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The Mile Markers of Life

21 November 2018
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
I recently made myself read another Kristin Hannah novel. As per usual it destroyed me and will likely haunt me for years to come. My poor book has some serious water damage.

I like to keep notes whenever I'm reading.  I always have, but these days I'm finding it much more convenient to keep those notes via Litsy. Are you on there yet? I've found I'm much more likely to scroll through that timeline and look back on my notes than I am with any of the many notebooks scattered around my home.

While reading The Great Alone I stumbled across a quote that made me stop and think. I touched briefly on this via Instagram, but I quickly realized that I wasn't quite finished with my reflection. Don't you just love when something in a book makes you spend some serious time reflecting?



Books are the mile markers of my life. It's a simple little line that packs punch and for me, at least, I think there is some truth to it. What follows will be a little bit of a timeline of some of those books that stand out as the mile markers of my own life.

I found one of these books on Mrs. Herr's shelf in the third grade. I initially read the series all out of order, not understanding that there even was an order to such things. The first one I read was the one that has the storyline where the girls find Arabian Nights on Elizabeth's parent's shelf. I remember being so surprised by it, because Mrs. Herr had been raised Amish and seemed super stuffy. Maybe she didn't know what was in the book, but I'll be forever grateful that it just happened to be on her shelf. It was the one that really ignited my love of reading.

I bought this at the book-fair in 5th grade all because Kim bought it too. It was such a magical tale and it helped me to realize that there are all sorts of stories out there where anything you could possibly think of could and would happen. My copy barely has a cover at this point and I cannot wait to share it with my kids.

Harry Potter was forbidden in my home, so I bought it anyway on the recommendation of Jamie who said it was his favorite book. I hid that book and stayed up late every night until I finished it, then I hid it in the laundry basket. Why I thought that was a good place I'll never know. Maybe I wanted to be caught? My mom found it and asked me about it. I told her that she was wrong and that she should try reading it before she decided it was bad. She did and then my dad did and I received the next two in the series for Christmas.

This was the very first grownup book I ever read. To be honest, I was probably a little young for it, but I loved it. From that moment on I hardly ever returned to the kid's section of the library.
I became incredibly depressed during my first semester of college. I had done that stupid thing where I followed other people to a place that I didn't even really like because my first plan didn't quite pan out. I learned about the importance of a backup plan real quick. These books helped me through that semester and for that I will always be grateful.
This is one of the books I read when I made the biggest leap of my life. I moved across the country to Utah where I knew only a handful of people. Books definitely kept me company and this is the one that sticks out the most.

I got into audiobooks during the time I was driving around interviewing for a post college job. This was the book I was listening to when I went on the interview that resulted in said post college job. 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell -

I started grad school right after my undergrad program ended and I remember feeling so intimidated. You see, despite doing well in school I've never really thought that I was very smart. This was the first book we read and we had to post a discussion essay about it for everyone to see. I was incredibly stressed and then I read some of the other essays and realized that maybe, just maybe, I was more intelligent than I gave myself credit for.
This is the book I was reading when I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. The author happened to make a stop at a local bookstore around the time that I finished, so I went and met her. She remains the only author I have ever met, but it was just a cool reading experience all around.

This is one of those books I read in the witching hours while up with my first. Knowing that I would be reading this book made it so much easier to get up. I got through it pretty quickly, because my daughter NEVER slept.

My husband and I went on a little anniversary trip when my daughter was a little over 2(?). I brought this book with me, so that I could really relax by the pool and maybe worry a little less about how little e was faring with Grandma.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah -

I read this while pregnant with my second. I was highly emotional and borderline narcoleptic. This was the right book to keep me awake and resulted in a good cry. 

Loving What Is by Byron Katie -

This book helped me to changed my thinking about so much. It also has helped me better manage some anxiety and depression that keeps popping up. I would recommend that everyone takes a look at it.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett -

I still don't completely know what I want to be when I grow up, but the essay, The Getaway Car, helped me realize that I would like to try to write. I would really like to see my name on the spine of a book in my local library. Now I just need to do it and keep doing it!

Are there books from your life that you would consider mile markers?
What are they?

Might as Well Face It. . . .

