Go Little Rockstar: It’s Ready, It’s Yours, You Did It

I tell this story a million times, or at least I think I do, but when I first published on The Odyssey Online, with my first two articles in the queue. Mind you, my boss at the time put all his trust in me and thought I- I was qualified to be Editor-in-Chief of my campus chapter. I took it because there wasn’t a chance I’d have that again… until now.

It’s been years since that breakthrough phone call. But as of recently, I broke through, out of my own personal “gate” to be my own boss. I remember vaguely, when I was eight years old, I told my mom I wanted to be a pop star and to perform in my very own concert. She said, “it takes a really long time.” It does. It does take a really long time. Some people wait a lifetime, like Van Gogh when he sold his first painting. I don’t know if anyone realizes, but I am a huge of Van Gogh and his background. I don’t know what led him to asylum, but I know that he and I both coped with art. Poetry for me, painting for him.

It took a really long time, but I found what I was meant to do. I rewatched Katy Bellotte’s “An Honest Video,” (again) only to be triggered by the same emotions that led me to my hospitalization in 2017. I’ll be honest when I say I nearly gave up on my purpose, due to anxiety. But it was only growth that was making my soul itch. Growth is notoriously uncomfortable.

So, little rockstar, what were you meant to do? I strongly believed I was put on this Earth for a purpose: to inspire. I’ve had publishers tell me that relentlessly. I believed them. As Katy says in the beginning of her video, “ignoring your passions is slow suicide.” She came to the conclusion in her Italian language class that she wanted to go into graphic design. She went from working at L’Oreal in social media to being her own boss at Katy Bellotte Designs.

It’s no secret that I’ve held countless jobs and internships this past year alone. I also believed that I had it all; I have a man who loves me (hi Mark!), family, friends, food to eat, and a roof over my head. I just wasn’t satisfied with my career. I knew a few years back that I was meant for more than journalism. I tried my hand at marketing– what a bust. I tried to run my own business, then COVID hit. Now, things are looking up. I’m so excited to reveal I became a trauma healing, spiritual health and wellness coach! That’s right, I chose courage over fear; faith over doubt; being present instead of brooding on the past.

I talked a bit in my last post about fearing the future. But now, I live by the mantra, “I needn’t worry about the future anymore. It’s bright, it’s here, it’s mine, I did it.”

My head has never been more clear. Go, little rockstar. Keep moving forward. 🚀

xoxo,

April 💖

“Where Do You See Yourself In 10 Years?”

I remember answering this question when transitioning to fifth grade. I said, “I am taking a cruise to Australia” because Australia was where I wanted to go, being the animal-lover that I am. Little did I realize that my teacher knew I was going to be a writer and not the next American Idol (the fact that I had a plan to audition when I turned seventeen makes me LOL).

I didn’t think this question would be relevant until this very day. I am sitting in my bedroom, in a completely different state, and things are certainly better than they were ten years ago. I had gone to a Catholic high school. I had gone to college to earn a bachelor of fine arts in creative writing. I am now in my final semester of my masters program in publishing and writing. All of this did not take place in Australia. I’ve never even been. But I have been to Paris and Barcelona and I can say they are my two favorite cities in the world.

I had finished the book, Rules For Being A Girl by Candace Bushnell, whose life story I discovered recently because she birthed my bible, Sex And The City. I thusly created a “Feminist Book Club.” We held our first meeting on a January afternoon on Zoom, while a blizzard was blanketing the ground with a heresy of snow and the wind blowing our air conditioner cover off. Little did I know the topics of gender and feminism would be imperative in my writing career. Speaking of my writing career, I published two books thus far: Resilience, The Disappearing Act, and the brand new Whispers of Daydreams which you can purchase here.

There were an additional three things I didn’t know would happen: 1) I would have two blog brands: The April Diaries and Gals Gotta Eat; 2) I would develop a chronic illness; 3) my writing career would also manifest into a corporate environment, working as a digital content writer for the oldest insurance company in the USA.

You can say I’m reaching a height in my career, but as my fifth grade idol, Miley Cyrus once sang, “it’s all about the climb.” I’ve met Vogue editors who said they haven’t even had that “I made it” moment yet (which I find odd considering it’s Vogue).

