Rest

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In 2012 and 2013, I took a month-long social media and blogging break. I did it in 2012 because my heart had been broken and I needed the time away to just sit in the sadness for a little while without the distraction of social media. Social media is noisy and filled with people giving their opinions on what to think, say, do, feel. I needed to get away from the noise so I could just be.

I enjoyed my break so much that I decided to take another one the following year. I didn’t take a break in 2014, but I decided early on this year that I wanted to take one in 2015. August has always seemed like the right month because stuff happens this month. 2012 was the heartbreak, 2013 was starting a new job, and hopefully 2015 is moving to a new city.

I’m really looking forward to the time away. I’m not necessarily addicted to social media. I scroll through my feeds a few times a day, but I don’t update them as much as I used to. I use Instagram the most, and sometimes I feel pressure with it to make sure I don’t get too behind on my feed. So this break isn’t needed because I’m too addicted to social media. I’m not at all. I just like the idea of forcing myself to completely get away. Of taking off the apps on my phone and not using social media as a distraction when I’m sitting at a red light or waiting in line or watching TV. Plus, social media is so noisy and so opinionated and sometimes makes me feel bad about myself or my life… so these month-long breaks are so good for my soul.

What I’m really excited about, though, is taking a break from blogging. I love my blog and I love writing posts, but it takes a lot of work. I probably spend around 5-10 hours a week on this blog, which isn’t a lot, but it kinda is to spend on a passion project that actually costs me money rather than gives me any. I do it because I love it, but it’s also something that burns me out easily. And I just need the time away from the writing and the planning and the documenting. To do things for the sake of doing them, and not worry about how to spin them into a blog post.

So, here we go. One month away from social media and blogging. I’m so ready for this.

Monthly Reads // July

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It’s time for my monthly post of book reviews! July was not a great reading month for me because I felt very underwhelmed by most of what I read. Most of the books were pretty long (400+ pages) and didn’t grab my attention, so getting through them was a struggle. Anyway, here are my thoughts on what I read!

Book club selection: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (3 stars)
This was probably my least favorite Moriarty read by a long shot (her previous two I gave 5 stars). It follows a woman, Alice, who wakes up on the floor of a gym thinking she is 29, newly married, and due with her first child. When, in fact, she is 39, recently separated, and a mother of three. I found Moriarty’s exploration of family and relationships and marriage, and how their dynamics can change through the ebb and flow of life, was interesting, but ultimately, I just found the characters to be unlikeable and the book to be way too long (nearly 500 pages!). I also think, being a single gal in my twenties, there was a lot I couldn’t relate to. An okay novel, but not the one of hers I would recommend.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book that takes place in Asia): The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (3 stars)
I really, really wanted to like this book, but I really, really did not. And, honestly, the only reason I finished it was because I was reading it for the challenge. (Side note: This is the one thing I don’t like about reading challenges. In a sense, it forces you to continue reading books you don’t like!) I’ve heard people compare it to a Khaled Hosseini novel, which frankly offends me, because the only similarity is that they are both about the Afghan culture. This book wasn’t very well written, it wasn’t engaging, it didn’t grab my attention. I just found the book to be slow and it was one of those books that took me forever to read because I never felt like picking it up. I hate to give such a negative review, since I know of a lot of people who loved this novel, but I have to be honest about my experience reading it.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (an award winner from the last decade): Room by Emma Donoghue (4 stars)
This was the only book I read in July that I actually liked! And it’s funny because it was the book I was least looking forward to reading, ha. I knew the subject matter would be heavy and I didn’t know if I would be in the right mood for it. In this book, you follow the story of Jack, a five year old who has been living in a tiny shack for his whole life. His mom was kidnapped when she was 19 (she’s 26 now) and is held prisoner in this shack. The language is somehow perfect – I felt Donoghue nailed five year old terminology and speech and syntax. The novel is haunting and poignant and sad and hopeful. It’s so beautifully written. I am so glad I finally read this book!

Others (read for fun!)

