Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Avoiding Atrophy is now a BOOK!

HI HI HI HI HI HI HI THERE! It's me, your girl, Christy! Long time no blog!

Did you miss me and this squinty eye?

Let's get this out in the open straight away: it's been a while.

And you thought I was gone forever, didn't you? Admit it. You thought I had all but abandoned this place, that I had been swallowed up by my new website adventures, and that there was no chance I would ever return to my old Avoiding Atrophy stomping grounds.

Well, friend, you thought wrong.

Actually, well, oops -- scratch that. You were pretty much 100% right. Almost a year ago, I did in fact move my written ramblings over to a brand new site, christyoshoney.com, as I discussed in my concluding blog post. And yes, yeah, okay, true, given the fact that I am doing my thing over there, I haven't really had any intention of doing my thing over here ever again, unless a truly unique circumstance happened to arise.

Well, guess what, friend-o? A truly unique circumstance has arisen.

You ready?

No? Me neither. But whatever, I'll tell you anyway.


That's right! Mama wrote a book! It's called Lifeless Pile of Mush because, whatever, it's my book and I can call it whatever the hell I want. And here's the kicker: it's a book of essays from this very blog!

I'm taking the top-of-the-line posts from Avoiding Atrophy -- the ones that truly represent the spirit of this blog dedicated to finding glimmers of hope in the cesspool of shattered expectations -- and I'm putting them all in one place: a BOOK place! And by "book place," I mean that this is an actual physical book, with pages that you can touch and smell and spill coffee on and litter with margin notes.

Not only am I curating the best essays from this blog in the book, but I'm also annotating them! That means that all of the inner commentary I have while reading these old posts will be available to YOU, the reader. Any new lessons I've learned, any major judgements I have about my past self -- you are going to hear them. So it's basically like being inside of my head, and I don't let a lot of people in there, so you should feel privileged.

So if you have already read every single post on this blog (Have you? I'm not even sure I have...), there is still plenty of new stuff to chew on in Lifeless Pile of Mush

That said, you'll dig this book if any of the following apply to you:
  • You are the kind of person who wants to get the best stuff out of life. 
  • You are the kind of person who has been kicked in the teeth by life, so sometimes you just want to eat a bunch of salt and vinegar chips and watch reruns of Cheers.
  • You enjoy laughing. (You hear it burns calories.)
  • You have big, fat dreams.
  • You need a heapin' helpin' of encouragement to help you achieve those big, fat dreams.
  • You like me and/or my writing.
  • You enjoy this blog.
  • You are a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll (and a whole lot afraid of public restrooms).
  • You like honest, complicated examinations of the human experience.
  • You enjoy self-development writing with a whiff of humor and a hint of self-deprecation.
  • You just finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and you're not sure what to read next. 
The book isn't out just yet, but right at this very moment, you can pre-order your copy of Lifeless Pile of Mush (at a pretty sweet discount, mind you)! It's also available as an e-book, so if you're totally ready to embrace the future, I've got you covered.

So are you ready to read this thing? Click below to pre-order your copy!

Anyway, just thought you'd like to know this little tidbit. Thanks for following along and for essentially making my most colossal dreams come true. You are aces. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Goodbye, Avoiding Atrophy (And Hello...?)


Sorry about that. I was having trouble figuring out how to start this post, so rather than play the type-and-delete game that I've been playing for the last half hour, I decided to just shout out a silly word to get things rolling. Warning: if at any point I start hesitating throughout writing this post, I may shout it again. It's the twelve-year-old in me, and I hope she lives forever.

Anyway, the reason why I am struggling so much with the start of this post is because -- Man, I guess I'll just come right out and say it -- it's my last one.

(I'm just going to let that sink in for a minute before I dig into what it really means. As I'm sure you can imagine, though, this won't all be bad news.)

Yes, this is the last post I will ever write for Avoiding Atrophy. I've been blogging on this site for over four years now, ever since I graduated college and embarked on the journey that is adulthood.

When I started out, I looked like this:

Now, I look like this:

Obviously, time has been quite kind to me.

