Life Updates

Hellooo. It’s me….

Brittan, Emma and I cuddling

Me, Emma, and Brittan cuddling on the air mattress while we were all at Christmas in Nashville. (Pic courtesy of Brittan.)

Hello and welcome to the return of Alora’s blogging.

It’s only been two months since I posted. Although, a lot has happened in the world that you probably already know about and if you don’t this blog isn’t for news anyway. Well, sometimes I share important news-related things, but this is not one of those times. This blog is going to be a what’s on my mind / how I’ve been doing blog through and through.

First up, happy holidays. I had a wonderful family Christmas will the nuclear fam and the gf. It is the first Christmas I’ve ever had with pretty much all my favorite people in one place. (Not including my extended family. I love you all too.) It was a small Christmas, but I really enjoyed it. It was really wonderful to be able to interact with my parents and siblings and also Emma (the gf). The fam has only had a little bit of time to get to know Emma in the past, so I think this weekend was good for all of them even if it was more than a little stressful at times.

Brittan, Emma, and I drove up to Nashville on Thursday and then back again on Monday, so it was four and a half days of seven people in a two bedroom apartment. The spirit of Christmas kept things fun though. I had fun anyway. I got to cuddle all my peoples and we hung out and watched some movies and played some games. I cuddled my puppy. It was a solid weekend of family fun and insanity.

This week is a three day work week because we had Monday off and also Friday off, for New Year’s Eve. Most of the office is out on PTO, so it is just a handful of us in this week and the work itself has been quite slow. You’d think there would be less distractions with fewer people, but actually it just means the people here have less reason to be quiet. It’s been kinda great though. I really do love all the people in my office and working with them is just a blast.

On a grander scale of things, since my last blog, I have attempted NaNoWriMo, gotten a car, spent Thanksgiving in Virginia Beach with Emma’s family, and seriously, seriously considered getting a dog. I’ve also missed writing these blogs and just itching to put more words out to the internet. I think I’m going to spend some time this week to put together a set of actionable New Year’s resolutions that I can potentionally succeed at relatively easily. You can bet that one of them will be to blog more. (I also want to make this blog better on the backend, but we’ll see if that happens.)

In actual news, Carrie Fisher died yesterday and I am quiet sad about it. I wasn’t going to mention it because it’s not actually a part of my life, but I want this blog to be more useful to future me, when looking back at who I was at the tail end of 2016. So this is me, sad about celebrity death for a woman I never will meet, but who positively affected my life in many ways. She definitely will continue to affect my life, especially after I get around to purchasing and reading her book. That’s another thing I want to do in 2016: read more books.

Final tidbit I shall leave you with is that I have been listening to John and Hank Green’s podcast, Dear Hank and John, recently and I quite enjoy it. I seriously recommend you check it out. I also watched a wonderful video by Rowan Ellis earlier today about ethical consumerism and how to continue the push for that when it comes to human slavery as well as animal testing. It’s only ten minutes long, and you should really take the time to watch it. She put together a wonderfully compelling and informative video. I just found her channel today and I’m very excited to check out what else she has and will post.

Alright, I will stop rambling for now. Thank you for reading, share this around if you want and please comment below with your favorite christmas gift from this year!

Till next week,

-Alora

19 Things in 19 Years

My friends and I at me and Brittan's 5th birthday party.

Hello friends,

Today is my birthday! Many years ago I had a birthday party with cupcakes, specifically baked for smooshing into my friends faces. That’s what happened in the picture. It was definitely, the best birthday party, I’ve ever had.

I, along with my twin sister Brittan, turned 19 today. I thought it would be fun to follow the trend and make a list article of nineteen things I’ve learned in the years leading up to this moment.