16 November 2018

The other night we had the rare opportunity to leave the house for a date night. The world was our oyster and we were positively giddy about it.

I leaned over to T to excitedly conspire, "What should we do? Should we go somewhere where you have to actually sit down and leave a tip?"

"Only if you promise not to throw food!"

T and I are different in many ways, but are able agree on many of the more important things in life, such as the fact that pizza is really the perfect meal. We shared a pizza, topped with all the things our children hate, and then decided to give in our craving for dessert. But where to go?

Our favorite little spot had closed down for good a week before. I couldn't help but feel guilty as I recalled that the last time we had been there had been a solid two years before. The feeling passed and a quick Google search pointed me in the direction of a "dessert studio" nearby.

Now, I've never been to a place described in such a manner, so I was a little apprehensive. I quickly scanned the menu to ensure that chocolate of any variety graced the menu, but didn't look at it too closely.

I knew upon walking in that this was not my scene at all. A cluster of high school (?) or college aged  (?) kids were at the standing tables, all taking photos of their food. I looked around and imagined that they had likely also taken numerous selfies in front of the whitewashed, exposed brick wall. If only I knew their handles for Snapchat, Instagram or whatever kids are using these days.

I ventured over to read the menu more closely. There were a bunch of strange concoctions and I felt the panic rising in my chest. Turkey and cranberry ice cream? Bleu cheese and raspberry ice cream? Spumoni is as crazy as I go. Where were the normal flavors?

I turned to the dessert menu, desperately hoping there was something familiar. I spied the word brownie, ignored all the other ingredients that accompanied, and placed my order. Then I saw the tip jar.

The tip jar is a relatively new phenomenon for me. I first saw them in drive-thrus at places similar to McDonalds. Then I saw them at pizza places. Now I'm seeing it here.

I'm confused by these tip jars. Are employers no longer responsible for paying their employees? What exactly am I tipping for? You pressed a button, filled up a cup, and handed that cup to me. Good job, little buddy?

I understand the need for a tip when I go to a place with actual table service or tipping an attentive bartender or barista. I have no problem tipping in those scenarios and will happily tip more than the "recommended" amount, but these jars. . . .

After dessert I wander into Forever 21 in search of a basic striped tee. I walk in and have to walk back out to make sure that I'm in the right store.

It's hard to describe what has happened to this store, but basically it's as if the seventies, eighties and nineties exploded and left the strangest mashup of articles behind.

I wander in a daze and see my face reflected on the face of a woman who is likely in her late sixties.

It startles me and I do a double take, making sure that I'm moving a part of my body that she is not. I sigh, in relief. She is not my reflection, but she might as well be. My grand night out has resulted in a shocking revelation.

I might as well face it, I've become. . .old? Irrelevant? I don't know, but 29 sure feels like the new 60.

An Honest "About" Page

10 July 2018
We're all under construction

I've always enjoyed reading "About" pages on blogs. It seems that everyone attempts to put their best foot forward, while being creative enough to make them stand out from the crowd.

While I enjoy reading "About" pages, I really hate writing an "About" page. 

I don't have the type of story that would get me casted on any reality tv show. I haven't done a lot of exciting travelling. I'm very much a homebody who enjoys board games and reading. I'm not convinced that there is anything in particular that would set me apart from everyone and their grandma.

I recently stumbled across a blog's "about" page where I found the following words, "under construction" followed by the blogger's name. Now I know she is likely just in the process of rewriting, but if that isn't actually the most accurate about page for just about anyone then I don't know what is.

Aren't most of us continuously in the process of reinventing ourselves? Aren't we all just a little bit under construction?

I know it can be so hard to remember that no one is really as put together as their social media makes them appear, but for the sake of our sanity we need to. 

In those moments when we feel intimidated just remember we're all kind of faking it to some extent. 

In those moments when you elect to let someone else make the first move, reexamine. 

In those moments when you find yourself frustrated by someone else, remind yourself that they may be experiencing some serious internal construction that you know nothing about. 

May your internal construction help shape you into the most spectacular palace! 

It's Okay to Change Your Mind

09 July 2018

One of the many things I have always hated about politics is the inevitable moment found in just about any debate when one of the candidates will call out someone for being a flip-flopper. As if it's a bad thing to change as you continue to learn and grow. 

