We Fed Giraffes In Colorado


If you follow me on Instagram, you know that two weekends ago, I was in Colorado visiting my friend. It's my third time going to Colorado in a year, BUT it never gets old, because my friend is an A+ planner. We always do something different and each trip has a new experience.

We explored the mountains, ate good food, went to a zoo, Netflix n chilled, brunched hard, walked around Denver, looked at street art, and came face to face with a deer. It was a very awesome weekend.

Whenever I travel, I debate vlogging and oftentimes I opt out so I can really enjoy the place. Carrying around a camera can be inconvenient and, sometimes, a distraction. But we did such cool things and saw such beautiful places that I'm really glad I vlogged this one.

3 Things From The Past Week // 13


1 | Last week after my Colorado trip, I took Monday off of work, which was my first day off that was an actual day off in a long time. Definitely the first one this year.

I slept until 8, did a long yoga session in my living room, read (a lot), did laundry, worked on editing my vlog from the trip, caught up on tv, did dishes. It was productive and relaxing.

I still haven't completely unpacked.

Why We Blog // A Collaboration


A few weeks ago I put up a post "What If I Stopped Blogging?" In response to that, my real-life friend and fellow blogger Laura texted me saying she wanted to collaborate on a post about why we blog. I thought it was a great idea.

Not only could sharing our stories be interesting for others, but it's good for us as bloggers to take a minute to reflect on why we're doing all of this anyway. After wondering What if I stopped?, I reminded myself Here's why I haven't.

My Travel Essentials


Today – Friday, the day this is being posted – I am flying out to Colorado to visit my friend. The fact that this post is going up on Friday means it was written beforehand which means I didn't wait until the very last minute to pack! Go me. This might be a first.

I almost always wait until the last minute to pack, and I also almost always overpack. I am indecisive about my clothes and over-prepared for situations that will not happen. I am the worst. I tried really hard this time to only pack what I needed. Surprisingly, I kept it down to only two outfits AKA the exact amount I needed, instead of packing two extra "just in case." 

Aside from the obvious things like a toothbrush, contact solution, phone charger, etc., here are my travel must-haves:

October Wrap-Up


Happy Halloween, friends! This is the first year I'm actually dressing up at work. The scarecrow costume I did on Saturday turned out so well that I decided to do it again today. I also bought a big bag of candy in hopes that kids in my apartment building go trick-or-treating inside the building, but that could be wishful thinking.

B L O G  P O S T S

This month I thought to myself, what if I stopped blogging? Obviously, though, I didn't stop. The whole process can be motivating and discouraging and rewarding all at once. It's a coin I'm willing to flip. I wrote about living in the suburbs and why I like it. For anyone considering the Bikini Body Guide fitness program, or just curious about what workout routine I follow, I talked about my experience with BBG, sharing my takeaways and pieces of advice. My weekly three things included running into an old friend for the first time in three years, a reminder that fitness journeys don't have a finish line, and a theory about compliments we receive. Both of the books I read this month had me emotional and rooting for the main character.

October Reads


Book 39:
"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
Plot: Set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, "The Help" is the story of rich white women and the black maids who raise their children. The lifestyle is accepted, never questioned. That is until Skeeter, a recent college graduate and aspiring writer, well, questions it. She wants to hear the perspective of the help and write a book about it. She meets with maids in secret, interviewing them and writing their stories. Though these black women have been with their white families for years, there's a lot they haven't said, until now.

3 Things From The Past Week // 12


1 | I am having the coziest weekend of reading and writing and, of course, watching "Stranger Things 2." Most of my time has been spent on the couch, and I'm very okay with that, even though my Apple Watch probably thinks I'm dead.

I did get off the couch for a while last night to go to my friend's Halloween party, which was a lot of fun. I've gotten very good at coming up with costumes that require absolutely no purchases.

My Experience With Bikini Body Guide


I've been a member at my gym since I started college, working out regularly for the past six years or so. Generally, I work out about 5-6 days per week. The fact that I go to the gym is consistent, but what I do at the gym varies.

Back in March of last year, I tried Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide, a 12-week workout plan consisting of circuit workouts Monday/Wednesday/Friday and low-intensity steady cardio Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday.

I went through the guide twice, then took a break for a while. Now, I'm working through it again.