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (3 stars)
I read this because it was getting a lot of buzz and the wait list was short at my library. And I don’t get the hype. It took at least 150-200 pages until the book really grabbed my interest. Before then, I didn’t know if I wanted to finish. None of the characters were likable, and not in a Gone Girl “these characters are so crazy and psycho” way. Just… a boring way. I thought the main character lived an incredibly sad life and she’s someone I would never want to be friends with. The plot felt a bit contrived, and I felt that the author glossed over some plotlines that were more important than others. All in all, not my favorite read.

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes (2.5 stars)
In this nonfiction healthy living book, science writer Gary Taubes argues that most of the past decades of nutritional research is bad. Specifically, he says that the “calorie in, calories out” model of healthy living is wrong and that what we need to focus on is eating less carbs. I appreciate his opinion on this, and I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong (I honestly think it’s probably different for each person), but I want to experiment with this lifestyle soon. For me, though, I found this book to be way too science-y and a lot of it was difficult for me to process. (Which, yes, makes me feel super dumb.) There was only about 10-15% of the book that I found useful.

All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins (3 stars)
This was an alright book. It’s a reread; I read it back in 2010 and had a rave review for it on Goodreads. But I guess my reading tastes have changed over the past five years (imagine that) because I found the main character to be annoying and the plot a little goofy. Also, I really, really dislike how this author continuously bashes online dating. The dates her characters go on are ridiculous and just furthers the stigma online dating has. It irks me. Anyway, it was a light, easy read, which I needed after reading too many books in a row with heavy subject matter.

BOOK STATS // JULY

# of books read: 6
# of pages read: 2,284
quickest read: Room (5 days)
longest read: Why We Get Fat (10 days)
multicultural: 1
formats: ebooks (3), physical books (3)

What was the best book you read in July?

Reading Habits Survey: Halfway Point 2015

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Fair warning: this may be the geekiest post I will ever write! It’s no secret that reading is my favorite hobby. I’m obsessed with books and my downtime is spent in two ways: reading and blogging. The reason I can read as much as I do is because I make time for it. Whenever people express jealousy for how many books I read, there’s not too much I can say. My life isn’t very exciting (at least to other people, I would guess) and I have a lot of downtime that allows me to read.

Anyway, this year, I’ve taking my love for reading to a geeky level as I’m keeping a detailed spreadsheet of the books I read. My spreadsheet (which I’m happy to share with anyone who is interested!) keeps track of much more than just the title, author, and my rating, but also the genres, formats, where I’m getting them, why I’m reading them, how much they cost me (if applicable), and more. It’s been so fun to keep track, and I thought today would be a good day to survey my reading habits for the first half of 2015. This will be similar to the reading habits survey that Book Riot puts out once a year, which is basically where I got my idea for this post.

How many books read? 48

How many pages read? 15,866

What percentage of books read has been in print? E-books? Audiobooks? 

  • 46% print books
  • 44% e-books
  • 10% audiobooks

I’m not too shocked about that – I read about the same amount of print books as I do e-books (I always opt for the e-book, but if the wait list is too long at my library or they don’t have the e-book version, I’ll request the print copy.) Also really happy with my audiobook listening in the first half of the year! This is the first year I’ve really gotten into audiobooks and I find them a really fun way to consume literature.

How many books were bought? I wound up buy 7 of the 48 books I read, which amounts to 15%. The library is my best friend when it comes to reading – I don’t spend a ton of money on books!

How much money has been spent? $40.43. This amounts to spending $6.74 a month on books or 84 cents per book. I’d say that’s a good average!

What are the percentage breakdowns for the genres read? 

  • Fiction – 25%
  • Nonfiction – 20%
  • Mystery – 19%
  • YA – 13%
  • Chick lit – 13%
  • Romance – 10%

It shocks me that nonfiction is my second-most read genre. I have been trying to read at least one nonfiction book per month, and I’m doing more than that, it seems. I’m also surprised that romance novels are my lowest read genre. I used to solely read romance novels, so this shows I am really trying to diversifying my selections.

How many diverse reads? 8 – 17%. Something I still need to work on, but it’s getting better!

Where did I get my books?

