Desert Wonderland

I've spent a lot of the last year or so in unstable situations. Nothing has ever been dangerous, and for that I'm grateful, but for someone who works very hard to plan, strategize, and improve things constantly, instability is incredibly hard to deal with. I spend a lot of time working with the assumption that I can fix things, because in most cases, I don't really know how to move forward without that mindset. Sometimes though, you are in a situation with no real path to improving it.  Some chapters are about getting through them, not about how much you can make out of them. Some problems don't get solved, they just fade out on their own time. Some problems don't get solved because they're not problems-- they're conditions.

Learning to grow through acceptance and release is an ongoing thread for me. It is my favorite and least favorite lesson to learn. I am finite, my resources are limited, my situation is bigger than me. Not everything is in my hands.

Maybe it's my Aries sun that insists on immediate action combining with my Libra moon that constantly ponders balance and betterment. Maybe it's my anxiety disorder that demands some way to control a chaotic world. Maybe it's how incredibly fortunate I am to believe in myself and my ability to find some way to make things better. Most of the time I find solutions, but when things are truly out of my control, I have to step back from these impulses, because they only lead to frustration.

When I am faced with a difficult, long-term-- or unknowable-term-- situation, I meditate on nature. The planet is passionless and amoral. It is detached from assumption. It thrives or wastes away in exact accordance with the natural laws (when humans let it). I think about the ways in which my life mirrors nature, and how I cannot fight that, but I can find beauty in it.

Situations that are inhospitable to me are not necessarily desolate.

When this photograph was taken I was in a Botanical Garden with a friend and former colleague of mine. The things you see in the tropical room are very different than what you encounter in the desert room, but they are both teeming with their own unique forms of beauty. Each ecosystem isn't built to support everything, but they each support wonderful, different things. I've had so many reversals in the past year.

Sometimes life is a rainforest, teaming with greenery and an overwhelming amount of energy and growth all around you. And sometimes life is a hot, dry desert.

I often find myself contemplating what it means to be more like a cactus. How do I learn to store the things that give me life when it replenishes so intermittently? What spines must I grow to protect myself in difficult times? How do I create a sense of contentment in an arid situation? Where are the opportunities to find beauty and wonder in my own brittle and cracked geography? How can I learn to appreciate the strange and uncomfortable situations life can put me in, the way I appreciate this beautiful desert wonderland tucked away in Brooklyn?

I cannot control the climate of my life. At a certain point, things just are the way they are. When I cannot create anything more, when I cannot change the circumstance, when I must sit and wait for a dry season to pass, I consider the cacti. It is not always my time to thrive, but at the very least I can remind myself that nature isn't only beautiful in the lush, but also in its ability to endure.

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March Small Goals

Spring is so close and it's got me excited for the next round of small goals for Feel Good Dress Better's small goals round up! (Feel Good Dress Better was formerly known as Writes Like A Girl.) March represents my last month of being 24, and as I head toward the very exciting milestone of being 25, I'm definitely thinking about big goals, too. But for now, let's focus on small goals.

Last month's goals:

Clean out my stationery collection and bookshelves. Done. I need to reship my stationery to my friend Irais-- they got returned to me due to a change in shipping rules so now I've gotta repack them at a post office.
Send some nice letters to friends. Mission accomplished. I sent some letters to some buds for Valentine's Day. I didn't get to send all of them on time though and I really fell behind on correspondence. Hoping to catch back up in the coming months.

Drink more water. I'm going to call this one a partial loss. I had good days and bad days on this. I want to have a really good month on this.

Keep my workspace tidy. I've done much better on this this month. I've not fallen into the pattern of just dumping things on my desk and I got rid of a lot of things I'd been avoiding dealing with.

And now for this month's small goals! March is meditation and spring cleaning time for me. It's ramping up to my birthday and I'm also anticipating a move in June, so it's a great time to take stock and get rid of unnecessary things and make room for more wonderful blessings.

Bring out my spring wardrobe and get rid of things that don't fit. As a yo-yoer-- and I mean that not literally, but as someone whose weight tends to fluctuate-- I have a constant struggle with my wardrobe in that I have clothes in a wide range of sizes, because the size I am changes all the time. I think I need to make space in my wardrobe for pieces that work better for my needs.

Drink more water. I've gotta clear my skin up (and also take care of the rest of my body). That means I've gotta hydrate much better.

Plan goals for 25. I don't usually do a birthday goals thing, but turning 25 seems momentous enough that I oughta do something a little extra. What do I want to do at 25? I'm not sure yet. But I don't want to squander it.

Put out some Philadelphia Flower Show content. I go every year and this year is no different. Follow along with me on Instagram @harperyi and stay tuned for photos and maybe even a video.

Don't forget to join me and other fun bloggers at Feel Good Dress Better's small goals round up!

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If you are an absolute dork like me, you might enjoy this game that teaches you about why malls are disappearing all over America. (Why am I like this??)

One of my favorite bands, The Wombats, released their new album and I love it. Favorite tracks at the moment are Turn and Dip You in Honey.

Speaking of music, Janelle Monae's "Make Me Feel" is everything. As she says about the song and her sexuality for The Guardian, "You don't own or control me."