As if it is untrustworthy when one is able to see and potentially understand many different sides of an issue. If it were any other sort of situation, wouldn't we be inclined to think of such a person as empathetic?

Granted, there are times when it becomes apparent that something like money may have resulted in a change in opinion. That's a different ballgame that I do not support.

This month marks 10 years of Utah residency. As I've been reflecting on who I was when I arrived and who I am at this moment I've realized that the way I see the world has changed.

My opinions on some subjects have been strengthened. My beliefs in others have morphed and in some cases have dissolved entirely. I am not the same person, but all of those original beliefs have definitely played a role in shaping my journey and where I am in that.

All in all, I no longer fully believe that all leopards are incapable of changing their spots. Despite what others may say, you are allowed to change your mind and so is everybody else. 

I think that danger comes when we refuse to question and examine our thoughts and beliefs. When we refuse to evolve or refuse to allow that evolution for organizations and others around us. 

Maybe we spend less time name calling and feeling defensive and more time listening. Maybe we try spending more time meeting others where they are in an attempt to really understand where they are coming from. Maybe we try to be open to the possibility that we don't really know anything, so that we can remain open to learning. 

Things I Am Bad At

06 July 2018
I'm Bad at Riding a Bike. . . Now You Know

I haven't been on a ton of job interviews, but I have been on enough to be asked the classic "What are your weaknesses" question at least a handful of times.

The answer is obviously chocolate and free food. Did you really have to ask?

I always strive to channel a politician, aiming to skirt my way around the issue. Spinning the weakness into an asset. Attempting to turn it back to the interviewer. Maybe I'll try an insightful question to wrap it up. 

By the end I find myself almost convinced that maybe this weakness isn't such a bad thing after all. Maybe I'm actually kind of awesome, which never really lasts very long. The self-talk over here can be truly brutal at times, but that's not unique. Aren't we all our own worst critics? Besides the truly narcissistic among us. You likely don't know who you are, but we do. 

With that said, I'm not trying to spew negative self-talk all over this post, but I do want to take some time to acknowledge some of the things that I'm just not awesome at. 

Some of these things I want to improve upon and I hope that my public acknowledgment will prompt me to make some changes. Some of these things just do not matter to me and I hope that my acknowledgement of that will help me move on to things that I actually want to spend some time on.

Things I Am Bad At That I Do Not Care to Improve


Running


I hate running. It's so boring. It hurts my knees and I wish that Doctor would have taken me seriously and written me a doctor's note saying that I am only to run in the event that mine or my children's lives are in danger. 

Painting Rooms


Again, boring. Also messy. I almost always end up with paint on the ceiling, even when I take forever with the taping step. Whenever I paint a room I always find myself wishing that life could be just a little bit more like Sims.

Networking


When I am consciously attempting to network or watch others really network it just makes me cringe. It almost always feels insincere and slightly sleazy. How can we use one another to further ourselves? I will say though that I would like to improve upon my ability to have worthwhile, memorable conversations with others with no strings attached.


Things I am Bad at That I Would Like to Improve

Follow Through


I have all of these ideas of things that I want to do. I'll be super gung-ho about them and then I just kind of fizzle out. I think it's a combination of laziness and not being realistic enough about time and my current capacity of what I can handle. I think the key to this is to start being more realistic. Start scheduling my time better. Stop wasting time scrolling through the lives of others via social media.

Being Thoughtful


Growing up I moved a pretty decent amount and back then when you moved it was a lot harder to stay in touch with others. I just elected to not do that, but now I truly suck at keeping in touch even with people who are fairly close by. 

I find myself thinking about people and then let it slide on out without doing anything about it. I really want to work harder to stay in touch with others and make time for them. Maybe I need a spreadsheet or something. 

Riding a Bike


I am really bad at riding a bike. Something about the two wheels and my lack of coordination just don't mesh all that well. I also flipped over my handlebars quite a lot as a child, so even a little dip in the road can be frightening. I would really like to get better at this though, because it's going to wound my precious ego when my kids can ride better than me. I mean, unless they are like BMX kids. In which case I never really stood a chance anyway, right?

Tell me about your most thoughtful friend.
Also, be honest, what are you really bad at?