  • Overdrive (e-books and audiobooks): 15
  • Library (physical copies of books): 12
  • Amazon: 9
  • Free, in exchange for a review on my blog: 8
  • Through postal book club: 2
  • As gifts: 2

Over half of my books were from Overdrive or the library. How I love the library so! :)

Some other random stats:

  • Most books read in one month: March (10)
  • Least books read in one month: February (6)
  • Book with the most pages: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro (469 pages)
  • Book with the least pages: Home by Toni Morrison (147 pages)

Top 3 books read so far in 2015: 

1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – This book gripped me from beginning to end, as it follows a family as they deal with the death of their teenage daughter. The writing is just exquisite.

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – This book dealt with some heavier subjects (domestic violence and bullying), but it did so in a light-hearted manner. I fell in love with the characters and I thought the way the author wrote about domestic violence was vividly real. It wasn’t over-the-top, but I think a lot of people would be able to relate to it (sadly!).

3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – I am so glad I did I finally read this book! It’s such a special novel. It is written from the perspective of Ponyboy, a 14-year-old boy who is in a gang called The Greasers. The novel was so easy to read and really fun to follow – the language was phenomenal. It was sad in parts, but I really enjoyed my experience reading it.

How many books did you read in the first half of 2015? Do you use the library, or do you buy the majority of your books?

My Favorite Podcasts (Round 2)

Prepare yourselves, friends! Today’s post is going to be a long one, but it’s one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a voracious listener of podcasts. I started listening around February or March of last year, and it’s an obsession. Currently, I have 26 shows that I am subscribed to and I can only see that list growing and growing. I wanted to take the time to recommend some of my favorites to you guys, just in case you a) want to start listening to more podcasts but aren’t sure where to begin, or b) are as obsessive about podcasts as me and want more shows to add to your feed. I’ve broken these down by categories, so enjoy!

Interview-style podcasts

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The Lively Show: Blogger Jess Lively interviews guests all about their lives and work, with an emphasis on intentional living. She has an eclectic mix of guests (the variety has been even better in the second season, which I appreciate) so she’s not just interviewing bloggers and creatives, but also business leaders, authors, and nutritionists. Her interviewing style is unique, which is what I love about this podcast. I take away something to reflect on from each episode.

Death, Sex & Money : Host Anna Sale interviews famous people and regular people about their thoughts on – you guessed it! – death, sex, and money. (As the tagline says: “the things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more.”) I love the variety of guests she interviews – one week it might be Jane Fonda and the next week just some regular girl talk about her father’s death. And, like Jess, she has such a unique interview style where she asks tough questions that other people would probably shy away from.

Nerdist Podcast: One of my long-time favorite podcasts! Comedian Chris Hardwick interviews famous celebrities about how they got to where they are today. Definitely one to listen to if you’re into comedy.

Chit-chat podcasts

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> The Shepod: Two girlfriends living in L.A. (Rachael and Sara) come together every Sunday for brunch and chit-chat. They talk about what’s going on in their lives, as well as what made their “gross list” for the week and take a look back to some “90’s nostalgia.” All in all, it’s 45 minutes of fun and I love sitting down with these girls once a week!

> Starr Struck Radio: A married couple – Mary Catherine and Ben – come together once a week to discuss “adulting” topics, like the challenges of buying a home, whether or not to have kids, and being an effective manager of your time. I really like the male perspective this show brings because so many podcasts in this vein are female-focused. Having the two perspectives provides a balanced look at the topics, and they are just really fun together.

> Call Your Girlfriend: Two long-distance besties sit down twice a month to chat about what’s going on in the world. There’s an emphasis on pop culture and feminism, which I appreciate, and I just enjoy their back-and-forth dialogue.

> The Joy the Baker Podcast: One of the first podcasts I ever started listening to and I love it so. Two friends and bloggers – Joy and Tracy – sit down for hour-long chats about… anything, really. It’s always so random and the two of them are hilarious together, so I giggle throughout each episode. Their shows have been few and far between lately (I think they’ve only recorded 4 podcasts this year…) but I’m a loyal subscriber, so anything I get from them makes me happy!

Storytelling podcasts

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> StartUp Podcast: This follows different startup companies through the trials and tribulations of forming and developing their company. The first season, which I’m listening to now, follows Alex Blumberg as he starts his podcasting company, Gimlet Media. I didn’t think I’d get sucked into this show as much as I have because business podcasts aren’t my thing, but I love the storytelling format and love the honesty with which Blumberg tells his story.

