happy valentine’s day!

Today is Matt and my ninth Valentine’s Day together. Ninth.

I’m really not quite sure how that happened.

Like most couples, I think, we aren’t always on the same page about how to celebrate this one. There have been years when one or both of us has been really excited about the occasion and other years when we’ve agreed to basically skip it. More than other holidays, Valentine’s Day has the potential to breed disappointment (we’ve all been there), and Matt and I have learned the hard way that it’s best to have a casual conversation upfront about how “into it” we want to get from year to year. Most of the time, we don’t do presents, but every once in a while, we’ll forego Christmas gifts and make a bigger deal of Valentine’s Day instead. Most years, we stay in for a casual date night, but last year, Matt took me out for the best dinner of my life at an amazing sushi restaurant (fifteen courses of my favorite food in the world). One thing we always prioritize is cards. February 14 is, of course, a card-giving holiday for most people, but cards are generally a pretty big deal in our house, so regardless of what else we’re doing to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, we commit to thoughtful, handwritten cards. I’m already counting the minutes until the end of the workday so we can do this year’s exchange.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6ba

We’ve had some amazing celebrations over the years, but our first one was actually the best. I was visiting Matt at his college for the weekend, and because we were dating long distance and had only been together for a few months, I didn’t quite know what to expect. At some point in a text or phone conversation, though, Matt must have picked up on me saying that I was craving a brownie sundae… and he delivered on it for Valentine’s Day! I have such a clear memory of watching him unload gallons of ice cream and a box of brownie mix and all of the other necessary sundae fixings (sprinkles, of course!) from the kitchen of his grubby dorm kitchen. He was so shy about the whole thing, and it meant so much to me. Last year, we started a new tradition of eating big sundaes for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and I love that it’s going to help us keep that early memory alive.

llGfwj6JQwqmkAFEiBv3wQ_thumb_6b7

Because I’m already sappy — and because I know for a fact that I don’t always give Matt the credit he deserves for being the best husband I could ask for — I decided to put together a list of nine things I love and appreciate about him, one for each of the years that we’ve celebrated this holiday together.

1. His patience: Patience is definitely not one of my better qualities, which gives me that much more respect for my husband’s ability to take things as they come. He’s patient with me (major blessing!) and with basically everything else that life has to offer, which sets a really healthy tone for our home and relationship.

2. His confidence: There’s something about it that I just can’t put my finger on : )

tB3zsiQiRnCE4N94XKLokA_thumb_6b8

3. His easygoing nature: If I could only tell you how much better of a person I’ve become thanks to this. Matt’s inspired me to live my life with less judgment, less drama, and less unnecessary stress. I have endless appreciation for the fact that this comes so naturally to him.

4. His silliness: I’ve especially loved learning about Matt’s goofy side over the years because, for as long as we were students at the same middle and high school, I only ever knew and saw him as a “cool guy.” The moments that we share cracking each other up with hilarious inside jokes or exhaustedly dancing to Fleetwood Mac in our apartment are to this day a reminder that you can never judge a book by its cover.

5. His ambition: In our house, we play hard, relax hard, and work hard. Matt’s laidback temperament definitely doesn’t keep him from dialing up the intensity when the time is right, and I love watching him succeed at the things he’s passionate about.

6. His integrity: Matt’s about as true to his word and to who he is as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s taught me a lot about the value of relying on my own sense of right and wrong instead of worrying about what other people think.

CALQPUFHTVeFUKPunBa3Cw_thumb_6bb

7. His reliability: When he says he’s going to do something, my husband does it. It’s taken me a long time to realize that he doesn’t always need to do things my way, but coming to that realization has made space for me to really appreciate how much he can be counted on to stay true to his word.

8. His curiosity: Matt is super smart, but what I think separates him most from other smartypants-es out there is his inherent love for learning. I joke about how his obsession for research can slow down our takeout ordering time or make our vacations a little less spontaneous, but it’s really cool to be with someone who enjoys asking questions and is never bored of exploring new things.

9. His kindness: I swear, friends, that there is not a mean or selfish bone in this man’s body. I love him for that.

Now that I’ve sufficiently embarrassed my husband, I guess all that’s left to do is wish you and yours a fantastic Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re single, attached, or somewhere in between, I hope you have plenty of opportunities to celebrate love today.

xoxoxo 

 

4 Comments

february stir craziness.

