finding a summer state of mind.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while (first of all — thank you!), you might remember that my first summer as a freelancer in 2017 proved a bit of a challenge.

I came out of a corporate job that was wildly generous with its benefits, one of the biggest of which was summer Fridays. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, all employees would work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, then leave at lunchtime on Friday. The hours themselves were great, but the spirit of summer Fridays bled into the culture of the company for the whole summer. Obviously, we worked hard in the summer months, but everyone felt a little lighter. The promise of a shorter workday on Fridays changed the whole tone of our weeks. It was kind of the best.

Summer Fridays aren’t unusual here in New York City, and many of my friends have adjusted schedules at this time of year, so when I watched last year as my pals began posting photos of Friday afternoon happy hours and regular long weekend trips, I couldn’t help but feel bummed out. Yes, I had left my former job with eyes wide open about the benefits I was losing, but giving up summer Fridays felt particularly sad.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “But you work for yourself! Don’t you have full control of your schedule?”

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. Freelancing is kind of funky, because while I don’t technically have a Boss (yes, with a capital B), I still work for plenty of people, and I’m constantly hustling to deliver work to those people on time and to put myself in front of other people who might be interested in hiring me in the future. I don’t quite have the flexibility that other entrepreneurs (in the truer sense of the word) have, because I don’t get to call all of the shots in my work. I probably call about half of them. Once I’m in a successful business relationship with an editor or client — which is obviously my goal — there are only so many liberties I can take with my schedule and workload. Since I’m always balancing a handful of clients and a lot of deadlines with my own passion projects, that can mean that I’m working 60-65 hour weeks… even in the summertime.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this last summer. A few of my freelancer friends and I even thought about trying to hold each other accountable for taking summer Fridays and granting ourselves a little more down time! That didn’t quite work out, and since I have even more on my plate this summer, it’s not exactly happening in 2018, either. Still, we’re now halfway through the summer (?!?!?!), and I want to find small ways to make the season feel more special, even if I can’t take a ton of extra time off. Ever since I started working from home, I find that minor changes to my routine can make all the difference!

Here are a few of my ideas for finding those summer vibes even in the craziness. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you if you don’t have any big trips planned or are feeling overwhelmed by work, too : )

1. Get outside. It sounds simple, but making a point to step outside of my home office is big for me. Summer in the city can be hard because there’s not a ton you can do to minimize the heat, but I walk to and from The Wing whenever I can, and if I know I have a crazy day head of me, I’ll take an extra lap or two around the block on my way to the gym in the morning.

2. Treat myself more often. I’m naturally pretty frugal, and one of my biggest concerns when I started working from home was that I would constantly be tempted to buy myself lunches, Starbucks, etc. This summer, I’ve been allowing myself a few extra indulgences — especially strawberry bubble tea from the Vietnamese restaurant under our apartment! These drinks are a great way to cool down, and they taste like summer to me.

3. More date nights. Summer is one of the best times to live in New York (as miserable as the heat can be), because it’s easier than ever to explore your neighborhood. Matt and I have been making it a priority to go out more frequently on weeknights, even if it’s just on a walk to the bookstore or to get an ice cream cone. There will be plenty of time to curl up on the couch and watch TV in the winter!

4. Get dressed up. If you work from home, you know all too well how easy it is to keep things casual — to put it generously — in your day-to-day life. Most of the time, if I don’t have meetings or events, I throw on a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt and call it a day… but I’m trying to do that less this summer. I always get such a boost in confidence at this time of year, so I’ve gotten reacquainted with my closet and have been much more likely than usual to actually put on an outfit, even if I’m planing to work out of the apartment. I still don’t wear a ton of makeup most days (better for my skin that way!), but fully embracing my boho style with maxi dresses and long skirts and rompers on a daily basis has been really fun.

5. Drinks! A few months ago, I stopped drinking almost entirely. I’ve never been a huge drinker, but in the late winter and early spring, I was finding that even a glass or two of alcohol here and there was seriously messing with my stomach and giving me a raging headache. I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who likes to drink a lot, but I love me some rosé and girly cocktails in the summer — our summer social life in the city involves a lot of rooftops, and a girl needs rosé on a roof! — so I started working the occasional drink back into my rotation a few weeks ago. It hasn’t been making me feel sick… only celebratory!

What do you do to capture summer vibes? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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second anniversary trip to Mexico.