> Serial: I mean, if you don’t know what this podcast is about, I welcome you back into the land of the living. Listen. Now. Before you do anything else. This is the best podcast out there, hands down!

> Undisclosed: The State Vs. Adnan Syed: This podcast is basically a spinoff of Serial, where Rabia Chaudry (the one who brought Adnan’s case to Sarah Koenig of Serial) along with two law experts, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller, revisit Adnan’s case, piece by piece, revealing new information as they go along. The first few episodes were a little shaky, but it’s gotten really good as they’ve found their footing and they’ve revealed some startling information that wasn’t covered in Serial.

Bookish podcasts

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> Dear Book Nerd: Librarian Rita Meade, along with a guest co-host, answers listeners questions about “life, love, and literature.” There’s always such an interesting mix of questions, and Rita has made the podcast a safe space for listeners to ask any type of question.

> Book Riot – The Podcast: The editors of Book Riot.com come together for an hour-long podcast each week, talking about what’s new in the world of books and publishing. They can sometimes go off on tangents and I find their ad spots to be way. too. long., but in general, I enjoy the hosts and their camaraderie.

Educational podcasts

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> Criminal: A podcast that explores all facets of crime and criminals. It tells the story of people who have been wronged and people who have wronged others. It’s a fascinating look into the human psyche!

> Invisibilia: A show from NPR about the invisible forces that affect human nature. Some of the topics covered in their first season: what would it be like to live a life without fear, whether our thoughts have a bearing on who we really are, and how expectations can limit or empower us. Such a powerful podcast and I am on pins and needles waiting for season two!

> Stuff Mom Never Told You: A podcast all about women! I love the hosts and I love the range of topics covered – from women explorers to pregnancy to the Golden Girls. If you’re looking to learn more about feminism and womanhood, I’d highly recommend this podcast.

> Stuff You Should Know: Consistently one of the best podcasts on my feed. I love Josh and Chuck and I love how I get to learn about the most random topics. Like circus families. And BASE jumping. And ocean currents. Always informative and always very well-researched.

Miscellaneous podcasts

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> Mystery Show: A new show from Gimlet Media where the host, Starlee Kine, takes on random mysteries to solve. It’s a little silly, but really entertaining. And Starlee is just adorable and funny and I want to be more like her.

> Happier with Gretchen Rubin: I am not a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin the author (I know, burn me at the stake), but I am a huge fan of this podcast! Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth, get together once a week giving advice on happiness and good habits. I can relate to Elizabeth a lot, which is what I think I love most about this podcast.

> Dear Sugar Radio: Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond bring back their advice column, Dear Sugar, in the form of a podcast. The questions cover all sorts of topics, so it’s not just about relationships or marriage and family, but also about finances and friendships and personality issues. I always walk away from an episode having learned something, either about myself or the world.

Whew! There you have it. My favorite podcasts right now, broken down by category. Maybe I’ll revisit this post in another year to see how my podcast tastes have changed. :) If you’re a podcast listener, do you have any shows to add to my list? (Because I obviously need more shows to add to my list… haha)

TGIF (v. 16)

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The high of my week was my mom coming home from her honeymoon! I was so, so, so happy to welcome her back after 9 days gone. She went on an 8-day cruise (yes, two cruises in one year! This lady lives the high life.) and had a good time, but Dutch and I missed her a ton. And I also appreciate not worrying about being murdered every night. There’s just something about being alone at night…!

The low of my week was being so sick. Ugh, I started to feel ill on Monday afternoon, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that I felt like I was coming down with… something. I ended up calling in sick to work on Wednesday, and it was actually nice because my mom was home so I got some good, ole Mom TLC. And, luckily, I scheduled one of my work from home days for the month for Thursday, otherwise I probably would have had to call in again, seeing as I got maybe four hours of broken sleep. I’m still not feeling 100%, and I am very glad for a short work day and a whole weekend to recuperate!

I’m currently reading two different books. First, I’m reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, which has been an eye-opening experience for me thus far. I’m about halfway through and it’s very detailed and involved, but I’m hanging in there! The other book I’m reading is Room by Emma Donoghue, which I’m reading for the Book Riot reading challenge. I’ve been dreading reading this book because I know it’s a heavier type of book (at least for me), but that has seemed to be my theme of July reading thus far! I’m going to opt for much lighter novels in August. Gimme all the trashy romance!

