December Wrap-Up

"You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want."
S.E. Hinton

Today I want to remind you to take care of yourself. I also want to remind you that this does not necessarily mean eating vegetables and spending an hour at the gym. Sometimes taking care of yourself means spending your night on the couch and eating pizza. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind.

Reflecting On 2016

When 2016 started, I was seeing several posts about picking a Word For The Year. It seemed like a nice sentiment, wrapping all of your hopes and goals and resolutions into a single word to focus on. I never posted mine on here, but I wrote it down for myself: embrace.

I wanted to embrace life, the good and the bad. To find the silver lining. To make the most of an unfortunate situation. I feel that I've done that. Some of the evidence is even in my blog archive itself: I embraced who I am even if it's a little different than other 20-somethings, did a 24-hour adventure race in Chicagotook a trip to Denver, stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a book tour solotried new things creatively, did what I could to make life a little easier and to make every day a good one. I feel it in my insides, that mentally I am in a good place.

Now, I wanted to take some time to look back on the year – on my growth, what I've been writing, what I've been reading, and how this blog has developed and progressed.

December Reads

December was a great book month for me. Since it's been so cold and I hadn't been in the midst of binge-watching a show for most of the month, I spent a lot of my free time cozied up under a blanket with a book and got through SIX* in December alone.

And now my 2016 reading is complete. I set a goal of 12 books and ended up reading 31* (!!), which I am oddly proud of.

5 Tips For A Good Day

Simple things you can do every day to put yourself in a better mood:

Finding Your Spark: It Can't Be Done Alone

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

Find other posts in this series here.

FabFitFun Winter Unboxing

My FabFitFun Winter Box finally arrived (!), so I did a lil unboxing video.
(Two video posts in a row, whaaaaat?)

Watch the video HERE, or below.

Insane Christmas Baking

Every year at the beginning of December, my family and I do our Christmas baking and make an insane amount of cookies. (Think of a number, triple it, and it's probably more than that.)

This year, I decided to vlog all three days. Watch the video HERE, or below.

November Wrap-Up

Why have I not been using these cute pictures of puppies from my calendar for my monthly wrap-ups?!

November Reads

My November reading got off to a bit of a poor start due to abandoning another book halfway through (ugh).

I started reading "The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett, which piqued my interest because it tells three different versions of a boy-meets-girl story. I imagined the book being structured as all of version one, then version two, then version three. Instead, it switched around constantly. You'd read how the two characters met three different ways, then what happened after that three different ways, etc.

Unfortunately, I think it was the frequent switching of storylines that prevented me from connecting with the characters. I couldn't get invested enough to want to keep reading. (Has anyone read this book? What are your thoughts on it?)

Luckily I still got through three other books by the end of the month.

10 Great Quotes From Anna Kendrick's Memoir

I've been excited about Anna Kendrick's book for a while now, but even more so after seeing her in person two weeks ago. It did not disappoint.

The book holds the "I'm a celebrity and I'm relatable" feel you'd expect, but in a way that actually feels genuine. She makes fun of herself a lot. She gives us behind-the-scenes insight on what she was really thinking and feeling during times we've seen her on stage or on the screen.

As I read, I was constantly pulling out my phone to jot down a quote into my Notes.

Here are ten of my favorites:

Words For 24

Enjoy your mornings, even Mondays. Find the silver lining. Take selfies, post selfies. Confidence and self-love do not equate to arrogance. Put yourself first when you need it. Put your friends first when they need it. Accept that people express love in different ways. Wear comfy underwear to the gym. Who cares about panty lines – you're there to do some work. Screw cleanses and diets. Eat everything, in moderation. Stand up for yourself. Work for what you want. Take the leap, even if you're afraid. Especially if you're afraid. Say what you need to say. You can't expect anyone to know how you feel if you don't say anything. Put your energy into good things and good people. Compliment others. Don't hold grudges. Pick your battles. Apologize, forgive. Others and yourself. Do your best, always.