I’m about to share a riveting series of photos with you. Are you ready?

… are you sure you’re ready?

You might want to hold on to your seats.

It’s almost mid-February, and I feel like this picture represents the scope of my life for the past few weeks. Like, the whole scope. One end of my entire living and working space as viewed from the opposite end.

TWUU8mS1QzCxGjb6YCPvEw_thumb_6b2

Actually — you know what? That’s a little unfair.

Sometimes, it’s actually more like this picture:

EdQOXqv%SN6l45Y1MR%EQA_thumb_6b0

Or maybe this one:

8GCsPjqsS7yHnFCflJacVQ_thumb_6b3

(Yup, that’s approximately two feet away from the last photo.)

Occasionally, when things are getting really crazy, this becomes my perspective, and I get to stand up!

kyuHFm2MSGmzFcWhqWuebQ_thumb_6b5

I told you it was going to be riveting.

I don’t know about you, but I find this late-January-to-early-March period pretty brutal. It was the same when I worked in a corporate office. The excitement of the post-holiday return to routine wears off. It’s endlessly gray outside (and endlessly cold, too, if you live in most parts of the country). Spring feels impossibly far away — and don’t even get me started on summer. Regardless of where or how you work, I just think this can be a really challenging time mentally. I find myself dragging out of bed most mornings, checking things off my to-do list throughout the day but never feeling quite inspired by any of it. When you do creative work like I do, that lack of inspiration just adds a whole other layer of mental exhaustion.

When I told my family almost a year and a half ago that I was planning to leave my job and try working as a full-time writer out of my home office, they were almost entirely supportive. My mom’s one concern — and as moms tend to be, she was right — was that the work-from-home lifestyle would be especially difficult come February. Like I said, I struggled with Februarys even before I was working for myself, but this month’s low energy is particularly draining when you spend the vast majority of your time in a teeny tiny apartment with the windows closed. My routine isn’t that much different in the spring, summer, or fall… but the whole world feels different — and that translates into my apartment in a really heavy way. Do you know what I mean?

Because I’m so busy these days (a good problem to have!), I’m finding that I need to make that much more of an effort to combat the February stir craziness, since it’s really easy to drown myself in work for ten or more hours in a row and finish the day feeling like a shell of a human. Whenever I can, I’ve been trying to take my exercise break in the middle of the day (I usually go first thing in the morning) to break things up, and if I can’t do that, I’ve been prioritizing a walk in the afternoon. Fresh air goes on my daily to-do list with everything else! Even if it’s raining, I bundle up and get out of the apartment for half an hour. It’s amazing what a difference that time can make. And how could I possibly miss out on exploring all these pretty streets in my neighborhood?

+OT3mWTWRnaht4WQzGig6A_thumb_6b6

nrXbEPBxRp+hsSqVr41SVg_thumb_6af

5cd26XzjTwOXb9cDncuc2g_thumb_6b1

E6D+jupNTVemOjEutj%QMw_thumb_6a8

NqL%p5CTQ0ODz5GpL5Fezg_thumb_6a7

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if February is wearing on you, you’re not alone. And while working from home in the winter does offer some serious perks (I’m definitely very content to not have to rush out the door to the subway every morning at 7:30), it comes with some unique challenges, specifically an intensified version of the general feeling of “meh” that sets in with so many of us in late winter. We’re all in this together!

How do you handle winter stir craziness? Whether you work in an office or from home, I’d love your suggestions! 

 

2 Comments

half marathon-ing.

Is everyone fully recovered from Super Bowl weekend? I know it was a big weekend for so many! I’m (very openly) not that into sports, so I can’t say that I ever feel super invested in any kind of professional sports event, but it’s fun to get into the spirit of things… and to have an excuse to gather with friends and indulge in some good snacks on a Sunday night! I’m originally from the Philadelphia area, so even though I can’t truly call myself an Eagles fan (I’m basically neutral where most sports are concerned), I know this win meant a lot to many of the people I care about. An underdog story is also pretty irresistible, which makes the victory that much sweeter! Honestly, I’m always sort of relieved when football season is over, if only because it frees up Sunday afternoons for a lot of my superfan loved ones. I do, however, love the Olympics, so it’s kind of fun to be able to transition directly out of the Super Bowl hype and into the Opening Ceremonies later this week.

Does anyone else count down to the Olympics? It’s such a fun time!