A podcast episode I enjoyed was Judy Blume Forever by Stuff Mom Never Told You. Oh, this made my little reading heart go pitter-patter! Judy Blume was one of my favorite authors growing up and I loved learning more about her books, her personal life, and the censorship battles she went through.

The best money I spent this week was $17.50 to see Joe Machi perform stand-up at Side Splitters in Tampa. I followed his journey on Last Comic Standing last season and adored him. Dear God, he’s adorable. His stand-up was pretty funny and I was so glad I got a chance to meet him! I was totally geeking out!

My plans this weekend include looking at an apartment to rent this afternoon (we’re trying not to get our hopes up about this place, since the move-in costs and monthly rent are lower than average for South Tampa). The rest of the weekend will be spent recuperating and trying to get myself back to my normal healthy self!

What was the highlight of your week?

Why I’m Moving in with a Roommate

Originally, I had no plans to move in with someone. I wanted my own place where I didn’t have to share a single thing with anybody. In my head, this sounded fantastic. I wrote out a budget for myself and started doing a little apartment hunting to see if I could find something that met all of my needs.

But alas, here I am, a month or so away from finally moving out and instead of moving to my own place, I’m moving in with a roommate. At age 27. I think it’s around this point when people, if they’re single, decide to get out of the roommate rat race and into a place of their own. And yet… though I thought I wanted that for myself… I am supremely happy with my decision to live with a roommate.

Here’s why.

1. I don’t like living alone.

I like being alone. I like alone time. But I do not like living alone. It’s lonely. It’s confining. I get freaked out that someone is going to break into my apartment and murder me in my sleep. I just don’t feel safe living alone. I have a very active imagination, and even though I live in a gated, very safe apartment community right now, I still get freaked out at night when my mom’s away.

Don’t get me wrong – I do like those weekends when she’s away and I have the place to myself. It is nice. And I’ll definitely have that with Roomie because she travels a lot, visiting family and friends, and has a super active social life. So there will be many nights and weekends where I am alone.

But I just don’t think I want a 24/7 living alone arrangement. At least right now.

2. Rent ain’t cheap, yo!

First, I want to make it clear that I don’t live with my mom rent-free. I haven’t since I graduated college and started working at a “big girl” job. I’ve been contributing to our household bills for a very long time, and also have my own bills, like car insurance, phone, car loan, etc. Basically – I know how to live financially independent of my mom. Just because I live with her doesn’t mean I’m living off her. (I believe most of my family thinks this of me, so I just wanted to clear this up right here.)

So it’s really nice to be able to split my bills up. To not have the burden of rent or utilities on my own. When I started looking at one-bedroom apartments that fit my needs (i.e., safe community, pet friendly, washer/dryer included, etc.), I started to realize I would have to live at the top of my budget. So I was stressed about being able to afford living on my own. And stressed about having to forfeit some of my apartment needs to find a cheaper place.

Enter Roomie. With her, I can live in a place that meets my needs (and hers, of course!) and all the bills will be split down the middle. It relieved so much stress off my shoulders and, though our searching, we’ve been able to find places that are beautiful and updated, but also keep us at the lower end of our budget.

3. A roommate equals a built-in buddy.

Well, probably not always and probably not if you don’t get along with your roomie (as happened to me in college), but in a sense, having having a roommate means I’ll have someone to do stuff with. Living alone means I would have to really be diligent about reaching out to friends (something I need to be doing anyway, I know) to ensure I don’t spend entire weekends curled up at home, watching Netflix. Which, as mentioned in Monday’s blog post, is what I’m most wont to do. My roomie is definitely an extrovert and someone who thrives on a busy schedule, and living with her will force me to get out more and be more social. And it will be nice to have someone to come home to, in a sense. Someone to share dog duties with. Someone to cook with, watch TV with, be goofy with. I have that with my mom and it’s just so darn nice. It really is. I would really miss the built-in buddy part if I lived alone.