Attending Anna Kendrick's
Book Tour

Last night, I attended Anna Kendrick's book tour for her newly released memoir, "Scrappy Little Nobody." I had never been to an event like this before, and while going places solo isn't something I do too often, I did this time, and I'm glad I went.

Anna Kendrick has a reputation of being silly, honest, and down-to-earth. Seeing her in person yesterday only solidified that. She has to make a conscious effort not to let swear words slip, she hates making her bed (so she rarely does it), and she thinks adding "author" to her list of credentials makes her look like a dick. Despite being famous, she's still just a regular person trying to make sense of life. And I know how cheesy that sounds. It warrants an eye-roll. But I believe it.

Asking The Question:
What Do You Need & When Are You Gonna Say It?

This year, I'm signed up for Laura Jane Williams' #AskTheQuestion, which she describes as "'non-advice' on writing your own answers for a bullshit-free life." Once a week for 12 weeks, you get a story, an interview, and a question in your inbox, which will make you examine your own life.

Three days ago, on a sleepy Monday morning, sitting wrapped in a blanket, sipping my coffee, I read the first of 12 and have been thinking about it since:

What do you need and when are you gonna say it?

Finding Your Spark:
Big Dreams, Epic Fails, And A Flare For The Dramatic

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

October Wrap-Up

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

October Reads

Book 20 of 12:
"This Savage Song" by Victoria Schwab

Verity is a city divided, North and South. In the North, Kate Harker, human. In the South, August Flynn, monster, bred from an act of violence. Their families rule each side of the city, and while a truce has allowed them to live peacefully for years, that truce is weakening. A human who wants to be a monster and a monster who wants to be human, Kate and August cross paths, curious about each other's secrets, and soon find that they will have to work together if they want to stay safe.

What I've Learned About Living Alone

I've (somehow) been living on my own for a year now. The experience can be summed up pretty well by a tweet my friend posted recently: "Living alone sucks as much as it is awesome." It sounds bleak, but it's true. Living alone can be daunting. It takes a bit of work. At the same time, it's one of the best things you can do for yourself. Time you spend living alone is time you spend growing, even if you don't realize it.

I think it's worth noting that I've always been very against living by myself. My plan was to graduate college, stay at home for at least a year, then move in with a friend. Instead, I moved into my own apartment five months after graduation. Even then, as excited as I was, a little part of me was still peeved. I didn't want to be doing this alone. I didn't want to live by myself, but I wanted to move out and none of my friends were able to do it with me, so I did.

Now here I am, glad it happened. And I've learned a few things along the way.

Denver Vlog

If you haven't read my blog post about my Denver trip, check it out here. There's more detail in the writing. The vlog is more of an added visual bonus.

My main goal in deciding to vlog my trip was to keep things genuine. I didn't want to put on on act or have anything be staged or forced. I wanted everything I captured to be real. At the same time, I didn't want the camera to be a distraction from the world around me. My number one priority was to be present in the moment and enjoy the trip as much as possible. Any footage I got was just an added perk.

Having said that, the vlog is finally complete! Watch it here, or below.

A Long Weekend In Denver

I've never heard a bad thing about Colorado. And now, after spending a few days there, I understand why.

Things To Be Happy About // 03

Because there's always something to be happy about. Read more here.

September Wrap-Up

"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way."
Napoleon Hill

September Reads

I said last month that I wanted to read classics during September, starting with "Little Women." As much as I wanted to like the book, I just could not get through it. I was forcing myself to read it, for two weeks, and even then, it was only a handful of pages a day. Setting a reading "theme" for the month seemed like a good idea, but it ended up feeling like an obligation. So even though I hate abandoning a book unfinished, I ditched it a quarter of the way through and read what I really wanted: The wittiness of Kelly Oxford.

Off Day

There are days that come easy.

I wake well-rested, sun rays peeking through my window, a soft sign that good things are ahead. The day passes quick enough to not linger too long but slow enough that each moment is savored. I'm confident. I'm productive. I feel grounded. I go to the gym and am reminded that I am stronger than I was yesterday. The sun sets and the sky glows pink, yellow, and orange, separately and all at once. I read. I write. I consume words and pour them out, with ease. I am inspired. I am surrounded by people who motivate me.

