my radar for today is this delectable Butternut Squash, Apple, and Cheddar Soup from Cooking for Keeps.
Also with Fall comes the beginning of the holiday baking season and endless amounts of sugar-filled goodies. Lest I fall into a sugar-induced coma, I might start with one of these bad boys first--Low-Carb Caramel Cheesecake-Stuffed Apples from Sugar-Free Mom.
I love anything with mozzarella, and caprese salads make me giddy. So when I saw this Roasted Eggplant Caprese Salad from the Mediterranean Dish, it was pinned SO quickly.
Just for Fun
Important Announcement for Harry Potter Fans: If you've lived under a rock these week, you haven't heard that Pottermore has introduced an official patronus test. Please go take it immediately. (And I'd love hear what your patronus is! I'm a wolf.)
The world is a scary, confusing place these days. Luckily, Buzzfeed assembled this beautiful post to make us feel warm and fuzzy again: 24 Pictures That Prove That Not Everything Is Completely Terrible.
In Case You Missed It
Catch up on this week's posts--Sunday Link Roundup: Issue #7, A Brief Commentary on Walking in the Rain, and Living Life in the Grey Area.
Line of the Week
"It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon." First Frost, Sarah Addison Allen
I've always been an "all-or-nothing" person.
I'm fastidiously clean or I'm a tornado, leaving messes everywhere in my wake. I'm a fitness expert or a fixture on the Minnesota couch-potato circuit. I'm eating a low-carb, clean-eating diet or I'm devouring an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting.
Being totally committed to one side of something has always been so comforting to me.
It's hard to live in the grey areas; how can you identify yourself as a runner if you don't run every day? Or if you're slow? How can I be a wine connoisseur if I'm not imbibing on the regular?
The idea of identity and how you define yourself can make trying to live (and thrive) in the grey difficult.
The past few weeks, I've been working towards revamping my lifestyle and making sure I'm doing whatever I can to take care of this body. I've been logging my food (because I have a tendency to overeat if my portion sizes aren't monitored), watching my alcohol consumption, and sweating away at the gym. I feel better, happier, and healthier when I know I'm taking care of myself.
And then Friday night shows up.
Our favorite local brewery and some of my closest friends beckoned. I had diligently planned out my day to allow for a nice Oktoberfest, but no other indulgences. We show up and there's a food truck that serves exclusively grilled cheese. Seriously—seven different kinds of grilled cheese (one of which was stuffed with mac and cheese). Did I avoid the intoxicating smell of the grilled cheese and stick to my one beer?
Of course not!
I downed that delicious carb-filled sandwich, accompanying potato chips, and added more beer into the mix.
And when my husband and I arrived home, we may or may not have consumed nachos, too.
I don't write this to serve as some sort of bad diet confessional. All of those extra carbs and calories were amazing and so worth it. It would have been easy, or perhaps more beneficial, to turn down those items and stick to my original plan.
But oh dear, life is short and meant to be enjoyed in every single bite or sip. Instead of worrying about the potential grams of fat I was ingesting, I sat and thought about how good that sandwich was. I laughed with my friends and enjoyed the greasy, cheese-filled moment.
Yes, eating healthfully is important. Yes, doing things that are good for your body are important. But you know what else is? Learning to lighten up and enjoy the moment you're in.
And this morning, I picked myself back up—plenty of sleep, a wholesome breakfast, and penciled in some weightlifting for later this afternoon.
That's the point of this whole ride called life: enjoying the good moments when you have them, walking the fine tightrope of taking care of yourself and living it up, and standing up again when you fall off your plan--no smile withheld, no carb regretted, no moment wasted.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to hit the gym while salivating about those mac and cheese morsels coursing through my bloodstream.
There are few things that are better than listening to the sound of falling rain.
Unless you are stuck walking in the middle of it.
After returning home from work today, I leashed my anxious Chihuahua and set out to get in a quick walk before the impending downpour started. My phone's forecast said there was only a 50% chance of rain at 5:00, so I thought, "Perfect! We can squeeze in a quick 30-minute walk before the rain hits."
Apparently 50% really means 100% today.
We made it about three blocks away from our house before I felt the first drop hit my head. Apprehensively, we kept going for another block or so. And then the torrential pouring started.
Cosmo stared at me, eyes wide, somewhat paralyzed by this sudden offense to his dryness. After a few seconds of staring, we both instinctively turned around and began running towards home.
