Let’s talk about 2016

What do we do with things we don’t like? We put them in the cupboard. – Doctor Who

There have been way too many moments throughout 2016 where I thought it needed to go in the cupboard. Both in my personal and professional life, I suffered heartache. I felt helpless and useless and simply put, destroyed. There were days that the outside world didn’t help this turmoil.

Yes, this year was awful in a lot of aspects.

On more than one occasion, I said that 2016 was trying to take the title of “Worst Year of My Life” away from 2006.

But here’s the thing.

It…really wasn’t.

I know. Look. I’m watching my home country essentially burn to the ground from the other side of the world. The country I’ve chosen to call home is doing some pretty…scary things on a large scale too. It’s a downright scary world right now.

I’ve had friends lose loved ones and have felt helpless with tending to their heartbreak. I’ve had loved ones leave my life when I was no longer useful to them. I’ve felt helpless on more occasions than I’d care to count.

But as a survivor, I can’t help but focus on the positives. The lessons. The silver linings. The days I made it through without a bad thought. The ability to laugh through the tears. The strength to ask for help.

2016 brought me a lot of good things too, which is why I’ve had the strength to make it this far.

I’ve got this incredible support system. My brother and his girlfriend moved out to Seattle, just a few minutes from me. After years of being single, I met a man who worked his “I hate taking pictures” self into my heart. One of my best friends brought a tiny human into this world and I got to hold him when he was just a few hours old. I took risks. I tried new things. I had my best friend of 14 years come out to Seattle for my birthday. I pushed myself to new challenges in my career. I left the country to cross the border into Canada and then flew to Bangkok.

I took risks. I tried new things. I pushed myself to new challenges in my career. I went to my first Seahawks game and cheered until I nearly lost my voice.

I drank way too much. I risked my health. I made stupid mistakes and even stupider decisions. I drank way too much coffee. I didn’t drink enough coffee. I took way too many selfies. I didn’t sleep enough. I gave into depression and slept too much.

But, the thing is, I lived. I keep living. I keep getting up every morning and even when I’m frustrated, I’m trying to create something – anything with my life.

Because my life is all I have. This is it. The good days, the bad days, the “I can’t keep going but have to” days.

I can’t control the world. I can’t control the people who choose to break my heart. I can’t prevent my heart breaking  because I can’t stop being who I am.

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason.” ― Anaïs Nin

I’m a giver. I love too hard. I’m overly anxious. I give second chances. If I have to, I’m ready to give the shirt off my back to someone who needs it, even if I need to be cold for a while.

In 2016, I learned to finally really let go. I reconnected with my past selves and remembered my strengths before I let the world get to me. I remembered that my life makes sense when I’m unapologetically being me – because no one else can live my life. No one else should tell me how I can live my life.

It’s hard. At times, it’s lonely. But this is the only life I have.

So, yeah, 2016, you were kind of an asshole. There’s no guarantee that 2017 will be any better. Hell, it might be worse.

So, it’s time to buckle up and decide: How do you want to remember your 2017? How do you want to react to the world? How will you continue to be you in a world of chaos?


Is This Thing On?

I spent an embarrassing amount of time reading through some of my older blog posts, trying to remember my own voice. That’s the funny thing about turning your passion projects into your career. You start writing and creating strategies for your clients, and next thing you know, you look up, it’s 2 years down the line and you’ve forgotten how to write a headline for your personal blog.

Where do you even begin?

Mid-conversation, as if nothing’s happened?

Do I just dump a bunch of GIFs into a post?

Maybe make a list.

10 Ways 2016 Has Sucked So Far

7 Times I Failed at Life

20 Reasons I Never Want to Move Again

3 Shows I Binge-Watch Repeatedly

30 Quirks You Hate to Love

12 Things I’m Tired of Explaining About Myself

5 People I Miss So Much, It Hurts

4 Things That Have Distracted Me Since I Began Writing This Post

Where was I?

Right. Trying to get back into writing. Blogging. Remembering my voice. Reminding myself of the reasons I love to share and how in my personal space, there’s no need for rhyme or reason. No worries about scheduling. No end goal.

