Emily M. DeArdo


summer promptings

Summer Scribbles: Journal keeping

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Today's SITS girls prompt: 

Do you keep a journal? 

I sure do. 

I have since I was 12 years old, actually, and my Aunt Patty sent me a Hallmark diary for my birthday. It's one of those that had the little combination lock that after about 20 uses just popped open without the combination, so it wasn't the world's best security measure, but my siblings knew better than to try to sneak my journal (although I didn't really try to hide it. It was always on my nightstand.) 

Since then, I've always kept one. Sometimes I write with more fervor than others, but I've always had one with me, and I save them all. In my house there are two big bins full of my journals. My currrent one is a red Moleskine I got at the Strand in NYC a few years ago. I generally buy journals when I'm on vacation and then they get used a few years later; when I was in California I bought a Bouchon Moleskine notebook. I've also got a notebook my parents brought me back from Disney World when they went back in 2011. People also gift me journals at an alarming rate, but I don't mind this. 

My blog isn't my journal, and my journal isn't my blog. This is something I think people can easily get confused, especially younger bloggers. What I write on this blog is obviously public. What I write in my journal is intensely private. Sometimes I'll use what I've written in my journals as a springboard for public writing, but this space is not where I pour out my soul. That's what a journal is for.  

Blog is different from journal, journal is different from blog. Important distinction, at least in my world. As much as I love my readers, there are some things that I'm just not going to share with the interwebs. 


Summer Scribbles: Let's Communicate

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Continuing with the SITS Girls' prompts, this week's is: 

Do you communicate differently online than in person? 

Short answer: Nope. 

Long answer: Still nope, but with qualifiers. 

I try to write the way I talk. I want my pieces to have a sort of conversational air about them, like I was talking to you, instead of you reading words I've written. Some of my friends have told me that I've accomplished that, so that makes me happy, because it's one of my main goals. I don't think you need a stilted writing style to get a point across. I want to sound approachable and like myself. 

Now, when I'm communicating on things like Facebook, or comments sections of articles, I try to be a bit more circumspect, realizing that things like sarcasm don't exactly transfer. So I try to be nicer, in a way, than I am in person. Not that I'm mean! But writing WHATTTTT?!?!? on a Facebook page doesn't really convey the same thing that it would in my voice, with facial expressions, etc. So I can't do that all the time. I try to keep it cleaner for the sarcasm-impaired. 

But my hope is always that when you read my pieces, it's like we're having a conversation, and that my authentic voice comes through. 



Summer Scribbles: Seeking Motivation

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I am a hard person to motivate. 

Well, wait. Let me rephrase that. 

I'm a hard person to motivate--sometimes. 

I'm not a hard person to motivate when it comes to doing things for other people. If the essay needed written for school, it got written. If I have to be at the doctor's office, I'm going to get up early and be there on time. If I have to go to a class, I'll be there. I'm good at being held accountable in exterior ways. If someone is depending on me, or needs me to be somewhere, I'll be there, and I'll do it. 

I am very bad at self-motivation. 

If you've read Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin (and if you haven't, get on it), then you realize that I'm an Obliger. 

Rubin writes about how there are four tendencies--everyone is one of them. You're either an upholder, a rebel, a questioner, or an obliger. To determine what you are, you can take this quiz. But it basically boils down to how you respond to interior and exterior expectations. 

An Obliger, which I am, "Meets outer expectations but struggles to meet expectations they impose on themselves." 

So, it's hard for me to do things without accountability. Exercising and diet is a huge area where this is true. If I had someone to go to the gym with, or to go to class with me, or even someone I lived with to cook with and for, that would be a huge help when it comes to meeting the nutrition and exercise goals I've set--because I'd be responsible to someone else. 

One of the ways I work around this is by using my Powersheets--I have my tending list for the month, which has all my goals broken into monthly, weekly, and daily sections. I schedule my Barre 3 classes ahead of time, so they're in my calendar, and if I don't go, then I lose money. I have "meal planning" as one of my weekly goals. And yes, as sad as it may seem, I do get a thrill when I can check off the boxes indicating I've done these things. 

But it's much, much easier for me to get off track with what I know I should do if I don't have an external motivator or someone/something to keep me accountable for what I do. Or don't do, as the case may be. 

I also have an avoidance policy on things I'm not good at, like math. I probably, intellectually, could've done fine in Math. But I hated it, because I wasn't automatically good at it, and a lot of it just didn't make sense to me.  I'm that way with exercise--fi I don't get it pretty quickly, then I tend to give up and feel like a failure. I'm trying to get through that with my barre classes, and I have found that, as you would expect, the more I do it, the better I get at it. I'm just not a person that likes doing things that I don't have a natural affinity for, which probably makes me like most of humanity. 

I have some friends that I talk about nutrition and exercise with, and they do a good job keeping me motivated to keep trying. So they're my external accountability, for the moment. 

But I'm still looking for that fail-proof motivational tool. I'm guessing, sadly, it doesn't exist. 

What sort of temperament do you have? 

How do you motivate yourself to do things that you know you should do, but you don't necessarily want to do? 



Summer Scribbles No. 7: What is Courage?

