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  • They’re Wrong About Pessimists

    multiple paths
    image by hockadilly

    “You’re always so negative.”

    “Look on the bright side.”

    “Nothing pleases you.”

    So-called pessimists are used to hearing this kind of talk from family and friends. I should know–most of those closest to me consider me more or less a pessimist, and never fail to remind me of it.

    I’ve always kind of felt they were a little off in their evaluation, though. Like, a naturally negative person? Me? It doesn’t seem right. My observations don’t seem negative to me; they just seem real. They just reflect reality. And besides, if I really pressed them on it, I know the same people calling me a pessimist would agree I present the sunshine-and-rainbows side of things just as often. I’m an idealist if there ever was one.

    So what the hell? Clearly, others are noting something that’s different in me from themselves (god, what else is new?), but if it isn’t pessimism, what is it?

    I have an idea.

    They Call You a Pessimist…

    My loved ones constantly point out that I “find something wrong with everything.” Well, you know what? That’s because there is something wrong with everything. You follow? As in, nothing’s perfect, right? I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer; I’m just trying to consider all possibilities. All angles. All outcomes. Good and bad.

    Now if I were a pessimist, wouldn’t I be all doom-and-gloom and find every situation completely hopeless and not see any good in anything? Wouldn’t I be feeling like the world is unfair and nothing ever works out and no choice is a good choice and so on?

    See? I’m not negative; I’m just real. I’m just careful and deliberate and conscientious and painstaking.

    I’m just a strategic thinker.

    …But Maybe You’re Just a Strategic Thinker

    This distinction became clear to me when I completed the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. “Strategic” is my #2 strength.

    According to the researchers at Gallup, publisher of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, the Strategic theme showing up in my top strengths means I’m able to see repercussions of an action or plan more easily than others. When faced with a decision, my brain goes down a million possible paths, visualizes where each one likely leads, and either stores the option for later comparison or eliminates it.

    So when I explain, Mom, that I agree academia would be a great fit for me BUT there are so few jobs in the subjects I care about AND I’d need to be willing to move my future family around to seriously pursue an academic career AND I suspect I love learning way more than I’d love teaching, I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just doing what I do very well: assessing all potential roadblocks.

    I like a rosy picture as much as the next person, but I’m unable to ignore the what ifs. That’s not pessimism; that’s strategic thinking.

    The World is Lucky to Have You

    Apparently, the ability to anticipate possible obstacles “…is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large,” says Gallup. Well, how ’bout that? And we can agree this is a highly-valuable skill to possess, right? A brain that sees multiple futures and informs and warns others accordingly?! Hell yeah. That’s, you might say, a helpful person. That’s, perhaps, a caring person.

    That’s not, necessarily, a Negative Nancy.

    So, let me be the first to say: Thank you, “pessimists.”



    Have you been called a pessimist? Have you maybe wrongly called someone one?

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  • Fun Facts About Our Engagement (+ Pictures)

    on one knee

    Note: This is a “Cassie’s Personal Life”-type post, so if you’re not into that, see ya next time (asshole).

    Remember this post? You guys, he proposed.

    I said yes.

    We’re engaged.

    We’re getting married.

    (It took me a solid two weeks post-proposal to fully realize what actually happened, and based on the undertone of disbelief in those words above that just came out of me, I apparently still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that John is going to be my husband and I’m going to be his wife. Like…what? WHAT?! We’re getting m a r r i e d … ???)

    People seem to be interested in the story and the ring, so here are some fun tidbits:

    The Proposal

    • It happened at the site of our first real date, along the same walk in the park we took that night.
    • I unknowingly set the scene by talking my face off about the memories we had together just before he popped the question.


    • My family was on a plane here (Houston) when he did it, so we got to celebrate with them shortly after.
    • I knew they were coming, and I thought maybe John might ask me while they were here, but I was sure he wouldn’t do it that day because I knew it was really important to him to ask my dad in person first. And he hadn’t talked to my dad yet. Or so I thought…
    • John flew to Indiana two weeks prior to the proposal to surprise my dad (the rest of the family knew he was coming) and ask him for his blessing to ask me. I thought he was in Austin at a soccer clinic.
    • I was hung over and out-of-town that day he was in Indiana–a plan devised by my future sisters-in-law to keep me from suspecting anything.
    • After John asked him, my dad was so excited and drank so many celebratory drinks he missed work the next day (this may be my favorite part of the whole story).
    • John’s brother hired a photographer, Leslie Cervantez, for the proposal, who got all kinds of shots paparazzi-style (all photos in this post are by her, with the exception of the ring close-up collage).

    arriving at dinner

    • If the photographer hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t remember much of the event, because I sort of blacked out.
    • I didn’t cry until the next morning. I simply could not process emotion.

    so surprised

    • I was so shocked by it all that when I finally noticed the photographer, I thought it was just a lucky coincidence that someone was already taking pictures in the park, and that she must have seen him get down on one knee and came over to capture it. (Duuuuuumb Cassie.)
    • At several points throughout the night after the proposal, I felt SUPER uneasy and couldn’t figure out why. I realized later it was because everyone around me had known all about the plan and was just chatting away and celebrating, and I just wanted everyone to stop making memories and shut up for a minute so I could catch up and process what was going on.
    • Mine and John’s families met for the first time the night of the proposal, and spent a lot of time together over that weekend, and they meshed so, so perfectly. John’s family was so excited and welcoming of my family; my family was so excited and appreciative of the hospitality…it was perfect.