For anyone who's interested in trying out Bikini Body Guide, or is just curious in general how my experience has been, here are my main takeaways and pieces of advice:

3 Things From The Past Week // 11


1 | It's finally starting to look like fall around here. Usually by the time we get this far into October, all of the trees have changed colors. For whatever reason, most are still green, but we're starting to see some yellow and orange ones pop up, and I am loving it.

What If I Stopped Blogging?


I hate when I start writing about writing, or blogging about blogging, because I feel like it makes me look like a try-hard. It makes it seem like my thoughts aren't genuine even though they are.

Anyway.
On my drive home from work yesterday, I was thinking about my blog.

About how I haven't put up a post during the week in two weeks. How that's the first time that's happened since May. How I haven't been on Twitter much lately, so I haven't been promoting my blog over there as much, but does it even matter since I barely have any followers anyway? Do my "promotions" actually do anything? Surely there are bloggers out there who don't use Twitter but still have an audience. I wonder how long it took popular bloggers to attract a lot of readers. I wonder if they ever doubt themselves. How long can I blog without an increase in my readership before it's embarrassing?

3 Things From The Past Week // 10


1 | This is the first time in a long time that I haven't had a blog post go up during the week. I haven't had any ideas on what to post about. None. I'm a little disappointed in myself but now is when I'm glad I started this series. This is the time when it's really helpful. When I don't have any ideas on what to post about, at least I'm still getting something out there once a week.

3 Things From The Past Week // 09


This is the first 3 Things post that I'm writing in advance and scheduling. It feels weird! Even though I jot myself notes throughout the week, I don't actually write out these posts until Sunday morning. I don't know why – scheduling posts feels better and productive. I guess for these, I just like doing it in the moment.

Anyway, I'm away for the weekend with my family and our Sunday is starting bright and early, so I'm writing this Saturday night.

Beauty In The Burbs


I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I always have.

I grew up in a suburban house, a 40-minute train ride away from the city. The college I went to was not only in the suburbs but was set apart a bit because it had its own airport. When I moved out and into a place of my own, my apartment was only a few towns over from my parents' house. Then I moved in with my boyfriend, to another nearby town.

I've always lived in the suburbs, and some people don't get it.

3 Things From The Past Week // 08


It is October first and I'm spending my morning out on my balcony with a blanket and a cup of s'mores coffee, so, I AM HAPPY.

September Wrap-Up


B L O G  P O S T S

After a rough night, I put up a post talking about how I don't always like who I am, as a reminder to you that you aren't alone in your struggles. After seeing "It," I felt disappointed and wrote four things I didn't like about the movie. I also wrote about my current beauty favorites, if you're looking for new affordable products to use, and six things I'm glad my parents taught me. One of my favorite posts (and maybe yours too, based on pageviews!) went up this month about how the Internet keeps telling me to quit my job but I don't want to. I kept writing three things every Sunday, including thoughts about seeing the same people in my neighborhood every day on my way to work, society's views on turning 30, screaming into the void (AKA blogging), and more. Lastly, I only read two books this month, but I've now hit 38 for the year, so that's something.

September Reads

I only read two books this month, which is not many for me. There were two others that I started but couldn't finish.

First was Phoebe Robinson's "You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain." I listen to Phoebe's comedy podcast "2 Dope Queens" and think she's hilarious, so I was looking forward to reading her book, but... eh. I only got through a few chapters. There were too many references and jokes that she tried to slip in that it became distracting from the actual story being told. If I pick it up again, it'd be the audiobook version.

The second was "The Glass Castle." I wanted to like this one so much but couldn't get into it. I made it halfway through and had no desire to keep going. It didn't feel like the story was actually leading anywhere. I do still plan to see the movie. I'm hoping I enjoy the story in that format more.

Book 37:
"A Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena

3 Things From The Past Week // 07


The past week has been pretty crazy, with a lot of feelings.

1 | Most significantly, I grew up with two yorkshire terriers. We got Molly when I was 8 and Jazzy when I was 9. I don't remember not having a dog. On Friday, we put Molly down, and it was the saddest my heart has ever been.

6 Things I'm Glad My Parents Taught Me


Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is that a lot of the time, our parents are right. They're older and wiser and we learn a lot from them, even if we don't realize it at the time.

My parents, obviously, have played a role in shaping who I am, and I don't view that as a bad thing. There have been plenty of instances where something I've learned from my parents has come in to play and I think how grateful I am to have been taught that.

