20 Lessons I Learned in 2020

Hey y’all!

We’ve finally made it! This post is officially my last of 2020. It’s certainly been one hell of a year. It’s been emotional, scary, stressful, and even boring –but to be fair, there is more to be learned from the hard times than there is from the good.

It’s kind of hard reflecting back on this year — it was a really rough one for me, personally. I lost a couple of people who were very important to me, graduated at a time that the job market is at it’s worst, and put up with many difficult situations at my job, with my roommates, and friends whom I had to let go of and leave in the past. That being said, it wasn’t all bad — I graduated university, got to go to Mexico back in February before COVID lockdowns, made some new friends, rediscovered some old hobbies and got some much-needed time off.

And at the end of of the day, this year may have had some ups and (plenty of) downs, I did learn some important lessons that I’d like to share. My hope is that, at the very least I can save someone out therefrom learning these lessons the hard way by sharing them with you now

  1. Take time to appreciate what you have.
  2. Tell your friends and family how much you love them, honestly and often.
  3. Nothing is certain. Planning is important — but you can’t anticipate everything.
  4. Practice compassion. Everyone has something difficult happening in their lives — big or small. Be kind.
  5. It’s okay to take breaks. Burn out is real, and just because you don’t feel like you’ve worked hard enough to earn it doesn’t mean you don’t need it.
  6. Set goals — but don’t get too down on yourself if they don’t work out. It’s important to keep moving forwards. If you miss the mark on a goal, set some new ones!
  7. Take time to discover what it is that makes you happy.
  8. Stop comparing yourself to others. Nothing you see on social media is real — so don’t get down on yourself because your life doesn’t look like other’s Instagram posts. Odds are, their lives don’t either.
  9. Prioritize your mental health.
  10. Try not to worry about what others expect of you. It’s tough to break expectations at first, but you’ll be happier for it in the long run.
  11. Sometimes it isn’t about you. This applies to so many things — from taking a step back when someone’s in a rough place and needs your support, to following COVID lockdown protocols.
  12. Actions speak louder than words. Telling others how much you care about them is important, but you need to show it, too.
  13. Self-improvement comes from the little things. Working out regularly. Eating healthy. Staying organized. Being productive. Taking breaks and practicing self-care. It all adds up.
  14. Spend time on your hobbies. It’s hard sometimes — there are only so many hours in a day. But try to take time to rediscover things you love — such as writing, reading, drawing, or music — whatever makes your heart happy.
  15. Nothing is forever. Appreciate the things and people you have in life while you can. But alternatively — a bad situation is only temporary.
  16. Be kind to others.
  17. A positive mindset influences everything. Going into a situation with a positive mindset will alter the experience as a whole, as well as the results.
  18. It’s okay to say no. Standing up for yourself can be hard, but boundaries are important.
  19. Don’t worry about what others think of you. There’s always going to be someone who may judge or try to tear you down. Do what you love, regardless.
  20. Always remember to love yourself first. Growth is always uncomfortable. It’s okay — be patient with yourself. You’re getting there. And you’re doing better than you think you are.

Happy New Years, everyone, and here’s to better vibes in 2021! It’s been a tough year but we’ve made it through. Let’s not forget to bring all the lessons we learned this year into the new year, to help improve ourselves, our communities and our world.

Personally, my goals for the new year are to keep my expectations small. I’m setting a couple big goals for the year at large, but I think this next year I’m going to try taking it month by month so I can manage my goals and expectations a little better. (Besides, I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by completely smashing my goals rather than feeling a little down if I don’t manage to achieve them).

Sending you all so much love — I hope that all of you have a better year ahead of you in 2021 than you had in 2020. I’m curious — are you guys still setting goals for the next year? If so, how have they changed from the goals you set for 2020? If you feel like sharing, drop a comment below — I’d love to hear how 2020 has changed your perspective!

Here’s to better days!

Xo,

Meredith

How To Cope With Writers Block In Lockdown

Hey everyone!

Soooo, I’m back with a little how-to on something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately — something, I’m sure, we’re all familiar with. Writers block has plagued everyone at some point or another. Even if you’re not a writer, you know the exact feeling I’m talking about from being stuck on ideas when you need to come up with something new but just cannot seem to find the inspiration you usually do.

