12 Books On My Summer Reading List


I recently reorganized my entire bookshelf and have put everything that I haven't read together. It's my official To-Read shelf for the summer. Most of them are books that I have had for a while yet haven't gotten around to actually reading.

If you look closely, you'll see that I've very anally organized the books with fiction on the left, non-fiction on the right. TBD on whether I'll actually get through them all without getting distracted by newer books I hear about, but here's what I'm aiming for.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


I have enough mugs that I probably don't need to buy another one for the rest of my life, but when you see one this cute on sale at T.J. Maxx while in the check-out line, you really can't pass it up.

So we had a week or two of full-on summer weather and then it was rainy and humid for a while, so I haven't been doing too much the past two weeks. Work has been hectic so I've mostly just been looking forward to relaxing on the couch whenever possible.

Last weekend I had the loveliest afternoon in the city with my friend Alyssa. We got lunch, wandered through an art fest, and went to this used bookstore that was as big as a small library. Also, after seeing how cute and well-decorated her apartment is, the first thing I did when I got back home was clean and reorganize my bookshelf with all of my new purchases.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

A Mid-Year Check-In


Not to be cliché, but how the frick is it already June? I feel like the first three months of the year went by slowly (AKA perfectly) but since March, time has flown. I'm not a fan. But it is an opportune time for me to put up a post I've been crafting in my head for a week or two now. It's part reflection and part bucket list.

Finding Your Spark: First As A Human, Then As A Dancer


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.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Wowie, there's been a lot going on. Get comfortable and let me walk you through the past two weeks.

May Reads

Book 14:
"You Do You" by Sarah Knight
This is the second book I've read by Sarah Knight and my favorite of the two. (The other was "The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.") It's a book about learning to embrace who we are, which should be the easiest thing in the world, but we know it's not. To quote Knight herself, "The advice in this book boils down to one simple mantra: Stand up for who you are and what you want. How do you do that? Stop letting other people tell you what to do, how to do it, or why it can't be done."

With authenticity and the right amount of attitude, "You Do You" is a reminder that there's nothing wrong with standing up for what you want or need or deserve. As always, I appreciate that it's about learning to be selfish and "difficult" while also being considerate of others.
At my biggest, smallest, and sickest—even though I was lucky to have people around me telling me they loved me and I was beautiful—I never actually felt that way until I finally accepted myself for who I am, flaws and all."
Rating: 4/5

Book 15:
"The Wife Between Us"
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Quite honestly, the blurb gives away the first big twist, so I recommend not reading that, and I'll summarize it differently: This book alternates between two points of view. First, Vanessa, the ex-wife, who is struggling with a drinking problem and obsessive jealousy ever since Richard left her for another woman. Second, Nellie, the young, new fiancé who is trying to shake the feeling that she's being followed while in the midst of planning her wedding. Vanessa is determined to stop her replacement from marrying the man she loves, but how far will she go?

I ended up figuring out very early on what the first twist was, which for me personally, automatically makes the book less enjoyable. Maybe I'm too picky when it comes to this genre. From there, I was hoping for more surprises but didn't get too many. I kept reading more out of curiosity on how it'd end rather than being invested in the mystery.

I did enjoy the final twists at the end, though, despite the cheesiness to them.

Rating: 3/5


Book 16:
"Goodbye, Vitamin" by Rachel Khong
I was seeing in a lot of reviews that this book was funny. I picked it up because I was in the mood for something lighthearted and quirky. I think I read the summary too quickly but the synopsis on the flap did say it was told from a deep well of humor.

"Goodbye, Vitamin" is essentially about a woman, Ruth, who moves back to her parents' for a year to help care for her father, who's in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Ruth's fiancé recently left her, and her father has lost his teaching job. They're coping.

I don't think I let out more than a hard-exhale laugh once while reading this book. I did, however, cry multiple times. This book wrecked me. Having said that, you should read it. It's a beautifully written story that I devoured in its entirety in one day. I loved it. I will definitely have to check out more from Khong.
What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers. That the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for. That it has only to do with who we were around that person—what we felt about that person."
Rating: 5/5


Book 17:
"Places I Stopped on the Way Home"
by Meg Fee
I've adored Meg Fee's writing on her blog for the past couple of years. She's a striking writer, and because of that, I knew her book would be no different. It is just what the cover suggests: a memoir of chaos and grace. It's reflective and honest, painting a picture of New York with memories of love and growth tied together through various essays. (I think the font used in the book is also the same as what's on her blog, which was a nice touch.)