I can’t decide if it feels like way longer or way shorter than two weeks since Matt and I took our second wedding anniversary trip to Cancun… but it definitely feels like one of the two extremes. I hit the ground running work-wise as soon as we landed back in New York so I could prepare to launch the podcast without dropping the ball on any of my other gigs, then Matt was away last weekend for a bachelor party while I had a friend in town, and this whole time we have been sweating bullets with crazy summer weather here in Brooklyn. With everything we’ve had going on, it’s hard to believe we even went on a trip!

But we did! We did go on a trip, and it was great.

I know the all-inclusive model isn’t for everyone, but we’re huge fans of it, and I was really excited to find a great last-minute deal on Expedia for a resort called the Excellence Riviera Cancun (only in my dreams is this a sponsorship… I just want to share the love!). You never quite know what you’re going to get when you book a trip like this, but I’m happy to report that the place beat all of our expectations and we can’t wait to go back. As much as we loved being at a honeymoon hot spot for our actual honeymoon in 2016 — we went to Sandals Antigua — I’m always anxious about being the only non-honeymooners at one of these resorts, and that wasn’t the case on this trip. It’s probably silly, but I think I would feel a little bummed if every. other. couple around us was just coming off of their wedding… even though it’s obviously magical in its own right to be celebrating an anniversary.

Since life has been such a whirlwind lately and I haven’t had the chance to share any of the details of our time away, I thought I’d wrap up this week with a belated recap of our anniversary getaway! Let’s start with the good, the bad, and the ugly (AKA the best, worst, and most hilarious parts of the trip) and then finish with some photos.

The Good: There was a moment when we were sitting in lounge chairs on the beach one afternoon, drinks and books in hand… and then an acoustic cover band started playing live right at the spot where the resort met the sand. It couldn’t have been a more perfect moment!

The Bad: (This is about to be one of those situations where I take something good and spin it so it’s something bad. Ready?) We needed more time! I know it feels like vacation is never long enough, but I genuinely think that we could have used an extra day or two this time around. Matt and I haven’t been on a beach-y, totally relaxing and luxurious vacation alone since our honeymoon, and while I’m grateful we were able to steal away at all during this very busy period of our lives, I very much regretted that we didn’t figure out a way to extend it just a liiiiiiiitle bit. One more night would have done the trick.

The Ugly: Unless we have a reason to be otherwise, Matt and I are generally pretty casual travelers, and it didn’t occur to us that the resort might have a dress code since that’s not something we’ve run into on previous trips. We pretty much assume that as long as you’ve changed out of your bathing suit, put on some real shoes, and made yourself more or less presentable, you’ll be allowed to eat anywhere you want! Welp, not so much at this resort. There were a few select restaurants where long pants (even jeans!) were apparently required for men, and we were asked very politely to leave one place when Matt showed up dressed in chino shorts, a button down shirt, and loafers. All I could do was laugh and make a mental note to insist that he pack pants next time!

And now for some photos! I never take as many pictures as I want to when we travel because I am focusing so much on disconnecting from my phone, but here are some highlights…

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Sooooo…. can you tell I’m already counting down until when we can go back?

Do you have any summer trips planned? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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monthly goals recap -> june + july.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

The holiday falls in such a weird way this year and I’m not quite sure what our day is going to look like around here, but it’s definitely a treat to get an extra weekday off with Matt! Before we officially kick off our holiday (as I try my hardest to stay away from work entirely), I thought I’d update you on my goals from last month and the weeks ahead. I won’t bore you with any more introductory details, because I want you to get out there and start BBQ-ing and watching fireworks as much as possible!

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All of those completed progress bars in my June Power Sheets feel good

Somehow, with everything that was on my list for June (here is last month’s recap if you need a reminder!), I managed to make it a pretty darn productive one. Here’s how last month’s goals played out:

