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Accepting the Reader Within & A Six-Letter Word

06 April 2018
Meeting my inner reader and kicking one word to the curb.

I'm finished with the second category of the KonMari Method, books.

I've been experiencing a quarter-life crisis for a few years and I feel like I'm finally coming out the other side. All of this organizing is actually really helping with that. It's funny, I never thought that going through my stuff would tell me so much about myself.

My Book Cleansing Method 

The technical KonMari rule is to get rid of all the books you haven't read yet and only keep those books that are actually useful that you will refer to again. I'm a book lover, so that filled me with some serious rage and I knew that wouldn't work for me, so I tweaked it.

I made myself read the synopsis of and the first couple of pages of those books I haven't yet read. If I felt like I wanted to keep reading, then I kept it. If not, then away it went. As for the books I have already read, I've only kept those books that I loved enough to want to be able to lend them out to others who may also love them.

Meeting My Inner Reader

When I started my decluttering of all the books, I found myself feeling some guilt when I realized a trend among those books that didn't spark much joy for me. My undergraduate degree is in English. I really only picked the major because I love reading and discussing books and found myself gravitating towards those classes anyway. 

Because I spent so much time and money on literature courses, I have found myself being guilty of gravitating towards those books that I thought I should read. The thing is, I very rarely like those books. I don't want to read and re-read the classics, but I always thought that I should be that person. That it was expected of me. 

The Six-Letter Word I'm Trying to Kick

Last summer I had a handful of therapy sessions where I realized that a lot of the things I have done in life and a lot of the decisions I have made are a result of one word, should. I should do x,y, and z. I should be or like x,y, and z. All of the shoulds were clouding my vision of who I actually was and what I actually want to be, so we worked to eliminate the shoulds to get to what it is that I want.

Discovering What I WANT To Read

After going through all of my books, I have a better idea of what books I want to read. I want to read books that are fairly well-written. I prefer realistic fiction, but do enjoy some magical or science-fiction elements. I enjoy some chic-lit, but cringe and giggle like a schoolgirl at adult content. I really love when a writer can surprise me and throw me off course.

With that said, I do also want to occasionally step outside of my comfort-zone, because I think that sort of challenge helps keep me on my toes and provides me with the opportunity to grow. I want to be more mindful though when making selections like that and make sure that I don't feel like I have to finish it if I don't like it.

Do you struggle with the shoulds in your life too?

The Words That Mean The Most

04 April 2018

I developed a bad taste for poetry sometime during high school. I think the exact moment was a poetry presentation in 10th(?) grade. We were all assigned a poem from the textbook and it was our job to give a presentation on the poem, the technique, the meaning, all the fun stuff.

I've never really cared to understand the technicalities of poetry.  I know Shakespeare was a huge fan of iambic pentameter but if you asked me to define what that is, I'd probably find a way to change the subject. I don't spend my days pondering the poet's word choice. All in all I'm probably a failure as an English major. 

Anyway, back to that presentation. I know I spent a lot of time on that presentation, but the only thing I remember about it was that the meaning I took from the poem was "incorrect." Hearing that changed my feelings about the poem that I had read over and over again and grown to love. 

I subconsciously boycotted all talk of poetry throughout the rest of my education. I read it, when required, but I refused to connect with another poem again. Why bother when the meaning I took away from it could be incorrect? Then, one day, shortly after graduating from college, a poem found me. 

'The Journey' by Mary Oliver has been hanging somewhere I can see it for about six-and-a-half years now. It's a poem that has reminded me of my purpose and has helped me carry on when times get hard. At the time it found me I had no idea what curve-balls would come my way. This poem reminds me daily of what I can and cannot control. It reminds me to be true to myself and to listen to my intuition. 

Some time ago, I read the fabulous book Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. It's up there as one of my favorite reads, so if you haven't read it, then you really should. In the novel there is a character who carries around a portion of a poem and that poem gives him strength. It doesn't say how he found this poem, but I'm willing to bet it found him just like 'The Journey' found me. That's the thing about poems, you will find your poem when you least expect it and when you do you may find that you like poetry more than you initially thought you did. 

I'm not running out to read poetry anthologies, but when this poem no longer fits I hope that a different one will find me to take its place. 

What poem has special meaning to you? Do you have a favorite poet?

Reading FOMO: Spring 2018 - Books I'm Afraid to Read

30 March 2018
My first round of Reading FOMO is complete. I managed to read two out of the three books that I committed to read. (Beartown and This is How it Always Is) I do solemnly swear to read Hum if You Don't Know the Words by the end of 2018.