Writers block can hit anywhere, at anytime, but after the first few months of being in lockdown, it has become insidious. For a while, I thought maybe my trouble with creating new blog content was low motivation (which has certainly played a role), but I’m starting to realize that it’s nearly impossible to write blog posts about my life and experiences when all I’m doing my best to spend most of my time at home.

After a certain point in lockdown, I started to feel I had written out almost everything I had to say about the current situation, how I was reacting to it, and how to cope with it all. However, it’s hard to transition back to normal content when I’ve yet to transition back to normal life. I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to come up with new ideas, until I realized how mundane lockdown life is compared to how life was before — even though my life was already rather repetitive with work and school. I still had other experiences; travelling, going home, balancing a busy schedule, trying new things — all things that are no longer really a part of my life. Back when I had more going on in my life, I had more to share.

Now, I know that none of these tips really do anything to help with the current situation in particular — they’re just my personal tips on dealing with writer’s block. However, hopefully you can use this experience to learn how to deal with feeling stuck creatively in the future, practice your craft, and become a stronger writer for it!

Daily Free Writes

This was a tip suggested to me in many of my classes in university that I always kind of brushed off as useless until I properly gave them a chance. I know this is likely different for everyone, but most of my best writing ideas do not strike me randomly, in fact, most of them come to me WHILE I am writing. Inspiration can come from anywhere, obviously, but when your brain is focused fully on writing it will actively generate ideas more frequently.

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who understands the feeling of getting a wave of inspiration while writing, that leads to another, that leads to a domino effect of ideas that I almost feel I cannot write out quickly enough to keep up with. If you know the feeling, just remember you never get there unless you are writing first. Inspiration is a lot less likely to strike out of nowhere, and you can’t just sit around forever until it does. Take matters into your own hands and just go for it! Whatever you start off with in your free writes will likely be nothing special (or even downright terrible), but as you get into it inspiration will start to flow more freely. Give into it and let it take you wherever it will!

Make A Cute Writing Set-Up

Next up, create a space for you to practice writing in that you love. Ideally, wherever you’re going to work should be comfortable, well-lit, and quiet. Past that, your workspace should be somewhere you love spending time in and should inspire you to spend more time there — because the more time you spend there, the more time you spend writing! Finally, your writing set up should be decorated in a way that makes you happy — whatever it is that helps to create the right vibes for you. So hit up Pinterest, save a bunch of workspace ideas that you just can’t get enough of, and work some of that inspo into a space of your very own!

Take Breaks

This piece of advice kind of goes against most of what I’ve already said, however, if you’re feeling burnt out, there’s no point in trying to force yourself to write when you really just can’t. Take some time off, whether its half an hour, or a night, or a whole week — it’s really up to you. Whatever you need to feel refreshed and ready to tackle your latest project with everything you’ve got.

Write More, Cut More

If you’re feeling stuck, you’re better off putting down absolutely idea you have than trying to edit yourself as you go. This is kind of the same idea as practicing with free writes, but if you’re too worried in the moment about whether or not what you’re writing is engaging, exciting, or even making sense, you’ll only be holding yourself back. Instead, just write it all out and refine it down to the best bits later — you’ll be able to tailor it into a great piece with enough editing. However, there’ll be nothing to edit if you never start — so just go for it and figure the rest out later.

Keep An Idea List

While most of my inspiration does hit me either while I’m actively writing or thinking about what I want to blog about, we all know that feeling where inspiration hits you out of absolutely nowhere. For when moments like these strike me, I like to keep a little list at the ready in my iPhone Notes app to jot it down as quickly as possible, before the idea gets away from me. My worst habit is coming up with ideas and just believing that I’ll remember them — because how could I ever forget such a great idea? And yet, time and time again, if I don’t write it down I don’t remember it when it comes time to write out a new post. It’s frustrating, but if I have my list at the ready in my phone I’m much more likely to write it down and remember it. And don’t just write down the good ideas — try to write down EVERY idea. Just like I said above, just because your idea isn’t quite there yet doesn’t mean it can’t be workshopped into an amazing post idea.

Read More & Get Inspired!

