Archive for ‘j’s Love Project’

2016, February 5

The power of small steps

Last January, during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, I wrote a Life List. Even though I started out with the list looking more like a to-do list in the beginning, I quickly switched to dream-mode and thought of the things I’d really really want to do in this lifetime.

Now, my boyfriend is very realistic. He doesn’t like to make plans too far ahead, if at all. And it sometimes drives me nuts because I believe that the things that we focus on are the things that will surround us.
If we only focus on today, then weekend plans might fail because we’re not making an effort to think about them and make time for some things. Or if we only focus on having bills to pay and not having enough money, then that will be our reality. And we won’t be able to shift that reality until we start looking beyond our present, and start believing that things will get better. (I am quite bad at this one, after years of being in debt!) Then, we need to decide what it is we want, and take small steps toward those things.
For this reason, the other day I wrote a list of things we need to fix in the apartment, or stuff we need to buy. I’m hoping that being on a list will keep them more in focus as opposed to just in the back of our mind and never getting around to even think of them.

There are quite a few things on the Life List that I still need to start taking steps toward. Like turning my year of photo challenges into an e-book – I still need to sit down and work on it. Little by little, even if it doesn’t have to be done in one day, I ended up avoiding this item. Not sure why. But I fully intend to finally sit down and start assembling the e-book.

However, as I read it the other day, I realized that I actually achieved several things off my Life List. Also, I achieved quite a few things off the My purpose for money list that I wrote four years ago, when I had a total of four jobs at the same time by the end of 2012. It’s interesting to me how many similar items there are on both lists.
I traveled more in Romania and saw places I’ve never been to, alone and with loved ones. I re-visited places I loved (both in my country and across the border), and wrote a few travel articles. I visited friends from Great Britain and tried a lot of new kinds of food while traveling. I made a couple of my home-decor ideas reality decorating our small apartment, learned a bit how to drive, and saw the fireworks in Budapest, Hungary this New Year.

My most important item on the Life List and also on the My purpose for money list was by far to “Earn a living being a full-time writer/Turn writing into a priority and a steady income”. And you know what? I made that come true!

With a lot of support from my boyfriend, and learning more, I am now a technical author and love love love it! I recall writing a letter to myself talking about this when I was only applying for the job. It leaves me creative enough to write on my blog, too, and is still about writing, and editing and re-writing, etc. which I love doing as a full-time job. It gives me the chance to sometimes take the afternoon for reading, research and learning even more about the field.
It also gave me the opportunity to travel to London. Twice.
It pays better than any job I ever had before and now I can actually set money aside for travel and vacationing even if it takes a couple of months to save up. But I am finally out of debt.

Sure Life still gets in the way of things many times, but it doesn’t bother me quite as much as before. Because I am doing something I love and it made everything else much easier. I am definitely happier and more enthusiastic.

So if you ever stop and think about something you’d like to do as it being “unattainable”, please don’t. Try to break it down to small, achievable steps. Take one small step after the other, and it will all work itself out.

2016, January 6

No Auditioning & Drawing a self-portrait

The assignments for the last two weeks in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly were to not audition for love, and to draw a self-portrait (or seven).

I have a natural tendency toward putting myself last and people-pleasing, so during the week of no auditioning it was quite hard to actually follow up on the assignment. It would’ve been so much easier to just go where I was told, do what was expected of me no questions asked and caring for everyone around me first before “getting” to myself.

Truth is, I know I have the choice of saying “No” to things, that I should act on my own priorities and values.
So I aksed myself “what are the most important things to me?” question and took it from there. I stalled when I could, and said I needed to think about things/favors when that was the case. I thought about how stressful it would be for me to undertake said favor, how much pressure I would feel. I considered if it was worth it, and if I actually had the time to do it or what I would need to give up in order to free time for that specific thing.
I also tried something new to me and gave myself a kind of time limit, like “I’m only free for this during 9 am to 11 am.” for example, I said “No” with conviction, and also did my best to not give excuses – which is always a temptation for me as I want people to understand my reasoning (but it usually backfires because it gives people wiggle room to try and help me find time, resources, etc. for what they ask of me).
I’m convinced I’m a good path, and will do my best to continue doing these things instead of auditioning for love.

As for the self-portrait? Well, I drew it this morning since I took last week off from my blog without any notice – we went on a short trip with the BF and I wanted to focus on just the two of us and sight-seeing.

draw a self-portrait

How was your holiday season? Did you manage not auditioning for love? How tough was it? Are you a natural people-pleaser, too? Did you draw a self-portrait? I’d love to see it, if so!

PS: If you’re interested in giving this a go in 2016, you can buy the 52-52 guide in the shop.