As I look forward to the next 3 months I have decided to pick out 3 books I have been afraid to read. Yes, you read that right. Despite numerous recommendations, I have been avoiding these three books because I am afraid of them. 

Why do these books scare me?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - 

I read Hannah's Winter Garden a few years ago and it still haunts me. I don't think I have ever cried so much or have ever been so annoyed with an ending. I did, however, love that it presented a perspective I hadn't really seen before. I'm terrified that this book will destroy me like that book did.

Luckily, the sun is coming out more these days so my seasonal depression seems just about over. Will there be enough sun though? I'm really starting to doubt my life choices right now. Should I wait until summer for this book?

The Martian by Andy Weir -

I should probably let you know that I did see the movie version of this. I should also let you know that I didn't particularly enjoy it. I don't really enjoy space exploration movies, but they say the book is better than the movie. Hopefully that will be the same for this. 

I'm afraid of this book because I'm worried that I won't get through it. I'm worried that it's going to be too technical for me and go over my head. With that said I've seen lots of different people read and love this book, so I think I should at least give it a try because it really seems that I'm concerned most about my own pride.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini -

Both this and A Thousand Splendid Suns have been recommended to me by so many different people and they are both rated highly. The fear I have for both books is similar, but only one is currently taking up some valuable shelf space.

In regards to that fear, I think what I'm most afraid of is that this is another emotionally taxing read. I like emotionally taxing reads because that usually indicates that the writing was good and I connected with the story. I also hate reads like that because it also usually ends with me feeling depressed and in a weird funk that takes a bit to shake.

Have you read any of these? 
Are my fears valid? 
What books are you afraid of?

5 Tips to Help You Better Curate Your Dream Closet

28 March 2018
Build your dream closet

During my last pregnancy I found myself suddenly obsessed with curating my closet. Something about being in my late twenties with two children made me realize that I'm not in college anymore and I don't want to dress like I am.

I spent hours on all of the sites, saving outfits that I thought were "my style," which is honestly still very much in progress. A few months after he was born I started purchasing items to make my fashion Pinterest dreams come true and a weird thing happened.

These outfits that I had envisioned for myself that I now owned? I didn't wear them and found myself not wanting to wear them.

I have spent some time reflecting on the mistakes I made by trying to follow fashion bloggers and have a few tips for you to avoid those same errors and really make your Pinterest dreams come true.

1 | Pay attention to the body that is wearing the outfit, you think that you want. 

This seems so obvious to me now, but when I was in the thick of it and saw an outfit I liked I just pinned it without much examination. Then when I actually owned the outfit, it didn't look right.

Turns out that some of the women who were inspiring my outfits are significantly smaller in weight and stature than myself. If I had taken the time to do some digging then I would have realized that.

The moral of the story is that what looks good on this blogger or instagramer may not look good on me because we may be two very different body types. Spend some time to find someone who is built more like you and you will be more likely to find shapes of clothing that will fit similarly.

2 | Figure out which colors you look good in!

Some people can really pull off neons and pastels. I like those colors, but I am not one of those people who looks great in any of the above.

One of the best things that I did was to sit down and figure out what colors I am attracted to and what "season" I think I might be. If you're interested in playing around with seasons then I really like this chart

I'm fairly certain that I'm a Soft Autumn and a Soft Summer, (neutral skin tone ya'll!) but I still love me some black. I'm a firm believer that you should ultimately wear the colors that you feel the best in. Black makes me feel like a grown up so I'm not leaving it behind, however, knowing what colors flatter me influences the rest of my outfit. I try to work in those colors in my completer pieces (cardigans, jackets), accessories and shoes. 

3 | Try out different sizes.

If you find something you like then try it out in your size and one size larger and smaller. I originally started doing this because I saw a picture a blogger somewhere posted showing the differences in each size. I wish I could find it! She was normally one size in shirts, but the fit of the smaller size looked so much more polished on her.

Sizing between brands and even within brands is not super consistent. You may just find that you prefer the look of the larger or smaller size. In the past I would have just written off the item as not for me, but maybe it could have worked!

4 | Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

You do not have to buy the exact same pieces that someone else is wearing. When trying to recreate an outfit try to figure out what it is that you like about the outfit. That is what you should be trying to recreate.

For example this pin, this pin, and then this pin made me examine my closet and put together this outfit:

What I liked about the first pin was that is felt kind of edgy and cool to me. What I liked about the second pin was the monochromatic color scheme with a random burst of color in the accessories. What I like about the last pin was the mixing of patterns. I took all of those things I liked in those three outfits and created an outfit I feel pretty awesome in. By the way, my shoes were green. 

5 | Take pictures.