The only end goal is to write.






So, I’m going to try to do that more. If you’ve been sticking around, I hope it’ll be worth it.

Oh and here’s a GIF of Tina Belcher, my hero.

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On Perspective & An Announcement

When you’ve been blogging as long as I have, it’s really easy to get caught up in comparison, competition and the popularity game. Add social media to the mix and it’s incredibly easy to go down the ugly path of insecurity and playing the numbers game.

Why am I not getting more readers? Why don’t I have sponsor opportunities? Why aren’t more people sharing my posts?

When I stopped using my pen name and had my coming out, in a sense, a few years ago, it was hard for me to balance everything. I was throwing myself into this new world of freelancing, where my name became the most important asset I had. I worked hard to gain credibility when it came to my business but my writing fell through the cracks. I was pouring my creative energy in to my clients’ websites, their campaigns and all of my writing became almost formulaic. I decided to divide up my blogging with a personal site and a business site, which was a good idea. I just didn’t execute it properly and spread myself too thin. Whenever I found the time to write on my personal blog, it was just me opening up a vein and just dumping all of the feelings I was trying to process in my life. For the turmoil-filled time in my life, it  made sense.

Somewhere along the way, I lost perspective and my voice because I was too concerned about perception. I didn’t want to mix business with personal, even though my personal passion is what fuels my business.

The World Is My Jester.

I also forgot about the things that make me happy. The parts of my life that I don’t write about as much even though it’s all a part of me. At the end of the day, I’m not just a 20-something blogger. I’m a journalist, a photographer, a writer, a fan girl, a geek, and so much more. When I wrote an impromptu post about GetGlue’s decision to get rid of their physical stickers, I felt…whole. I’m not saying that my personal blog will be a hub of pop culture updates and news, but I want to write more about the things that matter to me. I don’t want to go to other sites just to write about things that I love.

I lost sight of what has kept me writing and blogging for a decade. It’s about my perception of the world. The reason that we write isn’t always to bring something new to the table, but to share with the world from our vantage point. As individuals, we can all experience the same exact event but come away with a completely different story to share. We each bring our past experiences, our emotions and our powers of perception to the table. Those of us who choose to share our experiences, especially on a personal level, shouldn’t be afraid of our voice.

How much is too much?

I often get asked why I share such personal experiences on my blog. I actually internalize a lot of my feelings as I am going through them. I have to process them on my own, sometimes by talking things out with close friends or writing in my journal. Yes, I do write about some intensely personal topics, like my recent post about the truth behind A Distorted Dream.

The fact is, I write about the uncomfortable so the people who may stumble upon my words today or months from now can have that reminder when they need it – you’re not alone. There’s someone else who gets it. You will be OK.

I am in this for the long haul. I had a lot of time to reflect this week. It’s easy to get bogged down in comparison. I had to remind myself that my big passion isn’t sexy. It’s not pop culture. It’s something that will take nurturing and I’m in it for the long haul. So I took a deep breath, put things in perspective and got back on track.

The announcement? I am working on some big projects for 2014. I also want to keep in touch with you guys not just through this blog or social media, but via a newsletter. It will be simple. It will be bi-weekly, or even monthly, and I really hope that you will sign up for it. I know how easy it is for our mailboxes to get filled up with too many updates and newsletters, so I promise to make this as valuable for you as possible.

Just enter your email below and the first update(with the announcements for 2014) will be at the end of this month.

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The Silly Aspiring Digital Nomad Philanthropist

I want to tell you a story. I’m going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl.

These sentences began the closing argument Matthew McConaughey’s character makes at the end of A Time to Kill. It was this movie, and this closing argument that made me want to become a lawyer. I was in 6th grade. From that point forward, my life became all about law school. I wanted to go to college and for that, I would need a scholarship. So I took the SATs in 8th grade, joined the Debate team in 9th and Mock Trial in 10th. I will tell you right now that in all of the experiences I’ve had in my life so far, nothing compares to how I felt in the courtroom, even if it was for mock trial. As soon as I turned 16, I got my first job as a cashier at KMart, working my way up to the Customer Service Desk in 6 months.