Obviously, it’s a big week for sports, and while my annual trudge toward half marathon season is hardly on par with Nick Foles or Lindsey Vonn’s athletic endeavors (pause for laughter here!), it did seem like a great time to update you on my running — especially since last Wednesday was registration day for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’m happy to report that I managed to get into this popular race for the fifth time this year, because it’s become such a hot commodity that I’m never quite sure if I’ll make the cut. I’ve learned from previous close calls that it’s best to be logged in to the registration page a few minutes before the window actually opens, but there’s such a flood of people onto the Web site at that time that the whole process always ends up being very slow and nerve-wracking. Especially with a potential move out of New York City looming for us (eek!), I would have hated to miss out on this race — which has become such a part of my NYC experience — in 2018.

As you might remember if you read my post about half marathon training last year, I got into this whole running thing with absolutely no experience. When I ran the Brooklyn Half for the first time back in 2014, it was my first race *ever* (with the exception of a few charity 5Ks that I most definitely walked). Given the fact that I have so little background in sports, running has proven to be really empowering for me. When I ran my first race in 2014, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it. The most I’d run in training was 10 miles (a half marathon is 13.1), and when Matt dropped me off at the starting line that morning, I think we both had an attitude of cautious optimism. If I didn’t finish, the experience of working hard throughout the training process would still be worthwhile… and if I did finish, it would be amazing and maybe a little surprising.

ZUkwPoBYRfWzrV0zrvdkoQ_thumb_6a4
The face of a girl who has just spotted her people in her least favorite stretch of the race! Those hands belong to my dad and sister, who drove in from Pennsylvania to cheer me on for the first time last year. It was so fun!

Five half marathons later, I still go into every race with this same attitude. Because running doesn’t come naturally to me, I don’t take these races for granted, and every time I cross a finish line, I’m secretly a little shocked. When my time is good (at least by my standards!), I’m even more shocked.

Every year when I start training, the whole process is mostly a game that I’m playing with myself. Unlike a lot of runners, I would say that I only love running about 60% of the time… but even during that other 40% of the time, I feel powerful and strong — and that sense of empowerment is why I keep doing it year after year.

If you think you can’t accomplish something like this, but are sort of wondering if you might be wrong, my advice to you is that you’re probably wrong.

(That sounds harsh, but it’s true!)

eJ6mhOKHQjCLgej6vNWNVA_thumb_6a6
My awesome support team after the 2017 finish!

Once again, I’m using this 16-week training plan this year. It’s the same one I used back in 2014, and even though I’ve probably “advanced” past it, I’ve found (after testing a few out over the years), that it’s the one that consistently gets me in good running shape and that prepares me best to run the full 13.1. Since I know that this training schedule is pretty much a sure thing, I’m going to focus more on nutrition this year! As you know if you read my February goals post, I’ve been thinking a lot about “feel good food” lately, so that’s definitely going to be top of mind leading up to May. It’s always a challenge for me to figure out how to eat enough calories, protein, etc. without giving myself license to eat whatever’s in sight before and after my longe runs (it happens!). If anyone has any tips, I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!

3 Comments

monthly goals recap -> january + february.

I drafted up my January and February goal recaps and realized that this is about to be a really longgggg post, so I’ll spare you too much of an intro — BUT, I do have to say that January was a really productive month from a goal perspective, and I can’t help but feel proud of it. At the risk of being too cliché about the power of New Year’s resolutions, it really was helpful for me to come back from spending time with family over the holidays and recalibrate my daily routine. I’m being a lot more intentional about my time, and I find myself wasting a lot less of it! Another helpful tool has been my Powersheets, which I’ve loved using to break things down and to track them on a monthly and weekly basis. I’m a really visual person, so having a place to actively mark off the steps I’m taking toward completing my goals is a great motivator.

HptfB08rSMuP%sMQt9CtHQ_thumb_69c
Monthly, weekly, and daily progress bars from my January Powersheets.