As someone who has been in a long-term relationship since the beginning of college and hasn't lived in a city, I couldn't relate too much to the specific events discussed in these stories, but the feelings and emotions are universal. I have plenty of pages dog-eared to refer back to.
But this is what I know to be true, that in the worst moments of our lives, good things happen. That, in fact, good and bad rush in together, one somersaulting over the other. And you must be alert enough to look for both."
Rating: 4/5




Is This What A Quarter-Life Crisis Feels Like?


I'm kidding. Kind of.

When I mentioned in a post in March that I've been going to my gym for six years, it kind of sent me down a rabbit hole.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Today I went to get a mani/pedi with a friend and wished once again that I went to get my nails done more often. It's my favorite way to treat myself. After that, we went out to dinner then came back to my apartment to play video games and chill. It's been a lowkey day, as most of my weekends are. Now that spring is here, I should probably be making more of an effort to go out and do things but man I'm a sucker for staying in.

The past two weeks have been pretty hectic work-wise but in a good way because I got a promotion! I'm really happy about it. Work has been stressful lately where I'm feeling like I could be doing better, but I also know that I try my hardest and do a good job, even on my off days. I'm reminding myself that I earned this.

Oh and by the way, I'm Team Yanny.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Partners


There is always something to learn about love and relationships and here is my latest lesson: There is a difference between a boyfriend and a partner. There is not a difference between a partner and a fiancé or husband.

The Importance Of Asking For Help


It's been a weird week for me with one key takeaway: It's not only okay to ask for help when you need it, it's important.

Finding Your Spark: Emotions, Atmosphere, Intimacy And Joy In a Click


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.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


I usually write these posts on the Saturday morning before it goes up, but this time it's pretty late, about 10:30 at night. And to be honest, I'm hoping to crank it out kinda quickly because there's ice cream in the freezer and it's not gonna eat itself.

This past week has been really, really good. While I don't want to jinx it, I'd say spring is finally here to stay. The happiest time of the year. It's been I'll-be-fine-without-a-jacket warm and I'm loving it. Today it hit 80. I wore a dress. I spent my morning reading on the balcony and my afternoon having a picnic lunch with Rahul and lying in the sun. What could be better.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Give Yourself Some Credit


There's a woman at my gym who I see nearly every time I'm there. She's always in my spin class, she was always in the pilates class I used to go to, she's always on the fitness floor with me lifting weights. She's just always there (and her back muscles are insane).

Whenever I see her, I'm impressed and a little envious. I think to myself, Jeez, I wish I was as motivated as she is. I wish I worked out as often as she does. I should. She works out SO MUCH.

Then I realize... I'm there too.

If I'm seeing this woman at the gym, say, five days a week, it means I was also at the gym five days a week. I am doing exactly the same actions that I'm admiring, yet for some reason it's impressive for her and means nothing for me. She is going above and beyond. I could be doing better.

April Reads

Book 11:
"The Best Kind of People" by Zoe Whittall
Plot: Ten years ago, George Woodbury stopped a school shooting and became teacher of the year. He's respected and trusted by everyone in his community, in the wealthy town of Avalon Hills. That all changes the night he's arrested. Students at his school, classmates and friends of his daughter, are accusing him of sexual misconduct during a weekend field trip. His family struggles with the news, torn between defending a man they love and being honest about the possibility of his guilt.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Happy Sunday, friends. I am writing this Saturday evening from my bed, where I've been spending most of the day. Eventually I'll get up and do something more productive, but for now I'm relaxing after a stressful work week and busy morning full of car-related errands, making my way through season three of "Love" on Netflix.

Five Organization Tips For Apartment Living


I am a big fan of all things organization. I was one of those kids who looked forward to school supply shopping and am one of those adults who spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect planner. Living in an apartment, and especially sharing an apartment with another person who has a lot of stuff, keeping things in order has become very important.

Over the past year, I've stumbled upon a handful of organization tips and tricks that I'm so happy about. They're good for any living situation really, but I find them particularly helpful for an apartment due to having less space (and let's be honest, probably money).

Finding My Writing Voice


I haven't posted much about my ~emotions and feelings~ lately, which is funny because I've actually been feeling more emotional than usual the past month or so. I've felt sensitive, pensive, and fragile. I guess when my mind is loudest, my writing goes quiet. Publicly, anyway.

This past week I've been comparing myself a lot to others, tricking myself into feeling insecure about things I was perfectly happy with, which I had gotten pretty good at not doing.

Part of it was about writing. Overanalyzing my blog and now writing about writing, again. It's certainly not the first time.