  • Launch the SSR Podcast. √ YES! SSR went live last week with its first two full episodes, and just yesterday, the third one released on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. This is a living, breathing thing now, and I’m so proud to have made it happen. I’m not even going to try to play down my excitement by calling it a “humble brag.’
  • Push the SSR Podcast Web site, Facebook group, and Twitter live. √ YES! Check it out here, here, and here.
  • Rally the SSR Podcast Launch Team! √ YES! Seriously, thanks to everyone who was part of this. If you still want some bookmarks, let me know. Happy to send some your way!
  • Update list of target outlets. √ YES! Early this year, I made a list of dream-level Web sites and magazines where I would love to see my work appear someday. Physically creating this list was a really powerful experience, because it made these scary-seeming goals feel somehow more within my control. Halfway through the year, I’ve made some progress on this list, but I knew that it was important to revisit it so that it would still be a useful resource in the second half of 2018. I removed several outlets from the list, which didn’t feel great, but then I reminded myself of all of the unexpected things that I’ve accomplished so far this year… things I never could have planned for when I made the list initially! I also added a few prospects that have hit my radar more recently.
  • Read five books. √ YES! I finished a whopping seven books in June, thanks to our long weekend in Mexico and a mad dash to read a bunch of middle grade and young adult books in preparation for podcast recordings. You’ll hear all about the books I read for SSR on the show, but in terms of adult books, I finished The Female Persuasion (a really interesting commentary on modern feminism with great description and character development), You’ll Grow Out Of It (a laugh-out-loud collection of essays about lady things), The Ensemble (a novel about a group of classical musicians that I honestly didn’t love as much as I thought I would), and Hey Ladies! (a book you NEED to read if you’ve ever been on an email thread with a big group of women — I laughed until I cried!).
  • Get headshots. √ YES! My younger sister is an amazing photographer, and I asked her to help me out with these photos. I’m still a little shy about sharing them, but she did an amazing job!
  • Start book outline. Did LOTS of writing, but no outlining. Next month!
  • Refocus on phone boundariestried to do this successfully in June, but I definitely could have done better. I would give myself a very average score.

In my last goals post, I also talked more generally about how I knew that it was time for me to start streamlining my work. My freelance writing workload has grown substantially over the last few months, and adding my new podcasting responsibilities to the mix has definitely required me to take a step back and figure out how to more effectively manage all of the things that I have on my plate. It’s not anyone else’s job to do that for me!

Without getting too specific, I’m happy to report that I made some big strides toward streamlining in June. In the last week of the month, I made a major change to my schedule that will afford me some extra time and flexibility to get #allthethings done. If I’m being honest, it’s a little overwhelming to suddenly reset my routine and figure out how to handle that additional flexibility — but if I make that happen successfully, I know these decisions will have been the best I’ve made in a while.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping and planning to accomplish in July:

  • Pitch to two target outlets. With my revamped target outlet list and the podcast launched, I feel like I’m once again in a good place to pursue some new opportunities with my freelancing hustle! I’m keeping my goals realistic this month and hoping to pitch larger-scale stories to at least two of these platforms. I already have some ideas brewing that I’m excited about!
  • Figure out weekly workflow for podcast production. Now that I’ve done some streamlining to my schedule, I want to be sure that I’m making the best possible use of my time by creating a consistent routine for all SSR-related tasks throughout the week. It’s going to take some time to figure out the best days to edit new episodes, write and record intros, reach out to potentials guests, and the like, but by the end of the month, I’d like to have a workflow like this in place.
  • Read five six books. Another SSR recording was scheduled this morning, so I increased my goal mid-post.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity on a weekly basis. Just because SSR has launched doesn’t mean that all of the hard work is behind me. In fact, the challenge is — in some ways, at least — really just beginning, because now I need to maintain momentum with booking guests and attracting new listeners to the show.
  • Start book outlining process. : )
  • Treadmill three times per week. I have an annual habit of more or less giving up running (almost) entirely for a few months after I finish the Brooklyn Half in May, opting for other kinds of exercise instead. After all of that training, it seems like a waste to lose those running legs! Going on regular runs is such a boost to my confidence and makes me feel great physically, so I’m planning to hit the treadmill at least three times a week in July.
  • Develop and stick to SSR social media calendar every week. One of my overall goals this year is to cultivate a community around the SSR Podcast, and social media is a huge part of that.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I’m not as consistent about reading my target outlets on a regular basis as I should be, and I’d like to focus on changing that moving forward. They say that to be a good writer, you first need to be a good reader… so if I want to be a good writer for certain outlets, I need to be an especially good reader of those outlets, too!

What are your goals for July? Tell me more in the comments below. 

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june giveaway winner announced!

After feeling the early twinges of a summer cold while we were in Mexico, it seems I’ve now been hit with one full force — apparently, I’m always going to be sick over my anniversary weekend — so I’m just going to get right to the point…. it’s time to announce the winners of this month’s giveaway!