From goofy to practical, here are some (certainly, only some) of those things.

But I Don't Want To Quit My Job


For those of you who don't know, my full-time job during the week is an "office job." I'm a project coordinator at a creative studio. It's a classic 8-to-5, clock-in-and-clock-out, working-in-a-cubicle job.

And here's the kicker: I don't hate it.

3 Things From The Past Week // 06


1 | One of my neighbors in my building sometimes plays piano in the evening, and it's such a lovely, soothing thing to listen to. We hadn't heard him play in a while until one night last week, when my boyfriend suddenly said, "Do you hear that?" and we paused whatever we were watching to listen to the music.

My Current Beauty Favorites


Every once in a while I like to go the beauty-blogger route and talk about products I've been using lately. When I find something I like, I'll use it regularly until I'm sick of it. I don't know a ton about makeup, either, so if I can make it work, so can you.

Here are some of the beauty products I've using pretty much every day lately:

3 Things From The Past Week // 05



1 | On Thursday I went to my kettlebell class at my gym for the first time since June. It's my favorite class, and I pretty much go every week, except for during the summer when I go to a local food fest with my family on Thursdays.

It was nice to be back. I set up in my usual spot because even after not going for three months, it was still my spot. Two different people came up to me and said, "Haven't seen you for a while! Welcome back." I like the idea of people I don't know noticing my existence like that.

4 Things I Didn't Like About 'It'


Last night I saw the highly anticipated movie "It," based on Stephen King's 1986 novel and my initial reaction was disappointment. It wasn't a bad movie. I'm sure in a few days when I reflect back on it, I'll probably agree that it's good. But walking out of the theatre, all I felt was that it didn't meet my expectations.

It's worth mentioning that I haven't read Stephen King's "It," nor have I seen the original movie. So it's possible that the aspects I didn't like are specific to this execution rather than the original story.

Nonetheless, here are four spoiler-free things I didn't like about the new movie.

You Aren't Alone In Your Struggles


It's important to acknowledge that the parts of a person's life that we see online are not the entire picture. What we see are only the best parts.

And that goes for me too.

3 Things From The Past Week // 04


1 | Every day on my way to work, I pass the same little old lady walking down the street. We usually end up at the street corner at the same time. I'm at a red light waiting to turn right and she's crossing the street in front of me. This happens literally every day. I've come to expect it. As I pull up at the light, I realize I'm already scanning the sidewalk looking for her.

It's weird how precise the timing is – not only am I passing her every day but it's in the exact same spot. I wonder if she notices that the same car is always at the light with her.

August Wrap-Up


B L O G  P O S T S

My first post this month was about how diet and exercise don't have a rule book. It's something that's on my mind so often that I'm surprised I haven't written about it before. I also wrote about common misconceptions about yoga, because too often somebody's reason for not doing yoga even though they want to isn't accurate anyway. Sunday mornings have become my time to talk about three things from that week. I stepped a little out of my blogging comfort zone and wrote about how it's time to speak up. Lastly, I read a few really unique books this month.

August Reads

Book 33:
"Into The Water" by Paula Hawkins
Plot: There's something weird about the river that runs through town. Women have gone missing and turned up dead in the water. Most recently, it was Nel Abbott, a single mother. Her sister, Jules, takes in Nel's fifteen-year-old daughter, Lena, who is devastated, convinced Nel's death was a suicide. Jules isn't convinced. Together, the two of them have to try to put the pieces together and find out what really happened to Nel.

3 Things From The Past Week // 03


1 | Last Monday my family and I saw the total solar eclipse in southern Illinois. It was awesome. We watched it from a grassy area with a gazebo and a decent crowd of people. Everyone was gathered around together, sitting on the steps or in lawn chairs, or sprawled out on blankets in the grass.

Common Misconceptions About Yoga


I've been practicing yoga for about six years, and I've found that it has certain connotations that aren't necessarily true. I've had a handful of conversations with friends where they say, "I really want to do yoga, but..." followed by a statement that's either incorrect or not important anyway.

Yoga is great for a lot of reasons. Most simply, it's a block of time that you are setting aside to focus on yourself, inside and out, stretching out your muscles and getting a little peace of mind. Still, some people just aren't into it, so I'm not here to persuade you to do yoga if you don't want to. Instead, I'm talking to those of you who want to get into it but haven't because...