    The Ring

    • It’s a rubellite tourmaline surrounded by pink sapphires set in rose gold, custom-designed and created by the popular and talented jeweler (and our friend), Ernesto Moreira.

    engagement ring

    • I very much did not want a diamond, mostly for ethical reasons, and John and I decided together to go with a rubellite tourmaline–but he and Ernesto did everything else, so the actual ring was a surprise. (I love love love it and it’s so very “Cassie.”)
    • The stone is from a German-owned Brazilian mine which enforces safe working conditions (that was my #1 priority).

    admiring the ring

    • We met Ernesto through a Craigslist transaction–John bought some file cabinets from him. Like, well over a year ago.
    • Ernesto is Cuban and John’s dad is Cuban, so a bond formed immediately, and a friendship grew from that point.

    The Emotion

    • I’ve never, ever felt so much happiness in me as I did seeing our families interact, and having my family here to see my Houston life.
    • My dad’s support of our relationship–the enthusiasm he shows for it, the respect he has for John, the love he has for me–brings about an almost overwhelming feeling of…I don’t even know. Just so much emotion. I kept saying “warms my heart” to describe experiences that weekend, and it annoyed me because it’s not something I would typically say, but it really captures the feeling. So, I guess, my dad’s support of our relationship–it warms my heart.
    • My mom got choked up when she described the change everyone saw in me when John entered my life, and that moment represented so much. I’ll never forget it.
    • My sister beamed with joy the whole weekend and my usually-quiet brother talked my ear off about being excited for us and for John to be an official member of the family. (I can’t even…NICENESS OVERLOAD right now as I write this, y’all.)
    • John and I cried together twice that weekend, when it was just us two, both times listening to songs that remind us of our relationship.


    • You know how people describe someone as having a certain look in their eye? I know what that means now, because John literally looked at me differently that weekend. Like he loved the crap out of me.
    • I still can’t believe he loves me so much.

    so loved

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  • Why I’m Changing My Newsletter Format

    image by Gregory Jordan

    Basically, this is why. If you’re a blogger yourself, you may have seen this article, and I gotta tell ya: it made a whole lot of sense to me. I had already been batting around some ideas for how to approach my newsletter differently, because I just wasn’t feeling solid about it. And then this post came out and helped me really nail down why it all felt weird and how things could be improved.

    There are a lot of good points in the article (for bloggers, the whole site is a great resource), but here are the main ideas I took away:

    1. Content you’d write for your newsletter should go on your blog–there shouldn’t be a separation of “newsletter content” and “blog content,” and a blog could even be considered a collection of public newsletters.

    2. If you’re intent on growing your readership, it doesn’t make sense to put forth the effort of producing quality content for your newsletter only for it to be hidden in inboxes and difficult for readers to share (they could forward it to a friend or two via email, or they could spread your message through social media channels with a much larger audience–their network–via your blog).

    3. The old newsletter format is outdated (as mentioned, sharing isn’t easy, plus, as Jon says in his post, “People recognize mass emails for what they are…”), and newsletters should really just be email updates, alerting subscribers of new content on the blog.

    After reading this and doing a quick assessment of Alternative Badassery’s practices, I outlined my own specific reasons for making a change:

    1. It Will Lead to More Personal Posts

    I don’t really have a problem being raw and authentic in my writing, but I’ve saved a lot of the really deep stuff for my newsletter, mostly because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to be sending to people’s inboxes and thought the heavy material made sense for a more private channel. But now, I’ll just post that crap for the whole world to see!

    2. It Will Lead to More Behind-the-Scenes Posts

    I thought it might be boring to discuss business or admin-related topics in blog posts, but y’all said you liked it. And really, I’m just here to make you happy and give you what you want. So we’ll do some more of that stuff, yeah?

    3. The Whole Newsletter Thing Has Always Felt Awkward to Me Anyway

    Like I said, I never really got what I was supposed to be doing with it. Sending you some shit I wrote? Why not put it on the blog? Asking your opinion about something? Why not ask you via social media? I have this huge list of post ideas with a few newsletter ideas sprinkled in, and that always seemed odd to me–what’s the difference?

    4. I Already Wanted to Move the Discussion Out of Email

    Some of you subscribers have replied to my newsletters with, just, fucking brilliance. You have great advice. It feels dumb that I’m the only one who gets to hear it. Not only that, but also, it usually takes me a while to respond to individual emails. So what could be a lively and helpful discussion among several interested people for whom the subject resonates becomes a stale exchange between two parties who’ve since moved on from the emotion the topic originally stirred up.

    5. It’s More Work

    Look, I don’t get enough writing done as it is. Writing a lot of unique content for the newsletter means writing less for the blog or guest posts on other sites. If it were worth it, it’d be worth it. But as we see above, it’s not worth it. Ya know?

    So What’s the Format Going Forward?

    When I write a new post, I’ll send you an email with a little intro to the article so you can decide if it’s worth your time or not, and a link to it. That’s it. And the stuff you’ve been seeing in the newsletters will now go on the blog (which I’m linking to in the emails… whoa! Still with me?).

    Can We Still Exchange Private Emails?

    YEAH! Of course, of course! Email me anytime! I get that not everyone wants to discuss everything publicly. We can totally still have one-on-one convos via email–you’ll just be the instigator of them now.



    What’s your take on newsletters? Love? Hate? Subscribed to a ton or never subscribe? Favorite format?

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