Moral of the story: life has its twists and turns, but everything happens for a reason. Yes, I am aware there are countless debates on that. I’m not sure if I believe that everyone has a “destiny,” per se, but there are some people who always have a certain inkling that they “know” what they’re supposed to do in life. For me? That’s to own a publication that inspires people. Now, at twenty-five-years-old-going-on-twenty-six, I am proud to say I have two of those.

Happy International Women’s Day to all my readers. You can aspire to be anything and achieve it, too. 💗

xoxo,

April

BLOG-MAS: What’s Your ‘Why?’ The Purpose Statement

I write this after completing my second-to-last semester at Emerson College’s MA in Publishing and Writing program. Wow. What a milestone! I feel an overwhelming spurt of emotions, mostly happy and I’m not fearing the future quite yet. It’s all about living in the moment, and I couldn’t be happier with where I am in life. But hey, I don’t have that degree in my hand quite yet as I embrace my boyfriend and my family.

I remember when I was taking part in virtual orientation prior to starting classes, and the vice president of the college was talking about what we had written for our purpose statements. I hardly remember my purpose statement, but I do remember it having to do with inspiring others, along with a few mentions of my undergraduate career and how I got here. Essentially, it also incorporated resilience (which is coincidentally the title of my first poetry book). It didn’t take me long to write mine, but it did require some thought.

The statement of purpose isn’t necessarily autobiographical, but it should highlight your greatest strengths and some of the activities you’ve done that would (hopefully) benefit your career at your school of choice. For example, I was a part of RWU’s literary magazine, Mount Hope and I was additionally the Editor-in-Chief of the English and Creative Writing Department’s online zine, Voices. I also had two internships under my belt at the time, one of which was at Rhode Island Monthly, which was a great asset and leg-up to have. This is also a great opportunity for your grad school to see how well you write. I can also add that having a little personal something-something (without belaboring it) in your statement is beneficial because schools also want to imagine you outside of school.

Not only that, but schools also want to know your literal purpose for completing a master’s or PhD. What is your “why?” What you eventually put on paper and send to your school might change as you’re in your program. This world is crazy and so is life. But still, why [insert school here]? Why [insert program here]? You could also incorporate, why now?

Consider this a part two of BLOG-MAS: Reasons To Go To Graduate School. Also, one “don’t” I’ve learned from a professor doing my recs was to not include the location of the school because it’s considered insulting. So yeah, don’t do that! That shouldn’t even be a reason or a part of your “why.”

BLOG-MAS: Reasons To Go To Graduate School

I can hear Taylor Swift’s “…Ready for it?” playing in my head as I write this.

I knew wayyy before I was a senior in college that I wanted to go to graduate school. I had a reason behind it. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school because I knew it would give me a “leg up” in my professional career. The question was, where would I go? What would I do? If you read previous posts, you’d know that I had it narrowed down to law and publishing. I then knew I had to go into publishing for my love of writing and aspirations to one day create my own magazine. I couldn’t let that go to waste! I’ve had people express their preference for me to go into law because I could be successful. But guess what? I’m 25 with a heck of a resume that was possible due to my publishing program at Emerson College.

Some people could have totally wrong reasons to pursue a graduate degree. Yet, at the same time, there are better reasons to go to graduate school.

DO go to graduate school to advance your career.

DON’T go to graduate school just because “it sounds cool.”

DO go to graduate school because you know what you want to do.

DON’T go to graduate school because something like business or law “sound glamorous.”

DO go to graduate school because you want to.

DON’T go to graduate school as a “last resort.”

For some people it’s a quicker decision than others. There’s the ever-popular argument that “everyone is doing it.” Newsflash: not a lot of people do it, and it takes time for some people. You needn’t know what you want to do right when you get out of college. I know people who get their MBA even after getting their first master’s degree, or even their PhD! Whomever said it’s not okay to change your mind clearly doesn’t know this process.

How To Get Your Dream Job/Internship

When I was younger, I had dreams… I still do. I am a girl with dreams that turned into visions. These visions became reality. I dreamt of being a fashion designer, a lawyer, a doctor, now I’m living my dream as a writer.

