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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Books I've Read Recently (& Whether or Not You Should Read Them).

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Plot: "The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless."

Favorite quote: “Time moves quickly, I have found, turning people and places into first history and then later stories.” 

My thoughts: It was a creative plot and a beautiful setting...on paper, I should have loved this book. And I really really tried. But it just felt choppy and jumpy and I was trying to hard to keep up with a story that felt like it was just going in circles. 

Should you read it? Eh. I enjoyed certain aspects of it, but wouldn't recommend it. 

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin 

Plot: "Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.

Enter Jess’s mother—a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.

As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.

When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.

All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life. 

Oh! You Pretty Things is a dizzying ride at the carnival of fame, a fast-paced and sharply funny work that dares to imagine what happens when we go over the top in a town of gilded excess."

My thoughts: This was a quick, reality-show-feels kind of read, and I loved it. I read it on New Year's Eve by the pool, and it was the perfect pool read. 

Should you read it? Add it to your list for when you need a mindless beach read!

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Plot: "There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe."

Favorite quote: “But after a while, searching for the answers felt like grasping around in the dark. At some point, you have to choose to live in the light.” 

My thoughts: I read someone describe this as "Riverdale meets Veronica Mars" and I honestly couldn't describe it better myself. I flew through it, was caught off guard several times, and overall just really enjoyed it. We all know I love a good YA book and I love a good thriller, so it was fun to find a book that was both. 

Should you read it? Yes!

What have you read lately?
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Three Years a Mom: Happy Birthday, Baby Jack.


I'm writing this the night before your third birthday. It's way too late for you to be napping, but you are. You're curled up against me, breathing deep and slow and radiating so much heat that I'm starting to sweat (you've always been a little furnace, from day one). The simple act of watching your chest rise and fall, watching how your eyelashes flutter just a little bit as you're in between deep sleep and waking up, seeing how peaceful your face looks as you fills me with so much love my chest feels like it's going to explode. 

You turn three tomorrow, a fact that elicits both a shrug and shock from me. Shock because, how? How are you this old? Didn't I bring you home from the hospital like, last week? But also shrugs because, only three? Haven't you just been around forever? Haven't you always been a part of life? All I know for sure is that my life is so much better, so much happier, so much more full of joy with you in it. 

I want to say thank you. This year has been a hard one in a lot of ways. There were many days that brought me to my knees, and there you always were, ready to snuggle, to share snacks, to demand a baby shark dance party. You didn't even know, and you may never know, just how many days you saved for me this year. I'm thankful for you for a billion reasons, but those days brought a particularly sacred kind of thankfulness for you. 

Now, I may be writing you a letter, but this is also a blog post, and I strive to be honest around here, so I have to let you in on a little secret: YOU ARE DIFFICULT. I am so thankful for you and so in love with you, but kid, you give me a run for my money on a daily basis. I have never been so tired in my whole life. But another secret: I wouldn't change a single second of it. You may drain me on the daily, but good grief if you don't fill me up even more. I've never been so full of so much goodness in my life. You are pure happiness, pure love, pure sweetness. You are everything. I can't believe you're mine. 

You are all of the good things: Brave, kind, trusting, good. You love making people laugh and have the funniest little sense of humor. You have the gentlest heart and the boldest spirit. I can say with zero hesitation that the world will be better because you're in it. 

I could write about you forever, but this seems like a good place to wrap it up. And by that, I mean you just woke up a smidge, stood up, threw your empty milk at me, and yelled "MILKKKK" before falling back into bed. 

Can't wait to see how much fun three is. Happy birthday, my tiny little love.

I love you the most, always and always and always. 