OK, let me tell you more about how it actually went down:

  • Create a list of target outlets for the year. √ YES! Friends, I’m learning that there is very real power in writing. things. down. Back in December, when I sat and thought about some of the bigger writing goals I had for 2018, imposter syndrome set in and I felt pretty intimidated. I couldn’t help but think that I — a relatively new freelancer who feels overextended 99% of the time — have no business trying to write for some of my dreamiest outlets. And you know what? There are a million reasons that those outlets might not end up being the right fit for me and my work. But I have absolutely nothing to lose by physically writing them down and hanging them in my office! Making that list was an entirely reasonable and actionable baby step that has already made me feel like some of those goals are within reach.
  • Work on the book three to four times a week, every week. √ YES! I had a slow start here as I got back into the post-holiday swing of things, but I stuck to it three out of the four full weeks of January. I call it success!
  • No sweets during the week. I’m not giving myself a check mark here because I only did it for the first three weeks, but there’s a good reason for that. First of all, I’m so glad I did this. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I eliminate the unnecessary, mindless, sweet tooth-motivated snacking from my day. My energy is up, my skin is clearer, and I feel generally better. All good, right? Yes! For me, things get a little challenging when I start patting myself on the back a little too much for doing something like this. By the third week of the month, I was positively thriving on that feeling of control, and that’s when I knew that I’d crossed into more negative territory (totally a personal preference!). I started working a small treat in at the end of the day (a spoonful of Nutella, a mug of hot chocolate) and felt like I had the right balance back in check. This goal helped me recalibrate my appetite a bit and purge my kitchen cabinets (and I needed to do both of those things!), but the restrictive element of it stopped serving me at a certain point.
  • Get back on track with weekly pitching.√ YES! Setting Fridays aside as my day to work on bigger pitches has been huge. It’s given me the time and space I need to come up with more creative ideas and to research new writing opportunities.
  • Eat better lunches.√ YES! Figuring out how to “do” lunch will always be tough for me, but I made progress this month. For the first half of the month, I threw a ton of veggies and ground turkey in the Crock Pot on Monday morning and portioned it out for the rest of the week, and in the second half of the month, I made big batches of salad with chicken and quinoa for extra protein. I’m not totally happy with how either of those attempts worked out, but at least I’m getting used to making lunch prep more of a priority.
  • Continue podcast research.√ YES! I bought myself a new notebook (which makes a new project officially official around here), and filled it with tons of notes about how all of this is going to work logistically.
  • Plan weekend trips with Matt. We’re halfway there. Matt and I planned a weekend in Charlotte for the end of February, and while we have an awesome Airbnb booked (seriously, how cute is this place?), we still need to lock down our flights.
  • Read 3-4 books.√ YES! In January, I finished Crazy Rich Asians (fun, frothy — can’t wait to see the movie!), Little Fires Everywhere (one of my favorites of the last few months), and A Wrinkle In Time (which I loved as a kid and was inspired to reread thanks to all of the awesome trailers for the upcoming movie).
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning.√ YES! YES! YES! YES! I can’t say enough about how great this has been. Life has just been a whole lot better since I stopped starting my day scrolling through my phone in bed.

February is a short month, and even though I’m really anxious to keep up the momentum I have coming out of January, I’m trying to leave a little margin and resist the urge to bite off more than I can chew. The list below looks long, but a lot of the things on it aren’t super labor intensive (well, hopefully).

C8xYcP4qRxW5G4tfEozAcA_thumb_6a0

  • Dive into brainstorming and planning the podcast. The overall theme for the podcast is already locked down (that’s for me to know and you to find out!), but this month I need to start breaking it down into episodes and figuring out a few more details.
  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. Remember when Brittney and I did this free webinar at the end of last year???? Well, we have something else in the works! I’ll share more details soon, but I want to focus on hitting that out of the ballpark this month.
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning. This was so good for me in January, and while I think it’s almost become a habit, I want to make it an official goal for at least one more month. I’m trying to work on phone boundaries more generally, too, and I think this is a good place to start.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. These are my dream sites and publications, so I want to aim to pitch to one or two of them every month.
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Like I mentioned above, I’ve started setting Fridays aside for more creative things, and it’s made all the difference. It’s a great way to ensure that I’m actively developing new outlets for my work and spending time writing more in-depth pieces.

FPl9HHddTN6CXo6+jAgCJQ_thumb_69f

  • Read three books. I’m working toward reading 40 books in 2018!
  • “Feel-good food.” Instead of shooting for a specific eating plan like I did in January with my “no no sweets during the week” rule, I’m going to focus on balance and moderation. I know that the word “moderation” gets tossed around a lot, but I’d really just like to continue to curb my sweet tooth as much as possible (most of the time) and feel good about what I’ve eaten at the end of each day.
  • Work on the book three to four days a week, every week. I’ve realized that this is an achievable schedule for me, and one that also allows me to be pretty productive — I’m working on Chapter Six right now! — so I’m going to try to stick with it.
  • Take a day off. Like actually off. In my apartment. Relaxing. Doing nothing. Now that I’ve put it here, I have to do it, right? Please help hold me accountable!