Then there are other days.

A Look At My Personality Type

For the past few days, I've been fixated on reading about my Myers-Briggs personality type. The official test costs money, but I took a free version HERE that was still pretty legit. I found the results to be surprisingly accurate.

Personality tests like this can help you understand yourself better. You'll learn more about your strengths and weaknesses – some you might not have even been aware of until you're reading about them and realizing, Wow, yeah, I DO do that.

10 Brave Moments

This is a post inspired by, and intended to be an addition to, "The 10 Bravest Moments" by Jessica Semaan.

Advice You Shouldn't Listen To

Not everything you read on the Internet is worth listening to (except this, of course).

Bullet Journaling Pt. II: New Pages & Layouts

This is an update on my bullet journaling progress. You can read my first post here.

Back in May, I started bullet journaling, and have stuck with it for four months now. About half my journal is filled with appointments, tasks, quotes, trackers, reminders, doodles, and lists. Some pages have stayed the same, others have changed, a few are new altogether.

6 Ways To Make Life A Little Easier

Six little things that could make a big difference:

I've Never Been Fishing

I've never been fishing,
so I don't know what it feels like
to throw your line out
again and again
and wait
for something to bite,
only to reel it back in
and find nothing.
To put out the bait
again and again
and wait
without any takers.

I've never been fishing,
so I don't know exactly what that feels like,
and yet,
in a way,

August Wrap-Up

"It's not about what someone can do for you,
it's who and what the two of you become in each other's presence.
The notion of doing nothing but spending time in each other's company
has, in a way, become a lost art."

August was a journey in itself. My brain cracked a few times, but I did my best to take care of myself. Twice I had a good cry, one of which happened lying on the floor. My boyfriend silently lied down next to me, and from that gesture alone, I knew everything would be fine. And it was. It is. For the past week or so, I've been feeling particularly inspired, motivated, and creative.

This month I read a lot. I started making face masks a weekly practice. I didn't pressure myself about money. I had multiple dreams that Donald Trump was trying to kill me. I said yes to things. To a lot of things. I said yes to a trip to a flea market an hour away; to drinks with a friend on a weeknight so we could catch up; to biking in the city; to getting up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday to accomplish adult things because I knew I had to even if I didn't want to; to a 24-hour adventure race in Chicago, possibly the craziest thing I've ever done.

I said no to Swedish Fish Oreos.

August Reads

My reading focus this month was on non-fiction since I hadn't read any since December (!!). Full disclosure: I threw a fiction one in there too because I can't stay away, but three out of four were non, so that still counts for something.

I sometimes forget that "non-fiction" doesn't necessarily mean "historical fiction." There's more out there. Memoirs, for example. Powerful and inspiring memoirs. I loved and recommend all three that I read.

Questival Chicago 2016

This weekend I did a 24-hour adventure race in Chicago. Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, teams complete as many challenges and earn as many points as they can until it ends at 7 p.m Saturday.

I raced with two of my coworkers, and we had more fun in 24 hours than I thought possible.

New Makeup Haul

My first "haul" post! (Do four items qualify as a haul?)

Let's get right to it. Here are some new products I've been trying over the past few weeks:

'Ctrl Alt Delete' – A Review

I finished Emma Gannon's "Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online" this past weekend (read it within a week) (because that's what five-hour drives are good for) and loved it so much that I wanted it to shine in its own spotlight. There's too much I want to say about it for it to be grouped in with my monthly reads.

Things To Be Happy About // 02

Today is another day that calls for reflection and appreciation. I've had another rough week, so I want to take some time to bring it back to the positives.

On Passion & Being (Extra)ordinary

I recently had a conversation with a friend about passion, in the sense of feeling passionate about doing certain things.

"I can't really make myself less boring if I have no passions," she said.