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

just write: new year's thoughts.

think of last year
of all it brought you. 
the people you didn't know the year before
who you can't survive without now. 
the nights you got to dance through &
the laughter you got to share &
the places you went &
the lips you kissed &
the hope you felt &
the things you saw 
all in the span of one year. 
it was hard, maybe
but it was good and full 
and it shaped you. 
remember that, when this year gets hard
(as it almost certainly will):
that while it may be hard
it is also full &
giving &
always shaping. 

it's not too late to start over 
the second, the seventh, the twelfth of next month
all perfectly good days to start fresh. 
but please don't feel like you have to. 
start over, that is. 
you are good, here, now.
just as you are. 

you don't have to let go 
if you are not ready. 
a page turning, a clock ticking, a calendar flipping
none of it means you have to let go. 
it's okay that you still need to work through that thing &
it's okay that you can't stop thinking about them & 
it's okay that you're not ready to say, "it's okay" quite yet. 
all of these things are a part of you
of you, just as you are, right now.
& you don't have to let go of any piece of yourself 
unless you are ready. 

it really is amazing, when you think about it. 
the fact that you woke up today. 
all of the things last year that could have killed you 
but didn't 
all of the ways the world could have broken you 
but didn't 
all of the times you could have given up 
but didn't. 
it really is amazing 
so allow yourself to be amazed. 
you did it. 

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Spending 2019.

At the beginning of every month, I write a post with ideas of how to spend the days in that month. I started doing it a few years ago out of a desire to experience more joy in the day-to-day, not just in the planned ahead trips and adventures. 

Ready or not, 2019 graced us with her presence last week, and this was the first year in a long time that I didn't feel the urge to sit down and make a long list of resolutions. The reason for that is two-fold: One, the end of 2018 felt like it almost killed me, and two, the year as a whole shaped me into a person I'm actually pretty proud of. Why would I want to make a list of changes I hope to make to her disguised as goals? 

I have specific things I hope to accomplish this year, of course. But they all tie back to the same goal: I want to spend this year. 

I want to spend my talents, not just sit around and hope that someday I get the chance to. 

I want to spend the opportunities that come my way. 

I want to spend my time. I don't want to be so caught up in things I have to do or should be doing that my time rushes past me without me getting to choose how to spend it. 

Whether you're setting goals this year or not, I hope you decide that 2019 will be a year you spend. What an incredible thing a new year is. What a huge gift that, somehow, you made it through 2018. 2019 will be full of days with opportunities and hours and choices.

I hope you spend them all. 
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

What December Taught Me.

Happy week after Christmas, friends! The weird week where no one really knows what to do with themselves. I hope you had the very best Christmas. 

This year was a little weird in the sense that I feel like December has been months long. I feel like Christmas flew by, but December lasted approximately six months...does that make sense? 

Anyway, this month taught me a few things. Like: 

In the words of my friend, Steph: "You can perspective and gratitude the F out of your life and it will not keep bad, sad, devastating, hard as hell things from happening. So important to have the right people next to you when they do." || Perspective and gratitude are my jam. But hard things? They still happen. And when they do, you cannot lean only on yourself. Thankful lists are wonderful (and have been lifechanging for me), but they will not hold you up in rough seasons. 

Faith and friendships are two incredibly important things to me. They're both things that require work and effort on my part. But over the last month, I just had to lean into them. Fall back on them. No effort to give, just jumping in hoping they would catch me. They did. 

That Christmas is truly the least about what we tend to make it the most about. || I am BIG on traditions, especially around Christmastime. Christmas Eve, specifically. Ever since I can remember, it's been my favorite day full of tradition. This year, Jack woke up so sick on Christmas Eve. Instead of running around and doing traditional Christmas Eve things, it was spent at home with a very sick bub. No last minute gifts were bought. No cookies were baked. And you know what? Christmas was still amazing. 

That fresh starts are always going to fill me with hope. || I am truly giddy at the thought of the new year. Though I believe fresh starts can happen on any day, there is something magical about the start of a new calendar year. I'm so excited for 2019. I'm so hopeful for 2019. I'm so ready for 2019. How about you?

What did this month teach you?
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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Thankful 5.