I recently got a job at… drumroll please… MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)! That’s right, I am going to be working in their communications department and I’m so excited to continue my career in content creating at one of the top higher institutions in the country.

How did I get here, you ask? Well, my first internship was actually in HIGH SCHOOL. So that’s what brings me to my first tip:

  1. Start Early: I said this in a few posts, and I’ll say it again: your major in college is bound to change. However, when you’re in high school, you’ll have interests in mind. My first internship was at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, which I LOVED! I was picked out of 30 applicants to be a volunteer intern, not just due to my high grades and GPA but due to my experience, as someone who lives with a cancer patient. With that being said, I worked in their oncology department. I thought, at the time, that I was going to be a chemistry major with a pre-law background. That was not the case at all. Again, things change, and everything happens for a reason.

2. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity in College

If there is something that is up your alley that you want to do, go for it, by all means necessary. Plus, employers like well-rounded students, so it’s 100% okay to have a lot of interests, as long as you’re not exhausting yourself. Me? I was involved in student politics and Title IX and I’m working in publishing.

3. Any Major Can Do Anything

There’s no doubt that with through every phase of your career (i.e. grad school, undergrad, PhD) that you’re going to wish you did something different. I mean come on, when I was in my first year of grad school, I thought I wanted to work at a veterinary clinic and actually looked into UPenn’s Veterinary program. As I was looking through the majors of the 2020 cohort, I noticed that some were English majors! But no matter what the prerequisites are, you better work b*tch. You want biology and chemistry courses? Take EdX courses! Better yet, these courses have certificate options so you can most definitely add those to your resume!

4. Just Go For It, Even If You Don’t Feel Qualified

I was a sophomore (for the second time) in college when I transferred to RWU. More than anything, I was wanting to write. And I wanted to write for a publication, a magazine at that. Most of you know that I interned for Rhode Island Monthly, and it was indubitably one of the best summers of my life. Having been in Rhode Island for a year, at the time, I wanted to write and edit for one of the premier magazines in the country, and nonetheless a household magazine. I even befriended Lily Herman, who was someone I looked up to greatly because she had her words published in elite publications (e.g. Teen Vogue). With that being said, NETWORK. Even though I felt slightly unqualified, I was getting ready to “kill or die” for an internship (yes, I did use that line — it worked).

You’re Not Going To Be A Hemingway By Watching A Movie About Hemingway

I’m sitting on my loveseat watching a documentary on Ernest Hemingway, and it’s quite the coincidence because I had written The Truth About Writing Full-Time | You Have A Purpose two years ago today. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t take me a bit to develop a thick skin, being a full-time writer and content creator. The truth is that no one will necessarily agree with your lifestyle choices, or with the way your brain simply works. You cannot succumb to their criticism just because they simply don’t “get it.” By “it” I mean the way your mind works and/or your ideas. I remember when I was discussing media analysis with my boyfriend and I opened a review by a… “catty” critic from a reviewer of my second published book, The Disappearing Act. Yet again, I found that it was based off the ignorance of the creative process.

What’s funny is that I mentioned very limited knowledge about Hemingway in that post. Just like the creative process and the way people think, there is a reason for everything. There were reasons why Hemingway was an alcoholic. There were reasons why he wouldn’t wake up until 2:00 in the afternoon — it was because a famous American critic gave him a harsh review and Hemingway didn’t take it very well. It wasn’t until a Communist newspaper journalist said, “Hemingway has not produced a book in six years worthy of his talents.” To that, Hemingway responded with “there is only good and bad writing.” Huh. As to why he abusive to his wife, Martha, I will never comprehend an abuser’s mind, other than the fact that he was insecure about another bad review.