This profile of Donald Glover is super fascinating.

Every year I go to the Philadelphia Flower Show! I totally recommend it as a lovely little day trip.

I love this interview with fashion designer Christian Siriano, who among many other successes is a vocal supporter of fashion for all shapes and sizes.

Julia at The Gothic Library posted a really lovely round up of Black American authors who've contributed to Gothic Literature. Like many western literary forms, most people tend to think of white (often male and European) auteurs when thinking about gothic literature and in classic well-researched Julia-style (not to be confused with Julia Stiles) The Gothic Library brings to light some of the amazing Black American contributors to gothic literature!

Black Panther is absolutely incredible and you need to see it. The movie is doing so well that Disney is donating money to the Boy & Girls Club of America to open a STEM center in Compton!

This video of a father getting followed around by a confetti cannon is the funniest thing I've seen all week. (Swearing audio so opt for headphones if necessary.)

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February Small Goals

Another month another small goals round up with Writes Like A Girl! I've fallen behind again, but I don't feel too terribly about missing a month. It's really easy to put aside small goals in favor of a big goal. In January I had several things I needed to do and they included the following:

Finish up my professional website. That's right, folks, I officially have two websites about me. While this site is and will continue to be more of a lifestyle / personal blog, I'm really excited to unveil a website that is specifically about me as a professional. is where you can learn all about me and see my portfolio and testimonials about my work. I designed the whole thing myself on squarespace-- and it's really making me consider moving this site over from blogger as well.

Got a hair cut. I hadn't cut my hair since the summer, and I was very overdue. My hair grows incredibly fast and they ended up lopping off at least 5 inches. I think it looks great!

Get out more with friends and blow off steam. My new gig has me working mostly from home, and while I love my space, it can make me a little stir crazy. I went out at least once a week last month for a social something and was really proud of myself for getting out of the house. I've been grabbing coffees, dinners, lunches, and even going to a few parties at bars (very rare for me!) so I am really patting myself on the back for this one. I spent so many months having no energy or spirit with which to socialize and I forgot how rewarding it is to spend time with friends.

I did a lot last month! I'm really excited for February because I think this is the month I finally finish recuperating from 2017 and move into the blessings of 2018. The 16th also marks the Lunar New Year, which will signal the end of my bad luck year! And boy oh boy, this girl cannot wait for her bad luck year to end. Here are my small goals for this month.

Clean out my stationery collection and bookshelves. I'm moving in May/June and I don't want to have to evaluate all my things as I pack. I have so much stationery that I love but a lot of it I have kept for years without using, and I should probably give those things away. I also have a ton of books, and at a certain point, I should probably resell or gift them. (If anyone is interested in at least $35 worth of stationery at the price of $10 + $5 shipping, let me know and I will send it to you!)

Send some nice letters to friends. It's Valentine's Day season! I have a lot of wonderful people in my life that I am super thankful for, and I want to be sure to send them some love.

Drink more water. I've really been slacking on drinking water and my skin is absolutely throwing a fit over it. I have to make a better effort!

Keep my work space tidy. I'm stealing this one from Nicole because honestly, same. I dump things onto my desk regularly and slowly but surely it becomes a mess. I'm going to do better about this. Clearing out my bookshelves should help!

I'm linking up at Writes Like A Girl-- be sure to check it out and join yourself it you're so inclined!

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Resolutions 2018

Resolutions fell to the wayside for the most part this year, and I don't think that's a bad thing. 2017 was a difficult year, and survival and finding a way to endure everything superceded other wishes. This year, 2018, I want to try to focus on a couple things, and hopefully their broadness will help me focus on them, and the lack of commitment to one plan will give me the flexibility I need to stay on them, even when my life changes.

If 2016 and 2017 were about survival and strength, 2018 is going to be about sunshine. To me that means getting healthier and making time for music.

Health & Fitness. I've really been slacking on my health for a while, putting work first. Now that I'm back in therapy, I feel a lot better mentally, and I think that was a key piece in health/fitness motivation I was really lacking. I'm hoping to keep up with therapy and other doctor's appointments this year, as well as get back to working out. I really do need to just make that a part of my life-- it hasn't really been a regular part of my life since I stopped Taekwondo to focus on school. Making being healthy part of my life is going to make it much easier for me to be happy and do the things I want to do. Here's what I'm hoping to do to stay healthy this year:
  • Keep going to therapy.
  • Stay on top of doctors appointments.
  • Go to the gym at least twice a week.
  • Get a classpass? 
  • Start practicing martial arts again.
Music. I really miss music, y'all. I used to sing regularly and even did a couple musicals in school and now I rarely have occasion to sing. Practicing music improves my mood and makes me less anxious. Moreover, I can feel and hear how much skill I've lost since I was in choir and I want to build those skills back up again. Here's what I'm going to do to get back in the swing of things:
  • Sing every day. No excuses.
  • Do vocal warm ups while walking around the house or running errands. 
  • Try to learn more songs. None of this "I only know the chorus" BS.
  • Practice ukulele at least once a month.
  • Find an occasion to perform at least once this year.
What are your goals for 2018?

Check out Writes Like A Girl's New Year Intentions link up for more bloggers' goals for 2018.

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