  1. It’s okay to not be friends with people that are making you unhappy or you don’t like hanging out with. You are not required to be friends with everyone.
  2. Never get your hair thinned. It only makes the frizzing worse.
  3. It’s okay to change your mind about something even if you were very adamant about your original opinion.
  4. Reading a book will make you feel better.
  5. There is actually a way to clip your toenails without giving yourself ingrown nails.
  6. I am not good at cleaning up after myself.
  7. High heels are amazing.
  8. Apparently, my boobs are not done growing yet.
  9. There is no reason not to take a risk when it comes to hairstyles because it always grows back.
  10. Everyone around including your siblings, parents, friends and extended family are all their own person living their own life that is just as complex and important as yours.
  11. Wolves are some of the coolest animals in the world.
  12. All of your opinions are colored by you privileges and experiences.
  13. Living alone is difficult, but doable. So long as you go outside almost every day.
  14. Onsies never go out of style.
  15. You don’t really need that random trinket from when you were seven that has little to no significance.
  16. You can write fifty thousand words in a month while working full time (Still not sure how I managed this for Camp NaNoWriMo 2013).
  17. Good content should be determined by how proud you are of it, not how many clicks it gets.
  18. The newest Vlogbrothers video may be long or heavy, but it’s still worth a watch.
  19. Journaling usually makes you feel better, especially if you can keep up with it for an extended period of time.

Some important life lessons. Some silly facts about me. All of it adds up to me: a person who is has now been on this world for 19 years. How wild is that?

Until next time,

– Alora

Learning How to Juggle Life

Hey guys,

If you did not know season one of Supergirl was recently added on Netflix. I’ve watched a couple episodes of it so far. I’m currently on episode seven which means I recently watched the one where Kara watches Cat Grant’s son: “How Does She Do It?” (episode 5). All of them are amazing, but this one in particular has a theme that really stuck with me. At the end of the episode, Kara asks Cat Grant, her wonderful #GirlBoss who has it all, how she does it, how she maintains her life. To which she responds “How do you juggle it all? You learn. That’s how.”

Since hearing that, that idea has been rolling around my head, pounding on my skull and all around clambering for me to think about it. Learning how to juggle it all: the career I want to have, the family I’d like to have eventually, posting here, posting on my YouTube channel, maintaining a social life, devoting plenty of time to my girlfriend. I have been in Atlanta for nearly three months now and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s how to live here. I’m figuring out how to juggle this ball. I’ve got a schedule worked out. I pay my bills and rent on time every month. I keep my fridge stocked well enough that I don’t starve. I’m writing, reading, posting videos, and blogs. All while still working from 8:30 to 5:30 everyday.

Up until quite recently I was very sad because I felt like I couldn’t lead the life I wanted to lead. I even wrote a blog post detailing the kind of schedule I would like to have and now I have that schedule. I’m learning how to juggle my life. I’ve got work handled. Now I’m adding back in writing after not regularly writing for three weeks. I’m handling my YouTube videos and I still make time to call my family.

It’s okay if I drop the ball every now and then on one of these things because I’m still learning how to juggle them all. That’s what Cat Grant has taught me. Well with those words anyways. I’m kind of in love with her. She’s a boss.

This realization may seem small, but it’s more than a little life changing for me. It lets off the pressure. I don’t have to be perfect all the time in what I’m trying to do because I’m still learning how to do it. TV, guys, it has a huge impact.

In related news, Supergirl is amazing and you should go watch it.

That’s all from me this week. 😀

Lots of love,

– Alora

My Life Right Now

Hey guys,

Today we’re going to talk about what my weekdays look like. Those days take up most of your life, so it’s basically a “Day in the Life” blog. However, this blog has a twist. I’ve been really sad for about the whole month of September and so I have two typical days: the day I usually have and the day I always want to have. The day I usually have is the one that happens when I’m sad and the other most often happens when I’m not sad. The goal of this blog post is to nail down a schedule for the not sad day, so I can have a template to follow when trying to achieve a not sad day while actually sad. I have had not sad days like this before. I’m not just coming up with some random, unobtainable standard. This is achievable.

A Typical Day when Sad

Time Action
7:00 AM My alarm goes off.
7:10-7:30 AM I actually get out of bed.
7:30-8:15ish AM Get ready: dressed, fed, make lunch.
8:10-8:20 AM Leave for work
8:35 AM-5:45 PM At work (A.K.A the best part of my day)
5:45-9:00 PM Eat something (not always something healthy) and play around on the internet (usually Netflix or YouTube.)
9:00 – 11:00 PM Actually work on something or clean. Maybe shower. Or just watch Grey’s Anatomy until eleven.
11:00 PM Bedtime. (Usually. Sometimes it’s later.)