By the time we made it to the front door, we were both thoroughly soaked. Cosmo, who generally hates water of all types (seriously, you should see how much this dog detests bath time) was not pleased. But I couldn't help but laugh hysterically.
My previously nice makeup job and styled hair now dripped everywhere; my pants were drenched and I could feel the water squishing between my toes in my once-dry shoes. On a normal day, I would be as irritated as my shivering, soggy Chihuahua. The stormed ruined my Rest Day workout. I was soaked to the bone. Cosmo didn't get to go on the walk he expected, which meant he would be hyper all night. And the complaints march on.
Today was different, though. Although our time in the rain was brief, it felt amazing to feel the cool water drip down my face. The sound of the rain hitting the pavement around us was relaxing, even though it was hitting us just as furiously.
As for Cosmo, sure, he may not have enjoyed his time as a fish in the suburbs, but now he's happily snuggled on my lap, drying off through cuddling.
And as I sit and think, as I often do when snuggling my family, how great life is.
It's time to stop taking everything so seriously. Enjoy life. Laugh a little when the sun is shining, and just as much when the storm clouds are overhead.
Run in the rain with your dog and get a little wet.
It's Sunday morning, and I'm reflecting on a wonderful week. With my husband away at a bachelor party all weekend, I've spent the last day with my family and laughing. Coffee in hand, smile on face, let's get started with a long-overdue issue of the Sunday Link Roundup!
Food for Thought
Like most 9-5 workers, the magical word "Friday" is enough to make me break into a Snoopy dance. But what about the days of the week leading up to it? This fantastic article from Simply + Fiercely offers some great suggestions for appreciating every day.
Treating yourself is so important to your mental health. But sometimes it can be hard to do this without eating/drinking/spending a lot of money. Luckily, one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes came up with "23 Ways to Treat Yo'Self Without Buying or Eating Anything."
I'm a sucker for hearing about routines. Morning routines, nightly routines—doesn't matter, I love to see how successful people run their lives. Jessica Dimas writes about her enviable nightly routine here.
If you're a Busy Person like me, there's a good chance your house is never picture perfect. When I have friends coming over, I usually run around the house like a whirlwind trying to clean up. Thanks to The Everygirl for consolidating for a list of "4 Ways to Make Your Space Feel Clean in 15 Minutes or Less."
My stepfather, who is a wine expert, shared this delicious Steele Catfish Zinfandel with me last night. I could be convinced to drink this every day. So complex and delicious.
In just a few weeks, I'm a bridesmaid in my sister-in-law's wedding. You can bet I'll be doing everything in my power to be comfortable while in formal wear. These adorable shoes from Naturalizer should do the trick.
October (my favorite month) is coming up and with it comes so many movies about haunted places. Maybe I'll get a head start with this book from Colin Dickey, Ghostland: An American History of Haunted Places.
Things I Want to Eat
It's no secret that I love potato chips. But they're not exactly friendly to my waistline. Maybe these delicious-looking zucchini crisps from Health Starts in the Kitchen will do the trick.
In other carb-related news, baked potato + broccoli + cheese = win.
Have a can of chickpeas to use? Try out this easy and fantastic chickpeas in turmeric peanut butter curry from Vegan Richa!
Just for Fun
I'm going to figure out how to express my emotions only in dinosaur pictures, just like one man on the internet did. So many fantastic props!
Did you see former child star Corey Feldman's slightly strange performance on the Today Show? It's...interesting, to say the least.
In Case You Missed It
Catch up on this week's posts--Thoughts on Love, PSA: Victoria Harris Writes Has a Newsletter, and 12 Ways to Practice Self-Care.
Line of the Week
"That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." My Antonia, Willa Cather
This week, I've been a raging ball of stress. There's too many things to get done at the office, so many ideas for the blog and website ping-ponging around in my brain, piles of clutter sitting around the house—it's enough to make a person head straight for the bar to indulge in the strongest margarita available.
As much as I love such margaritas—especially with a giant plate of nachos—I'm getting to the age where I need to respect my body in a healthier way.
Taking care of yourself comes down to so much more than eating your quota of fruits and veggies (although that's pretty important, too). To keep yourself in tip-top shape, you need to make sure your mental health gets a check-up every once in a while. Self-care is too important to neglect.
In case you needed some friendly reminders on how to take care of your one and only body, I've compiled a list of 12 ideas to consider below. Take each one with a grain of salt (preferably around that margarita glass) and see if it works for you!
Audra Lorde said it best—"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival."
And isn't that the beautiful, absolute truth?
Take care of yourself and the universe will take care of you.