We had a great response to this one both here and on Instagram, and I’m so appreciative to Bushel & a Peck for partnering with me so that TWO of you can get a goodie bag full of all-natural lip balm.  If you didn’t happen to win this month, I would still totally recommend you go check out their products! They even offer free shipping in the domestic U.S. for any order of $35 or more. I love me some free shipping.

Based on a random drawing, we have one winner from the blog and one from Instagram (how symmetrical is that?). Congratulations to…

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I’ll reach out shortly to make arrangements to send you your prize!

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Thanks to everyone who entered the June giveaway. It’s such a treat to give back to this blog community each month, so you can bet I’ll be back on July 23rd with something fun to share.

Happy weekend-ing, friends : )

 

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the SSR Podcast is live!

It’s a crazy experience to have your head down so intensely in a passion project for months on end, and then to release it out into the universe in a way that probably feels very loud (and maybe even a little annoying) to the outside world but somehow seems very quiet to you, at least relative to how much louder it actually sounds in your head. Basically, when I dispatched all the social media announcing that The SSR Podcast was a living, breathing thing at about 5 AM yesterday morning, it may have felt a little spammy from an Instagram perspective… but it seemed surprisingly quiet and private for me — and not because I’m not getting support (because I am, and it’s been amazing!), but because I’ve been so consumed with getting all of this up and running that it was hard to believe that tapping those little “post” buttons was really all it took to make it happen. After so many hours, hitting “post” was the last thing standing between me and the moment I’d been stressing about? It was a pretty crazy feeling.

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Believe me — I still have plenty of work to do in order to really get things moving and grooving the way I want to for the podcast. But to have met this one major milestone in what felt like such a quick, quiet way was an extremely weird feeling.

You may already be tuned in to SSR’s social media accounts — and if you are, thank you, seriously! — but I just wanted to take a quick moment to share some easy links for my followers here who may have yet to jump on the SSR train. If you’re feeling like I’m being a little spammy, bear with me for just a little longer here, please. Getting the podcast off the ground has been a huge part of my journey in 2018 so far, and it would be weird if I wasn’t getting the official launch news out with all my pals here on the blog! I’ll resume regularly scheduled programming shortly, I promise : )

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about yesterday’s official launch of The SSR Podcast

You can listen (and subscribe and leave reviews!) here…

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  • iTunes — if you’re going to subscribe and leave a rating or review, this is a great place to do it!
  • Google Play
  • Stitcher
  • the SSR Podcast website “Listen” page (this is a great place to go for fun show notes and extra resources, even if you actually listen to episodes elsewhere)

You can be part of The SSR Podcast community here…

I can’t wait to get your feedback on the show, and if you enjoy it, I hope you’ll share it with your loved ones! This feels more personal than anything I’ve done before — more even than the blog, which is kind of crazy — and inviting people into it is scary, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me : )

And while I’m talking about sharing with loved ones…

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Don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! TWO of you will be getting a goodie bag full of all-natural lip balms from Bushel & a Peck (a woman-owned business YAAAAS!). Comment on my last post here to enter! I’ll be randomly drawing the winners this coming Friday 6/29, so get those entries in ASAP. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog. Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that! Good luck!

Product photo credit: Gallivan Photo (via Bushel & a Peck) 

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june giveaway.

Matt and I leave for our second anniversary trip to Mexico (!!!!!) this morning, but don’t you worry — today is this month’s Giveaway Day… and GIVEAWAY DAY you shall have!

This month, I’ve teamed up with organic skincare and beauty company Bushel & a Peck to reward two of my followers with fun goodie bags of products. There’s a lot that I love about this line, not the least of which is its name! When I was a little girl, my grandmother always sang the song “A Bushel And A Peck” to me. To this day, we sign our cards to each other with “Love you B’s and P’s!” : )

I digress with that bit of nostalgic. Anyway…

Bushel & a Peck — the brand, not the song — is super cool because it’s a true labor of love. The founder Aimee formulates and then hand-pours every single product herself! She was inspired to start the line by her own frustrations with the number of chemicals and artificial fragrances included in so many of the beauty and skincare products on the market. After extensive research, Aimee began making her own hand-crafted, all-natural lip balms. She shared the products she made as gifts for loved ones early on, and a year and a half ago, decided to take them to a bigger audience. I learned on the Bushel & a Peck “About” page that Aimee named the company to honor her husband’s grandmother, who signed cards with “Bushels and pecks.” I had no idea we shared that connection when I agreed to try her products, but it makes me love them all the more.