What are your goals for February? Tell me more in the comments below! 

 

7 Comments

january giveaway winner announced!

Yesterday, I was walking around my neighborhood without a jacket on… and today I woke up to snowCan someone please explain? This weather is so crazy and confusing — no wonder so many people are getting sick. (If you are one of those people, I hope you feel better soon!)

The show must go on regardless of weather, of course, and I’m so happy that today is the day I get to announce the winner of the January giveaway. Thanks to all who entered to win this month’s prize (an infinity charm bracelet from The Shine Project)! Please continue to check in each month for the giveaway… and, of course, the blog posts : ) The winner is selected based on a random drawing.

Congratulations to…

Lisa Hoppe!

Yay! You win! I’ll reach out via email today to make arrangements to send you your prize.

giphy

I’ll see everyone right back here on Friday, when I’ll be talking February goals. Don’t miss it!

 

0 comment

so you want to start writing?

In the year and change since I launched this blog — and started writing full-time — I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in touch with lots of people who are interested in making room in their own lives for writing, sometimes as freelancers and sometimes just for fun. I’ve loved all of these conversations, not only because I typically feel an instant soul connection with fellow writers, but also because talking through the way that I’ve approached this whole journey so far usually gives me a chance to step back and think about what I might want to do differently moving forward. Since I work for myself, I often feel like I’m strategizing into a void, so talking about the writing nuts and bolts with people as fascinated by the craft as I am really (and selfishly) helps me get out of my own head. I give them some suggestions (or I try to!) and they make me feel like less of a one-woman show. Everyone wins, right?

In case there are other aspiring writers out there reading this who haven’t reached out to me directly (and you should feel free to contact me if you want!), I thought I’d put together a few basic tips that might give you the push you need to just dig in and get started. These are all really easy and should be helpful no matter what kind of writing you want to do. (If you like this post and want a more detailed edition in the future, please let me know in the comments below!) Keep in mind that I am by no means an expert. I have plenty of writer friends who might recommend different things, but when I look back on my experience growing as a writer over the last 15 months, this is what sticks out to me — either because I did it right or did it very, very wrong.

Here are a few things you can start with if you want to make writing (of any kind!) a priority in your life.

  • READ, READ, READ. It sounds really simple, but I can’t overstate the importance of reading for writers. If you want to write, take the time you typically spend reading every day and add to it. Reading helps you develop your craft, but (for me, at least) it also offers a mental break from writing. Sometimes, I can’t help but get sick of the words I write myself, and I need to step away from that. Since I’ve started writing professionally, I’ve added more magazines, newspapers, and online outlets to my rotation, so I’m reading content outside of the (usually fiction) books that I’m always drawn to.
  • Start a blog. Starting a blog doesn’t mean you need to have true Blogger-with-a-capital-B aspirations. It just means you’re setting up a space for yourself online where you can share your writing and ideas. Creating a more public platform will encourage you to write with some consistency, and if you’re planning to start freelancing at some point, it will be a great way for you to showcase your writing skills to editors early on.
  • Seek out a writing community. One of the first pieces of advice I got when I decided to start freelancing was to find Facebook groups of other writers. Honestly, I hadn’t been a big fan of these groups before that, and I still struggle with some of them now (so many notifications! so much complaining!), but finding some way to network with people who are pursuing the same things you’re pursuing is obviously really helpful in the early stages. There are groups for aspiring freelancers, essayists, novelists… pretty much anything you can think of! If you need recommendations for specific groups, feel free to send me an email!
  • Start with small chunks of time. Writing is a muscle, and if you’re not used to spending a lot of time doing it, it can take a while to work up to the point where you can sit and do it for hours (or days!) at a time. Set a timer for 30 minutes every day and spend that time writing in your journal or working on an essay. Even if you’re struggling with writer’s block for part of that half hour, don’t turn your attention to something else! It will get easier to put in the time if you practice sitting down in front of your computer and just. doing. it. This is an especially good tip if you’re trying to work writing in around a 9-to-5 job. Almost anyone can find 30 minutes to spare at some point throughout the day — even if it means waking up a little earlier : )
  • Tell people. Just like anything in life, writing is a lot easier to take seriously if you have people holding you accountable to it. Make sure the people in your life know that you’re prepared to make writing more of a priority in your day-to-day routine. Hopefully, they’ll step up to keep you on track and give you a listening ear when you need one. When I’m going through a slump with working on my book, I commit to texting one of my friends a random emoji every time I spend more than 30 minutes on it. Even an extra dose of accountability for those baby steps is helpful!