Writing comes in many forms. 
Writers come in many forms. 
None better than another.

But still.

What It Takes To Road Trip Around The U.S.


In February and March, I published a two-part Finding Your Spark interview with my friend Eileen, who quit her job last summer to go on a 90-day road trip around the U.S.

After each post went up, I received messages from people asking about the financial aspects of a trip like that. How much did it cost, how did she save and spend her money, etc. I hadn't asked Eileen any money-related questions through the interview because it can be a sort of taboo subject. At the same time, when you're talking about a road trip that lasted a few months and had a lot of spur-the-moment decisions and plans, it's not unusual for someone's first thought to be, I wonder how much a trip like that costs.


Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Happy Sunday, friends. Last week I got this cute plant and Broad City card as a "just because"/"thank you" gift at work and it absolutely made my day. Never underestimate a nice gesture. They are important.

Inside The FabFitFun Spring Box


Not a creative name – in fact, it's the exact same one I used for the winter box – but the only other names I could think of involved some sort of bad play on words with "spring," so we'll just stick with the basics. Telling it like it is.

It's that time again! The FabFitFun box is here and I am loving it. It's my favorite part of every season, a subscription box that comes every three months, filled with beauty, fitness, and lifestyle products. For ten dollars off your first box, click HERE.

Now here's what was in the latest box:

Avoiding A Slump


Today we're getting back into my year's goal of releasing and not letting negative things rule my life.

Every so often, I'll hit a slump. The specifics of this change. Sometimes it's a writing slump where I'm out of blog post ideas, sometimes it's an emotional slump where I'm feeling vaguely sad for no reason, or it can be something else completely.

The gist is that it's not great, and I like to avoid it if possible. To kick it before it kicks me.

I'm focusing on it now because I can feel that it's a sensitive time for me. One big reason for it is that I spent about half of March being sick. It left me feeling cooped up, antsy, and boring. I didn't hang out with friends too much or make many plans. Half the month was spent on my couch. Even though it's normal – you're supposed to rest and take it easy when you're sick – it still doesn't feel good.

Now that I'm coming out the other side, it's time for me to get moving again. I've learned what I have to do, and not do, to avoid falling into a slump.

March Reads

Book 7:
"Behind Closed Doors" by B.A. Paris
Plot: Jack and Grace have a picture-perfect marriage. He's a handsome, successful attorney. She's the perfect, elegant wife. But things aren't always as they seem. It's not a coincidence that Grace always flakes out on plans and rarely leaves the house. What's perceived to be a flawless marriage has a lot of secrets behind closed doors.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


How is it fair for a person to get sick twice within one month? How is it possible? I don't want to sound like a broken record from my last Sunday Shares post, when I was also recovering from being sick, but that's exactly where I'm at again.

I've had strep since Tuesday, which is why no post went up on Wednesday. I always thought strep was just a bad sore throat but there's a whole lot more to it, and it really felt like it would kill me. But here I am, crawling out the other side. Not 100% yet, but getting there.

For more positive things from the past two weeks, check this post, where I celebrated on all the little, happy things.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Things To Be Happy About // 07


I haven't done one of these since June and felt like one was due. Read others here.

Finding Your Spark: Embracing Fear, Being Present And Making The Road Home Pt. II


In August 2017, my friend Eileen quit her job to embark on a 90-day road trip, most of which was by herself. We talk about how she planned her trip, how it felt to experience new things alone, some of her most memorable destinations, and what the trip taught her in the end.

You can read part one here.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Hi, friends. Thanks for checking in. I've been feeling refreshed and rejuvenated this week. Slowing down really did me good.

Last week I was sick and spent every free minute I had lying on the couch trying not to cough up a lung so hard and rewatching "The Office" again. This past week I felt better and eased myself back in to my normal life. Morning yoga as the sun comes up, off to work, an evening workout where I feel strong instead of drained, then being productive around the apartment before chilling out and unwinding before bed. I actually slept a solid seven to eight hours each night which is unusual for me but felt great. Plus I randomly trimmed my hair one night in my bathroom. Classic me.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

A Little Bit About Me


My favorite part about running this blog is all of the conversations it leads to. From comments to emails to tweets to Instagram messages, I love that it's been a place where I can not only think out loud about something but then I get to talk more about it with you too.

Because of this, because it makes me feel very special that a person would read my words on the Internet and be curious enough about me or my life or my thoughts to reach out and ask me something, I wanted to put up a post where I talk about myself a little bit, so you can learn about the person behind the blog.