A Typical Day when NOT Sad

Time Action
7:00 AM My alarm goes off.
7:00-7:10 AM I actually get out of bed.
7:10-8:00 AM Get ready: dressed, fed, make lunch.
8:00 AM Leave for work
8:15 AM-5:45 PM At work (A.K.A the best part of my day)
5:45-6:30 PM Make dinner and play around online for a bit
6:30 – 8:00 PM Clean / take care of life stuff, like bills / make content
8:00 – 10:00 PM Work on Ahlam
10:00 – 11:00 PM Read and get ready for bed

These days may not look very different in tabular form, but they feel quite different and they usually coincide with my emotional state. The second day is the one I’d like to get in the habit of doing whether or not I am sad. I’m just not quite sure how to do it. The second day helps me keep from being sad by writing and reading, but it also allows me time to keep up with my passions (writing, YouTube, and blogging) while still allocating time for reality. It is quite a magical day, but not one I have been able to have in a while.

If you all have any tips for getting into a productive schedule while sad, or anything else that might be useful, please send them my way.

As for me, I will talk to you guys next week. This post is more meta and less wordy.

-Alora

September Writing Update: I’M SO BEHIND!

Me about to start a writing session a couple weeks ago.

Hello friends!

Remember how I excitedly posted this blog a while back about my timeline for Ahlam? Well that time line proposed a finished first draft by October 1st and I haven’t written in a solid week. Yikes.

I was doing really well and then this last week, I’ve just gotten real sad. I’ve been focusing on feeding myself and keeping my apartment livable, while also trying to keep myself from getting too sad to go to work. Those things are going well. I washed my sheets tonight. I’ve been eating in my bed a lot, so that was long overdue. Also, this weekend, I’m going to the grocery store to stock up on healthy options. I’ve eaten way too much candy and crap this week because I’m running low / am out of yummy healthy food. I’ve mainly been subsisting on noodles and peanut butter, besides the candy.

I went home last weekend though! I spent four days (Thursday through Sunday) back in Nashville chilling with the fam. It was amazing. This weekend, I’ve made plans to go thrift shopping with Mimi and we’re going to go to Ikea and pick out a couch for my apartment. I’m dying without one. Basically, I’m slowly getting my life back on track after it crashed and burned emotionally for many, many days. That said, I am hoping to get back on track with my writing quickly and finish my draft by Mid-October. At the very least, I would like to finish my first draft by November, so I can do NaNoWriMo on a new project. I have never won real NaNoWriMo, only Camp NaNoWriMo. Also, the theme for this year is space and I need an excuse to buy myself space swag.

The writing itself, when I manage to do it, is getting a lot harder. I’ve passed the easy exposition, setting up the plot stuff and now I’m plowing into large emotion filled scenes and rising action. It’s been really difficult to write because Ahlam, herself is going through a lot. Her brother is missing, she’s at a new job, and she feels really isolated. In order to write the scenes well, I have to tap into angst of years past and / or imagine if my little brother suddenly ran away from home and we couldn’t find him. As you can imagine, that makes writing at a swift pace very difficult.

Nearly every scene is emotionally taxing and requires a lot more thought and time than the first 30 thousand words of the book. The scenes aren’t bad though. They take a long time to write, but I think this book is turning out really well. I know it’s a rough draft and I have a lot of changes and real research that I need to do before I can finish it. However, I am quite proud of it so far.

I’ve gotten back into the swing of my content creation this week. After no videos last week and only a blog, I’ve written this blog, posted my WogsVlogs video and already filmed my alorabora video for tomorrow. I just need to edit it. Things are back on the up an up, so I expect lots more writing in my future.

How are your writing / creative projects going? Hit any snags?

Talk to you soon,

-Alora

P.S. If you want updates on my writing, while I write, I always tweet about my writing sessions.

September 2016 Bullet Journal Update

The front of my bullet journal.

Hello friends.

Many months ago now, I started my first bullet journal because a number of YouTubers I follow were doing it. So far it has been one of the best things I’ve done just because everyone else was doing it.