4. I’m moving in with one of my best friends – not a stranger or someone I barely know.

While all of the above points are true and big reasons that factored into me having a roommate, this point is the biggest factor. I am not sure I would have considered moving in with anyone else – in fact, having a roommate wasn’t even on my radar until I met Bri last June and formed a deep bond with her. We clicked instantly and even though we are very different in some ways, we are also so eerily similar. And she’s just so darn easy to be around. She makes me feel better, just by being around her. I’m so looking forward to having her bright spirit in my everyday life.

I would not have considered a roommate situation with a stranger or a casual acquaintance. I tried that once, and it ended up terribly, and I would never do it again. The main reason I am moving in with Bri is because I think living with her will be such a positive experience, because she is someone I know and love.

And, so, there you have it. Perhaps one day I will live alone, but it just doesn’t feel like the right time for me right now. I have fears about what these next few months will hold, but I also have a ton of excitement and anticipation. A roommate situation isn’t for everyone, but I think it can be a positive experience in the right circumstances and I’m willing to take the chance on that.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give for living with a roommate?

The Struggle of Acceptance

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I’m afraid of missing out.

I’m afraid of not living my life by the mantra “YOLO!”

I’m afraid of wasting my time, of not measuring up to my version of success, of not measuring up to other’s versions of success.

I’m afraid of not being special, not being important, not being necessary.

I’m afraid of dying and I’m afraid of living.

Not that I’m suicidal, or even depressed. I’m not. Life just feels… overwhelming at times. There’s so much to do. So much to see. So much to measure up to. So much to hurt. So much to love. So much to be.

I’m afraid I can’t do it all.

I have friends who fill up their free time with adventures and funny dating stories and traveling and just doing. They don’t sit still. They have buckets and buckets of energy. I get tired from even one night out.

It’s probably why I hate dating so much. Even one date expends so much of my limited energy. And if the date goes well and then I have to consider adding a person into my solitary lifestyle? Forget it. It feels like too much work.

I always wonder what it’s like to be the kind of person who thrives on being busy, of balancing a ton of responsibilities. Someone who makes plans upon plans during their weekend, barely having time for sleep.

I thought I had accepted who I am.

I’m introverted, which means I get drained by social interaction.

I have social anxiety, which means my mind is constantly buzzing with worries of what people are thinking of me when I’m with them.

I’m highly sensitive, which means loud places and conversations rattles me.

All of this thrown together gives you a person who thrives on slowness. On quiet. On calm. On peace.

And I like that about me. I like that I am content in my own company, happiest for quiet nights in and lazy weekends.

But I also don’t like that about me. I don’t like that it takes so much energy for me to go out. I don’t like that my natural personality is one who is a hermit, and that I have to force myself to make plans with friends and accept social invitations.

And not to mention, when I do go out and be social, I never feel totally comfortable, no matter where I am. (See above: social anxiety) I’m always worried about something. I’m worried about the logistics of where I’m going. I’m worried about holding conversation. I’m worried about what people are thinking of me and if they actually even want me at this event.

It’s exhausting. It’s so exhausting to be in my head.

So what’s the solution? How do I let go of the fears and the worries and the constant anxiety? How do I finally start living a YOLO-kinda life? How do I stop being afraid that I’m wasting my time?

Therapy would probably help.

But more than therapy (which I do admit I need, no doubt about that), I think it comes to truly accepting who I am. Which is hard, when the whole world is filled with extroverts. And yeah, sure, introverts are having their time right now. But truly? Extroverts still rule the world. And I don’t fit into that world.

I’m a girl who hates to be busy. I like quiet weekends with one or two (or zero, even) social engagements. I don’t have the mental stamina to stay out all night (and I never have; this isn’t a cutesy “oh, I’m just getting old! Tehehe.” No. I was this way at 20.) and I hoard my alone time like a fiend.

And the people in my life understand this about me. They get it. I’m not saying I have friends who think I’m weird for my need for alone time. Quite the opposite. But there’s still this… fear… that I’m not doing enough. That I’m letting myself off the hook. That I need to be more extroverted… even though I am 100% not an extrovert and I shouldn’t strive to be.

(And don’t even get me started about dating. Dating is a whole other version of hell when you’re shy, introverted, and socially anxious.)

