New Year Check - In

It’s been quite a few weeks, and for that I apologize. There’s been a lot going on, on my end. There was a long hard January, a February that went by in a blink, and a March that was intense. I’m tired and I need a long nap. How was your beginning of the year? Like I said, mine was…hard. 

It always feel like there’s a lot of pressure at the beginning of the year. Pressure to figure your resolutions, pressure to stick to them, pressure to start over, be a better person, etc etc. It just feels - hard. Starting over is hard and don't let anyone tell you it isn't. It can be beautiful and it can be liberating, but it's really fucking difficult. That being said - how did everyone do with their resolutions? Are you still working on them, or have you forgotten about them now that it's almost April and Spring has sprung?

My resolutions felt simple enough (http://www.lambertraa.com/blog/2019/1/3/new-year) - but I've already "failed" at them. I don’t really think you can fail at emotionally and spiritual growth, but I haven’t done what I set out to do. 

First of all - I underestimated how difficult it would be to start a new role at work. It was hard, really hard. I felt a lot of imposter syndrome and was overwhelmed for WEEKS. I came home tired every day, feeling like my brain had been fried by new information and new processes. I switched to an entirely different team and had to get to know new people and let new people get to know me. It was a lot. 

Secondly, one of the relationships I wanted to work on took a hiatus. It was absolutely for the best, but it was definitely hard to face and it was painful. 

With all of this going on my mental health started to suffer. I was tired and confused an emotionally overwhelmed. It rained for nearly a month straight. I had to spend over $1,000 in one weekend, because the DMV wrongfully impounded my car. That's enough to make anyone feel a little bananas. 

When I was almost feeling right side up from all of this, there was a death in my family. My estranged father died and that was far more difficult than I ever thought it would have been. 

Like I said, it was a hard few months and this year certainly didn't start the way that I wanted it to. However, I'm not letting it get me down. There are a lot of cultures that believe that the year really begins in the Spring, and this time I'm using that to my advantage and starting new now.

During all of the percieved doom and gloom of the end of winter, I experienced something interesting. My mom and I were taking a walk on our local pier; it was a Sunday and it was one of the few days where it wasn't raining. It was nearing sunset and there were a few fisherman out. We stopped to talk to one, he said that his day had been nice, but he hadn't caught any big fish, only a small one. The small fish he had caught was taking up all of the room in the cooler he had brought - it was a personal cooler, the kind you can pack a nice lunch in, but not much bigger than that. As we finished talking to him and walked away my mom and I mused, "Well, no wonder he only caught small fish - if he had caught a big one, he'd have no where to put it-" We stopped and looked at each other in the same moment. Is the size of your cooler limiting the size of your fish? Something to think about.

Until next time. xo.

Fashion Icon Batman's Vicki Vale (1989)

I’m overdue for a mushy ass feelings post, but I’m not really in the mood for that right now. What I want to talk about is one of my favorite fictional fashion icons.

First of all, we need to establish that the best Batman movie ever made is the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, followed very closely by Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. And none of the other films count (except for maybe the Adam West one, but I’m mostly throwing much-deserved shade at Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan). Now, while discussing the Batman of the early ‘90’s, we all know that Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle was a whole ass mood. Just look at her. That scene when she transforms into Catwoman? ICONIC. YOUR FAVE COULD NEVER. It’s a goth girl’s dream.

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HOWEVER - Kim Bassinger as Vicki Vale is a fucking unsung, underrated hero and a vibe I’ve definitely noticed myself riding recently (if not my whole life). The oversized glasses. The muted and limited color palette. The long sleek hair. The HAT. There’s a timeless simplicity and je ne sais quoi - even if her looks are firmly placed in the late ‘80’s. Honestly, you could update that blue dress to a body con structure, and tweak the white party dress and then EVERY LOOK would work today. Not only is her look fashionable, it’s functional. She looks great, but really she’s here to photograph large bats and you better not get in her way. Speaking of goth girl dreams - homegirl devoted her work to large bats, dead folks, and the macabre. Vicki Vale is a major ass vibe.

That feelings ass post is coming soon. Promise. Until next time.

Bienvenue, 2019.