I started my bullet journal back in June and posted an introductory blog about it. Now, it is three months later and I am still going strong. I don’t write it in everyday, but I do use it most days. I usually use it most during the week to keep track of what I need to do when I get home from work and then I don’t use it so much on the weekends.

Structure wise, I am using a monthly calendar and a monthly log as well as my future log and index. I also recently started to use a weekly log that tracks all the tasks I want to do in a given week. Then, of course, I have my daily entries. Most of my daily entries consist of To Do’s and less logging what I did that day. Although, my To Do’s are usually pretty consistent with what I did that day. Just fill in any gaps with Netflix and/or YouTube and that’s what a typical weekday evening looks like.

A weekly log I made.

However, I’ve been meaning to start adding more depth to my daily logs, so I’ve started including updates on my writing. My friend Kellie Sheridan posted a video last year about her writing journal. Basically you report your writing progress and status to your journal. It helps keep you motivated to write, so that you have something to report back to your journal. I’ve decided to work this into my bullet journal and it’s working quite well. I’ve only been doing it for a few days, but I already love it. I’ve got a lot of writing I need to get done this month if I want to stay on schedule and so far this is helping keep me motivated.

Today's daily vlog with my writing entries.

As for looks, my bullet journal is in plain black pen of varying degrees of fanciness depending on what is closest. Although I have decked it out in some stickers and I recently added Beth Revis’ signature to one page. That’s in silver sharpie. I bought a new journal last weekend that I’m planning on using for 2017. I got it from Freddie and Co, and I’m excited to use it next year.

That’s about it for my current bullet journal process. If you have any questions let me know in the comments and please feel free to talk about your bullet journal process or just chat in general. I love getting comments.

Until next time

Beth's signature in my journal

-Alora

An Elaboration on My Writing Process Video

Hello friends!

The above video is the one I posted last week on my channel, alorabora. It’s mostly comedic, but it covers my first draft writing process. I thought an in depth discussion of my process would be better served as a blog post for my other writers to read if they wish.

Please note that this is just my rough draft writing process. I’m not even going to touch on revisions.

For both Ahlam and Complete Immersion I stared with a rough plot outline. Complete Immersion was based on a dream I’d had and Ahlam stemmed from a writing exercise I did during a Pen & Paper meeting. My friend Chibi and I plotted out lots of major events and sketched out character attributes for Ahlam. It was great fun and I still have all of those notes. I wrote the first draft of Complete Immersion during Camp NaNoWriMo over three years ago, so I am going to focus on my writing process for Ahlam.

As I mentioned in my video, I have a story binder. This holds all of the information about my story: characters, maps, outlines, timelines, etc. The very first page of my binder is a chapter list. As I write new chapters, I add them to this list. It helps me organize my thoughts and easily get a good look at how far the story has come. So far, it has thirteen chapters. The next page is a map of Ahlam’s work and a list of everyone she works with. Following that I have more reference pages and a timeline of how I want the story to progress.

I don’t have a strict outline that I follow while writing. I would say that I plan organically. I know how I want the plot to progress and how the story will end on a high-level, but scene-by-scene I take a more pantsing approach and let the characters interact organically. I use my reference pages to track character traits and facts, new characters, new ideas, etc. I look back at them whenever I need, hence why the writing binder is necessary for writing.

I use a simple Word Doc to write my manuscript and while I write, I plan a couple of chapters ahead. I use my big timeline to track how the story is progressing and I’ve also creating a pacing chart to map out how I want the book to be paced between major events. When I start a new chapter, I think about what’s happened so far, and what needs to happen to get the story where it’s going. Then I create a general plan for that chapter and the next one. Sometimes I follow this plan. Other times something comes up in the story and I go a different direction. I write my plans for that chapter and the next a few lines below the actual line I’m writing on, so I can look at them as I write if I want. Keep in mind that these plans are just a few words, usually not even a sentence about what I want to happen.

That’s really about it. Then, as I said above, out-of-sync with the audio, I do that over and over and over again.

I really like the way my writing process is right now. It works well with Ahlam and it keeps me on track with my plan while also allowing for organic growth and additions. I really like the name organic planning or maybe organic plotting. Can we make that one of the writer-type categories?