Finally, one of the biggest ways to get inspired as a writer is to actively be keeping up with what others in your niche are writing. (Or, honestly, even those not in your niche. It’s important to be taking in inspiration from all kinds of sources to help broaden your perspective and scope!). Reading other’s blogs should bring you excitement and shouldn’t be solely for reaping ideas — the point of this isn’t to simply plagiarize other’s blog posts. However, reading what others have to say will help to give you ideas for similar posts, get your creative juices flowing, and inform your opinion of what’s currently being discussed in your blog niche to help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Not that you need to be — your blog is all about what YOU have to say, after all. However, it’s always important to know what’s popular amongst what people are creating, reading and sharing. Plus, it might just inspire your new greatest post! Always try to keep an open mind and take in as much as possible, so that your craft as a writer is always growing and moving forward.

Hopefully, after reading through this list, you’re all feeling a little more inspired than you were before. The takeaway of this post, I hope, is that there’s really no way around writer’s block — the only way is through. While pushing yourself too much will leave you tired and frustrated, you won’t get anything done if you don’t try. Inspiration always hits us when we least expect it — and often, it comes randomly while we are actively writing. With a little effort, time, and luck, even with life’s current circumstances, you should be back on track before you know it.

If you’ve been feeling frustrated with writing lately, or have some other personal tips for getting past writers block, drop a comment below! I’d love to hear any advice you guys have. While I’m working on it, I’m still struggling a lot with new ideas for content and I’d be more than happy to try anything you guys have to suggest.

Happy Sunday everyone, hopefully you all have a great week planned out! And just remember — while it feels like our current reality will last forever, it won’t. One day in the future, things will be different and right now will be nothing but a memory. Keep going.

Much love,

Meredith

May Self-Care Ideas!

Hey everyone!

Often times when it comes to self-care, I’ve heard people repeat the concept that self-care is self-discipline. While I personally believe self-care can be so much more than that, I’ve really come to understand what people mean when they say this about self-care the last few months. While I still believe that concepts such as spa nights, taking baths and face masks are an important part of taking care of yourself and helping you stay relaxed — discipline is needed to take care of yourself of a daily basis.

During stay-at-home, while I have absolutely nothing but my own willpower to keep my life on track, I’ve really began to see the value in the idea of self-discipline as self care. The best way I can think of to explain is that good things are only good in moderation. For instance, as much as I love the idea of eating pizza and Chinese takeout every day — it would be expensive and wildly unhealthy. And as much as I really do love sleeping — if I don’t set alarms in the morning, I oversleep, leaving me feeling tired for the rest of whatever’s left of the day. As well, when it comes time to sleep the next night, I have trouble falling asleep — causing me stress and ruining my sleep schedule. And of course, as I explained a little in my stay-at-home routine blog, as much as it sounds like a great idea to sit around watching Netflix 24/7, it means I won’t complete any of my tasks, I’ll stay in bed all day, and I’ll eventually get extra-bored when I run out of shows to watch. I think you’re probably getting the point — while a lot of these things are great every once in a while, it’s the concept of moderation that keeps them from having a negative effect on my health, mental well-being and stress levels.

As such, I’ve kind of decided to take this self-care list in a bit of a different direction for this spring — and I’m sharing my favourite ways to maintain self-discipline in the face of having absolutely no responsibilities and nothing tying you down to your routine. If we can take the time to master these now, imagine how much more productive, relaxed, and happy we’ll all be with our new habits when we’re back to normal life!

Keeping A Routine

Okay, yes, I know I just went over this. But it’s really been crazy helpful in terms of holding it together. I think something that’s important when you’re trying to settle into a schedule is to remember you don’t have to have it down perfectly from the get-go. It’s hard! Trust me, it won’t happen overnight. It took me WEEKS to really get my schedule and wake up times to regulate — and then they ended up falling apart shortly thereafter. But even when you’re just starting out, having the routine will help you do everything you’ve been meaning to do, stay organized, have your own free time, and seriously help reduce stress. Plus, even when it’s not perfect, it’s still better than nothing.

Meditating 

This gets thrown around a lot on people’s lists, but I feel like it rarely gets taken to heart. I think a lot of people either mean to incorporate it into their life and forget, or don’t see how it will benefit them. If you have trouble remembering to meditate, but have been meaning to, start small! Try practicing every other night, or even just once a week. As well, with habits I’m trying to incorporate into my daily routine, I find it helps to do them first thing in the morning or right before bed — whichever you prefer. For those of those who don’t understand how meditating will help — that’s fair! But when was the last time you intentionally took a break, or checked in with yourself? Put aside all your responsibilities intentionally, and took a moment to relax? I’d suggest trying it once — there’s no harm, and if it doesn’t work out then it’s no biggie!