Because I didn’t know how to quit back then.

I loved helping people. Thus began my career in retail – between the ages of 16 and 19, I worked in customer service before I transitioned into law firms, sometimes working 2 jobs at a time while going to school full-time. My first full-time job was working as an office manager at a legal recruiting firm (I stayed there for 2 years). In the meantime, I was always writing but I still had my heart set on law school. It was my dream.  It wasn’t until I got my first communications job at a trade association and met the man I would consider my mentor that I even considered a career involving communications and writing.

My boss at that job was the one who convinced me to add on Journalism as a minor. He was the one that encouraged my writing while I was still using a pen name and if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have in my career now.

Losing that job and taking the leap to becoming a full-time freelancer was the best thing that happened to me. It was at this point when I had to figure out what my future looked like because law school was no longer a viable option. At least not on this path.

I won’t give you a play by play of my resume. You can find that on my LinkedIn. I also won’t tell you the story of how I became a community builder. You can read that here.

Instead, I want to remind you to do what you love, not just what you can.

In school, I was really good at math. I don’t know why, but it just clicked. I wasn’t passionate about math. I didn’t go above and beyond what was required of me. Up until my senior year in high school, it was just something I was good at so I got the good grades and somehow made it to AP Calculus. It may have made sense for me to continue on a math-related path in college but I didn’t love it.

When it came to history, English, and Psychology, however, I went above and beyond. Maybe it was that English is my second language but I had to spend extra time on my assignments but I didn’t mind it one bit. I fell in love with Psychology so much, I started a Psychology Club in my high school. It didn’t click as easily as math did for me but spending that extra time made me fall even more in love with it.

This has translated into my career as well.

When you hate your job, the quality of your life also diminishes.

do what you loveIf you’ve known me for even five minutes, it’ll become obvious that writing is my passion. I’m not just talking about blogging but writing. Researching articles. Doing journalistic pieces. Op-ed pieces.

It always comes back to writing and making a difference. I don’t want to just write fluff pieces. I want to talk about things that matter. I want to shake things up. I want to make a difference with my words. 

This is the common thread and this is the underlying passion that steered me toward becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business. No matter where life has taken me, I’ve had a passion for a tiny project I started back in 2006. It has been fueling the fire in my heart, keeping me going non-stop, even through depression and unemployment. I will continue to fail and make mistakes. I’ll take detours on my career. I will have to take on projects to make ends meet that may bore me to tears at times.

But mark my words – I will never lose sight of my destination because my life just doesn’t make sense when I’m not writing.

So how do all of these pieces fit together? How does a writer who once wanted to be a lawyer, wants to travel the world and make a difference with her words find a career that makes sense?

Well, she creates it, of course.

That’s why I’m an aspiring digital nomad philanthropist. That may seem like a silly title now but give me another 18 months and all the pieces will fall into place. (Update: I pulled the trigger on the big project that’s been driving me for the last 7 years. Check it out)

Who knows? In 10 years, I’ll probably talking about getting into law school and starting my first day of class.

Haven’t you heard? I’m kind of an overachiever.


Inspired by this prompt from Laura: You are not your resume; you are a collective of your life/work experience combined. If you were to look at all the jobs you’ve had, the hobbies, the things you choose to do, and what excites you the most, what’s that common thread that weaves all of those things together? Who are you at your core? What is it that you can’t, not do?

‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer

2 years ago, I wrote this post on the biggest lesson I’ve learned about being a grown-up. In the post, I talked about how being on the road is what helps me feels centered when I’m losing control and the chaos of my life takes over my calm. When Laura sent us the prompt about what kind of traveler I turn into, that post was the first thing that popped in my head. Then I started to really think about the question. See, I’m kind of the odd man out in my family. I dream too big, I care too much and I just can’t quite fit in. I’m also the memory keeper. From Turkey to DC to Seattle, I’ve kept all of the pictures for my family. I don’t mean just of my lifetime. I have my dad’s high school diploma, my mom’s pictures from when she was a teenager and black & white pictures of relatives I can’t name because they passed away years before my parents even met.