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I’ve been using the Bushel & a Peck lip balms (along with a few other products!) for a few weeks now, and I’m totally loving them. My lips tend to be dry all year round, and I’m always happy to find new solutions to that problem — and the more I learn about all of the chemicals that the mainstream beauty industry employs, the better I feel about adding more natural ingredients into my personal rotation! Bushel & a Peck uses ingredients like organic shea butter, coconut oil, red raspberry seed oil, and therapeutic-grade essential oils. In case you need further convincing, these lip balms were recently named a summer must-have by The Bend Health Guide. So cool, right?

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I’m always psyched to support women-owned businesses, and Aimee is such a gem. I’m so grateful that she agreed to team up with me this month!

In June, two of you will win a goodie bag of Bushel & a Peck lip balms!

To enter, add a comment to this post below. And since there will be two winners this month (and multiple lip balms for each winner!), you should totally share this giveaway with a friend, too : )

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 6/29. The winners will be announced right here on the blog! Good luck!

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that!)

Photo credit: Gallivan Photo (via Bushel & a Peck)

 

 

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married (almost) two years.

Hi, friends!

I feel like I’ve been a little absent from this special place lately and I want to say a big “I’M SORRY!” for that. Between some unexpected travel over the last few weeks and lots of preparation for next week’s podcast launch (on top of my standard workload), I’ve had to let certain things fall off of my always growing to-do list… and sadly, new blog posts have often been the things to fall. I’m savoring the opportunity to touch base with all of you whenever I have it : )

The big news in our house right now is that Matt and my second wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend.

Two years? I really can’t believe it.

This second year somehow went even faster than the first (which itself went by in the blink of an eye, to use a crazy cliché), and with just a few days to go before we celebrate our anniversary, I couldn’t miss the chance to do a little reflecting on what I’ve learned about marriage over the last 365 days. We’re marking the occasion with a long weekend trip to Mexico (!!!!), which is another reason why I’m coming to you early.

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Before we were married, a lot of people told Matt and me that the first year of marriage was bound to be the most difficult. As of our wedding day, we’d already been together for seven years and had been living together for a few months, so I was admittedly skeptical of this advice. (Also, I’m not a big fan of marriage advice that’s basically just a warning. Can we stop handing out “wisdom” like this at bridal showers, please?) I was happy to find that I was right. Relationship-wise, Year One didn’t prove a major challenge. I was going through tons of personal change — most significantly, a serious career shift and transition to working from home and for myself — and investing tons of work in being successful there, and Matt and I kind of chugged along in our new chapter, still loving the newlywed phase and doing things mostly the same way we always had.

Matt and I agree that Year Two has been a little harder.

We’ve both stepped up in terms of our professional ambitions, and we’ve had to learn to better reconcile our individual goals with doing what’s best for the home team.

We’re continuing to grow together, but we’re also getting more set in our ways in certain aspects… and since the Kosik household is a stubborn one to begin with (fully admitting to it!), we’ve had to continue to figure out how to best communicate with each other.

We’ve had to confront the realities that come with time passing, which has set tough conversations — the kind of tough conversations that seem to need attention every day for months at a time — in motion. Enter more lessons in communication.

As hard as some of these growing pains have been, I see now that they’ve made us so much stronger as a couple, and that they’ve helped me grow into a better version of myself, too. People say that marriage will do that to you, and I guess I’ll happily accept — and agree with — that advice. I am so genuinely excited to celebrate all of the learning experiences and amazing times of the last year in Mexico this weekend. If I do say so myself, we deserve it, and I know we’re going to have the best time. (P.S. if you want to read the recap of our first anniversary weekend, you can check it out here!)

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My engaged friends have asked me on more than one occasion if it really feels different to be married than it does to be in a serious, long-term relationship, and while it’s hard for me to put that difference in words sometimes, I usually say a little something like this:

“When things are easy, it feels the same. You mostly feel different when there’s conflict or when you’re facing something challenging together.”