I mean, really kind, actually. This weird little corner of the Internet that I've created here has been one of my life's biggest, happiest surprises. I started it out thinking, "Hey, my mom and various friends might want to know what I'm up to. Plus, I have thoughts and I would like to put them somewhere."

But it became so-ho-ho much more than that. Through this blog, I've been able to do some wildly cool stuff. I've traveled, launched a writing career, and of course, connected with some of the best humans I could ever imagine (and not to brag, but I can imagine some pretty great humans. Like, for instance, a guy named Neil who wears fun sweaters and always has butterscotch candies in his pockets. You get the idea).

So why oh why would I ever want to leave this place that has been so good to me over the last four years?

You may have already started speculating wildly about the answer to this question.

Is she dying?
Is she pregnant? 
Is she under some sort of spell?

None of these are the case (though, admit it, you thought I was pregnant). The truth is I'm healthy, I drank two glasses of wine last night, and as far as I can tell, I have not been bewitched in any way.

No, the reason I am leaving the world of Avoiding Atrophy is because I've got...plans.

Plans that --



Get this, y'all: I am launching a BRAND. NEW. SITE!

Yep, totally new. New title. New focus. New look. New ev-er-y-thang.

But why? Why switch things up? 

As I'm sure you can imagine there are many reasons. I could list them all here for you now, but really, they all boil down to one major truth: it's just time.

Through blogging on Avoiding Atrophy, I have written on a vast array of topics, and while that has always been a joyful thing for me, it's also been somewhat limiting. When you can write about anything, sometimes it's hard to know where to focus your energies. That's why your teachers in school always gave you a writing prompt so that you didn't just drool on a page for thirty minutes.

That said, I'm ready to hone in on just a few subjects I really care about, things that I can regularly commit to so that my readers always have something new to put into their brain-boxes.

But even more than that, I've got plans to make something really special. Starting December 1st, you will be able to join me over at christyoshoney.com (yes, apparently you can just name a website after yourself! This is news to me too!) where I will be dishing out unconventional wisdom for unconventional individuals who want to grow in creativity and confidence. Here's what I mean by that:

Cre.a.tiv.i.ty (noun): The way in which you use your gorgeous brain to look at the world just a little bit differently. This often results in the development of something inspiring, amazing, and just really damn cool.

Con.fi.dence (noun): That warm, glowy feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you, "Yes, you've got this. Even though you put your sweater on inside-out and backwards today, you've still got this. Now go be amazing."

I'm writing for people who have both of these things in spades but who perhaps don't always realize it. Somehow these qualities got buried deep down inside their guts, and they just need some tools to help dig em out.

I want to provide these tools. 

This new site will be a place for people who tend to be turned off by typical self-help methods, people who get a little queasy when they come across cliches like "Live, Laugh, Love" or "If God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it!" It will be a place to get all of the helpful advice and goodness that we all need packaged in a way that won't make you sick.

In many ways, it's going to be sort of like Avoiding Atrophy PLUS. Same weird lady (me). Same bizarre writing voice PLUS actionable lessons that will help your life explode into a fireworks display of confidence, creativity, and joy.

Doesn't that sound fun? I think so.

That said, if any of this is resonating with you, and if you think you'd like to stay on this journey that is Christy O'Shoney writing stuff and releasing it to the world, here's the deal:

In the weeks leading up to December 1st, I'll be sending out updates and goodies straight to my subscriber's inboxes (in a totally non-annoying way, I promise). As we prepare to launch this thing, that will be the #1 way to keep up with the haps with this new site. If in the meantime you want to continue hearing from me and be the first to know when christyoshoney.com goes live (or you know, if you just want to be a friend and show your solidarity), go ahead and click the button below:

While I'm so excited for this move, obviously I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally freaked out too. All of the expected questions are racing through my mind: What if nobody shows up? What if this is a legit horrible idea? What if all of my fingers fall off and I can't write anymore?

But here's the comfort I have: you. All of you. Over the years, the people who have visited this blog have been some of the most generous, hilarious, and frankly enjoyable folks in the world. Whenever you leave a comment or give a shoutout on Twitter, I sneak over to your profiles and websites, and I am just floored by all of your brilliance, kindness, and zest for life. So if you guys stick with me, I think I'll be just fine.