There is also a reason why Hemingway wrote about death so much. He had a fascination with it, especially with the way bulls are killed in a Spanish bullfight. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was. However, I can tell you this: in order to be a writer, you have to have some sort of fascination with something. It’s similar in the way that J.K. Rowling incorporated a lot of death in her Harry Potter books; she’s seen death firsthand by losing her mother in her twenties. That is to say, if you want to write a book, a blog post, article, or even start a YouTube channel, you’re not going to be successful by watching documentaries about authors and your favorite YouTubers all day. You can be inspired by what other people have done. But at the same time, you CANNOT compare yourself to someone else’s success. Someone’s chapter fifteen is not your chapter one. We all start from somewhere, whether you like it or not. I’ve heard of YouTubers who started at age 14 but didn’t make it a full-time job until they were 22 years old (e.g. Brooke Miccio).

Another part of building your brand and developing who you are is discipline and consistency. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Just like a carpenter or construction worker, they work tirelessly every day until they need some sort of break. There have been times where I have needed to take a break from blogging, only to see that it wasn’t benefiting me because not writing makes me obscenely anxious. But the other thing is to just simply not put pressure on yourself. Whomever said “sometimes you need to be pressured” is disturbed AF.

Be your own [insert your name here]. I wish you Godspeed in whatever it is you try to do, and I love you all!

xoxo, April.

Check out my latest YouTube video here.

Breaking up with a job and graduating to the next big thing

Once upon a time, a girl had just graduated from college during a pandemic. She was in search of a job, and she found one… at her local dollar store. That job lasted about a year until she found something better than retail — something in her field.

She found a job as an editor for Hollywood.com. She always knew she’d be in entertainment, some way or another.

Did I mention this young woman is me?

Here’s the thing: I didn’t necessarily break up with my retail job. In fact, I moved on. But I guess I didn’t move on entirely considering I still shop there. I mean, come on, it’s only been two weeks!

I remember giving my manager my two-weeks notice in early May. I felt bad because his eyes widened like no other and proceeded to ask, “can I ask why?” I told him I got a job as an editor.

Instead of using some Sex and the City analogy, I’m going to use an Emily In Paris analogy. So, here we go. Emily takes the job in Paris because her boss is pregnant and her boss decided not to go. Emily tells her then-boyfriend, Doug that she’s guaranteed senior brand manger when she returns after a year in the city of lights (and other things). She and Doug don’t break up until the third episode of the first season, but that’s because Doug can’t seem to grapple Emily “moving on.” But don’t worry, the rain washes away the pain of the previous day (rain also means prosperity — remember that after you break up with somebody).

Nonetheless, Emily Cooper moved on with her life because she knew she was so much better than Doug and Chicago, no matter how cosmopolitan her life may have been there. In fact, she found men like Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) and Mathieu Cadeau (Charles Martins), but not that men are the most important part of her new life in Paris. She claims in the first episode that “work makes her happy.” And honestly, work makes me happy, too, if I’m enjoying it and it’s in my field.

It’s a way of saying, “you were good to me, but I’m ready for something more.” It’s a way of saying, “I’m moving on from what no longer serves me.” In this case, Doug no longer served her.

Now, listen, why am I telling you that career is better than love? I’m not. Plot twist. It goes both ways in both love and career. You can move on from a person and say, “you no longer serve me.” You can indirectly say to a job, “I want to be something else.” In my case with my manager, he said (and keep in mind he’s a year younger than me…), “I want you guys to graduate from [dollar store name here] and I want you guys to go to college.” Keep in mind, I kept that job to stay afloat during my first year of grad school. Now, I’m out of my first year of grad school and I want to keep growing in my career, thusly, I am. I work for Hollywood.com now. I haven’t felt this “high” since my internship at Rhode Island Monthly. (I’m NOT talking smoking, here, people! I don’t smoke! And neither should you!)

You should get that “high,” whatever it might be from — a career, a relationship, something that just makes your heart and mind sing. Your heart and mind are a two-way street. It’s not a cheesy love song that you’re listening to in your head. You could overthink, and that’s one of the worst things to do to yourself. But in the ultimatum, you’re doing what’s best for you.

