Monthly Reading: April

I hopped right back on the reading train this month, and even finished both before the end of the month. I did kind of take it easy, though. I read two books that were pretty light and didn’t involve a whole lot of mental work.

The first book I read was Lara Casey’s Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. Lara Casey is amazing, if you haven’t heard of her. She is the genius behind Power Sheets and Southern Wedding magazine. She is such a positive and has the most beautiful personality, and I really enjoy following her on Instagram–seriously, she has the cutest kids.

 

Anyway, I first heard of her through one of my sisters who uses Lara Casey’s Power Sheets every year. Power Sheets are a tool for you to plan out your goals for the year. I tried them for the first time this year, and I went a little more in-depth about them in my resolutions post.

Her book was very uplifting and made me think, “hey, maybe all my dreams can come true.” So if you want to take a deep-dive into discovering what it is you really want out of life, you should check out her books and maybe even order some Power Sheets because they are seriously life-changing.

The next book I read was one that I had started almost a year ago, but never finished. I feel kind of stupid talking about it, because I feel like this person’s audience base is, like 12, but I’ve been a fan of his since I was that age, so I guess it’s alright.

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I read Shane Dawson’s book, It Gets Worse. I seriously love him so much, and have been watching his videos since I was in middle school. I’ve always enjoyed his twisted sense of humor, and I relate a lot to his body issues. This book really allowed me to see a whole other part of him that I never get to see in his videos. It’s definitely not what I would call a “light” read, but it isn’t a difficult read; it just takes you to some dark places. But at the heart of it all, it is Shane in his truest form, and I loved every page.

That’s it for this month’s reading! I hope you enjoyed. I’m ready to dive back into some long fiction books next month, especially because I WILL BE A COLLEGE GRADUATE!

Keep reading, guys!

 

Photos from: (http://laracasey.com) and (amazon.com)
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Monthly Reading: February

I’m really proud of the reading habit I’ve created. I’ve really missed it over the years, and flying through book after book gives me an odd sense of accomplishment.

This month, I read two books which is right on target for my yearly goal. I was even able to start my first March book a little early.

The first book I read was Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. It was a cute coming-of-age book about the bond of two step-siblings and their struggles with mental illness and sexuality. The relationship between Little and Lion is very sweet and was the beating heart of the story. It is what kept me invested, wanting to know how things resolved for both of them.

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The next book I read was a given to me by Cassandra. It is called You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. It’s kind of a motivational “self-help” book, but I found it really inspiring and helpful. So, for anyone wanting to light a fire under their ass, you should check it out and recognize the badass in us all.

https://www.journeystrength.com/blogs/news/168713863-book-recommendation-you-are-a-badass-how-to-stop-doubting-your-greatness-and-start-living-an-awesome-life

Check back with me next month to see my thoughts on my March reading!

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

So if you couldn’t tell by my past couple of blog posts, I am putting a lot of effort, thought and time into my goals. And I feel like I’ve made decent progress in all of them, or at least put more intention into them.

However, there is one goal that I am STRUGGLING with. Like it feels like pulling teeth trying to get motivated. That goal is writing. I’m trying to be a writer this year. I have trouble giving myself that title because I don’t feel like I’ve deserved it. To be a writer, you have to write. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I have not written in several years. I’ve journaled, I’ve written blog posts, but I miss writing. In high school, I wrote novels. Like I had written three whole books in high school. Sure, they sucked, but I did it. I finished them. And they had decent plot, a few interesting characters.

Now, though?

Nothing.

I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for 5 years. And I can’t get it out onto a page to save my life. There are just too many uncertainties. I can’t get all the pieces to fit together and it is beyond frustrating. Because it could be so good.

And just like so many other things in my life, I know what I need to do, I just can’t make myself do it. I don’t know what’s stopping me. I’m not afraid. I know I’m capable. I think I just put too much pressure on it to be good. All the real writers always say that the first draft is going to suck. The first draft is the worst that it will ever be. But, with my writing in the past, I’ve always written in one fell swoop. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have an outline. I had an idea, and I created a story.