Learning To Slow Down


I am not good at slowing down. Not completely, at least, because whenever I take some time to slow down and take it easy, I end up feeling guilty because I think about all of the things I should be doing instead. It doesn't feel relaxing, it feels lazy. Even when I'm "slowing down," my mind is in high gear and I'm stressed.

But there are always going to be things to do.
If I waited until there was nothing to do to relax, I'd never relax.

February Reads


I've been in such a reading slump this month, which is a bummer in general but especially after reading so many good books last month.

I tried reading "Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood but ended up opting for the Netflix show instead. Luckily, I managed to finish two books just this past weekend so I do have something to talk about in this post.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Hi, friends. Thanks for checking in. This week I had plans on three weekdays, which for a lot of people probably isn't anything, but for someone who likes to spread out social events and recently bought a shirt that says "indoorsy," it felt like a lot.

At first I thought, man, this sucks, because it's less time I could spend at the gym or writing or what have you. Then again, how lucky am I to have such great people in my life? And how lucky am I that they want to spend so much time with me? So I changed my mind and let myself enjoy it all.

Then, for balance, I stayed in on Saturday to decompress. It was magical.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

How I'm Trying To Better Connect With People


One of the podcasts that I follow pretty regularly is Mind Body Musings, a wellness podcast that is often directed toward inspiring women but can offer insight helpful to anyone. An episode went up recently about six ways to connect with someone both quickly and deeply.

The title alone caught my eye. I like connecting with people. I'm not a fan of small talk (partially because I'm also not good at it) and would much rather talk about something more significant. I like the parts of friendship where you can feel that the two of you are bonding over something.

Listening to the episode, though, made me realize that while I may enjoy connecting with others, I'm not always acting like I do, and that if I changed a few of my behaviors, even a little, I could have better connections with the people around me.

Finding Your Spark: Embracing Fear, Being Present And Making The Road Home


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.

Today's interview is with my friend Eileen, one of the most courageous, big-hearted, and inspiring people I know.

I met Eileen at work nearly three years ago. She's one of those people who you know you want to be friends with as soon as you meet them. I remember one day at lunch, a bunch of us were chatting and got into the What Would You Do If You Won The Lottery? conversation. Eileen said without hesitation that she likes the idea of not having a mailing address so she'd spend the money on traveling.

Seven Years In


This Valentine's Day, I wanted to talk about how relationships, even long ones, are always full of learning and progress.

I don't know if I've ever said my boyfriend's name on here, which is odd because it's not a secret, and I’ve certainly said some of my friend's names. So, his name's Rahul, and last month, January 2018, marked ten years of us knowing each other. It's insane to think about.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Hi, friends. Thanks for checking in. What an eventful two weeks it's been.

I went to see John Mulaney at the Chicago Theatre with two of my friends. I had bought the tickets back in June and the six-month wait was totally worth it. Seeing a comedian live and laughing together with a group of people is one of the best feelings. I also had the cutest Galentine's Day celebration yesterday filled with mini waffles, a cookie cake, and good company.

As a side note, I've been trying to get in the habit of saying "excuse me" instead of "sorry." I realized I apologize a lot when I don't have to. I want to try to eliminate it from my vocabulary when it doesn't have to be there so when I say it for real, it means more.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Advice You Shouldn't Listen To Pt. III


I've put up a couple of these posts in the past, gathering pieces of advice or sayings that are commonly passed around but that I disagree with, to a certain extent. The first post was back in September 2016, and the second was last January. Now I'm back for another round.

While it's a list of only three, they're three that I think are important to consider. Because not all of the advice on the Internet is worth listening to.

On Overcoming The Comparison Trap


Part of my mission to release this year is to not compare myself to others so much. I'm guilty of it more often than I'd like to be. I know that "comparison is the thief of joy" and yet I still do it. I can't help it.

Comparison is a dangerous hole to fall down. It's a trap that tricks us into not being happy anymore, even when we were just a minute ago. Even when our circumstances didn't even change.

You were thrilled about your promotion at work until you found out that one of your good friends has a higher salary, and suddenly the promotion isn't worth celebrating. You're blissful in your relationship until you hear about your friend's engagement, and suddenly you're unfulfilled. What you were once perfectly satisfied with or even excited about suddenly isn't good enough, simply because you measured it up against someone else's life.

January Reads


And so my 2018 reading journey begins. I upped my goal this year to 36 books, about one book every ten days. I'm ahead of schedule by one, which is good because I started "Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood and have a feeling it'll take me a bit to get through.