I was pretty much in it for the long haul with Matt within less than a year of our first date (even though I was a sophomore in college and had no idea what I was doing), and I rarely approached fights or conflict with a mindset of “I could get out of this,” but marriage has taught me even more about how to come to the other side of a tough conversation or situation with someone. As hard as it is sometimes to get up every day and try to work through a fundamental difference, you do work through it! And you realize that it’s not impossible if you can show up consistently to figure out where you and your partner can find common ground. In my opinion, that common ground is what helps you fall even more love. (Cheesy, I know — but it is my anniversary week, so cut me some slack!)

For nine years, I’ve known that there’s no one I’d rather laugh with or watch movies with or go to dinner with or even fight with than Matt. But this year has taught me that there’s no one else I would choose to figure out basically all the things with, either. He continues to be my favorite person and I love him infinitely more even than the day we got married two years ago. That was a hard thing to imagine back in June 2016, but it’s proven absolutely true.

Matt, you are the very, very best. Can’t wait to see what Year Three brings! 

 

 

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my early writing memories.

A lot of my free time recently has been dedicated to reading books from my childhood. (If you’re not sure why, you can read more over on the newly-launched SSR Podcast page!). While I’ve definitely experienced these stories differently the second time around, the simple act of cracking the binding has given me my fair share of flashbacks, too.

Reading one book brought back intense memories of sitting in a navy blue lounge chair near the pool at my grandmother’s old house while I was visiting her for summer vacation. I’m pretty sure we were snacking on cantaloupe.

Another book reminded me of a plane ride to Orlando.

Still another took me back to sitting on the front porch of our rented beach house at the Jersey shore. Back then, it felt like the biggest treat to be able to stay up as late as I wanted, alone with my book and the sound of other beachgoers walking back to their houses as the sky got darker. (For the record, the mark of a good beach trip for me these days is a 10 PM bedtime. Getting older is weird.)

And, yes, I obviously have the clearest memories of vacation reading. 

But how cool is that? The fact that a single chapter or passage in a book I’ve barely thought of over the past 15 years can make me so clearly sense what it was like to read that book the first time — where I was, what I was smelling, how the air felt — is pretty darn cool.

All of these reading throwbacks have gotten my wheels turning on a few writing memories, too.

Writing was a “thing” for me by the time I was eight years old, largely because I was lucky enough to wind up in an elementary school chock full of teachers who embraced more than just a required reading list. They wanted us to learn to tell our own stories, as well, and it quite literally shaped and changed my life. I didn’t know back then exactly what kind of writer I would be when I grew up, but I did understand that the practice of writing would play a major role in whatever happened to me in the future.

Here are some of my earliest writing memories…

… for years, I only took baths — never showers. I used to rest my notebooks on the edge of the tub so I could work on my stories while sitting in the cooling water.

… my first grade teacher had this spiral-bound reference book that was part baby name book, part thesaurus, part dictionary. The idea was to use it to make your writing more creative and to shake up the kinds of nouns and verbs you were using in your work. I pored over this thing so much that my parents ended up asking my teacher where we could order one of our own, and I carried it with me everywhere.

… my classmates and I were introduced to SSR (Silent Sustained Reading — the inspiration for my podcast!) in first grade, but in second grade we learned about SSW — Silent Sustained Writing. A few times a week, we got to sit at our desks and write whatever we wanted. It was the best.

… another staple of my elementary school experience was the “Read In,” a day near the end of the school year when we all got to wear pajamas to school and build makeshift campsites in the classroom where we got to sit and read all day. At some point, we got to have a “Write In.” I’m pretty sure I brought three empty notebooks to school that day, convinced I would be able to fill them with that time.

… my fourth grade teacher had a filing cabinet where we all got to keep our creative writing projects, and instead of working on a bunch of short stories, I asked if I would be allowed to try to write a book. She said yes. My first attempt at a book — which spent that year getting increasingly crammed into my folder in that cabinet — was called Carrie’s Ride Home, and it was about a girl who figured out how to teach her blind little sister how to ride horses. (I was super into horses at the time, too.)

… I always traveled with plenty of blank paper. I remember sitting on the deck of my grandfather’s house in Florida with a princess hat on, fervently scratching away at one of my beloved notebooks. I refused any notebooks that weren’t five-subject, with skinny lines.

… one of my favorite things was to read my work out loud to my mom, which is weird, since I now pretty much refuse to share any of my creative writing with anyone. It was always a “stop everything!” kind of moment, where I required her full attention.