2015, December 23

Love the one you’re with

In the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, last week we were to love the one we’re with. j mentions this in the 52-52 guide thinking of encounters with people who choose to get their real-life discussions interrupted and pay more attention to their phone rather than the person they’re with. I dislike that, too. The Huffington Post has some great articles on the subject of technology overload.

So last week, I paid even more attention to not checking my phone (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) when I was with people.
On the one hand, it wasn’t too hard – at work I had a lot to do and didn’t go out to lunch, and by the time I finished work I was already exhausted. Even more so by the time we got home, past 10 pm every night so I didn’t really get the chance to think about wanting to do anything but love the one I was with.

On the other hand though it dawned on me that it’s not necessarily only when people check their phones while with someone that they don’t pay true attention to that person in their real, physical world. You could be e-mailing your friend who doesn’t reply. Or trying to share your good news over a Skype chat with someone who’s upset and can only focus on that instead of your good news. Or you could be trying to have a conversation with someone who is not listening to you only wanting to talk about themselves.
I think the latter hurts more than one simply checking their phone during your date.


The assignment for Week 51 is No Auditioning. In j’s words, “There are things you should do for love, like: be fearless, trust, get vulnerable, forgive […] but you should never have to audition for love, this week… or ever.”

The assignment for Week 52 is to Draw a Self-Portrait. “Don’t worry, this isn’t an artistic thing (necessarily), it’s more of a “what do you want to capture about you and your life RIGHT NOW” thing. It doesn’t matter if the portrait looks like you, or even if it looks like a person. Here’s what I wish for you.
1) That you are able to let go of any notion of good or bad, or right or wrong here; that, instead, you are able to dance with yourself, capture the you that maybe only you know.
2) That you draw yourself lovingly. Even if your picture is about what scares or frustrates you, draw it as a friend would – with compassion, with tenderness.”

How was your week? Did you love the one you were with? Do you think people around you are distracted by their phones? Or are they just plain uninterested?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 15

Going on an adventure

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to go on an adventure. Truth be told, I couldn’t go on just any adventure, because I stayed home in bed with a cold for four out of five days of the week, but on Saturday, I went to a Christmas Concert.

I went over to my mom’s place and helped her with some cleaning, took some lovely #25DayBookmas photos (since 99% of my books live there), we had lunch together, and then headed downtown. Somehow I haven’t seen Union Square in the evening yet as it’s all lit up, so we went by there and had a leisurely stroll through the Santa’s Village handmade fair looking at all the cute presents on display. From there, we headed to church for the Christmas Concert.

I’ve mentioned this concert before in a travel article I wrote about Christmastime here in my city. Each year I try to attend my old high school’s Christmas concert. The concert is held at the Downtown Reformed Church about a week before Christmas.

The church has recently been renovated, so the whole experience and concert was even more magical than in previous years. It was packed, just as always, and my mom and I managed to squeeze into a seat (both of us in the same seat, yes). After about twenty minutes though, we gave our seat to an older woman and remained standing for the rest of the concert.
It was on the longer side, they had a short performance by the middle school choir, the main performance by the high school choir, and a short performance by the former alumni choir who also performed a few carols together with the high school choir.

It was such a wonderful evening! A true, magical adventure. I took some pics and videos, go see on Instagram, as they’re currently at the top of my feed.

The assignment for Week 50 is to Love the One You’re With. I have to share what j says about this, as it’s something that drives me nuts, too.
“True confessions: It makes me crazy when people I’m with interrupt our conversation to engage with their cell phones. One of the reasons that I don’t have a smart phone is because I think it might turn me into someone who does that. Honestly, I don’t want to be that plugged in. I don’t want to make anyone else feel the way I’ve felt sitting across from someone in the wake of their decision that whatever is happening on their phone is more important than… well… me.
Because, don’t kid yourself. That’s the decision you’ve made when you answer your phone, or text, or check your email-Twitter-Facebook-stock-stats while someone sits across from you, waiting for you to get back to them.
This week, if it’s not an emergency, don’t do it. Pay attention to the people in your real, physical world. Watch. Listen. Choose, consciously, to love the one you’re with. They’ve showed up, after all. The least you can do is show up too.”

How was your week? Did you go on an adventure? Do you usually follow your heart and go out on your own for adventures? Or do you need a little push from family or friends to get out of your comfort zone or your daily routine?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 8

Start a Best-Thing Journal

Last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly the assignment was to start a Best-Thing Journal. So, at the end of each day, I wrote one sentence that answers the question, “What was the best thing about today?” Here’s my week, in answers:

  1. Monday – Received breakfast in bed (and also coffee, and lunch, and tea, and chocolate.)
  2. Tuesday – Spent the evening cuddling with the BF, watching our current series.
  3. Wednesday – Slept in for a bit and woke up to kitty kisses.
  4. Thursday – Found a good Secret Santa gift.
  5. Friday – Had a great time at the firm’s X-Mas Party (tried a new cocktail I never had before, Blueberry Highlife).
  6. Saturday – Had french fries for lunch, with Fajita seasoning.
  7. Sunday – Went on a road trip to visit the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara, just the two of us.

