The clash of thunder shook me from my slumber and triggered my fight or flight response. Throwing off the covers and bouncing out of bed, putting on my boots, to run outside and remove the seat cushions from our outdoor furniture. A totally natural reaction upon hearing a thunderstorm in the middle of the night – right? Our outdoor furniture has become very important to me this year.
Pandemic party planner wasn’t a skill I was expecting to learn in 2020, but here we are and I feel like Christmas was my graduation show. CDC guidelines pushed my inner host to think in new ways and a spacious suburban backyard made distancing logistics easier. Seriously, just feel incredibly lucky and grateful that my family unit/cohort of eight were able to gather safely during this time. I have two nieces and a nephew of varying ages under 12, and I know the pandemic is going to mark their psyches. Eventually, as they grow older, the childhood trauma will manifest in some weird way like needing to have a linen closet stuffed with toilet paper in order to feel a sense of calm…or maybe nothing at all. Anyways, I wanted to influence their memories of this weird year positively and thus I became a pandemic party planner.
Back in July, I wrote down “plan a perfect pandemic backyard Christmas” in my agenda as an action item. A few ideas scribbled under the bulleted task to set me in a direction. Most of those initial scribbles didn’t come into fruition, but what did materialize achieved the desired objective – make positive memories for my nieces and nephew.
Below is a before and after of the backyard’s transformation from drab to Christmas fab!
Make children have to complete a Survivor-style obstacle course in order to open their presents. For a festive flare call the obstacle course portion of the party, Reindeer Games.
Also, since 2020 will likely be the last year my husband and I live with my mom, I wanted to display all the decorations we had and make the season special. The hodgepodge of items creating our own little Christmas aesthetic – rooted in tradition, textiles, collections, and a bit of resourcefulness. A tour of our aesthetic can be found on IGTV, or maybe that’s why you’re here in the first place – well, if so, thank you for checking out my backyard transformation.
It’s day 15 of Vlogmas and I’m feeling some burnout. This has been a busy holiday season. One weekend, I was even uploading videos while driving to different holiday gatherings. But, I feel like I have no idea how to make my day to day interesting – am I too self-aware? Perhaps. I’m looking forward to 2017 when I’ll be posting regularly on my channel, but it’s not my day-to-day. This year, I really committed to YouTube in a new way, I attempted to create series and a regular upload schedule. I improved in my editing and hit 100 subscribers!
Last year, I learned a lot about myself while doing Vlogmas. This year, I’m not coming across very many revelations. I’m sort of bopping along making videos, trying to create better stories. Test out different editing techniques. No real direction. Well, not until next year. After Vlogmas will be my time to really stretch my wings and see what I can bring to the platform.
It’s a question I struggle with a lot, what’s YOUR take away? Yes, YOU! The reader, viewer, follower – what do you take away from seeing what I’m thinking, writing, posting, sharing. Let’s just say, I feel like I finally know who I am on the internet, now I just have to make sure you’re happy with the relationship. Although, like even in romantic relationships, please DO NOT make me responsible for your happiness.
Anyways, if you wanted to know how my December has been going – here you go!
I’ve been consistently uploading to YouTube for a year now. I had dabbled in it before, but this was the year I really wanted to make it an active hobby in my life. But, I never committed to a regular upload schedule either. So, I’d periodically throw up a vlog or two and then get distracted by life. So, this month I decided to join in a festive YouTube activity called Vlogmas, where a person vlogs or records a video diary every day till Christmas. It’s a demanding, time-consuming project that I felt inspired to participate in. Surprisingly, I learned a lot about myself while doing it and I wanted to share my lessons with you.
My first vlogmas video was a double whammy of eye-opening revelations, the first being the audio comma. I can’t explain the sheer embarrassment one feels when editing themselves, but imagine it’s like salt to a wound when you’re editing “likes”, “you knows”, and “uhs”. I cringed hearing myself sound like a teenage girl. I noticed I’d use the above phrases as breaks between thoughts, instead of just being silent. Giving my voice a break, a pause. Those words are my audio commas, paragraphs, and triple periods. While I continued to vlog throughout the month I allowed myself to pause between thoughts. Embrace the silence between one idea and the other. Not only was this easier for editing later, but I felt more eloquent and confident with my speech pattern.