She recalled a conversation she had with her grandma, who wondered, "What is passion and how does someone find one? Is it even really possible?" The two of them agreed that it wasn't. You couldn't just go out and "find" a passion. Instead, passion was something inherent to you, something rooted in you.

If you ask me? I disagree. I don't think you're either born with a passion or you're not, and that if you don't have an innate passion for something now, you never will. That's depressing. Passions stem from interests, and your interests evolve.

(Though they do have a point – you can't go out and find passion. It finds you.)

On Timing

Timing is important. So much of life depends on it. Showing up to places on time, scheduling appointments, getting enough sleep. Less evident but much more significant: people must enter our lives at the right time.

Unfortunately, there's no way for us to know when that is. If there was, I would have told you, "You seem great and I'd love to hang out, but the stars aren't quite aligned for that yet. It wouldn't work out in the long run. Let's pick this up in a few years. It'll work much better then."

July Things

"I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod;
my shadow does that much better."

July Reads

Seven months into the year and I have already surpassed my 2016 reading goal! Aiming for 12 books in 12 months isn't anything too crazy (especially compared to my friend Andrea who reads an unfathomable 100+ books every year), but it required me to go through books more frequently than I have in the past. Turns out, it wasn't much of a challenge after all.

I am elated that I've actually stuck with it, and there are still so many more books I want to get my hands on.

Refreshing Your Mindset

Last week I was out of state on a family vacation, and let me tell you, it was MUCH needed. I hadn't taken a full day off of work since January. Sometimes you don't really realize how burnt out and robotic you've become until you find yourself going to sleep without setting an alarm and waking up without a to-do list. Few things feel better than that.

Words To Remember // 03

"Always remember that you can have the best lover by your side,
but you will be unhappy if you're not in love with your life."

Augusto Cury

What You Need And What You Don't

You need
to be direct and upfront about what you want and how you feel.
You don't need
to drop hints and hope they get it.

You need
to be able to trust that if someone is upset with you, they will tell you.
You need your friends to be straightforward and honest.
You don't need
to worry about whether a friend is mad at you and just isn't telling you.
You don't need to feel like you're walking on eggshells when you talk to a person.

Things To Be Happy About // 01

I've been feeling a bit down lately, more negative than I'd like to be. Encompassed in a cloud that won't dissipate. In times like this, it's important to focus on the silver lining of situations. (I had even made a resolution to document more positive things.) Writing or talking about my troubles can help, but I also want to make sure that all of life's good things get their fair share of attention, big and small. Because there is still so much good happening.

June Things

"People will either be an inspiration to you or a measuring stick for you.
You choose their function in your own life."
Hannah Brencher

June Reads

In an attempt to keep content rolling out more often – and also to give you booklovers posts that are especially for you! – I'm going to talk about the books I've read each month separately from my monthly favorites.

Back in January, I resolved to read 12 books this year. So far, I've been reading at nearly double the pace, which has been a pleasant surprise.


First Job, First Year: What I've Learned

A friend texted me the other day, "It's been a hot minute since you made a blog post. Can your fans be expecting one soon?" First of all, fans? What a flattering way to describe the likely small handful of people who read this. But it HAS been a hot minute, hasn't it?

I'm chalking it up to busy days at work again, which is actually exactly what I want to talk about. I started my job two weeks after graduating college and have somehow already been here for an entire year. Over that time, I've learned a thing or two, and I hope sharing them will help some of the newbies out there.

On Post-Grad Friendships

"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."

Andy Bernard said this in "The Office." I have the quote framed in my living room. I wish there was a way, too.

May Things

"Seek to be worth knowing rather than well known."
Sandra Turley

May was a good month. I bought a new car, spent a night eating my weight in Indian food with friends, decorated my living room a bit more, had a family bike trip and picnic for Mother's Day, ran my fastest 5K, got my own domain, tried a class at Orange Theory, got brunch in the city with friends, and did the (Half) Murph Challenge for Memorial Day.

In spite of all that, my free time has felt very laid back. I never felt like I was trying to cram a lot of things into a short amount of time. May felt balanced.