… as a third grader, I decided that I wanted to start a class newspaper. I tried assigning out stories to my classmates and set up a little desk in the back of the classroom (with my teacher’s permission). I remember getting really frustrated because the other kids weren’t as excited about it as I was.

… luckily for me, most of my friends were as interested in writing as I was, and we experimented with lots of writing projects together — plays we would perform in my basement, “books” in alternating viewpoints, and stories we would simply work on together painstakingly, line-by-line.

Ah, these were so fun to revisit!

What are some of your favorite, most random childhood memories? 

 

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a weekend down the shore.

If you’re worrying about the grammatical correct-ness of the title of this post, don’t. “Down the shore” is Pennsylvania/New Jersey/(probably some other places, too)-speak for basically any part of the Jersey shore. You don’t go “to the shore.” You go “down the shore.” Don’t ask me why. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, most of the kids I knew spent some time at the beach every summer. Most people went somewhere in New Jersey, though there was a small group that frequented Delaware. There are tons of beach towns to choose from, and every family seemed to have their allegiance to one. For us, it was Ocean City, NJ, a place I’ve been visiting (literally) every summer since I was born.

There are few places that stick with me the way Ocean City does. I know my way around there better than I do here in Broolyn, and maybe even better than in my hometown. I can navigate by car, on foot, or by bike. It’s probably the only place in the world where I can point you north, south, east, and west without thinking about it for too long. As I’ve grown up, Ocean City only feels more and more important to me.

My family does our big trip there every August, and one of the bummers of getting older is that I’m no longer able to stay with them for the full two-week duration of the vacation. (Responsibilities, ugh.) We try to get down for shorter visits as often as we can at other times of the year, and Matt and I managed to sneak a quick trip down this past weekend. We’ve both been working our booties off the last few weeks (you can read more about my recent case of overwhelm here), and even though we have a big anniversary weekend trip planned at the end of the month, it seemed absolutely necessary that we escape for a little down time ASAP.

I don’t have that much to say about it except that I’m really glad we went.

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I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the weather forecast, so (naturally) I discovered just two days before we planned to go that it was probably going to rain all weekend. By that time, Matt and I were both so committed to the idea of the trip that we probably would have gone even if they were predicting an early June snowstorm. As my dad always says, “A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.” So true, Dad, so true.

We ended up with better weather than expected — so much that we actually spent most of Saturday on the beach reading. It was a little too chilly for full-on sunbathing, so we left our bathing suits behind and wore t-shirts and sweats instead. Somehow, even while bundled up, we still managed to get sunburned! Go figure. I was just so grateful to be outside with my book and my husband and the smell of the water that I didn’t even consider that there could be so much sun coming through all the hazy clouds.

We weren’t quite as lucky with the weather on Sunday, but we kept the relaxation going with more reading (duh), marathons of The Office, and visits to some new (to us) restaurants in the area. Start to finish, our whole trip was only about 17 waking hours or so, but it felt way longer than that, which I’ll take as a sign that we really needed the down time… and totally got it, too.

What are your most relaxing places? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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monthly goals recap -> may + june.

Does something seem a little weird to you about this post?

Well, it should. It’s the first time I’ve ever shared a new blog post over a weekend.

“Why?” you ask.

Funny story: I was fully planning to tell you all about my May and June monthly goals yesterday. I even had it on my calendar. You can check! And then this week kicked my butt. I guess that’s pretty much the end of the story.

I tell you this not only to awkwardly draw attention to the weird break from routine that absolutely breaks my little Type A heart, but also to illustrate an overarching theme for my June goals, which you’ll read more about below.

I need to streamline.

I started to unload all of these thoughts on Brittney yesterday after we recorded her interview for my podcast (get more details here and follow along on Instagram if you want!), and — as always — she gave me some great advice. “You can’t keep adding and adding and adding,” she said. “At a certain point, you need to subtract a few things. It sounds like you’re scared to do that.” And she’s right. I am! It took me so long to establish myself as a writer and to get my income up to a place where it rivals what I was making in my corporate job that I can’t help but feel some innate sense of failure at the mere thought of unloading any one of my gigs… even if doing so will make room for bigger and better opportunities. These are some seriously tough calls, friends.

The last few weeks have been a wake-up call, though. I experienced some amazing mindset shifts in May. I stopped fixating on the possibility that we might leave New York and started focusing on making cool things happen for myself in the here and now. I became a member at The Wing. I started sleeping again (Matt says I shouldn’t say this so explicitly because I might jinx it, but, whatever). I made huge strides in getting ready to launch my podcast on June 26 and finally got to share it with other people. So many things fell into place and I felt so much better about so many things, which made it even easier to notice what isn’t working.