What do you guys use when you draft? Does it change between manuscripts? I’m super curious about how other writers write, so please let me know in the comments. Or if you have any questions about my process, hit me up in the comments or on twitter and we can have a chat. 😀

Alright, that’s all from me this week.

(Unless you are subscribed to either of my youtube channels.)

Good luck writing!

-Alora

The Struggles of Living Alone

Alternate title: The Struggle of Cleaning Your Own Apartment

Alternate Alternate title: The Joys of Paying your Own Bills

Hello friends!

So, I have been moved out for over a month now, (The video above chronicles my move to my apartment, if you want to watch it.) and it’s about time for a blog complaining and rejoicing my experience so far with living alone. To be fair, I have lived alone before. I spent two separate semesters without a roommate in college, but I always had a friend across the hall. Not so much anymore.

My feelings about living alone are constantly going up and down. Late a night, I usually don’t like it so much. I get tired and sometimes lonely. Whodda thought that living alone was lonely?? Hehe.

Anyways, I usually really like it. After living with five other people not including pets for most of my life, it’s nice to have some peace and quiet. The best part of living alone is being able to keep whatever schedule I want. I don’t even mean staying up late. I mean being able to come home and make dinner and then spend the entire night writing or reading. I don’t have to hang out with anyone. I do miss the constant hanging out sometimes, but it’s nice to have some quiet.

Having to clean everything myself though. That is a struggle. If you ever visited my room at school, you know I wasn’t the best at keeping it clean. It’s even harder, yet more necessary, to keep my apartment clean. The worst is the dishes. I’m not very good at washing my dishes immediately, but I don’t have enough to let them sit around either. I am constantly making new dirty dishes and having to wash the old ones, so I have something to eat off of/with. The spoons get the worst of it. I only have a few of them. I know this sounds silly, but I never realized how many dishes I make before. At home, we switch off chores, so I’m not usually stuck doing the dishes of six people for more than a month. Now, I’m doing the dishes of myself while also having to clean the floor, make dinner, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, work full time and pay the bills. It’s a bit nerve wracking.

Speaking of bills, I paid my first internet bill tonight. I’ve been paying my own phone bill since March, but now I have to pay all of my other bills too and the rent. It gets really stressful really quickly. I no longer just have a job to have a job. I have a job to pay the bills and the rent and to buy food. I have to plan ahead with my money, so I know I’ll have enough at the end of the month when the major bills roll around. It’s stressful, but also kinda nice. Sometimes, I actually enjoy making my own decisions. Since moving out, I have a lot more power over my life. My independence is at once a joy and a source of stress. Although, I guess that’s what being an adult is about.

When I titled this blog, and when I started writing it, I was planning on doing a lot of complaining. I guess I have, but I don’t feel like complaining so much anymore. This is what other adults do too, so I know I can do it. I only have me to worry about. I don’t have to feed a kid or a pet. I may have lots of new worries and stressors, but only for me. Someday, I’ll have my own family, but right now, I think I should relish the silence of living alone. Or at least try a little harder to relish it.

How are your living situtations doing? Does anyone feel my pain on keeping the dishes together?

Until next week,

-Alora

Office Kickball of AWESOME

Picture of me about to catch the ball

Hello friends!!!

So last Friday, we had an office event! A bunch of us went to the park and played kickball for like three hours. It was great and so much fun to get to know the people in my office better. Interactions outside of the office with office people was super fun. It also helped that my team crushed the other team. Though, to be honest, I would be happy either way. I love playing random sports. And kickball is great because it’s like baseball, but it requires less skill. And, if you don’t know, I love baseball. It’s my favorite sport. As a kid, A League of Their Own was my favorite movie. I still adore it.

Anyways, onto some play by play. So, I spent most of the game guarding second which I don’t mind because it’s not super high pressure for getting anyone out or anything. Though, it did get a little boring because I barely got to touch the ball. But, at one point, I was being charged by the runner as she raced to second and I totally caught the ball while on base, like right before she got there. It was amazing.