As the year starts drawing to a close, I've been thinking a lot about what 2018 looked like for me. It was full of some really good things, some really bad things, and a lot of in-between things, as most years go. 

As far as my personal life goes, the best thing I started doing this year is thankful lists. I started doing it after listening to a podcast about how we can train our brains to focus on the positive things in life.

The theory behind it is that if you know you're going to have to name five (or more) little things you're thankful for, eventually you will subconsciously start looking for little things to be thankful for. So where before you may have hit three green lights in a row and not even registered it as a good thing, when your perspective is one of gratitude, your brain notices those three green lights and flags them as something good to write down later. I was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a go for myself. 

It. Is. Life. Changing. 


And the biggest reason I know it really is life changing is that when I got overwhelmed by all the ish hitting the fan a few weeks ago, I stopped doing it. And I could tell a big difference in my perspective and how I viewed my day. 

Here's the deal - I'm an anxious person. It's something I'm working on, but anxiety is a part of my daily life whether I like it or not (spoiler, I do not). Because of this, I'm a person who lets the little bad things have a WAY larger impact on me than they should. At any given point, I could have a panic attack over being at a red light for too long, because the way my brain works, that means I'll be late, which means whoever I'm meeting is going to be mad at me, which means when they take a minute too long to respond to my text next week, I'll have to try to figure out if they're ever going to speak to me again. Is this logical? No. But it's life.

Calling out small things in life to be thankful for has changed my perspective in the sense that if I'm going to let the small bad things completely change the way I'm feeling (and sometimes even completely change the course of my day) then I should let the good small things do the same. 

A small (and slightly dumb, but roll with me) example of this is soup. If I go out to eat and order soup and they bring it to me cold, I'm gonna be annoyed and probably send it back. But if I go out to eat and order soup and it's hot, I don't really think about it, because soup is supposed to be hot. BUT, if I know I need five little things to be thankful for, my brain will be like, YES, hot soup! This is amazing and it's going on our list!

If you're thinking about 2019 goals/resolutions/intentions, this is a really good one to have. So simple, so impactful. It's both doable and can change your life. 

Get yourself a notebook, or start a note on your phone, and at the end of every day, write out a list of five things you're thankful for. Not the big things, like family and friends, but little things from THAT day, like green lights and hot soup. It can be surprisingly difficult the first few days, but that's kind of the point. Train your brain to be happily surprised and thankful for those tiny little things. 

I promise, you won't regret it. 

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Christmas Coffee Date.

Happy Monday! We're ONE week from Christmas Eve...are you in the stressed about this camp or the excited about this camp? Maybe a little bit of both? 

If you're anything like me, you and coffee are going to be BFFs this week. So it felt like an appropriate time for a little coffee date! 

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you...

That half of me is so jealous of people who have been done with their Christmas shopping for weeks now, but the other half of me loves getting out and shopping in the chaos of Christmas week. 

We went to Universal yesterday for Grinchmas and Jack ABSOLUTELY COULD. NOT. HANG. He was in my lap for the actual show, and he was not about it at all. When he started screaming "NIGHT NIGHT, MUSIC" I got up to take him out, but it just so happened to be during the quietest song of the show and the stairs just so happened to be metal and there was A LOT OF NOISE, OKAY? I will never again be able to hear Cindy Lou Who sing Where Are You, Christmas? Without thinking of all the noise I made trying to get out of there so everyone could enjoy the show. 

That I am a baby when it comes to cold weather. Florida has ruined me and I am not sorry. It is 44 degrees here at the moment and I AM NOT OKAY. While it is nice that it makes it feel more like Christmas, I'm not going to lie, I've been daydreaming about the days when the pool will be back in my life again. 

That I've been having the BEST luck with Amazon finds lately. Especially when it comes to sweaters! I have a few Amazon posts I can't wait to share after Christmas, because it just blows my mind that shopping is this easy now. Bless you, Amazon. 

Your turn! What's going on with you? Wishing you love and joy and peace and COFFEE this week!
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