I mean, when I published No one’s going to tell you what to do, I was mocked when I couldn’t make up my own mind. But they were wrong to mock me. Some people have it figured out, some don’t. But since I don’t know most of the people who read my blog, I’m not going to mock. In fact, I wouldn’t mock you in the slightest. I’d help you. This blog is meant to help my readers who are college students, high school seniors, and even graduate students who might want to get their Ph.D. Do I want to get my Ph.D? I don’t know! It’s only the summer of 2021! Don’t rush anyone or anything. Everything has its own divine timing.

xoxo,

April

You Are More Than Your Career

It was the end of the morning on a Friday, and I peruse through social media after conference after conference (virtual, of course — we are living in a pandemic, after all.) I saw a striking post on Instagram, then again on LinkedIn later on that night. The post alluded to dearly missed author, Toni Morrison’s birthday on February 18, 1931. She said, “One day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job.” What job? I may not know. But I presuming it’s about being an author. Yet again, I am no expert on Toni Morrison’s life. She continued to write, “Although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No ‘Oh, you poor little thing.’ Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it.”

Her essay on the value of work and home-life included the following:

  1. Whatever the work is, do it well — not for the boss but for yourself.
  2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
  3. Your real life is with us, your family.
  4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

I came to terms with all of these as I continue to live what I call my “quadruple life.” Yes, that’s me being dramatic, but also somewhat serious. I write for three publications, not just this the April Diaries, but I also work part-time at my local Dollar Tree. But who am I at home? Who am I when I’m with my friends? I think, pre-COVID, I would’ve been able to answer these questions. I haven’t seen a single one of my friends since the pandemic started. Nowadays, I just say, “I’m a writer.” But no one ever inclines to say, “not what, who are you?”

When I think about it, when you eventually pass on, your soul is what people will miss — not your career. You may have made an impact on your career and your respective field. But what you bring to it, people will remember forever. The attitude, the liveliness, and your unique charm draws people to you. The same thing goes for events.

I guess it’s easy to say that the coronavirus took a lot of things that probably will remain “changed forever.” Perhaps wine nights will remain virtual, until everyone gets the vaccine. But this is me going on a tangent.

I’ve been identifying as a writer for almost a year now. When my mom asks me, when I complain I have nothing to do, “what is your hobby?” I immediately say “writing” because it’s the only thing I know so far. I love to do tarot and journal in the mornings. I can’t even begin to describe how sacred mornings are for me!

You can’t just work 24/7 — it’s impossible! What’re even worse are the back pains and eye strains (yes, I use blue light blockers) from sitting at your computer for what seems like eternity.

You have to give yourself a break. You have to set some time aside to go back to yourself. You are not your job. You are you, and I am me: the woman who loves mornings, tarot, journaling, photography, going out to eat, and exploring new places!

Who are you?

“And Just Like That…” The April Diaries Grows Up

The best part about growing up is that you get to actually live your dreams, instead of being told “you’re a kid” or “you’re too little.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing since I was 8. But even then I was saying to myself, “one day, people will take you seriously [as a writer.]” One day turned into Day One, where I served as a coordinator for RISC (Rhode Island Student Collaborative.) Before that came Rhode Island Monthly, where I indubitably had the best summer of my life. And just like that, three years later, I am interning at Art New England and writing for the Boston Globe Magazine, as a “globe correspondent,” in relation to a class I’m taking at Emerson.

As I look back on the popular “for the girl turning 2–” posts [For The Girl About To Turn 21 | Moving Onto 22, For the Girl About to Turn 22 | Welcome to My Jordan Year (23), Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first], the lessons that I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced have surely molded me into someone who I am today. But the experiences haven’t existed without the people and the things and ideas that easily influence(d) me. What I know now, however, is that I’m not the girl who settles anymore, instead I learned how to be picky. I’m not the girl who watches Grey’s Anatomy anymore, and as you all know Sex and the City is my bible. But yet again, everyone has their comfort show, and that’s more than okay. It’s good for anxiety.

How I’ve grown as a writer, has honestly changed but also been somewhat lost from when I interned at RI Monthly. There’ve been those who have been with this blog since the beginning — a brokenhearted twenty-year-old, lost, and with no direction. I’ve grown in various forms of copyediting. I laugh at my own grammar mistakes now, which is all you can do, right? Doesn’t that add to the authenticity? There are also those who have grown with me along the way, maybe not so much at the beginning, but have managed to catch up like a Sex and the City re-run marathon. That’s what it’s been like for me, a whole re-run of my life just documented in a digital diary (hence why it’s called “The April Diaries.”) I invite you in. I also invite other people to share their stories with me, as well.