When you are wearing an outfit you love have someone take a picture of you. When you are wearing something that you don't quite feel right in, have someone take a picture. 

When you do this you can start to actually see what it is that makes the outfit work and what can be done to improve it. You start to realize what colors and silhouettes make you look awesome.

 On the flip-side when you are wearing something that doesn't feel quite right and you aren't quite sure why you can compare it with those outfits that make you feel like a boss. Many times you can quickly figure out what the issue is. For example:

There are so many issues with this outfit. The shoes are just the beginning! There is no structure to the top, cardigan combo. I should have at least done some sort of tucking with that top. I needed a longer necklace to make it interesting. 

Some things you can't see that I have since realized about myself? I hate sweaters with buttons. This sweater is also super itchy, so I feel uncomfortable. That shirt was tight in the shoulders. Also, it turns out I prefer infinity scarves. 

I still have this sweater, because I like the color, but as soon as I find a similarly hued cardigan it's out of here. All of this to say that you may feel silly taking pictures of yourself in clothes, but with time you will feel more sure of yourself and your style.

I like to think that in the long run doing all of these things will save me some serious time and money, but that's still just a theory that is yet to be officially proven at this point.

Sharing my top 5 tips for curating your dream wardrobe so that you will have clothing that makes you feel confident and classy.

What I Learned From Broken Arch

26 March 2018
On our way to Broken Arch

Last weekend I took my pregnant self, my two-year-old, my husband and his buddy to Arches National Park. It was a truly magnificent place with some of the most beautiful sunsets and scenery I have ever seen. I don't know how many of you have been hiking with a super pregnant person and a two-year-old, but between potty breaks and sudden interest in a random dirt patch, we definitely slowed things down. 

I enjoyed many of our hikes, but, to be honest, I was so focused on making myself go just one more step that I didn't really take the time to truly appreciate the journey, until we reached Broken Arch. 

The walk to the arch itself seemed like it would never end.You walk across this huge meadow that has zero shade and my constant thought was, "Are we there yet?" It's the moment that we reached the arch that became exciting. 

If you look into the arch you can see some rocks and behind those rocks is a rock face you can walk up to see what is on the other side and continue on the trail. There is some distance between the rock face and the ground, but there is a log at the base you can use to boost you up. The rock face also looks quite steep from the ground. I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted to see what was waiting on the other side. 

Base of Broken Arch

I'll  admit that when I got to the rock face, my  initial reaction was that I couldn't do it. I physically would not be able to make it up. For one, I can't bring my knees up to my chest due to my enormous belly. Secondly, surely I would tumble down this rock face and I didn't even know where the nearest hospital was. I told Tom to go up ahead and take a picture of the view while I waited with little e. This way I would at least get some idea of, what I was certain was a magnificent view. 

He climbed up ahead and yelled down to me that I needed to see this view for myself. He claimed the climb looked much worse than it actually was, but my husband is practically part mountain goat so this claim meant very little to me. All of a sudden I thought about a book I had listened to just a few weeks before. The book had to do with women in the workplace, but it turns out it also has thoughts that can apply to Broken Arch. 

As I stood there debating with myself, Sheryl Sandberg's question popped into my head, “What would you do if you weren't afraid?” My inner debate ceased and I realized I would stop placing limitations on myself.  I would see what was on the other side for myself. Why not at least try? 

My whole little family made it up that rock face and the view did not disappoint.

View from the arch

After this climb, little e and I found some shade at the base of Broken Arch so that Tom and his buddy could explore further. While sitting there I was able to observe no less that forty different people as they approached the arch. As I observed I noticed a trend. Everyone seemed to want to know what was beyond the arch, but not all thought it was something they could do. 

Almost every man I saw went straight to the rock face and climbed up. There were a few women who did the same, but for the most part they gave up before they even tried. For those women I spoke up, and told them that it looked much harder than it actually was. I let them know about the reward waiting at the top of that brief climb, the magnificent view. As a result, many of them ended up going up the the face to see it for themselves. After all, as Sandberg says, “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” 

There was one particular woman though who did not. I could see how much she wanted to see the other side. She walked over to the base no less than three times, but could never muster up the courage to just do it. She needed to, "shift from thinking, 'I'm not ready to do that' to thinking 'I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it." Even though she will likely never find it, this post is mainly for her. You need to know that you are much stronger and more capable than you know. Stop doubting and holding yourself back, because you're missing the view. 

Lean In by Sheryl SandbergBook Mentioned in this Post:
Author: Sheryl Sandberg

*This post was originally posted in October 2016, but as March is Women's History Month it seems fitting to repost.