But that is gone now.

I seem to have lost that ability. But I am also stuck feeling like I don’t know any other way to write. When I try to just write, I feel aimless. At this point, I’m just venting in the form of a blog post. Because I’m not looking for anything. I have the answers. I need to just do it.

Anyway, thanks for reading if you do. Hopefully this is something I can look back on at the end of this year and laugh at. Also, hopefully by then I will have another first draft to add to my collection of Books That No One Will Read.

Monthly Reading: January

As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I want to read two books a month in 2018. I’m currently subscribed to Book of the Month, which I love, but I’ve gotten a little behind with my reading so it is on hold for now until I catch up. Both of the books I read in January were BOTM books and so far they haven’t disappointed.

The first book I read was Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.

https://www.npr.org/2017/07/12/535799520/goodbye-vitamin-is-sweet-but-not-sugarcoated
Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

It was kind of a coming-of-age story but about a young woman named Ruth in her twenties instead of pubescent teenagers. Ruth is at a junction in her life where she is dealing with a recent breakup as well as family issues that lead her to move back in with her parents. It is one of those books where you don’t realize the big picture until it’s over. I had a firm grasp on what was going on throughout the book, but it wasn’t until I finished it that I was like, oh shit, I get it now. It was a beautiful story and nothing at all what I thought it would be when I first received it.

The second book was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

http://www.afomaumesi.com/2017/09/08/eleanor-oliphant-completely-fine-review/

This one was definitely my favorite of the month. Recently, Jessica Knoll has become one of my favorite authors (I wrote about her debut novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next novel) and this was a book that she had recommended, so when I saw it as an option, I went ahead and ordered it from BOTM even though I already had an impressive stack of novels yet to be read.

Eleanor is such an interesting character, and I loved every second I got to spend in her head. She is complex and endearing even though I’m certain I would dislike her very much if I ever crossed paths with her in real life. Eleanor is a creature of habit, but throughout this book, she takes measures to examine her past and try new things and meet new people. She reminded me that it really is never too late to change the course of your life. No matter what has happened to you or impeded the plans you had for your life, you can overcome it with enough perseverance and gumption.

I highly recommend both of these books, and I hope this kind of post is something I continue throughout this year (as long as I keep my resolution to read more).

February Bullet Journal Set-Up

And January flip-through

One of my greatest prides and joys is my bullet journal. I didn’t know I could love an inanimate object as much as I love this journal. I’m pretty much obsessed with it and all things related to it. So I wanted to show off my hard work and dedication that could probably be better spent towards my education or getting a job.

As usual, I find inspiration from Amanda Rach Lee on YouTube. I religiously wait for her video to go up before I begin the next month just in case she does something I want to incorporate into my spreads. And I’m so glad I did.

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This is probably my favorite out of all of my monthly title pages. I found the quote on the left on Pinterest and I feel like it will be a good mantra for this next month.

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I have also started putting washi tape along the edge of each month at a glance page to act as a sort of bookmark.

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I kind of switched up my habit tracker. I had already planned on doing this for February, and apparently great minds think alike because Amanda also changed hers up too. And then I dedicated the other page to tracking my sleep and water intake. You’ll see later that in January, I switched out my sleep tracker for a water tracker and I really missed tracking the hours of sleep I got, so I’ve brought them together for this month. We’ll see how it goes. That’s what is so great about bullet journal–you aren’t stuck with one layout for 12 months; you can do whatever your heart desires.

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I enjoyed this form of mood tracking, so I’ve copied it over from January. And then I found another cute doodle on Pinterest, although this one looked better in my head than after the execution of it.

The following is a flip-through of how my spreads came out in January. I started with a new weekly layout, but ended up reverting back to my old ways of washi tape and daily tracking.

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Ignore the ripped pages lol To quote Hannah Montana: “Everyone makes mistakes”

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So that is it for today! Have a wonderful week!