And just like that… the April Diaries has grown up.

PROFILE DIARIES: Crafter, May Flaum

May Flaum has been crafting since she was a child. However, when she went to college, she studied the travel industry. After 9/11 happened, she was unfortunately out of a job and her internships were no more. She thusly rekindled her love for crafting when she got her first “crafty” job managing a crafts store and teaching classes. “Before Facebook and Twitter, in person events were the one and only route, as well as blogging, message boards — people wanting to share knowledge and learn from each other,” says Flaum.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Flaum could only do so much as to host Facebook Live Events. She especially does Facebook Live Events because she is a Brother Crafts Ambassador. To her, being approached by Brother USA was a blessing because she has been using their products for so long (e.g. their famous sewing machine.) In addition to Facebook Lives, she also thinks of features for their site, produces YouTube videos, and videos and tutorials that go onto the Brother USA Website.

Crafting has become more than just a hobby for most during the pandemic. With that being said, her advice to young DIYers, especially those who are selling their hobbies on sites like Etsy is to “just go for it.” Flaum also emphasizes coming back and revisiting the idea of selling your hand-crafted pieces, as well as lifting others up and finding someone to compliment. “It only takes a second! You never know who might need it!” says Flaum.

Her background in the traveling industry has actually helped her plan out travel events. She has absolutely no regrets because the logistics of her education have helped her a great deal. “It’s never wasted,” she says.

5 Crafting Must-Haves for 2021

By May Flaum, Brother Crafts Ambassador

  1. A Designated ‘Create Space’

Whether you’re a crafter, sewer, or embroiderer, it always helps to have your own space meant for creating. This space is where you can keep your machines, embellishments, fabric, vinyl, glue, etc. That way, when you’re on to your next project, you will have everything you need organized and ready to get to the fun part- the making! This doesn’t need to be a large space or even permanent spot – it could be a small desk with drawers and space to keep your supplies or even a portable storage system so you always have your creative supplies with you and organized – wherever you create. It makes creating a little escape into your own craft world easy.

  1. SVG Files

In 2021, crafting meets technology with the use of SVG Files – or Scalable Vector Graphics. These files give crafters the ability to easily incorporate their favorite designs in an array of projects. Some machines even come with built in designs making projects possible as soon as you turn on the machine. Whether you are creating your own graphics, utilizing free SVG files, purchasing from digital shops, like Etsy, or using the files that come standard in your machine, SVG files make all sorts of crafting from sewing to scrapbooking fun!

  1. Craft Vinyl

My go-to for creating decals, custom apparel, stencils, and more is craft vinyl. The possibilities are endless with vinyl from stickers to iron-on. Just cut your craft vinyl from your desired (SVG or other) design and transfer it onto your desired project. Craft vinyl comes in a variety of finishes glossy, glitter, flocked, patterned, pearlized and so much more. Easy to cut, weed, and apply it adds a lot to customize and craft a wide variety of projects.

  1. An Electronic Cutting Machine

An electronic cutting machine is a must-have for any crafter in 2021. As mentioned above, having access to digital designs is a gamechanger and an electronic cutting machine, like the Brother ScanNCut DX, will become your go-to for everything from birthday cards to ornaments, pillowcases, and gift bags. For example, the ScanNCut machine comes with built-in designs, including holiday patterns and letter fonts so you can quickly create and edit on the touchscreen display. Creating with craft vinyl and importing SVG files only takes moments as well – expanding your creative possibilities and making more possible at a fraction of the time to hand-cut.

  1. Embellishments

For any kind of crafting, it’s always a good idea to keep ribbon, buttons, glitter, and other accessories of your choosing on hand to spruce up your projects. From scrapbooking to picture frames, a finishing touch can go a long way.  Look for items that are in colors that you create with often, and don’t be afraid to mix and match to create the perfect finishing touches to your handmade creation.  

*Featured Image courtesy of May Flaum.