And that leads me to my obvious conclusion: Thank you. Thank you so much. I just never can believe the support I've received here. From my family, my community, and all of the friends I have made along the way -- I still can't believe you guys show up to read the things I write, and I feel luckier than I can even express. 

And now, as I step away from this place, I'd like to conclude with some thoughts from my first ever post on this here blog:

We could choose to pursue life with a boldness and determination that we always dreamed we would or we could sit, lie, wait, and let our muscles atrophy until we don't even resemble human. For me, I choose the former.

Thanks for making the difficult choice to avoid atrophy with me over the past four years.

Let's keep it up.

Christy O'Shoney

Pssst PS: If you want to reach out to me in the meantime, feel free to shoot me an email to hello@christyoshoney.com or follow along and give me a shout on Twitter or InstagramOh, and here's one more chance to sign up for that mailing list I told you about:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

15 Things To Call Yourself Instead of "Writer"

If you're a writer, perhaps you're used to the strange exchange that occurs whenever you tell strangers what it is that you do. It usually goes something like this:

--What do you do?
-I'm a writer.
-- [long pause] Oh, how fun. What kind?
-I write articles, blog posts, copy -- it varies.
--Have I read anything you've written?
-Maybe. What have you read?
--Haha, no no. Like, have you written something...popular?

It's this question which immediately leads this stranger to sort you into one of two categories: Famous or Weird. Of course, what they are hoping to hear from you is, "Oh yes, I wrote a little book called Eat. Pray. Love. Maybe you've heard of it. I'm Elizabeth Gilbert. Sorry, I probably should have mentioned that before." Anything less than that, however, immediately lands you in the Weird category.

On the whole, it seems, people don't believe writers exist. Perhaps they used to exist, back when Mark Twain was still kicking, but now they're relatively extinct. And if they do exist, they only write novels. And if they don't write novels, then maybe they write commercial jingles or advice columns for O Magazine, or, you know -- something...famous. 

So when people hear you say you are a "writer," their brains become overloaded with all of these fantastic misconceptions, and it sends them into a momentary bit of panic. This person just used the word "writer" to describe their occupation. Are they crazy? Am I safe in this conversation?

That said, many writers try to find a more palatable way to explain what it is that they do. They use non-sense words like "Content" and "Developer" to help people process the fact that they really do get paid to write words on a page. So if you're looking for an alternative way to say you're a "writer" without freaking people out, here are some ideas:

1. Wordsmith

2. Content Strategist

3. Language Artist

4. Scribbler

5. Idea Person

6. Sentence Developer

7. President of Words

8. That Thing That Michael Crichton Is

9. Verb User

10. Witmaster

11. The Opposite Of A Reader

12. Depressed

13. Kevin

14. Just say, "I make the words that make the sentences that make the WORLD." Proceed to writhe with maniacal laughter.

15. Paralegal (Honestly, just make up a profession. Don't tell people you're a writer. It never goes well.)

Are you a writer or someone with a weird job? 
How do you describe what it is that you do?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

For Halloween, I was....

My husband, Daniel, dressed as Darth Vader kind of?

Guys, I LOVE Halloween. It's very possibly my favorite holiday. I mean, seriously, it's got everything I enjoy:

1. Pumpkins
2. The "Thriller" dance
3. Adorable little girls dressed as adorable little Rosie The Riveters
4. Dogs dressed as literally anything
5. Corn mazes
6. Couples costumes (chicken & waffles, Sandy & Danny, left boob & right boob, etc.)
7. Pregnant lady costumes (ex: when a woman paints her belly to look like a basketball -- AMAZING!)
8. Themed parties
9. Fruity tootsie rolls
10. Spooky music
11. Halloween-themed treats (eyeball cake pops, spaghetti that looks like brains -- that sort of thing)
12. The Monster Mash
13. Ghost stories ("She's been deeeaaad for seven yeeaarrsss" = YES)

But believe it or not, there was a time in my life in which I wasn't able to enjoy such pleasures. You see, as a child, my family didn't actively celebrate Halloween. My parents just weren't super into it, so for the most part, I didn't trick-or-treat or even dress up.