2018 Bullet Journal Set-Up

I have shared in the past my love of bullet journals, so I wanted to start 2018 off with a peek at how I’ve set up my 2018 Bullet Journal.

I debated on whether to keep going on my current bullet journal or start 2018 in a new journal, and I decided to begin again with a pretty new journal because my old one got a little thick (I went a little crazy with the memory keeping and decided to put some birthday cards in my journal and it pretty much doubled the size of my journal).

For my birthday, my sister got me a new Leuchterrm journal so I am using that one for 2018.

For those who have not been caught up in the bullet journaling frenzy, a bullet journal is a planner and journal all in one. The fun part is that you get to design your own planner. I have always struggled with planners in the past because even though I love them, I would constantly switch from one type of planner to the next. With bullet journaling, the layout is completely up to me so if I get bored I can switch up my layouts.

I’ve really enjoyed bullet journaling and letting my creativity run free. I find most of my inspiration through YouTube videos and Instagram posts. I utilize the bookmark tool on Instagram to save layouts or spreads that I love and want to recreate in my own journal. Below I’ve attached some screenshots of how to use the bookmark function on instagram if you have never used it before. I highly recommend it!

This year I am trying to be more productive so I’ve put more focus on creating feasible to-do tasks for each day that line up with my goals. You can read all about my goals here.

So there’s a little sneak peak into my bullet journal. I am low key obsessed with it and honestly I’m just really happy with how it’s been going. I’m also happy with the structure that it’s brought to my life. I’m so excited to see where the rest of 2018 takes me.

Just Another Resolutions Post

It’s 2018, which means it is time for yet another new year’s resolutions post.

This year I decided to tackle my goals in a new way. This wasn’t particularly difficult since my previous way of setting goals consisted of last minute guestimations of what I wanted out of the new year. My goals always ended up disappointing me because I treated them like birthday wishes, I thought they would come true magically and without any effort on my part.

So instead of wishful thinking and zero follow through, I decided to use Cultivate What Matters’s Goal Planner for 2018.

Their website can probably do a much better job of explaining the ins and outs of their goal planning process, but essentially, you go through their prep work to figure out what is most important in your life. The prep work is emotionally draining and reminiscent of a therapy session, but honestly, I’d do it all over again.

Once the prep work is complete, I decided what I actually wanted to accomplish or make progress towards in the next year. As you’ll recall, this is pretty much where my goal planning ended before. From there, the goal planners allow you to break those goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks.

So instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel excited and in charge of my goals, and I have a seemingly tangible way of accomplishing them.

Another great part about this goal planner is that you get to pick a word for the year–just a single word to inspire you to continue working towards your goals.

My word of the year is “ignite”. There are a lot of things that I want out of life but have been dormant for many years. So this year, I want to ignite those passions again so I can work towards those goals and hopefully be somewhere that I’m proud of by the end of 2018.

Throughout my prep work, I realized there were many things I hoped to accomplish in my life. Some were familiar, and some were kind of surprising. I found things I didn’t realize I’d been hoping for.

I narrowed my goals down to four, but the goal planner has seasonal check-ins so I can change them or add to them throughout the year.

  1. Cultivate a healthy lifestyle. Like every other person this year, I’m looking to leave my crappy eating habits in 2017.
  2. Be a writer. All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. In high school, all I did was eat, breathe, sleep, and write. However, since starting college, I’ve let it slip to the backburner. Actually, not even the backburner–I let writing fall off the back of the stove, never to be found again. So, this year, I am writing a book. Or at least make progress on writing a book.
  3. Cultivate my interests. Every year, I have a list of books I want to read and a list of classic films that I’ve always wanted to see. But every year, I fail miserably. So this year, I’m going to read 2 books a month and watch 1 movie a week.
  4. Be a strong, faithful Catholic. I have wavered in my faith the past couple of years. Waver may be an understatement, but nonetheless, I am making strides to form a closer relationship with God.