For what it’s worth... it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

The kisses have been kissed, the champagne has been drunk, the hangovers have been nursed, the black eyed peas have been eaten, and now we’re all setting into the new year. Bienvenue, 2019.

2018 was an odd year for me, and I’m not sure how I feel about it - even though I’ve attempted to reflect on it multiple times over the past six weeks. 2018 was full of deep spiritual lessons, massive upheaval and uncertainty… But, because the unbearable pain of previous years full of change and uncertainty wasn’t present I still have this feeling that 2018 was good…even if it was bad. I took my first expensive international vacation, I spent countless hours with friends, I took two road trips, I met new people, did new things, did a lot of freelance writing, hosted my first live streams, sprained my wrist, returned to the stage… But, I also feel like I was stagnant and didn’t do anything. I think not setting goals at the beginning of 2018 bit me in the end - I had nothing to look back on and measure against. 2018 allowed me to lay a strong foundation for the things that are to come, and in 2019 I am going to begin building.

Going into 2019 I’ve seen a lot of people lambasting a “New Year, New Me” mindset. While it’s true that you can choose to change and start over at any time, and that the calendar doesn’t wait for anyone - there’s also something lovely and refreshing to me to look at the beginning of the calendar year as a reset. I love a little self-reflection. I love seeing where I was, where I am, and where I want to go. I regularly reflect and set goals and assess. Why wouldn’t I want to start my year with that energy? It’s unfortunate to me that so many people see it as a cliche now and discount the efforts of others, or their own potential for change. Something about taking a deep breath in the midst of winter, when the world is quiet, and deciding who you want to be in the Spring when the world is new is - beautiful. I’ve decided that this year for me is about creation, manifestation and self-expression… And I will be setting goals for 2019.

I decided mid-way through December that in 2019 I wanted to be specific about what I want, be present, have complete confidence, finish what I start, and take action immediately in the upcoming year. But, it still didn’t feel like enough - it was a foundation that needed to be built on…the theme of 2018. I wanted to establish new habits (or renew old ones that have fallen by the wayside), and I wanted to passionately focus on health and self-compassion (not just love or care). By January 2nd, two different goal achieving plans fell into my lap. My friends Diana, Yvette, and I (along with others I’m sure), will be embarking on the Whole Life Challenge starting January 19th. Focusing on 8 daily habits; nutrition, exercise, mobility, sleep, hydration, well-being, reflection, and reading - we are challenging ourselves to build and sustain new habits for six weeks. I’m very excited.

While I was looking into Whole Life Challenge, my friend Zakk turned me onto Level 10 Life. I know nothing about the blog I pulled this info from, and I didn't read the book that this stems from - but, after a quick scan of this webpage (one of the first Google results for 'Level 10 Life'), I fell in with the idea of it.

“If we’re measuring our levels of success/satisfaction in any area of our lives, we all want to be living our best lives at a ‘Level 10’ in each area; Family & Friends, Personal Development, Spirituality, Finances, Career & Business, Significant Other/Romance, Fun & Recreation, Giving & Contribution, Physical Environment, Health & Fitness.

I want to live my Level 10 Life. Who doesn’t? How often do we joke about living our best lives? I was in. Creating your ‘Level 10 Life’ begins with creating an honest assessment of where you are. Utilizing the 'Wheel of Life Assessment’, a circle graph that is divided into 10 sections — one for each major area of focus in your life, you take a ‘gut feeling’ assessment of how satisfied you are in each of your 10 areas of focus. This gives you a glimpse at your life satisfaction overall. It is also a great starting point to figure out what areas you need to improve first to start living your Level 10 Life.

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With a combo of my laptop and my planner, I started my journey. While I’m genuinely happy, I ‘m not where I’d like to be. Not in any area. The darker lines are to mark where I started and see my progress as I work towards my Level 10 Life. I wrote out ten goals for all ten areas; 100 goals total. I condensed the essence of each goal into one sentence and wrote that in my planner. I want to be clear - these aren't 100 resolutions/goals for 2019. While I believe I could complete 100 goals in one year - I am focused on building and renewing good habits for my whole life. Progress, not perfection.