When I unpacked my suitcase from my east coast trip last week, I noticed that one of the zippered compartments of my suitcase was a little bulky. I couldn’t remember packing anything in there but I unzipped it to find a stack of letters from when I was 9, before we moved to the US. My best childhood friend and I sent each other letters when my family and I moved to a different city in Turkey. The wave of nostalgia that hit me was too great to handle, but it got me thinking about what life looks like for me on the road.

I’ve been doing a lot more traveling in the last few years. I do take a lot of pictures but I also experience the moment. Whether it’s my first time going to a new place or it’s somewhere I’ve been countless times, every experience is a new opportunity for me to notice different nuances of that particular location. Even if nothing in the landscape has changed, there is always something different.

Because I’m different.

Every time.

So I explore. I observe. I take it all in. I take pictures when I can but I also try to experience the moment, not through the lens of my camera but my own two eyes. I smile at strangers. I take deep breaths. I take out my headphones and listen to the moment instead of my music.

I turn into a tourist. Even in a city where I spent a majority of my life, if I’m in the mood, I become a tourist.

*Playing tourist in front of the White House*

I wander.

The thing is, I’m a hopeless romantic and by extension, I’m a hopeless wanderer.

And I travel to remember – who I was, who I am, and who I am going to become as I continue on my journey.

I don’t call myself an aspiring digital nomad for shits and giggles. I want to wander into as many corners of the world as possible in my lifetime – observing, experiencing, and when appropriate, being a tourist.


Inspired by this prompt from LauraSome people travel to relax; some travel to remember. Some reinvent themselves into entirely new people when they travel. What kind of traveler do you turn into and what does life look like for you on the road?

Letting Love Win

Love is the child of an endless war
Love is an open wound still raw
Love is a shameless banner unfurled
Love’s an explosion,
Love is the fire of the world
Love is a violent star
A tide of destruction
Love is an angry scar
A violation, a mutilation, capitulation

Love is annihilation.

–“Inside” (Sting & Police)

I wrote a blog a few years ago on love and what it means to me. I began by saying that romantic love is merely a form of love, and went on to list a few of the other things that love means to me. I could list everything on that list (which has grown) but at the end of the day, it boils down to this:

Life is love.

When you can look past your prejudices, your materialistic values, the popular opinion, the selfish motives, the insecurities, you will see that life is love. Being able to breathe is reason enough to love life and be thankful but we take that for granted. We sometimes take ourselves for granted. Some of us hold ourselves too high and take the rest of the world granted. Some of us don’t even know that true love is so close that we go out looking for it in places it doesn’t exist. We are so afraid that we’ll go our whole life without finding “true” love that we step over the real love that’s around us.

“You wear your emotions on your whole shirt, not just the sleeve.” – How one of my good friends summed me up a few weeks ago.

I’m a hopeless romantic. The bottom line is that no matter how much it may hurt, and how vulnerable it makes me feel, I choose to let love win and it’s a big part of the foundation of who I am. Every decision I make is an end result of letting love win. Whether it’s a love of writing, love of laughter, love of friendship, love of books, love of being a dork, love of love, my life and heart revolve around letting love win.

At the end of the day, my love of life has me going forward every day, even if I feel like I can’t take any more disappointment, because tomorrow always comes.

Have I stumbled? Of course. Has my heart been broken? Naturally.

Do I regret any of my decisions?

Absolutely not.


Inspired by this prompt from Laura Love is a gigantic word that’s definition and how we use it has evolved over time. There is family love, life partner love, BFF-always-and-forever love, and OMG-I-loooooovvvvveeeeee-that love. Tell me a love story about one version of “love”–what it represents, what it means, and how you use it (or don’t).