3 Things From The Past Week // 02


1 | I get discouraged sometimes about my numbers online – blog post pageviews, Instagram followers, Twitter followers. They're all too low considering the number of posts, considering how long each account has been around.

I said something about this on my Instagram story and received a comforting message from Afoma in response: "Slow growth means deep roots. Trust me. You're connecting with people and that's what matters." Who knows if that's actually true, but I like to think it is.

Speak Up

Generally, my blog content and the news do not cross paths. A few of my monthly wrap-ups may have included links to articles or posts related to current events, but the primary focus has never been discussing what is going on the world. And boy is there a lot going on.

I've gone back and forth many times about whether to post on here about Trump. I usually turn to Twitter for that. I like that my blog is lighthearted. I like that it's a place to escape from the dumb shit in the world. At the same time, I also feel a moral obligation to speak up. I don't want to shy away from writing about topics with more substance when they need to be written about. As somebody with an outlet not only to write but to really speak, it's important for me to do so.

3 Things From The Past Week // 01


I've decided to try out this series, which I've seen done by Rachel Del. Every Sunday, she posts a short list of three things from the past week – thoughts she had, events she went to, anything. I read them every week. It's a nice peek into her mind. I enjoy the posts as a reader, and so I thought, hey, I think I might enjoy those as a writer too. They'll keep me thinking, keep me writing, keep the wheels turning.

I don't want these posts to feel repetitive with my monthly wrap-ups. The way I see it, the wrap-ups are more of a place where I share my interests and more significant life updates. These posts will be the little things in between, a space where I can think aloud. I can record a thought I had without turning it into a full post. Sometimes a thought is just an inkling, worth mentioning but nothing to expand on.

So here we are.

Diet And Exercise Don't Have A Rule Book


Take everything you've been told about diet and exercise, and forget it.

Just kidding.
Sort of.
More like, take everything you've been told and remember that those are not set-in-stone rules. Because if there's anything that doesn't have a rule book, it's diet and exercise.

July Wrap-Up


B L O G  P O S T S

I'm proud because I managed to post twice a week this month, except for the week I was on vacation in which I only posted once which I think is acceptable because hey, I was on vacation.

I wrote about a rough weekend I had where I spent an entire day on the couch, reminding myself that life's about balance. I complimented myself, because doing that is important. I wrote a few Internet-related posts: giving tips on how I run my blog alongside a full-time job and how I edit my Instagram photos, as well as talking about why who you follow/unfollow on social media matters so much. The latest (and very exciting) "Finding Your Spark" interview went up with wife, mother, author Rachel Del on writing, reading, and investing in yourself. Lastly, I hit my reading goal for the year already! Here are books 30 through 32.

July Reads

Book 30:
"The Girls" by Emma Cline
Plot: Set in 1969, "The Girls" tells the story of Evie Boyd, a lonely and curious teenager. One day while at the park, Evie sees a group of girls for whom she immediately feels a sense of admiration and envy. They're different, carefree, wild. Evie is drawn into their friend circle, which she soon discovers is actually a cult. As the summer progresses, Evie spends more and more time in this new world, oblivious to the dangers and violence to come.

How I Edit My Instagram Photos


Of all the social media outlets, Instagram might be my favorite. I like documenting my day with a single photo, and I like seeing how others capture theirs. It's a virtual scrapbook where we can express ourselves visually or in writing, or both.

I'm not gonna pretend I don't edit my Instagram pictures. I do. We all probably do, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't think adjusting a picture so it's more clean, vibrant, or eye-catching is dishonest.

Finding Your Spark: Writing, Reading, And Investing In Yourself


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. Read all posts in this series here.

Why Who You (Un)Follow Matters


I've heard that the five people you spend the most time with influence you the most. I've seen it on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, worded different ways and attributed to a few different people, but the idea is always the same: We become similar to the people we spend a lot of time with. And it's true. We start to pick up some of their habits or quirks, use the same expressions, absorb their energies, whether we realize we're doing it or not. We can't help it. It's natural.

Because of this, it's important that we're careful about who we surround ourselves with. It's important that our friends are good, driven people with big hearts and a sense of humor, so we can be good, driven people with big hearts and a sense of humor.

We know this.