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With all that in mind, let’s jump into a recap of my May goals. Otherwise, I could ramble on forever : ) Check out last month’s goal post here if you need a refresher.

    • Start recording podcast episodes. √ YES! I recorded interviews for a whopping five episodes of the SSR Podcast in May, with three more scheduled in the next few weeks. This has been a lot of work upfront, but it will allow me to have most of my content for the whole summer wrapped up before I even launch, which will take a tiny bit of pressure off as I focus on getting the word out.
    • Make a plan for podcast launch team. √ YES! If you’re still interested in getting involved, please say so in a comment below, or send me an email at hellossrpod@gmail.com You’ll get some free bookmarks in the mail, as well as some super cool social media graphics to share during launch week. I’d love to have you be a part of it!
    • Feel healthy and strong during the Brooklyn Half Marathon. √ YES! I somehow managed to run my best time ever… in the pouring rain. Who knew?
    • Refocus on book outline and process. As I’d hoped at the beginning of this month, I spent more time in May simply writing and less time worrying about how it might translate into a book. I wish I’d made more progress on converting everything I wrote into a more cohesive outline, but the month ended up being so busy that I just couldn’t make it all happen.
    • Read five books. √ YES! Now that you know the concept of my podcast, it should make total sense that I increased my monthly reading goal in May! I read five young adult/middle grade books in preparation for interview recordings. I’ll reveal the lineup of podcast episodes soon and you’ll know the titles! I’m squeezing in an adult book right now as I have a bit of a breather before my next recording, and I have to admit that it’s pretty refreshing.
    • Make plans for our second anniversary. √ YES! In a very un-Kosik-like move, Matt and I spontaneously booked a trip to Mexico last week. We found an amazing flight/resort bundle on Expedia and decided that it would be silly not to go!
    • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. √ YES! I pitched to one very big dream outlet early in the month. It could take a few more weeks for me to hear back, but I’d love if you could cross your fingers for me! I wished I’d gotten a few more pitches out to target outlets in May, but you can’t win ’em all.
    • Get a strong start with new clients. √ YES! In my opinion, new projects always seem scarier before you start them. Once you’re in the groove, you realize just how much you’re in control.
    • Keep a positive attitude about plans for our future move. √ YES! I talked about this a little bit before, but I’m feeling like I’m in a really great headspace and I couldn’t be happier about it.

On to June! As you read about these goals, keep in mind that there are likely some bigger picture decisions being considered and made in the background in the interest of the whole streamlining thing I talked about before.

  • Launch the SSR Podcast. Well, duh : )
  • Push the SSR Podcast Web site, Facebook group, and Twitter live. On a related note, I’ll be going live with a few more fun resources for the show in the coming weeks! Follow along here and on the SSR Instagram for all of those updates.
  • Rally the SSR Podcast Launch Team! As I mentioned, if you’re interested in learning more, let me know in the comments below.
  • Update list of target outlets. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might remember that I made a list of targets I hoped to write for in 2018 as part of my goal-setting process for the year (read more here!). In the interest of making sure that my goals are staying dynamic and reasonable given all of the other opportunities that have come up over the last few months, I’m going to take some time to revisit that list.
  • Read five books. At the moment, I have three books that I need to read for the podcast. I’ll add more to that list as further recordings are scheduled, and I also want to make sure that I am making time to read adult books whenever I can.
  • Get headshots. I’ve had this on my list for a few months now, and I’m putting it here for June because I keep pushing it off and I want to make myself accountable! My little sister is a great photographer, so I’m hoping we might be able to work together on this. I never thought I would be someone who needed headshots, but most of my writer and freelancer friends have them, so I think it’s about time I do, too.
  • Start book outline. Time to take this next step with all of the freeform creative writing I’ve been doing!
  • Refocus on phone boundariesI was doing so. well. with my phone boundaries earlier this year, and I totally fell off the wagon in June. I want to get back into the habit of implementing one phone-free night per week and limiting my mindless Instagram scrolling first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed.

In the meantime, though, Matt and I are spending the weekend relaxing at the Jersey shore. I can confidently say that we need it!

What are your goals for June? Tell me more in the comments below. 

 

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