No, wait. It gets worse.

Instead, on October 31st, my family would celebrate Reformation Day: the anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of The Wittenberg Castle Church. And by the way, if you don't know what any of those words mean, don't worry about it. All you need to know is that Reformation Day doesn't involve any candy and it blows.

That said, now that I am an adult, I make it my mission to do it up right on Halloween. The thing I get into the most, obviously, is my costume. After a deprived childhood in which I regularly dressed up as a cat alone in my bedroom instead of trick-or-treaing, you bet your ass I'm going to commit to wearing a solid costume.

This year, I was definitely feeling the pressure since, not going to lie, I've sort of been crushing it over the last couple of years. Last year, I dressed as pizza and the year before that, I was a piƱata. Both involved a lot of crepe paper and patience.

But after WEEKS (okay fine, days...okay fine, minutes) of planning this year's costume, I finally landed on something I was sure would wow the world. As I began crafting it, I pictured myself walking around the streets of New York receiving applause and windmill high-fives from strangers. You ready to see it?

Okay so first off, what do you think I am?

Not sure?

Yeah, most everyone was puzzled by this particular look. I mean, I was wearing animal ears, so people were at least 90% sure that I was, in fact, in-costume, but they couldn't quite figure it out beyond that.

Some educated guesses I received: a mouse, a mouse carrying a purse, a mouse from the University of Michigan.

Overwhelmingly, however, people thought that I was dressed as the animated rodent superhero, Mighty Mouse, who, by the way, looks like this:

Via Wired

So yeah, I definitely was not Mighty Mouse.

Any more guesses though?

What if I told you that the little tag on my suspenders said, "Send better email."

Still don't know?



Via Questioning Creatives

Specifically, I was Mailchimp Freddie: the mascot for the super-uber-popular email newsletter service, famously mispronounced as "mail KIMP" on Serial, the most popular podcast of all time.

So does that ring any bells? Do you get it nooowwwW?!!

Meh, forget it.

My friend Robyn dressed AS A ROBIN. Now, THIS is a costume.
Seriously, though, don't feel bad if you couldn't tell what my costume was. Mailchimp sponsors basically every single podcast I listen to (plus, I use it), so for me, it is very much a part of my life. What I neglected to realize was that not everyone listens to podcasts or sends newsletters and also it's really hard to distinguish between chimp ears and mouse ears. Whoops.

Whatever, people may not have necessarily "understood" my costume, but I still felt good about it.

And my ambiguous animal costume didn't stop me from having one of the most legendary Halloweens of my human existence. Evidence:

What did you dress up as for Halloween? Here's hoping it was less obscure than my costume! 

Oh, but before I go, since I was dressed as Mailchimp and everything, I feel it would be remiss of me not mention my mailing list. I have one. It's hosted by Mailchimp. If you want to get fun updates and extra content sent straight to your inbox (including a FREE e-book that you can download right. freaking. now), then sign up below!

Sign up for this mailing list, you beautiful thing you!

* indicates required

Friday, October 30, 2015

9 Things I Learned From My First Week On Periscope

If you've been hanging around these parts for any length of time, you may have noticed me blabbing about something called #CreateOScope over the last week. For seven days, I did my first ever live broadcasts all about staying creative and finding inspiration. Just to clarify, this wasn't my first Periscope rodeo. My husband and I logged on one night randomly about a month ago to sing Shania Twain songs to strangers and giggle about how weird the world is. But I wouldn't really count that, so let's say #CreateOScope was my first time using the platform in any sort of intentional way.

That being said, I learned a lot about the wonderful world of scoping this week, and I'm not going to lie, I learned a lot about myself too. Here's what I gathered...

Periscope is TERRIFYING.