The Only True Competition Is With Myself

I woke up this morning with the realization that I’ve been doing myself a great injustice and it’s been two-fold. The reason it took me so long to realize this is because I’ve been trying to deal with the fact that my plans got a little derailed and I am currently not in Seattle (but the move is not off). I’ve been having a lot of negative feelings, which I then feel guilty for and so goes the cycle.

On to my realizations.

I’ve been subconsciously waiting for approval/recognition for my personal accomplishments without giving myself the opportunity to feel proud.

A lot has changed in my life over the past few years and I’ve been taking a lot of steps forward even if I stumble a little bit. I haven’t taken huge leaps and bounds. I have a tendency to keep quiet and I highlight my failures more than my accomplishments at times. I also highlight my friends’ and colleagues’ accomplishments because I genuinely feel proud of them. This is probably why I woke up with the realization this morning that I’ve been waiting on some kind of arbitrary recognition of my small victories. Not because I’ve been boasting them but because although I give without expecting anything in return, sometimes it gets a little lonely.

I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of explaining this.

The fact is that I haven’t given myself an opportunity to stop and feel proud, even for a moment, because I don’t recognize my own accomplishments. They’re not major. Hell, I haven’t reached any of my major goals but the thing is, I don’t give up. Every day, I wake up and do a little bit to keep moving forward. The thing is, no one is here with me to see how hard it is for me to even get out of bed sometimes. Or even turn on the computer and stare at that blank screen while waiting for inspiration to hit. I don’t even really do the small talk with friends on GChat anymore, which used to be my way of being connected. I did something similar to this when I got fired. Because I feel like my life is in limbo and I have nothing new to provide to the world, I keep it all to myself.

Yet I still wait for some kind of recognition for how far I’ve come, even in the last year.

I think we all do this on some level, but some of us are better at getting over it than others.

Which brings me to my next realization.

I have been competing with everyone else in the world, but not just those who have accomplished more than me.

I have been comparing myself to other freelancers, solopreneurs, bloggers, entrepreneurs – you name it, I’ve compared myself to them. That’s natural, at least in my case, because I’m an overachiever. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do but in the last couple of years, I have learned that it’s OK to slow down and I don’t have to have everything perfectly figured out.

On the flip side, I’ve been slowing myself too much and downplaying the moments I should feel proud because I didn’t want it to seem like I’m bragging. Because, you guys, despite all the bullshit, there have been great things happening in my life. My hard work has been paying off but is it fair of me to keep that to myself because I don’t want others to feel bad?

I’m not saying I’m going to brag, but I have been in competition with the entire world, when I should just be in competition with myself.

The only fair measurement of my success is against my own failures and how I’ve handled what life has thrown at me.

I have been spending so much time trying to mold my words to make everyone else happy that I’ve forgotten my voice.

At the end of the day, I’m left with my doubts and failures. I need to learn to put my accomplishments and dreams next to those, and remember that it’s my passion that’s brought me this far in my life.

So it’s time for me to slow down and block out all the noise.

It’s time for me to start being fair to myself, rediscover my passionate voice, and share it with the world (again).

Vampires, Mockingjays, Writers, and Giveaways

When I first heard about Vampire Diaries, I cringed. I said “Hahaha, no” because, let’s be honest: We’ve all been a little scarred about vampires in today’s pop culture thanks to a sparkling, brooding one we all know and hate.

Then it was on Netflix. As someone who works from home and needs background noise during the day, I figured, why not? It’d play on the background and I wouldn’t have to pay attention because I’d probably end up hating it anyway.

I really should know better.

I finished the first two seasons in 5ish days. Because that’s how I do shows. I marathon, I obsess and then if the show is no longer on the air, go through withdrawals. Lucky for me, there’s a new episode of Vampire Diaries tonight because I need my Damon fix.

Speaking of obsessions, did you guys know that Hunger Games movie is coming out? I mean, in case you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know. And if you’re on any of my social networks, you’re also aware of my obsession.

I have never gone to a midnight screening of a movie.


You bet your sweet ass that I will be buying my tickets early and going to the midnight show for this movie, because, I’m a little obsessed.

I even have a “May the odds be ever in your favor” bracelet.