If you're aiming to read more this year, Goodreads is a great place to start, to find and review books, and track your progress. I also log all of the books I've read here, and recently put up a post of book recommendations for every mood.

Book 1:
"What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty
Plot: After a fall at the gym, Alice wakes up confused and disoriented. But it isn't just because of the pain in her head; it's because in her mind, she's still 29, happily married, and pregnant with her first child, yet everyone else is telling her she's 39, a mother of three, and in the midst of a divorce. Now she has to try to put the pieces together and figure out what happened over the past ten years to get her here.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Hi, friends. Thanks for checking in. This weekend has been a good one. Friday I went out for my friend's birthday, first to dinner and then to a bar for a few hours. I didn't know a lot of the people there too well but managed to not be too socially awkward and for that, I'm patting myself on the back. Little accomplishments, man. They're important too.

Today, Sunday, I'm off to an afternoon yoga class at my gym that I've started going to the past few weeks. I do yoga at home every day but also try to go to a class two or three times a week. Even though all of it is still yoga, practicing in the stillness of my own home is one thing, and practicing together with a group of people is another. I try to get the best of both worlds.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

How To Not Feel Boring In The Winter


This post is about how it can feel boring when you're stuck inside and then I couldn't figure out what kind of picture to take because everything seemed boring and then I found this one from January of last year that's kind of fitting so we're gonna go with this one.

Anyway.

As an introvert and as someone who can be a bit of a homebody, I enjoy staying in. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy going out, but more often than not, I'm more comfortable relaxing indoors, by myself or with some friends.

But here's the thing: I like this most when it's my choice, which is often not the case in the winter. I live in the Chicago area, so it's not unusual to have single-digit temperatures (positive and negative), and when it's that cold, just the thought of leaving my apartment makes me shiver. In that weather, going outside isn't really an option. So while I enjoy staying in, if I'm in a situation where I kinda have to, it suddenly feels boring.

Finding Your Spark: Job Hopping, Listening To Yourself, And Establishing Roots


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.

Book Recommendations For Every Mood


A common resolution for the new year is to read more. It's a good goal to have. Reading is a nice hobby, to fill your free time, broaden your vocabulary, immerse yourself in another world.

I didn't do a lot of reading until 2016 when, you guessed it, I made it my resolution for the year. Before that, I made it through four books a year max. Now I'm always reading. In 2017, I read 45 books. Talking books and swapping recommendations is one of my favorite things. So let's do it.

If reading more is one of your goals for the year but you aren't sure where to start, that's what this post is here for. A book recommendation for every mood, all in one place.

(The info on each is brief, but for full summaries and reviews, I log all of the books I read here.)

So what are you in the mood for?

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving


Hi, friends. Thanks for checking in. Welcome to my new bi-weekly "series" where my previous 3 Things posts and monthly wrap-ups come together for Sunday Shares (that name could very well change, who knows). This is where I talk to you about what's up in my life lately, what I'm listening to, reading, enjoying, etc. A nice chatty post for us to sit down and enjoy together, every other Sunday.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

The Planner I'm Using For 2018


This post is for all you planner-nerds out there because that's exactly what I'm talking about: The planner I'm using for 2018. Right now, I'm feeling very focused on what tools and strategies to use to achieve my goals for the year. This is one of them.

Inside The FabFitFun Winter Box


So I'm a little late on reviewing the FabFitFun winter box considering I got it in the mail three weeks ago, but it's because I didn't just want to do an unboxing. When I did that before, a lot of my comments were that a product seemed cool and I couldn't wait to use it. This time, I wanted to actually use the products first so I could let you know what I think about them.

By the way, this isn't sponsored at all (unfortunately. I'd totally be down for that.). I'm just obsessed with the boxes and want everyone to sign up, or at least try it out. You can even get $10 off

Also, I took these pictures before I got the iPhone X, which is a bit of a bummer because portrait mode is great and would have made these pictures look way better. Oh well. Let's get into it.


2018: The Year Of 'Release'


Happy new year, friends. I hope you had a great time ringing it in, whether you went out or stayed in, were with people or were by yourself.

I went in to the city to celebrate, first to my friend's apartment, then migrating to a bar a few blocks away. It was my first time being out in a public place for New Year's, rather than somebody's home. It was a lot of fun. We were given a free shot to take at midnight of some beer that smelled like soy sauce. When we got back to my friend's apartment, it was nearly 2 a.m. and everyone was hungry, so we made a frozen pizza and split it ten ways.

It was a very happy start to the year, one that I hope comes easier than the last.