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The SITS girls question of the week: 

How do I define courage? 

I actually think about this a lot. Does that make me weird? 

A lot of people tell me that I'm brave, and I don't think I am. 

To me, courage and bravery involve risking something when you don't, necessarily, have to. Firefights and policemen are inherently brave, as are soldiers. They are putting their lives on the line every day to protect and defend people, and they don't have to. (Well, OK, at least in the U.S., soldier wise.) 

People who save people from drowning, or rescue kids from burning buildings, or the people who ran into the buildings on 9/11--those people are brave. 

I don't consider myself brave. The things I do are the things I think anyone would do in my situation. The choices I've made, I've made to save my life. Choosing transplant wasn't brave. Without it, I'd be dead. Full stop. 

I know that not everyone with CF makes the choices that I've made. And I know that part of me decides to fight even when it might be easier not to. And I guess that's brave. 

Is it courageous to do those things that keep you alive, even when you don't want to do them? Were all those years of PT and nebulizers and giving myself IV treatments in the bathrooms at work brave or courageous? 

I don't know. To me, it was just life. The other option was death. And that's not an option I choose. 

I'm not afraid of death, by the by. I never have been. Maybe it's because I know that something better is awaiting me. (Or at least, Purgatory.) I trust that God's got this. He's going to take care of me. And I'm not really even afraid of dying--because I've done that process. I've gotten, really, as close as you can, I think, and done it twice. And both times,  I've been back. 

But does all this make me courageous? I don't know. I don't think so. Because to me, none of it was conscious choice

This, on the other hand. This works well for me: 

I have never, ever wanted to be defined as the girl with CF. Or the girl who had that transplant thing. I don't so much mind the latter, which pops up a lot. But I am so grateful to my parents for letting me have a normal life. Some CF parents don't send their kids to regular school because they're worried about all the germs floating around. Guys--we have an immune system. CFers can have totally normal lives. I don't want to live in a bubble. I don't want to have a live that's so protected from everything, tainted by fear of what might happen. My identity is as a daughter of God, and not as some weird genetic thing. 

Am I brave? I don't know. To me, all of this just is. And it always will be. 


Summer Scribbles No. 6: Tools of the Craft

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Today's SITS girls prompt: 

What's your favorite writing tool? 

Well, it depends. 

I do love my MacBook Pro. I mean, for blogging and writing, it makes life so much easier. That being said, I love paper and pen for keeping details of my writing projects straight. I have a blog calendar in my bullet journal that I refer to, and I find that really helpful. Not only does it save me from "hmm, what to write about today", but it's easy to make notes of things I want to write about on certain days (saints' days, anniversaries, holidays, etc.). It also keeps me from writing about the same thing all the time.  I figure you guys want some variety in your reading, right? 

I'm a big pen and paper nut. I love using pretty pens and I am very picky about my notebooks, especially for my journals. I generally use Moleskines for those. They're durable and pretty, and even better if they're a special kind I can get when I travel (like the one I have now, from the Strand in NYC.) 

My fountain pens are all Lamys, but I also love Le Pens and Sharpies and...well, OK, I just love pens. Pens rule!

You can see this journal is pretty well loved. :) 

What about you? Do you have a favorite pen/paper/notebook/planner? 


Summer Scribbles No. 5: I'd Like Your Vote

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Or, actually, I wouldn't. 

Today's Summer Scribbles answers this question: 

Have you ever wanted to run for political office? 

To be brief: No. HELL no. 

I hated selling candy for my school fundraiser. I loathed running for student government in college (really, I did). I have done a lot of campaign work in my time, and I don't mind campaigning for other people, but I hate marketing myself. It's one of the reasons I hate asking people to subscribe to the blog-but hey, I'll ask you now!

Please subscribe, if you don't already! There's a big pink box in the corner! 

And that is all the campaigning Emily will do today. :) 

Campaigning is definitely an art. You have to really love it, because it's continuous. As soon as an election ends, you start gearing up for the next one. There is constant fund-raising, and the elected official has to keep name recognition up to make the next election cycle a little easier. You need a lot of people to run a good campaign, and you need a fair amount of money. Signs, flyers, banners, t-shirts, etc. are not cheap, and neither is throwing the fundraisers. It's definitely a spend money to make money (or get elected) proposition. 

I've worked on two presidential campaigns, a gubernatorial campaign, and a bunch of smaller campaigns. And it can be fun. It can also be really not fun, when you're standing in a wet, muddy baseball field in a downpour sans umbrella because the Secret Service does not allow umbrellas at said event. 

So, while I will campaign for others, I will never, ever run for political office. EVER. 

That's a promise I'll keep! 

Summer Scribbles No. 4: The Summer After High School

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Using the SITS girls monthly prompt list

The summer after high school was a pretty nondescript one for me. I did some baby-sitting, I read Harry Potter and anxiously awaited the release of the fourth book. I spent a lot of time with my high school friends, swimming in their pools. There were a lot of sleepovers. 

(Side note: weren't sleepovers the best? I mean, really? I miss those. Although, sleepover pro tip: When your friend's parents are at a wedding out of state, leaving you and said friend alone in the house, with only the scaredy-cat dog, it might not be a good idea to watch Silence of the Lambs at 2 A.M. Just, you know, maybe not the best idea.)