I hope this helps! Again — please, please let me know in the comments below if you’re interested in more content like this! 

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a this gold infinity charm bracelet from The Shine Project. What’s not to love about this?

6tdF3fZaTuWWw5hbn%Azpg_thumb_695

All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner here on the blog on Tuesday 1/30, so get those entries in ASAP! Be sure to spread the love and share the link with them, too. Good luck!

 

 

2 Comments

january giveaway!

Guess what, friends? I have some good news for you. It’s GIVEAWAY DAY! Picture me dancing around in my desk chair to Joy to the World by Three Dog Night (which, for some reason, has been my play-on-loop choice for the last few days). Time to spread a little Tuesday happiness!

This month, I’m back with a prize from The Shine Project, which makes the giveaway that much more fun for me. Doesn’t everyone need a little extra special bling when they’re feeling the winter slump (we have some weirdly warm weather here in New York this week, but I have a feeling it will take a turn for cold any day now)? Answer: yes. Everyone needs a little extra special bling… always.

The extra special bling from Shine is that much better because of what it represents. If you’re new to the blog (nice to meet you!), let me catch you up, because this is one of my favorite organizations. I got involved as an ambassador for Shine last spring. You can read the whole story here, but essentially, Shine supports inner-city American students on track to be the first in their family to go to college by teaching them to make jewelry and offering them employment and mentorship. Student employees at the Shine centers have the opportunity to work hard to earn money for their higher education, so the purchase of Shine products supports their academic goals. A portion of the profits also goes toward a scholarship fund that benefits the Shine kids. I absolutely love this organization– and I’m obsessed with the jewelry, too! It’s easy-to-wear, affordable, trendy, and supports a really awesome cause.

Pretty awesome, right?

This month, I’m giving a gold infinity charm bracelet from The Shine Project to one lucky winner!

My favorite thing about this bracelet is how sweet and delicate it is. The charm isn’t going to get caught up in your jacket or tangled up while you’re digging through your bag (been there!), but it’s enough of a statement to catch your eye if you’re looking for it : ) I’m a big bracelet girl, and I think you’re going to love this one.

DDtSWo6sRMODNLP21xycxQ_thumb_6976tdF3fZaTuWWw5hbn%Azpg_thumb_695

All you have to do to enter to win this bracelet is comment on THIS post!

Feeling extra generous? Send this link to a friend to give them a chance at winning, too. You’ll have another chance to win a prize next month, so you might as well spread the love!

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Tuesday 1/30. The winner 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!)

 

22 Comments

hi! some random facts.

Happy Hump Day, everyone! I know Wednesdays can be a big bummer for a lot of people, but I have verrrrry strong anti-Tuesday feelings, so I usually feel like I’ve beat my weekday nemesis by the time I get to this point. (But also, why do short weeks always feel so. much. miserably. longer than regular weeks? I worked for a few hours on Monday, but Matt’s office was closed for MLK Day, and having the extra day with him around was the best — even if I did have to spend some of it at my desk.)

In any case, we’re quickly nearing the halfway point for the week, so if this one has you drained, it’s almost time to refuel so you can start again and maybe — just maybe! — get yourself out of that constant countdown-to-the-weekend mode. We’ve all been there (I, for one, was most definitely there last week), but it’s not a requirement! There are, in fact, things to live for between Monday and Friday : )

I’ve noticed that we have a few new readers over here, so…

Hi! So happy to meet you!

With a new year and some new followers, it seems like the perfect time for me to reintroduce myself with some random facts (and you can click here for all the basics, too).

+x%pSglZTFOZnvtYuigAzw_thumb_573

1. I hate clutter and love hunting around the apartment for things we can donate or throw away, but I keep every single greeting card, Christmas card, birthday card, thank you card, and random note I receive — even if it’s just scribbled on the back of an envelope or on a Post-It. Honestly, I’ve lost track of all the nooks and crannies I’ve found to stash them in around here.