Morning Workouts

This is something I had always wanted to get into, but didn’t have the motivation to start before now. One of my biggest challenges with working out daily was the inconvenience of finding the right time — waking up early to do it was challenging (but otherwise the perfect time), the middle of the day really eats up a lot of time and leaves you feeling kinda gross and sweaty all day after. Early evenings after class ended up too close to dinner time (however I can see how after a 9-5 could be very convenient), and late night I just hated for so many reasons. I’m taking this time now to add in a little morning workout to my routine in hopes that I’ll stick with it once we’re back to normal. It’ll definitely be a challenge to keep it up every day in the future, but for right now, I love how refreshed it helps me feel, as well as how it’s trickier to put off and helps me get a good start on my day.

Positive Affirmations

This aspect of self-care is something I’ve really been trying to incorporate into my days lately. The way we speak to ourselves MATTERS. If nothing else, remember that “faking it ’til you make it” often works. If you don’t feel confident? Fake it. Saying positive things about yourself every day feels wrong? Fake it. There’s absolutely no downside to practicing positive affirmations, but so much to be gained. So go ahead, try it! Speak some good things into existence and try hyping yourself up every once in a while.

Eating Healthy 

Yes, this is another really obvious one — but it’s vital to feeling your best. It’s hard to get into the habit of eating healthy every day, but once you start it’s not hard to keep it up. The best way to maintain a healthy diet is to maintain balance — it’s next to impossible to never eat an unhealthy snack or meal EVER. I usually go for one unhealthy snack or meal per day, but the rest should ideally be healthy. As well, when you’re busy it’s almost impossible to maintain a healthy diet without prep — I always ensure to meal prep and have three breakfast/lunch ideas planned out and ready to make so I can switch it up when they get repetitive. I’ve found it really easy with my stay-at-home lifestyle to make all my food myself — with all my newfound time and energy, it’s actually a lot less stressful than ordering takeout — and the way it has me feeling is AMAZING.

Doing Things That Make You Feel Good About Yourself

This one is really anything you want it to be. Does doing your makeup every so often make you feel better about yourself? Maybe dressing up nice, or doing your hair, makes you feel a little more put together and normal during this absolute not-normal time? Who knows! It could be a face mask, or a hair cut, or whatever it’ll take to make you feel a little happier with your appearance. It’ll help you feel happier and more confident — which is important to maintaining good mental health right now.

Going Outside

This is extra important right now — get some fresh air! It doesn’t have to be anything huge — it can literally just be sitting on your front lawn, at a local park, or whatever your heart desires. Getting in some sunshine and getting out of our inside spaces is so important — it really will do your mental health a world of good. I’ve even been thinking of adding a little walk to my daily schedule to help me spend more time outside and to ensure I get a little fresh air every day.

Staying Organized

As someone who was formerly super-messy, totally unorganized and completely winging it in every situation, I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much being organized reduces your stress. Even though I was a highly-functioning hot mess (never missed assignments, meetings or social activities, never lost or damaged items in my messy living space, never really felt my life was out of control), just knowing that everything is written down, planned out, or cleaned up just takes an extra load of worry off and frees up extra space in your brain. I know it’s all pretty obvious in theory, but you don’t really realize how helpful it is until you try it for yourself. No matter how organized you already are, take a day or two to deep-clean and re-organize all of your things, organize all your important deadlines and to-do lists, and schedule out everything you need to do. Not just once — doing this once a month will really help you keep everything under control and keep you stress-free.

+ Regular Self Care!

Don’t forget about taking time out of your schedule to treat yourself and unwind — it’s still important! Self-discipline isn’t the only kind of self-care out there. Plan a little spa night, take a day off to watch Netflix in bed, take a bath — whatever it is you love doing for self care most! This one’s really up to you, so feel free to free-style! (Plus, if you need any ideas, you can always check out my previous posts on self care.).

I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, especially with everything beginning to re-open around the world. I’ve personally been finding re-opening weirder than quarantine — it’s strange having life at a different new-normal, and it’s hard to tell what’s actually safe or not. As such, I’ve kind of been leaning into my routines and habits even more lately — no matter what’s happening in the outside world, they remain consistent. As for what’s up in my life — I’m about to begin the job hunt for my first post-grad job! Getting started (especially with the world right now) is definitely a little daunting (but also incredibly exciting) — wish me luck!

Xo,

Meredith