I think what we forget is that the people we follow on social media are "people we surround ourselves with" too.

How I Balance Blogging With A Full-Time Job


During the two years I've had this blog, I've also had a full-time job. It can definitely be hard to find the time or energy (or inspiration) to write. Most days I'm spending 9+ hours at work and then hitting the gym. By the time I get home, I'm too drained, and I probably don't want to look at a computer anymore anyway.

Still – I enjoy writing and blogging, so I haven't let it stop me. Some weeks are better than others, but I've kept my blog alive and well for two years. Here are a few ways how:

Compliments


Earlier this week, I read a post about the importance of complimenting ourselves.

We want other people to feel good. We highlight their achievements and express our admiration, but rarely do we give this sort of kindness to ourselves. We are much quicker to tear ourselves down rather than build ourselves up. (And we should be gentle, kind, and fair to ourselves, remember?)

In her post, Fern listed out a handful of things she likes about herself. It was heart-warming to read. Genuine love for oneself is precious. So today I'm going to follow her lead. It was awkward and honestly pretty difficult to focus on my good things, but I did it. I nailed down a solid five. And I encourage you to take some time to do the same.

On Balance


We've all heard it before, but this is a reminder, to you and to myself, that life is all about balance.

June Wrap-Up


B L O G  P O S T S

This month I wrote a little thank you note to Writing, a reminder to speak up if you like something, and some thoughts about friendship and why I don't really believe in cutting ties or burning bridges. I also put up a video (!) where I talk about active steps I've been taking lately to make myself happier. I had a lot of long work days this month, but did my best to focus on the positive. And of course, if you're looking for book recommendations, check out my latest reads.

June Reads


Book 25:
"How to Be Someone Else" by Rachel Del
Plot: Penny lives her life according to the plan that's been set for her: graduate college, work at her dad's marketing firm, and eventually marry and start a family with her current boyfriend, Matt. When her parents announce that they are getting divorced, Penny's devastated and decides to take control of her life. Questioning her relationship and neglecting her friendships, she becomes determined to shed the person she was and be someone else.

Things To Be Happy About // 06


I've been working long hours at work lately, which of course has been a bummer and exhausting. But... there's always something to be happy about. (Read more here.)


Taking Active Steps To Happiness


This morning I sat down and started to write about active steps I've been taking lately to make myself happier, and then I thought, hey, I have the apartment to myself and I'm struggling to write down what I'm thinking, so why not try to talk this one out in a video? So that's what I did. You can watch that video HERE or below.


Cutting Ties And Burning Bridges


I'm not good at writing smooth intros to posts, and this one is proving to be even more difficult because I'm digging up a draft from six months ago, so I'll just get right to the point: This post is about friendship. I've written about this a few times before.

This post is about friendships and how sometimes they can be tricky. One argument, one disagreement, one conflict can feel more substantial than it is. But I don't really worry about cutting ties or burning bridges anymore. One bad thing doesn't mean a bad friendship. It's not that black and white.

Thank You, Writing


Thank you, writing, for being my constant. Something I know I can always count on, anywhere. On my laptop, in bed or at a coffee shop. On my phone, when I'm out and have an idea.

Even when I take a break, it's always a warm welcome back and a pleasant surprise. Oh yeah, this is what it feels like to be excited about writing.


May Wrap-Up


"Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change."
Jim Rohn

I'm reformatting the way my monthly wrap-ups are structured again because (1) I think broader categories will be better, and (2) it's the kind of change that makes me feel creatively motivated. LET'S GO.

May Reads

Book 21:
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple
Plot: Bernadette doesn't exactly fit in. Her home has weeds growing through the floorboards, she avoids the other school moms, and she is so agoraphobic that most of her errands are run by a virtual assistant in India. This becomes particularly problematic when the time comes for her to go with her family to Antarctica, a trip she promised her daughter, Bee. Instead, Bernadette suddenly goes missing. By compiling emails, letters, and other various documents, Bee sets out to find her mother.


On Being Enough


I believe that nobody's perfect and I believe that there's always room for improvement. I believe in growth and striving to be the best person you can be. So I am always working on bettering myself.

But there are days when that notion strikes a different chord. Instead of feeling inspired or motivated, I feel discouraged, frustrated, and embarrassed. There's always room for improvement... so I'll never be quite good enough?