2. My first “real” job was on the prep line at Cosi at a shopping center in my hometown. It was brand new at the time and no one in the area had heard of Cosi, so it was a very cool gig (at least until I almost got fired on more than one occasion for snacking on craisins from the salad line).

3. I can sing along to the full soundtrack of a lot of classic Broadway shows and movie musicals. Like, a lot of them. Without even missing a word.

4. When I make cookies, it’s mostly so I can snack on the dough. I don’t even really like baked cookies! I know raw dough isn’t good for me, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. It’s the ultimate indulgence.

5. Three episodes in, I’m already pretty sure that the current season of The Bachelor is going to be terrible. I’m happy to discuss this further with anyone who disagrees.

6. I made every last centerpiece and program for our wedding by hand. So if you ever need someone to hot glue thousands of glass beads to Mason jars or to hand stamp and tie ribbons onto 150 pieces of card stock, I’m your girl!

7. I don’t have a single game app on my phone.

8. I hate all things orange-flavored: juice, lollipops, the fruit itself, you name it… but I love me a mimosa. Go figure!

9. The first blog I ever read was Love Taza. I read through the archives start to finish during a nasty sinus infection back in 2012, and immediately fell in love with Naomi’s city lifestyle and love for colorful lipstick (she inspired me to try to wear it myself!). As she’s moved more into the parenting space recently, I’ve become a less diligent follower, but as far as I’m concerned, she can still do no wrong.

10. I’m currently binge watching The Mindy Project and my only regret is that it’s taken me so long to get into it. Any other Mindy fans out there? It’s the best!

Your turn! Feel free to share a random, fun, or simply awesome fact about yourself in the comments below. (As you can tell from my facts, no tidbit is too big or too small!)

3 Comments

things i’m working on.

A story of the first two weeks of 2018, in two sentences:

In the first week, I felt on top of things. Then, in the second week, I didn’t.

Yup, that’s pretty much the whole story. Start to finish.

I threw myself into the new year with an amazing new word — “WELCOME” (you can read more about that here) — and a set of goals that lit the best kind of fire under my you-know-what. And in Week One, that translated into an intense rhythm to my days. I cranked the music, turned on my pretty new salt lamp (thanks to my sister!), barely even felt the temptation to break my no-desserts-during-the-week rule, and knocked things off the to-do list right and left. Hello, 2018. I’ve arrived.

giphy

This week, on the other hand, has felt a little different. feel different. More tired. More focused on the weekend. More “Do I really have to cook dinner again tonight?” More distracted. And definitely more interested in a teeny, tiny taste of chocolate after lunch in the middle of the week (for the record, I haven’t caved yet!). I took Wednesday afternoon off to see a show with my family while they were visiting the city, but other than that, it’s been kind of a bummer of a week.

giphy

(P.S. Go see I, Tonya. It rules.)

Can anyone else relate? Is Week Two bringing you down?

I’m fully aware that the solution to all of this is nothing more than an attitude adjustment (and maybe a few nights of really good sleep), but while I go ahead and adjust that attitude, here are a few things I’m working on…

I’m working on not second guessing every little thing I say.

I’m working on forcing myself to ask stupid questions when I actually need the answer.

I’m working on jumping out of bed without checking social media, and on leaving my phone on the nightstand so I’m not tempted to carry it around with me all. day. long. All the important daytime stuff is on my computer. The phone can wait a few hours.

I’m working on stretching more.

I’m working on loosely scheduling out my days the night before, so I don’t have to waste time in the morning figuring out how I’m going to spend my time.

I’m working on figuring out how I can spend as much time as possible under my heated blanket. (It’s just the truth, OK?)

I’m working on jumping right into the early stages of big, scary-sounding projects instead of waiting until I think there’s going to be enough time to get them on the right track. Work happens in small chunks!

I’m working on Writer’s Block. I know it’s an occupational hazard, but do I really need to have it for a week straight?

I’m working on saving up my sweet tooth cravings during the work week and indulging in something really delicious over the weekend, instead of mindlessly snacking on candy that I don’t want that badly.

I’m working on being better at Twitter.

I’m working on being OK with not being at inbox zero at the end of the workday. I find that I’m better at processing how I want to reply to emails first thing in the morning than I am at 6 PM.