  • Family & Friends

    • Spend more time with Cloak friends outside of Cloak

    • Hang out with Phoenix, Blake, and Sami at least once a month

    • Make and keep dinner plans with friends I've drifted apart from or haven't seen in a while

    • Keep in touch when physical presence is an issue (Email, Phone, Text - social media isn’t enough)

    • Travel to visit friends and family more often

    • Go on a trip with my Mom

    • Spend more time with Heaven

    • Host a family dinner

    • Take more photos with friends and family

    • Be open to making new friends

  • Personal Development

    • Get more tattoos

    • Read 100 books

    • Journal every week

    • Set monthly goals

    • Improve my body language

    • Spend less time online

    • Go to three cities in America that I've never been to (Austin, TX; Portland, OR; Maui, HI)

    • Go to a country I've never been to (Morocco)

    • Practice my French

    • Start playing guitar again

  • Spirituality

    • Maintain a daily meditation practice

    • Write in my prayer/manifestation journal daily

    • Clearly define what my spirituality means to me

    • Clearly define and stick to a spiritual practice

    • Assess my state of mind nightly and re-align with my goals

    • Read 3 books about spirituality

    • Meditate outdoors once a month

    • Practice gratitude daily

    • Practice moderation

    • Practice with like-minded people

  • Finances

    • Save money

    • Pay off my credit card debt

    • Buy a new car

    • Figure out a better plan for my student debt

    • Stop getting paper bills in the mail

    • Spend less money monthly

    • Eat out fewer times a month

    • Raise my 401K contribution

    • Stop getting parking tickets

    • Start another side hustle

  • Career & Business

    • Transition into my new role at work

    • Embrace and thrive in my new role at work

    • Take a walk every working day (as long as weather permits)

    • Nurture a work/life balance

    • Make blogging a priority without falling into the 'blogging business' trap

    • Start podcasting again

    • Write more fiction

    • Collaborate with friends on their art

    • Network with more independent artists

    • Be a panelist at a Comic/Fandom Convention

  • Significant Other/Romance

    • Continue to embrace being single

    • Continue to work on myself

    • Let a friend set me up on a date

    • Refuse to settle

    • Waste no more time on abusive men

    • Be firm in my boundaries when dating

    • Go out more often

    • Stop using Bumble for 3-6 months

    • Visualize my ideal relationship

    • Research egg freezing

  • Fun & Recreation

    • Spend more time outdoors

    • Take a solo international trip

    • Take myself on a solo date once per month

    • Go to a big festival (Coachella, Burning Man, Wasteland Weekend)

    • Take a random weekend road trip

    • Start playing video games again/more often

    • Go to Disneyland once a month

    • Go to Universal Studios once a month

    • Go to a concert every other month

    • Go to a city I've already been to again (Seattle, WA; New York, NY)

  • Giving & Contribution

    • Support more small businesses

    • Do more thrifting

    • Research charities and pick THE one that I want to donate to

    • Volunteer in my local community

    • Do a charitable walk or fun-run

    • Give more money to Sigma Kappa

    • Find someone to mentor

    • Donate for my birthday

    • Do more giving directly to people and not organizations

    • Lower my carbon footprint

  • Physical Environment

    • Move to a new city that meets my commuting/social needs

    • Decorate my place in a way that aesthetically pleasing and healing

    • Get rid of things that I no longer need/want

    • Frame and hang art

    • Buy plants and flowers

    • Develop and stick to a cleaning schedule

    • Organize my make-up

    • Hold a clothing swap/donation event for my girlfriends

    • Make sure my home is energy efficient

    • Read Marie Kondo & Justina Blakeney's books

  • Health & Fitness

    • Complete the Whole Life Challenge

    • Take Moxi Skate classes

    • Start Circus/Aerial training again

    • Do more yoga & stretching

    • Continue to nurture my mental health

    • Go to an ENT

    • Attend a yoga/health retreat.

    • Eat less meat

    • Do a yoga inversion

    • Land a back-tuck

While I'm sure some of these may not make sense to you, this is a list of 100 and adding commentary to all of them would become completely unruly. If you’re really curious, you're more than welcome to ask me a few questions in the comments section (wink, wink). However, I am mostly posting this for personal, public accountability.