The second lesson I learned after vlogmas day one was, I’m pretty confident. The first day I vlogged, I didn’t do my hair or makeup and was in workout clothes all day. It was a go day, where I basically went from bed to my home office and never took a break in between. When I went to edit the video at night, I looked at my crazy hair and acne scarred face with tinge of disgust, but mostly a heart full of forgiveness. You have to understand, growing up I had a lot of negative self-talk and self-hatred for my looks. So, being able to not only see myself disheveled but then having the confidence to share it with the internet, shows how far I’ve come as a person. I know I’m more than my appearance. Although, doing Vlogmas gave me a reason to dress up and play with my makeup. I had fun getting ready for the day! Since I knew I’d be recording myself and my appearance would be shared, it forced me to not look like the work from home cliché. I want to continue dressing up and having fun with my style, so I have another idea in the works to hold myself accountable…more on that later. But whether I’m a mess or polished to a T, I’m awesome and I love me!
The beauty about vlogging, is you’re the editor of your own reality show. We aren’t all Miss Congeniality 100% of the time and where reality stars get painted as villains because of a producer’s desire to get ratings; I can remove the scene where my ‘bitch’ came out. In Vlogmas Day 3; Bowerbird and I went down to San Diego. We had an amazing time and the ‘scene’ I’m referencing was no more than a minute long and I had to remind Bowerbird of it the next day when I apologized. The scene: I had put my camera on record as we were in front of a hotel we had stayed at previously. Bowerbird had remarked how he would love to get breakfast at this restaurant we went to the last time we were in San Diego and I flippantly replied, “yeah, but we’re not spending the night here.” Even typing it I’m ashamed of myself. I wasn’t even listening to him because I was more focused on what I wanted to say, what I wanted to record. When I saw that clip my heart sank, it was a harsh mirror being held up to my character flaw. When Bowerbird came home from work that night I apologized and since then have made more of an effort to actually listen to him.
FIND THE SPARKLE
NEWS FLASH, most days are boring. Even during the most festive and fun time of year, the day to day is still the day to day. I struggled from Vlogmas Day 13 to Day 18 to find anything interesting about my day; but I vlogged and I did my best. It made me appreciate the little things, like a coffee run on a beautiful day or getting to watch the Walking Dead with Bowerbird. Although not every day is interesting, there is something interesting about your day; especially if paired with the right music. I also went through an emotional rollercoaster this month. I found out an acquaintance from my past had passed away, someone I was rooting for as I followed him on social media. And Bowerbird received some difficult news, that I knew couldn’t make better. With both incidents the world just turned gray, but I tried to find the sparkle in our day anyways. Because as long as there is air in my lungs and the opportunity to find joy, I’ll try to find the sparkle.
YOU CAN DO IT (IN A TIMELY MANNER)
I’m not a quitter, but it can take me FOREVER to finish something. I don’t walk away until I know something is done/over. The difficulty of a project or activity or career path never scares me, because I have this sense it will all happen in due time. As long as I keep at it. This is wonderfully optimistic, but completely inefficient. I have been doing the same 8-week fitness app for 12 months. It’s improved my stamina, I can now jog for 20 minutes, but I haven’t completed it yet. I don’t have enough appendages on me to count the amount of ‘pending’ projects I have to post/edit/create. So, when I did Vlogmas and completed it in a timely manner – that’s a huge win for me. Admittedly, I did get behind there for a while, because I still have a job and I got sick; but I did it and it’s all done. My dedication to Vlogmas and making it a priority helped me to realize how I could use my time. It showed me I’m capable of sticking to a more regimented schedule and I won’t always let myself down when it comes to my own projects. I’m an awesome employee because I have someone to answer to, when I answer to myself I let myself down. Here’s to 2016 being different and treating myself more like a boss!
I can’t promise I’ll do Vlogmas next year, but I’d really like too. Plus, since I was posting consistently I was actually receiving comments and had fun replying back. My goal was to get 100 subscribers by the new year. I don’t know how that will happen, but hopefully I’ll have 100 by the end of January.