The assignment for Week 49 is to Go on an Adventure. j defines it as:
“…little adventures lead to bigger ones, and big adventures lead to new understandings, expanded horizons, accelerated upward trajectories. Evolution is all about change. It’s about leaving behind what doesn’t serve you and reaching bravely for what does. It’s not easy, but the key to personal evolution is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This week, go on an adventure. Rename your discomfort “the thrill of discovery”.”

How was your week? Did you start a best-thing journal? What do you have on it? If you haven’t written one yet, it’s not too late – not much time has passed since last Monday! Feel free to write your list below in the comments section, I’d love to see what the best things in your every day were last week!

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 2

Be openly magnificent

Last week’s assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Be Openly Magnificent.
Now, I don’t know if all I did this past week falls under the ‘magnificent’ category, but I did do my best to live my life to the fullest without trying to fit in and please everyone else. I guess I just needed the reminder to do so, because it somehow seemed easier this week. (Oh, and I wore red. I just needed to mention it here.)

One of the best moments of my week was when a friend from work said “You are so sweet with your passions” when I was telling her that I needed to stop by the post office today and mail the handmade Christmas cards I made/wrote for friends over the weekend.

On another note, I’d like to share an idea with you. I saw this last evening on Instagram, and thought is was such a cute idea! I’ll have to see how exactly I make it work, given 99% of my books are at mom’s place, but I wanna play!


Here’s what Jenny Bravo says about it:
“During the month of December, Blots & Plots is hosting #25DayBookmas on Instagram and we want YOU to share your book photos!
How to play:
1. Screenshot the above photo + share to your own Instagram account.
2. Follow the prompts daily! I’ll be sharing my photos here, and I can’t wait to see yours.
3. Upload your photos based on the prompt + tag 
#25DayBookmas! {Add other tags to up the awareness.} #tags
That’s it! Pretty easy, right? Don’t forget to share this challenge with your friends + get your photos ready! Bring on the holiday spirit! #bookstagram#igreads @blotsandplots

The assignment for Week 48 is to Start a Best-Thing Journal. Like j says:
“This week, at the end of each day, write one sentence that answers the question, “What was the best thing about today?” Even the shittiest days contain nuggets of good – the guy who held the door open for you, the seven straight green lights, the unexpected email from a friend. This week, focus on the good best stuff.”

I actually started doing something similar several months ago, but then stopped mid-“project”.
Let’s see if I can go back and pick up the habit again. It’d be interesting to read a year’s worth of best things, if only I keep to jotting them down at the end of each day.

How was your week? Were you openly magnificent? Did you sing out loud, take a different path, or buy something others wouldn’t approve of? Did it come easily to be yourself and live life the way you really want to, or did you need reminders along the way?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, November 24

Name the Moon

In the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, last week we were to Name the Moon.
I like this idea, and deliberately didn’t read the names j has come up with (which are included in the 52-52 guide) so that I got into this with fresh eyes. On the other hand, I totally stole the idea of writing my list as colorful as possible!

January:  Snowflake Moon

February: Queen of Hearts Moon

March: Snowdrops Moon

April: Kittens Moon

May: Candlelit Moon

June: Gratitude Moon

July: Lavender Moon

August: Fresh Lemonades Moon

September: Snore and Peace Moon

October: Blood-Orange Moon

November: Sweater Weather Moon

December: Mittens Moon

Back in 2011, when I created my own Seasonal Photo Challenge, I did something similar as I chose a theme for each month. They’re still up on my blog in case you’re wondering what they were.

The assignment for Week 47 is to Be Openly Magnificent. And I’ll paste here what j said about this week’s assignment, because she’s so awesome at phrasing these ideas!

“Instead of trying to fit in;
instead of making yourself small
so that other’s feel big;
instead of being quiet and polite and utterly acceptable,
be openly magnificent.
Laugh loud and belly-deep.
Be the center of attention.
Flaunt your intelligence
your humor
your absolute grasp of the situation.
Take up space. Meaningfully. Beautifully. Unapologetically.
Wear red.
Move to your own music.
Sway. Shimmy. Twirl.
Own your opinions, your mistakes, your triumphs.
Be fearlessly loving and unabashedly grateful.
This week,
live your life like you mean it.”

How was your week? Did you name the Moon? How fun did you find this exercise? Are your expectations higher for each month now?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

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