When you first start your broadcast, there are about 10 seconds there in which you wait with bated breath for people to join. In those ten seconds, your entire life flashes before your eyes. You start to remember every insecure vignette from your life -- the time your dad forgot to pick you up from softball practice, that day on the playground when your crush told you that your corduroy overalls looked like poop. And for those brief ten seconds, the frightening idea that maybe no one will show up, that maybe no one cares that you want to talk about Morning Pages -- that feeling washes over you like a tepid shower.

Periscope is NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL.

But then people sign on. Lots of them actually. Most of them are from Russia, but whatever, they are there. Periscope has a location function where you can search for live broadcasts on a map. I think that's how most people found me this week, but MY people were there because I posted a schedule on my blog and I shared all of my broadcasts on Twitter. In fact, there wasn't a single broadcast I did where I wasn't pleasantly surprised by the number of people who joined.

That said, if you are waiting to get on Periscope because you are scared that no one will show up, don't sweat it. People will show up. God knows why, but they will.

Periscope is FUN.

On this blog, I always love seeing your comments about the weird stuff I'm writing about. But what I really love about Periscope is the ability to see LIVE comments. I speak, you speak. That's how it works -- like an actual conversation. In my first ever scope, it immediately put me at ease to see people I knew hanging out in the chat sending me their support. Plus, I just loved creating a dialogue with folks. I would say "Can I get an amen?" and people who actually respond, "Amen." It was nice.

Oh, and hearts. On Periscope, to show your approval, you tap the screen and it sends up a heart. Hearts are pretty.

Periscope is DISTRACTING.

Love the hearts, love the comments, but good LAWD, it's so hard to focus. Every day, I would come with ideas to talk about, but watching folks sign on and reading through comments and seeing a bunch of hearts floating on the screen made those first few days feel like the ultimate lesson in multitasking. However, as I continued, I felt like I got a better sense of when to engage and when not to. Plus, I also watched a ton of other scopes from more seasoned professionals, and it turns out that honestly everyone is distracted. Everyone stops themselves mid-sentence to answer the really thoughtful comments and questions. It's just the nature of the platform, and in a way, I really like that.

Periscope is FULL OF CREEPS.

Just like any social hub of the Internet, Periscope has a troll problem. There I would be, discussing things of varying degrees of importance when suddenly some bro would comment asking me to take my clothes off. I see this happen to EVERY single girl on Periscope. And my question is, what is going through these guys' brains? I'll never understand. But fortunately, Periscope makes it really easy to block people. And honestly, I was fairly liberal with my blocks this last week.

Periscope is GLITCHY.

Ugh. Guys, I don't know if Periscope is going to be my forever home. There's just too many technical glitches. There was not a single scope this week in which there wasn't some major connection problem. Fortunately, in the replays, the glitches just look like quick edits, but I'm sure it was rough for the people watching live. Sorry, y'all. If I could count on Periscope, it would be my new best friend, but I honestly just can't. Be a better friend, Peri.

And now for things I learned about myself:

I play with my hair A LOT.

Feel no need to confirm or deny whether you noticed me doing this on Periscope this week. I am certain that it was the case. I rewatched a couple of my scopes, and I could barely get through them for how much I was playing with my hair. Literally, this was me the entire time:

I will work on it.

I do not recognize my own voice.

You know how your voice sounds different in your own head than it actually does to everyone else because, I don't know, science? Well, man, I wish you could hear the voice that I hear. She's got this throaty quality, sort of like Kirstie Alley or Roz from Frasier. But this week, when I went back and watched a couple of my scopes, I was like -- hold up, who is that? In actuality, my voice is a bit more sing-songy, youthful, and nasally -- less Roz and more Stephanie from Full House, I must say. I mean, I'm cool with it, but I'm fairly sure that I should never pursue a career in voiceover work.

I really enjoy this sort of thing.

One of the reasons I decided to devote this week to talking about creative inspiration is because, well, that's something I really care about. In my life as a creative, I've often struggled to find the balance between standing out and selling out. As a blogger and a writer, it is so tempting to pursue things that will drive you to success even if those things start to chip away at your creative instincts. So over the years, I've made it somewhat of a mission to immerse myself in lots of different creative experiences. Whether that's through reading or traveling or taking improv classes, I'm all about feeding my "inner artist" (and using kooky phrases like "inner artist"). This week, I loved being able to share my experiences with you guys, and I hope to do a lot more of that as we move along.