Towards the end of the game, I kicked the ball and then was racing to first. The other team didn’t catch the ball outright, but they got a hold of it pretty quickly. I was already off balance and worried about them throwing it to first before I got there, so I totally slid right into first. It was amazing. The only slide in the whole game and all I did was scrape my knee a little. Well besides getting covered in sand. After that I made it to second, but then I got pegged with the ball on the way to third. I would’ve stayed on second, but I had to go. It was super lame because the ball was right over by third.

A few kicks in a row, it was immediately caught, so I got out. Both of those kicks were also the third out, which I was super frustrated by, but then. The third kick after those two, I hit the pitcher in the face with the ball, so he almost caught it. Thankfully he didn’t and I made it on base.

I also got to run across home plate at least once. I feel like I scored a second time, but I’m not positive. One inning, my team practically doubled our score with two outs. I scored that inning and I ran people home a bunch of other times. Like we got the two outs and then scored a bunch before getting the third. We totally wrecked the other team. We had three times the points of them. It was great.

Kickball was so much fun. We had pizza. I got heckle people in good spirits which was fun. The only unfun part was getting home.

I don’t have a car, so I bike everywhere. That day, I biked to work, home from work, to the park, and home from the park. I also played kickball for three hours. Needless to say, I was very sore the next day. Everything hurt.

I am very excited for the next office event. I think I heard from someone it was going to be ultimate frisbee? We’ll see. Either way, it will probably be awesome!

Until next time my dudes!

-Alora

Thank you very much to Scott Kelley for the photos.

picture of me kicking the ball

Decorations.

Panorama picture of my art wall

Hello my good friends.

Today we are going to talk about decorations. I have lived in my apartment for almost a month now, but it is only recently starting to feel like home. One of the reasons why is because I finally hung up my decorations. Now, this may not be true for everyone, but for me, I need decorations. My room in my parents house and at college was always chock full of stuff and well decorated. I do not leave patches of wall lying around. I put things on them!

I have some paintings. Nothing framed because that’s expensive. But I do have watercolor paintings of mine that I did during watercolor class a few years back. I have hung my favorites of those up. I also have some paintings that Brittan did which I’ve hung up and I have some other paintings as well. I really like my paintings because they soften the sharp lines and bright colors of my posters, since most of them are watercolors.

I have been collecting posters since forever. I have about ten which may not sound like a lot, but they can fill up an apartment nicely. My posters are where most of my nerdy attributes are plastered. I have a Star Trek poster that I just got from Mom and Dad. I also have a Doctor Who one, a Minecraft one, Jurassic World, etc. You get the picture. I have lots of nerdy posters.

The biggest piece of my decorations is my art wall. This consists of art prints, postcards, colored pages, a piece of embroidery. Anything that is art, that it smallish, and I can hang up goes on the art wall. My current art wall set up is above/behind my desk. It is the picture at the top of this blog. I am very proud of this art wall set up and looking at it makes me so happy. All of the art that my friends have done and postcards from my trip to London are quite inspiring to look at.

The last section of my decor is just miscellaneous stuff. I have some plaques and medals. I have a pennant from school. By far the best thing in this category is my key chains. I have been collecting key chains from the places I go since elementary school, I think. I have traveled a lot, so there are a lot of them. For years my key chains were all on a single lanyard hung on the wall. You couldn’t really see any of them or look at them, but they were all together and hung up. Junior year, I finally improved this system and hung my key chains on a length of embroidery floss. Now, they all hang spread out over the big windows in my family room.

If you ask any of my friends, they will all agree that I am very materialistic. I like my things. One of my things that I like is my decorations. After I hung up my posters and paintings and art wall and key chains, my apartment finally felt like mine and not just some place holding my things where I slept at night. Moving out is really weird. Sometimes I really enjoy the privacy and the quiet. Other times those same things are just lonely and sad. Putting up all of my decorations has decreased the lonely and sad parts of moving out. This is my home now. This apartment is where I live with my things and my family and friends come to visit or I can visit them.

It’s weird to think about having a home where my parents and siblings don’t live, but I am slowly accepting it as my apartment feels more and more like my own.

That’s all for this week!

If you want to see more of me, I will be posting a video on my YouTube channel tomorrow and Brittan and I have revived WogsVlogs. She is doing VEDA (Vlog Every Day in August) while she travels Europe.

Thanks for reading. 😀

Much love,

-Alora