There’s more than enough time to set goals for 2019. I hope that you all know that in your heart. At any moment, you can choose to leave your past behind you and walk into a bright and bold future - even right now.

Until next time. xo

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

don't call it a comeback.

Hey. It's been a while. Nearly a whole year. Whoops. 2018 was a wild ride. It felt like it lasted forever, and it still somehow got completely away from me. I let the blog go dark, and while I'm not proud of it, I understand my own reasoning behind it.

At the beginning of the year I had a serious bout of imposter syndrome. I remember being out at a party and a good and old friend asked me what I had been working on & I didn't have an answer. I felt like the blog didn't count and I needed to be working on a "big" project - a book, a zine, a YouTube series - something "big" and "serious" that would get me noticed and end in fame and me having "made it". If I wasn't doing that, then I must be a fake. And I'm a fake and a nobody, then why do I need a blog?

So, to combat this, I started doing a lot of freelance writing. And guess what? Writing for other people meant I didn't have a lot of time to write for myself. While I'm proud of putting myself out there and doing something else - in the last few months I've realized it's not really where my heart is. The internet is full of people who wanna be the next Chris Hardwick and are begging you to like to subscribe because they're HUNGRY, they're STARVING for it - and I'm just...not. Don't get me wrong; I'm passionate about writing and fandom and curating a lifestyle and sharing that with people - but my endgame isn't to have to most like photo on Instagram. Which leads me to my next point...

The business of blogging is stressful and irritating - especially if you're buying into the "competition" and trying to be the most "liked". It takes time and money - to go to the newest places, eat the newest foods, create the best optics for the best photo. Without the money and the time I'm not able to produce content that I can be wholly proud of or that will be 'gram worthy, so I end up creating nothing, and impostor syndrome sets in again. Organic growth is nearly impossible - the algorithm has fucked up everything and who even checks their feed anymore when there are Stories? It is crazy hard trying to turn a profit, especially if you don't want to turn yourself into a product or shill someone else's product. Thousands of clicks and at the end of my best month, I still only made $20. It's dishonest - just google 'Instagram fake travel' or 'Instagram fake sponsorship' - even Bow Wow fell into the trap, remember the Bow Wow challenge? It's insidious. Everyone is trying to flex on every one else all for the likes. Half of the time, I was feeling like I was in a contest that I didn't enter myself in & didn't want to participate in - I don't need to be the most "liked". I don't need to seek that kind of validation, especially when I'm part of a family and friend communities that let me know that I'm actually loved.

I was reading a blog post by Rainier from Love Life of an Asian Guy, and it hit me hard. "You start to see each conversation not as an opportunity to truly bridge a connection with others, but as an opportunity to keep your audience stimulated, entertained, and happy. This isn’t to say that my opinions on these topics are fake. But they are just a snippet of how I feel and they lack the nuance and depth that I believe comes off smoother when I talk in person or during a livestream." Rainier just wants to blog, and so do I. I want to write & sometimes post nice photos without it being a big ordeal. I don't want to create content that is bite-sized or simple for people. I am not bite-sized or simple. I don't want to be an "influencer". I've said it before, and I stand behind it - swaying people's opinions & feelings isn't a joke, & I want to be accountable & only stand behind things I truly believe in.

The most impactful thing I did in 2018, the one that was most important to me, was participate in This is My Brave: Los Angeles. This Is My Brave, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization is the leading platform for individuals to share their stories of living successful lives despite a diagnosis of a mental health disorder through artistic expression (spoken word poetry, original music and essay readings) on stage in front of a live audience. We're opening up the conversation about mental health disorders in communities all across the country and beyond via our YouTube channel. Writing about and publicly talking about my mental health was... freeing. Impactful. Important. Moving. It reminded of who I am and why I am. The response from friends and family who went to the show or watch it on YouTube was overwhelmingly positive. Just a few minutes of vulnerability and bravery, but they were the best minutes I had in 2018. And it was something that I did for me.

I am going to keep blogging. This isn't the first post like this I've written. I've stepped away and come back before; I've hit this spiral before. But, this time I am consciously disrupting the cycle. From this point forward, I blog for me. And I hope you stick around, and if you don't - that's cool too.

Until next time. xo.

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