I’m working on learning how to use new tools for projects (I’m looking at you, Asana). Pen and paper will always have their place in my life, but I know I’m wasting resources by insisting on all analog, all the time.

I’m working on listening to more podcasts, and watching less TV.

What are you working on these days? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!

 

 

1 Comment

new year, new book recommendations.

I think a lot of people out there must have “READ MORE” listed among their New Year’s resolutions for 2018, because I’ve gotten so many requests over the last few days for book recommendations. These are requests that I’m more than happy to get, since there are few kinds of talk that I love more than book talk — plus, they give me the opportunity to put my handy book log to good use.

That’s right, friends — I have a book log.

I started tracking my reading back in 2014, and it’s turned into a seriously hefty Google Doc in the years since. At that time, I was working in publishing, so it was really helpful from a work perspective to keep tabs on exactly what I’d read and how I felt about it, but I loved logging my books so much that I kept it up even when I didn’t “have to ” for work anymore. People know that I’m a bookworm and tend to ask for my recommendations fairly often, so it’s actually been really helpful to have a central list of what I’ve read, what I’ve loved, and what I’ve (sadly) hated. I won’t reveal my organization or ratings system because it’s a little embarrassing (nerd alert! nerd alert!), but I will tell you that if you’re a reader like me, you might want to consider creating your own!

Thanks to my book log (yes, that’s exactly what it’s saved as in my Google Drive), I could go on and on with recommendations for thousands of words, but I’m going to keep it short with a few quick suggestions for the new year! You may have seen me mention some of these in my recent monthly goal recaps (check out the latest one here), but I’m sharing a few more details below so it’s even easier for you to pick your next read!

the glass castle

#1: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: It’s challenging for me to find a memoir that I stick with start to finish because I just tend to prefer books that are totally fictional, but The Glass Castle was so mind-blowing that it was hard to believe that it was actually a true story. But it is! Jeannette Walls shares the story of her untraditional (to say the least) upbringing in West Virginia, with a father whose alcoholism is matched only by his kindness and imagination and a mother who simply wanted to keep her family together. The author’s journey out of her moldy (literally) childhood home and into New York City is inspiring and emotional, and I found myself wanting to learn even more about her lfe when I’d finished.

86d4cf10-bf66-0131-325c-5aada1e2afcd

#2: The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe: I read this for the first time just after I moved to New York, and it quickly became a favorite, since it tells the story of young women working in the publishing business (just like I was when I first came to the city!) in the fifties. I recently reread it, and it was amazing to realize the perspective that I’ve gained in the few years in between. It read almost like a different book entirely! I firmly believe that every woman should read this book, especially given today’s extremely important dialogue about professional parity and safe workplaces. You’ll especially enjoy it if you were a Mad Men fan, since it has the same sense of New York City glamour and excitement.

camerota-6607599-1515444549428.jpg

#3: Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota: The most interesting thing about this book was the extent to which the storyline predicted much of the media landscape during the 2016 presidential election. Author Alisyn Camerota (also one of my favorite CNN anchors) actually wrote much of Amanda Wakes Up prior to the height of the frenzy around Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and yet somehow, much of the events of the book came true in real life! So interesting! The world of cable news is also just fascinating to me, and if you feel the same, you’ll really love this read.

breaking free

#4: Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs: I’m crazy intrigued by stories of cults and fringe religious communities in the same way that other people are fascinated by true crime, and this account of life in the FLDS (a more extreme, militant offshoot of the Mormon church) by the daughter of one of its scariest leaders was about as shocking as I expected it to be. I read it cover to cover in less than two days!

41ipbw5JzFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

#5: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: One of my friends has been recommending this to me for ages, and when I saw the beautifully lush preview images from the upcoming film adaptation in Entertainment Weekly recently, I knew the time had come for me to finally read it! With the holidays, I didn’t have as much time to read as I would have liked, but this is definitely the kind of book that I would have devoured in hours-long chunks if I’d been able to. The characters are amazing, the descriptions are beautiful, and the whole thing just made me want to jump on a plane to Singapore ASAP.

How about you? Have you read anything that you’ve just loved recently? I’d love to hear more in the comments below!

(Please note that, while I’ve included Amazon links for each of these books to make your life easier, I am also super in favor of you heading out and supporting your local bookseller. If there’s one in your neighborhood, don’t forget to help them out. They’re doing such important work in our communities! )

5 Comments