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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.

    Suprise_Proposal-19

    • 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.

    kiss

    • 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

    mailboxes
    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.

    ***

    Discuss

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

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  • Recommended Resources for Career, Lifestyle, Quarterlife Crises, Blogging, & Freelance Writing

    books
    image by azrasta

    I’ve been flying through books and online resources like it’s my job. That’s what happens when a lover of reading and learning takes on such projects as launching a new blog, trying out freelance writing, and figuring out what to do with one’s life (NBD).

    The value of many of the items I’ve used is incredible. I’ve been blown away, really. I feel indebted to their creators–they’ve helped me so much! I’d feel like an asshole not trying to spread the word about their work.

    Originally, I developed a “Resources” page (no longer available) to house reviews and links (yes, affiliate links, whenever possible/applicable. I was really banking on making enough money for one coffee a month, ya know?) associated with all the books and products I found exceptional…but it started to get ridiculous. As in, I was reading so much good shit so fast that I was adding awesome things for people to check out all the time, and the page grew into a section of pages, which was becoming annoying to manage…

    Here’s what I’m saying: I want you to know about these resources–I want to sing their praises–but I no longer want the hassle of keeping the pages updated, nor do I want the content taking up precious real estate on my site anymore, K? Homegirl likes a clean website, and I was cluttering things up like an elderly woman does with plastic flamingos and lawn gnomes. No likey. (Besides, I need room in the site navigation for a few new pages coming soon… THE DRAMA! THE SUSPENSE! ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT NEW PAGES?! I KNOW YOU ARE! I KNOW YOU CARE ABOUT NEW UPCOMING PAGES ON MY BLOG!!!!!!)

    I’ve chosen two near-and-dear-to-my-heart items (also the two I have true/non-Amazon affiliate relationships with) to promote indefinitely (to your right, in the sidebar under “Recommended”), but outside of those, I think I’ll just shoot an email to my newsletter subscribers or write a review post or something for all other noteworthy books, products, exercises, and whatever else I come across.

    This is a boring post so far, I’m sorry. I think this is all stuff I’m not supposed to tell you, too. Like, if I let John read this before I publish it, he’ll tell me no one cares about the administrative details of my site, and that I shouldn’t even mention any of this. But I feel like I’m pulling a fast one on you guys by not always being transparent, so I hope you appreciate all this stuff you don’t care about. Or something like that. Let’s move on.

    Here are some truly remarkable resources I think you’ll find helpful. As mentioned, some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I’ll get about four cents of any sale made through this page (though it doesn’t change your price at all).

    Jung Typology Test

    Discovering my personality type by taking the Jung Typology Test was an enormous breakthrough for me as I flailed about in a quarterlife crisis. I learned what my natural strengths and preferences are, how I experience the world, and how I make decisions–in short, I finally felt like I understood myself. This brought a lot of clarity and relief, and the knowledge propelled me forward in my quest to identify my ideal career.

    Take the test

    Do What You Are

    This book will also help you determine your personality type (through a couple of different methods), but focuses on what it means for your work. What’s better is that it goes beyond simply offering information to include actual action items (hooray!) and relevant exercises to help you determine the best career for you. I didn’t finish the book knowing exactly what to do, but I had certainly narrowed my options down and had a good sense of the direction I should go.

    Read more

    Strengths Finder 2.0

    After coming across the third mention of this book, I knew I had to get it. The main idea here is that we should each figure out the talents we naturally possess, and focus on developing those into strengths (as opposed to spending–wasting–time trying to improve our weaknesses). The thought is that we can be professional powerhouses by finding ways to use our strengths more instead of attempting to get better at the things we’re crappy at, resulting in an average ability level at best. While the book and assessment seem to be more intended to help you make the most of a role you’re already in, knowing your talents can really help you identify an overall good career fit, too. My results revealed a lot about the jobs I would and would not be successful in.

    Read more

    The Art of Non-Conformity

    As I read through this book, I kept noticing this “Oh, thank God!” feeling. Chris Guillebeau puts into words what I’d somewhat subconsciously suspected for a long time: there are other ways to live than the one way you’ve been exposed to. Our eyes are closed to other roads, other possibilities, other ways of seeing the world and our work…and Chris opens them. This book will forever alter your worldview–for the much, much better.

    Read more

    The $100 Startup

    Interested in entrepreneurship? Here’s your guide. Also written by Chris Guillebeau, and also a source of that “Oh, thank God!” feeling–this time when it comes to strategies for launching, operating, and growing (if desired) a business. You don’t need a lot of money to get your brainchild out into the world, nor do you need to screw people over or trick them into buying to be successful. You do need to put some careful thought into how you can provide real value and truly help people, as well as what makes sense for you to offer, how best to offer it, and whom to offer it to, though–you’ll learn how to go about all this, and more, in this book.

    Read more

    279 Days to Overnight Success

    Another slam-dunk (free!) resource by Chris Guillebeau, this guide lays out the process of–and key concepts involved in–building a successful online platform. If you blog just for fun/creative release/whatever, this probably won’t interest you. But if you’re ready to take things to the next level, spread your message, get some traffic, and maybe even sell some stuff through your site, you need this info.

    Read more

    Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success

    When I first started seriously thinking about freelance writing, I did a ton of research on what I’d need to do to be “legit,” and ended up completely overwhelmed. I came across a recommendation for Kelly’s book, and purchased it right away…and found that pretty much all my questions were answered. You can have zero knowledge of the publishing industry or what pitching story ideas or working with editors is like, and come out feeling like you have a decent grasp on it all after reading this book. You’ll also have a template for each of the common emails and letters you can expect to be sending as a freelance writer. Another book worth way more than it costs!

    Read more

    ***

    Discuss

    Have you used any of these resources? If so, what was your experience like? Any related items you’d add to the list?

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