I will, more than likely, read the books again before the movie comes out.

In case you missed it, there’s a new trailer for it.

Moving on, I have two announcements:

1) If you’re a freelance writer looking for work, or know of someone who’s looking for work, I need a few great writers for a few of my clients. All the information can be found in this post.

2) I have an AWESOME giveaway for you guys on Monday. Get ready because you’re going to love it.

I know I’ve been MIA lately but what’s going on in your world?  How did the first month of 2012 treat ya? 

Because I’m a lady, assface.

Honestly, I started writing this blog because putting up another Facebook status today would’ve been over the limit. Apparently, I have a lot of thoughts and words and ALL THE THINGS in my head lately.

Instead, I do things like pin wedding stuff, and funny pictures and then go back and look at them when I need a laugh. This leads the people around me to look at me all funny because I’m giggling uncontrollably.

Clearly, being a businesswoman has done wonders for me.

I have opinions. Lots of them. There is so much I want to write but then I start writing, and then all the thoughts go OUT OF MY HEAD, hiding under stress and anxiety.

When I tell a couple of friends about my big, huge project that is my baby and I can’t talk about it so I don’t jinx it, it’s a surprise to them that I’m all about advocacy. Because I haven’t been vocal about it for a couple of years.

Advocacy? Raising awareness? Starting a non-profit and working on campaigns? I want to do all these things.

In addition to having a business that’s all about community building, social media and writing. Yes, I can combine all of this but HOW to combine it is the question. Then I come up with a great idea for a project, and have trouble getting it off the ground because I can’t come up with a creative name for the community. So I resort to having a contest with a prize at the end to give people some kind of motivation to help.

I know that starting a new business is stressful. I know this. I knew this coming in but sometimes, I feel like I’m running in place. I’m kind of an overachiever. This will all be revealed in my e-book, once I actually finish it. Oh yes, add that to the list of projects I’m working on at this very moment.

I love my life.

I feel like I should reiterate that because I know it seems like I’m complaining. I’m not.

I’m scared. Scared to the point where I’m having mini-breakdowns and word-vomiting all over Andrew.

I’ve been afraid to really step out of my shell. In the world of f*cking gurus, ninjas and mavens, I feel like anything I say will get lost. I’m not any of those things. I’m just a passionate person with a lot of actually GOOD ideas who’s afraid of execution.

Maybe that’s a consequence of living in DC where it’s full of nonprofits, social media (I really love my community here) and digital professionals who are all doing the same thing.

Or maybe it’s just that between losing my job, taking on challenges and still working on my Bachelor’s, I’ve become more timid than I was 4 years ago, which is oddly ironic and hilarious.

It could also be that I have a ton more to lose now than I did back then.

Whatever I end up doing, I’ll always have my sense of humor and my passionately curious attitude which just leads to trouble.

Lack of Words (I need your help)

Lately, I’ve felt like I’m having trouble with words, especially small talk. I’m on GChat all day but I hardly talk to anyone, not even my best friends.

It’s that words escape me lately, which is shocking, I know.It’s not that I’m trying to be anti-social.

There are a few factors that go into this: The stress of adjusting to starting a business, running around, not knowing what to say when my friends are going through a hard time…

But the biggest factor is that I haven’t been reading.

I’ve been blogging for the past 8 years, so it’s normal that I run out of things to blog about at times (I mean, really, my life isn’t that interesting)

I’ve found that when I’m dealing with stress, I really withdraw. That includes reading blogs. Granted, my Google Reader is out of control but one of the things that had me fall in love with blogging was the community aspect of it.

So, I’m getting back to my roots. I will be dedicating at least one hour everyday to reading others’ blogs and commenting.

I miss my community. I miss the interaction. Now, more than ever, I need to get it back.

So help me get a jump-start.

1) If you blog, link me to your latest blog post.
2) Recommend another blog post for me to read.

Also, I’ve been trying to be more interactive on my Facebook page so if you haven’t already, please like PQ Productionson Facebook.

Thanks loves and happy Monday, especially to those with a short work week 🙂