And actually, I'm going to start that process right now. I've created a short workbook called Your Dreams Aren't Dumb. It's all about reconnecting with your heart's desires -- the ones you had growing up and the ones that you still have in the back of your mind, even if no one else knows about them but you. If you've been delaying your big life goals for any reason -- be it a lack of confidence, a lack of support, or just plain fear -- I want to help you get psyched about your dreams again. Because, by the way, your dreams aren't dumb.

So to grab your FREE download of this workbook, click the button below. As you go through it, I'd love to hear all about your big, beautiful dreams and what you're doing to achieve them (Tweet at me! I mean, why the hell not?).

In conclusion, Periscope was a blast, and thanks to all of those who joined me on this ridiculous week of scoping. On my final day of #CreateOScope, I shared some announcements about a few changes that will be going down around these parts in the next few months. I want to devote a full blog post to all of that, but if you want to get a jump on that knowledge, you're welcome to check out the two most recent recordings of my broadcasts here (and yes, there's two of them because Periscope was being so glitchy that I had to restart. Bluh.)

Have you used Periscope? What's your take?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Nobody Doesn't Like Apple Picking

Before moving to New York, I didn't know what the big deal was with apple picking. Like, what, you just pick apples? Off of a tree? How is that a family event? 

Back in Texas, at least in Central Texas where I grew up, we did not have apple orchards. We did not have fields upon fields of Red Deliciousness ripe for the picking. Ne'er had I tasted an apple cider donut. These things were but legend to me.

But since moving here, I have to say: I get it. Guys, apple picking is amazing. Seriously, I don't know who wouldn't like it. Not a year has gone by since I became a New York state resident in which I have not picked an apple from a tree with my bare hands. There is just something so satisfying about heading north out of the city, driving past colorful fall foliage, parking your car in a big open lot, being handed a plastic bag by a man in overalls, and marveling as he points to a vast field of apple trees and says, "All of this can be yours."

Now, if you've never apple-picked before, you might be surprised to know that it can actually be quite an athletic event, especially if you go later in the season. At the beginning of apple season, all of the smart, prepared people come and pick the apples that are within reach. Later, the rest of us have to either maneuver a wieldy pole with a basket attached or actually climb the trees to get our desired fruits. It's work.

Climbing, however, is not usually encouraged at most apple orchards. There are rules against it. In fact, there are a surprising number of rules when it comes to apple picking. No climbing, no throwing, no canoodling behind a granny smith tree, no stealing someone's bag of apples when they are not looking and replacing it with a sack of potatoes.

But arguably the most loathed rule when apple picking is no eating. I mean, what the hell? How do you expect me to labor my life away in a gorgeous field of apple trees and not have a bite of at least one apple? Eve couldn't do it, and neither can I.

That's why, this year, my hubs and I wanted whichever orchard we picked to be the equivalent of a nude beach -- that is to say, we wanted to go to the orchard with the least number of rules (I hope I didn't make it sound like we wanted to pick apples in the nude. That just sounds painful). 

As a result, this last weekend, we ended up at Applewood, an orchard between the small hamlets of Warwick and Sugar Loaf (I kid you not. That adorable town was actually named Sugar Loaf. You can't make this stuff up). 

And we had quite the time. 

That feeling when you realize nothing on God's green earth 
can compare to the glory that is apple picking.

After a long day of apple-picking, we usually we end up taking an impressive bounty home, which honestly just ends up rotting in our refrigerator. I mean, let's face it: apples are fine, but they aren't, like, amazing. While the process of picking them is as exhilarating as, I assume, a coked up ride on Disneyland's Space Mountain, the actual eating of the apples is just...aight. You have a couple and you're pretty good. 

But this year, we decided to not be wasteful little jerks, and instead we turned our apple spoils into THIS:

I'd say that the fact that I turned these apples into a pie instead of letting them rot means that I'm getting more responsible, but then again, I also ate this pie for breakfast, so who's to say?

What sorts of fall activities have you been up to lately?

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