So that’s it. I just wanted to share here to maybe help hold myself accountable. I mean, if it’s on the internet, it must be true, right?

If you have any interest in this kind of goal planning, you should check out Cultivate What Matters’s blog because they share great goal planning tips all the time.

 

Unplug

I’m really not doing too hot on the whole blog thing, but it is something that I love to do, so I need to make it more of a priority for me. I spend so much time on my phone and my computer that sometimes writing feels like a chore. So, I’ve decided to delve back into what made me loving writing to begin with—books! I’ve had this ongoing list of books that I want to read and buy, but like many book lovers out there, I couldn’t help but be guilted by all of the books on my shelf that I purchased, but never got around to reading. I decided to pull out all the books that I hadn’t read yet, because surely there couldn’t be that many. I went shelf by shelf, watching my pile grow and grow to a whopping 28 unfinished books!

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I was shocked, but at the same time, I was like “Oh, it’s only 28?” In an attempt to motivate myself to read more, I gave myself a “no phone after 9PM” rule. Basically, this entailed setting my phone somewhere that it would not tempt me, and then forcing myself to be productive. It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have the time to read, or finish that project you started 6 months ago, or whatever other thing you might have put off. The truth is, time doesn’t just run away from you. You must decide what is worth your time and what should take the backseat.

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The first night was difficult, but I forced myself to read about 50 pages of a book that I’d gotten for Christmas, started, and then put down sometime after last spring semester. The book was Stephen King’s On Writing. I had specifically put it on my Christmas list, because I wanted to get serious about writing again. Without the temptation of checking Snapchat or watching Instagram stories, I suddenly was not able to put it down. I brought it with me to school, to work, basically anywhere that would maybe allow me to read for a few spare minutes. I finished it in a couple of days, and I felt completely refreshed and inspired to write and read more.

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Side Note: Anyone who is even remotely interested in writing, and I mean like real writing—the kind of writing that makes you want to lock yourself in a room for months on end, building this world and creating this story that just seems to burn through you like wildfire—if you’re into that kind of writing, then you should definitely read this book. I could feel his love for writing and books so fervently that I couldn’t help but be reminded of when I felt that way, too. Anyway, this isn’t a review, but it really was so good, and helpful, and comforting, and terrifying—it was everything.

The point of this post is that after a week of reading, instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media accounts, I read almost 3 books. By distancing myself from the constant content being produced on Instagram, Twitter, and everything else I obsess over, I was also able to see clearly what I care about seeing and what I just scroll or click past. Ultimately, unplugging allowed me to better budget my time so that my 24 hours are spent doing what I care most about. I hope that in the few weeks I have before fall semester begins, I can fine-tune this whole unplugging thing so that I can use it to my advantage.

So, maybe try distancing yourself from social media for a few hours and see how it affects your day. Let me know what things you do to unwind!

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Thanks for reading! And I will be back next week with another post! I promise.

13 Reasons Why: A Review

This isn’t really going to be a review; my title lied. It is part review, part rant…

13 Reasons Why: A Rant

I recently (binge) watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix this past week. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations because all of the promos made it look like another stupid teen drama. I was only slightly tempted since I had read the book in high school, but if Cassandra hadn’t started it with me, I probably wouldn’t have watched it for a long time, if ever. After a few episodes, I was hooked. Mostly because of nostalgia– I really loved the book when I was younger.

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This show is probably one of the only instances in my life where the book just didn’t measure up to the show. Now, I have not read the book since high school, so I could be wrong, but the show was just so much more nuanced. There are a lot of changes from the book, but it made the whole thing so much more connected and intense. Plus, the acting was incredible. Watching the show was truly an experience and I can’t wait to watch it again.

I wasn’t originally going to do a review, because the show had been given so much praise already that there wasn’t anything I felt I could add to the conversation. But recently on Facebook, I’ve seen a lot of posts talking negatively about the show because of how graphic and “triggering” it was. So since I am passive-aggressive af, I’ve decided to throw in my 2 cents, plus I really loved the show.