Most of my friends were going to college sort of locally, meaning in the state of Ohio. A few were going out of state. This was before the advent of Facebook, so we knew it was going to be harder to keep in touch, but fortunately this newfangled thing called email had opened up wide possibilities. And AOL instant messenger! That was going to be super useful during our college years. 

There was some packing for college. And yeah, I started early. Like, August. Even though I was only going about fifteen minutes away. I had one summer orientation session, when I had to set my fall schedule, and then orientation orientation began August 25th. Of course it rained that day. It rained every single move in day of my college career. Again, glad we didn't have a lot of stuff to move. I was just really glad that my dorm had air conditioning, and that you couldn't smoke on our floor. Yes, you could smoke in the other dorms at this time. But you couldn't have lit candles. Crazy much? That got changed at the end of my freshman year. 

I was excited to go to college. I mean, I had liked high school, but I thought I would really like college, and I was right. I did really, really enjoy college. OK, the almost dying wasn't a fun thing, but that wasn't college's fault (and that's another story), but most of it was a great time.

It did feel odd, though, to not have work to do during the summer. The summer before my senior year, I'd had the Summer Reading List for AP English. I remember spending long hours at the neighborhood pool with my super cheap copy of Jane Eyre. But there was no summer reading--at least not yet--for incoming college freshman at my school. That changed a few years later, when every incoming student had to read an assigned book, with classes and events during the academic year surrounding said book. 

So it was just me, my friends, swimming pools, and sleepovers. It wasn't a bad way to spend a summer.  



Summer Scribbles No.2: Sink or Swim

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Continuing on with Summer Scribbles (using prompts from The SITS girls), here is this week's prompt: 

When did you learn to swim? 

Um, well. This is sort of a funny story. 

I cannot "officially" swim. By that, I don't mean that I can't swim, because I can. I just mean that, in official parlance....I flunked swimming lessons. 

Yes. I'm a swimming lessons drop out. So is my brother, by the way. 

Back in the day, when I was probably five or six, my mom enrolled me in swimming lessons, like almost every other parent around here. I wasn't afraid of the water, and I would get in just fine. I'd kick and splash and all that. No problem.

So how'd I fail? 

I couldn't float. 

Really. I guess I just wouldn't trust that the water would keep me up. So I refused to do it. 

Thus, I was unable to move up to the next level of swimming lessons. 

I sort of taught myself backstroke while watching the Barcelona olympics, and noting what the commenters said about technique. I cannot butterfly or breast stroke, and I really can't do freestyle, either. I do my own sort of freestyle. But I can handle my own in a pool. I love the ocean, and baths are one of my favorite things in life. Water and I are friends. 

However, I used to get really nervous watching kids in water. Part of it was my lack of strong swimming skills, but also, when you have crappy lungs, the idea of not breathing is not one you voluntarily accept. So the idea of going out and chasing down a kid while I could barely breathe while swimming didn't seem good. 

But, since I have 22 cousins (not counting my siblings), and the vast majority of them are younger than me, and my aunts in Pittsburgh have pools (two did, now it's just one)--I got to watch a lot of kids in the pool. It always baffled me. I have many cousins who are excellent swimmers. There are a whole bunch who were on their high school swim teams, for pete's sake. Are you sure you want to trust me with your offspring, oh aunts of mine?! (They did. No idea why.) 

It's not such a big deal now, because almost all the kids are grown, or old enough that they can handle themselves in the water. 

I'm probably not the person you want in charge if you're sending your tiny tots to the water park. Or the ocean. Unless your kid really doesn't want to swim. Or go out beyond the breakers. 

But I can float now.

How did you learn to swim? Were you ever afraid of the water? 


Summer Scribbles No. 1: A Question of Packing

essays, travel, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

The SITS girls had a list of blog writing prompts for June, and I've selected ones I particularly enjoy, and which I'll be sharing with you on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Sometimes using prompts helps ignite my creative juices and give us some variety in the content we have here. And it's summer, so we might as well have fun with it, right? 

The first prompt is: 

What is something you always take with you when you travel? 

Besides the medical equipment--CI cleaner, CI battery charger, the huge medication bag (which is smaller than it was pre-transplant!)--and the normal stuff, there are two things that always come with me when I travel:

Tea and Jane Austen. 

I realize those things are probably connected. 

I started taking Bigelow tea bags last fall when I went out of town for a wedding. I found it was so nice to have the option of hot tea in my room at night--if there's a coffee machine, I can heat up the water for tea, and if there's a microwave, I can even reheat tea again in the morning. I brought an entire box to California with me, if you can believe it, and it came in handy on the last day, because I caught a cold and having tea was definitely helpful! 

The other thing I always bring is a hard copy of a Jane Austen novel. Usually it's P&P. For Pittsburgh, it'll be Persuasion, unless I finish it before then, in which case it'll be Emma. When I' tight on space and/or I have my iPad, all of Jane's books are loaded on there. Her books are sort of my literary security blanket. I know I'll always have something to read!

What is something you always bring with you when you travel?