Look, we're all busy. In today's world, everyone seems to run from place to place without taking any time to stop and admire the view.
With so many websites vying for our attention, it can be easy to miss out on great pieces from authors across the Internet—I know I do all the time. In an effort to alleviate any stress missing my blog posts may cause my beloved readers, I'm happy to introduce the weekly Victoria Harris Writes Newsletter!
Each week, subscribers will receive an e-mail with a brief synopsis of all posts from the week, links to those posts, and any additional fun facts that may have slipped past your radar. No frills, no fuss, no blunderbuss—just the posts that drew you to the site in the first place.
To register for the weekly newsletter, click the "Subscribe" button to the left of this post (or click here). From there, you'll be directed to the Subscription page where you can enter your e-mail address. It's that easy! Every Sunday, you'll receive a freshly minted e-mail with the week's best reads in your box.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
You know the feeling of being in love, right? Not the weak-in-the-knees, fluttering stomach sensation you get when you first fall under someone's spell, but the quiet, hard-burning, sensational love that you can only feel after years together. It's like a hug, so comforting and encompassing—you never want to tear yourself away from something that warm and perfect.
If you don't know it now, I hope that someday you do.
I've just returned from an invigorating weekend at my sister-in-law's bachelorette party; the days were filled with wine, laughter, and so many discussions of love and the importance of it in our lives. Last night, after the bride-to-be opened her presents, the married women in the room took turns sharing the thing they love most about their husband.
And when it got to me, I barely managed to squeak out a few sentences before a tear rolled down my cheek.
(Sometimes my hormones get the best of me.)
You see, I've been blessed with a husband who has too many wonderful qualities to name. There's no way I could narrow those enviable things down to one, but now that I no longer hold the floor in that quiet, loving circle, I can share them with you:
The purpose of this is not to brag about my lifetime partner and best friend (okay, but maybe a little). The point is recognizing when you are blessed beyond measure. I have chosen (or been guided to by forces unseen) a man who listens without complaint, lives without regret, and loves without exception.
So dear, if you're reading this, please know—I love you. I cherish you. I will never stop working on our marriage or making myself a better person for you. Marriage isn't always easy, but it's always the best thing I've ever done.
You're so worth it.
It's a beautiful Sunday morning in September, and I'm sitting and contemplating life—cup of coffee in hand, dog asleep on lap, slightly chilled air rushing through the open window.
And I feel like a total impostor.
I've been beyond blessed with a life worthy of envy: a beautiful, sturdy house, a loving family, an amazing husband, a full-time job that I've wanted since I was young.
So why does it feel so hard sometimes?
I've been known to get "itchy." After feeling like I'm finally settled, I get the urge to change something, do something different, shake the snowglobe and see if the flakes fall in a different pattern this time. The urge arrives and suddenly I'm researching bigger, better homes in a quiet country town because now the suburban home I love so much is looking at me wrong. The urge arrives and I think, huh, maybe I made the wrong decision to go into the publishing industry because I could be somewhere saving lives or doing something with a direct impact on the world. The urge arrives and I begin weighing the impact of every decision I've ever made.
This is hard to admit and even harder to digest. Once, my mother and I were discussing a conversation she had with her father, who praised her for her ability to "be content"—with her life, her situation, etc. And that's when it hit me: it doesn't matter how beautiful or wonderful the particulars of my life are—I will always feel unsettled.
The psychologist in me could perhaps pinpoint something in my childhood for this—my parents' divorce, constantly moving, my eating disorder—but I think the answer is deeper than that. There is a little thing in my core telling me that I'm destined for bigger things. I'm not meant to live the cubicle life. I'm meant to be doing something greater, helping the world, making it a better place than I left it.
And maybe I am. But that's not the point. When the state of discontent begins, I need to remember all I have going for me. Sure, I may not be solving the world's great diseases or dedicating all of my time to feed the poor.
I'm doing something much more honest and real to me.
I'm choosing to share my words with the world. And to share your writing is to share a very piece of your soul. During every poem and story I write, I cry, I laugh, I bathe in memories and cringe when they reappear.
To write is to bleed everywhere and hope the drops form something beautiful.
I may not be perfect, and I may not know what I'm doing, but damn, what a life I have. The prize is learning to live with the itch, to relish it, and to harness it and turn it into your driving force. I'm working on this every single day.
And back I go, staring out the window once more, hoping that the end-of-summer breeze brings with it clarity and peace—but until then, I'll just sip my coffee and wait.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.