I will be discussing generalized plot points, so if you have not finished and do not want any light spoilers, click away.

In the Facebook post that started this whole blog post, it was basically saying that the entire show needed a warning because the whole show was graphic and insensitive to people who have gone through similar experiences.

First of all, putting a warning on the whole show, telling exactly what is going to go down throughout the entirety of it is (for lack of a better word) stupid. Who would watch a show, knowing exactly what is going to happen? Also, everyone has been talking about this show, everyone knows the premise. So, if you know that you are sensitive to suicide or bullying, then don’t watch a show about suicide and bullying.

Another point that was made in a different Facebook post was that 13 Reasons Why was glorifying and romanticizing suicide. This one was coming from someone who hadn’t even watched the show, and yet they felt entitled to write a whole novel on her Facebook about it. This show, in no way, makes suicide look enticing. If anything, it shows the raw, painful, frightening, and depressing truth of taking your own life.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who read the book or watched the show and then thought, Wow, I could really go for a nice suicide right about now. I was more inclined to buy a tape recorder and tell all the assholes I knew how much of an asshole they were than to take my life. In the final episode when we actually see Hannah commit suicide, it was the darkest thing I’d ever seen in my life. I kept expecting the camera to cut away, but it didn’t. It stayed with her until she died. I stayed with her until she died.

I can’t say that I’ve never thought about killing myself, but it was more like “If I was dead right now, I wouldn’t have to go through this shit” than actual self-hatred and loneliness. But watching that scene was like a sharp slap in the face, waking me up. We always hear about people who kill themselves, but seeing it happen and it’s direct affect around everyone around them is unnerving.

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This show is supposed to make you uncomfortable. You are supposed to feel sick to your stomach. You are supposed to want to look away but fail. Yes, this show is graphic and “triggering” but that is because it needs to be. People aren’t going to talk about it if it isn’t right in their face. That is why the book was so important when it came out 10 years ago. It was all anyone talked about in the hallways at school, and now it is all anyone can post about online. It opens discussion, which in turn instills change.

Thank you for reading!

 

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Review

I haven’t been doing so well with my resolution to read more. Since January, I’ve only read two books. This past week, I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, and it is so beautiful. I can already tell that it will be one of those books that you pick up year after year to read again.

I first heard of this book through a weekly newsletter that I am subscribed to. For those who don’t know, I am OBSESSED with Lena Dunham (blog post to come, I’m sure). She and one of the producers of Girls, Jenni Konner, started an online newsletter called Lenny Letter. Knoll wrote a piece in one of the issues a year ago today about her book. In the Lenny Letter, Knoll talked openly about how her personal experience with sexual assault led to the idea of her novel (you can read her piece here). She was so open and raw in her piece that, without even knowing anything else about her book, I had to read it. And on one fine day, I found myself once again strolling the aisles of Target when a familiar book cover caught my eye. I’m so glad it did, because I instantly fell in love.

The novel follows the soon-to-be Ani Harrison (formerly TifAni FaNelli), who strives to recreate herself in an attempt to alter people’s perception of who she was. She is a senior editor at The Women’s Magazine which is most comparable to our Cosmopolitan, and is engaged to the attractive, blue-blooded Luke Harrison. It would appear as though she has the perfect life, but very quickly you can tell that there is something unnerving about her. Throughout most of the novel, the reader is left in the dark about Ani’s past, but through small glimpses and memories, we slowly begin to understand the dark and twisted person that we’ve been unapologetically subjected to. Knoll creates a very realistic mindset that we get to experience throughout the entirety of the book.

Personally, I felt an instant (yet frightening) connection with Ani because her internal monologue mirrored my own in a dark way. Perhaps it is just a testament to Knoll’s writing that her readers can understand her character so well, or perhaps I should seek professional help. Either way, I definitely miss Ani’s quick wit and dark humor.

It is beautiful, inspiring, and suspenseful. I have told all (two) of my friends about this novel, and now I urge all of you to do the same.