I’ve definitely come out of my shell more in the past few years. I’ve made a close circle of girlfriends. I try to make plans on the weekends, even if it’s just one thing and the rest of my weekend is spent puttering around my apartment, writing and reading. But it’s still hard to look at other people’s lives and realize how different mine is. How less exciting, less courageous, less bold. I worry that I’m wasting my time.

When it comes down to it, though, I think we’re all scared that we’re not doing enough. Some of us may feel like we need to get out more, while others may feel like they don’t know how to relax and unwind. We all want our lives to mean something. We’re all afraid of wasting this precious time on earth.

The truth is, we’re not wasting time or missing out or not living up to the “YOLO” standard. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. We’re all trying to be the best versions of ourselves, and sometimes we fail at that and sometimes we succeed and that is the absolute beauty of life. That is the power of the human experience – failure and success and trying.

Let’s all keep trying.

TGIF (v. 15)

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The high of my week was obviously my mom’s wedding. A close second, though, was how my six-year-old nephew wanted to be my buddy during the wedding. He wanted to help me with some of the photography I was doing (a special project for the guestbook!), and then to drive in my car to the reception. I’ve never actually driven alone with my nephew before, so it was really fun and we chatted the whole way there. Then, at the reception, he asked if we could sit together at a table a little bit away from all the action. I was more than happy to oblige! So, lots of one-on-one nephew time? Definitely a highlight for me!

The low of my week was not exercising. I just have been supremely lazy this week and haven’t been able to get my butt to the gym in the morning. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it because sometimes, we just need weeks like these. I’m planning to get back to it this weekend, though! No more slacking off!

A blog post I enjoyed was Confession: At Age 30, I’m Scared to Move Out of My Mom’s House by Kate of Greatest Escapist. I actually have a blog draft in the works that is eerily similar to her statement (just change “age 30″ to “age 27″), and I have been debating publishing it because I don’t want to seem suuuper lame. Which I know is silly. I was so grateful to read Kate’s words and realize fear is such a common symptom for so many of us. And that the things we are struggling with aren’t unique only to us, even when we think they are. Someone can relate, in some way.

A podcast episode I enjoyed was Skate Like a Girl by Stuff Mom Never Told You. I had really never thought of the world of skating and how hard it’s been for women to break into the sport. It opened my eyes a lot!

My plans this weekend include signing papers for my car loan refinance (!), a lady date with two girlfriends on Saturday night, and a Sunday pool day. Sounds like the perfect weekend to me!

What was the highlight of your week?

Currently in July

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Feeling… a lot less stressed than I was last week. Last week, I was feeling very overwhelmed and I thought it was due to knowing my mom would be away for more than a week, but I think it had more to due with the wedding and making sure everything went perfectly for my mom. (Not that she was putting any pressure on me… it was my own perfectionist tendencies, I guess!) Once the wedding was over, I felt all my anxiety go away and have been feeling very good this week! Three cheers to that!

Reading… What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It’s a ridiculously long novel, nearly 500 pages, so it’s slow going. I love Moriarty’s novels, but I do wish they weren’t so long! I think this book will end up being my least favorite of hers, but it’s still pretty good.

Watching… The League! I had a friend implore me to start watching this, since I’ve been in my own fantasy football league for a few years now and she thought I would relate to it. And I love it! I’m halfway through season 2, and it can be a bit crass and silly, but it’s fun and lighthearted and just what I need right now.

Anticipating… seeing Joe Machi this weekend. I followed his journey on Last Comic Standing last year, and I was hoping he would win. I’m going with some girlfriends and I just can’t wait!

Listening to… a slew of new podcasts. I need to do a follow-up post to my post on my favorite podcasts because I have added so many more shows to my feed (I listen to around 27!) and my favorites have definitely changed. My most recent favorite is been The Shepod.

Planning… on trying out You Need a Budget. I loved San’s full review of the software, and it sounds like something that could be super useful to me. I hate talking about it, but I am not the best manager of my money and I really want to get better. I haven’t had much success using sites like Mint.com, but hopefully YNAB will be different!

Wondering… what life is going to be like in a month or two. It’s hard to fathom how much my life is going to change when I finally move out. I can be very dependent on my mom, but I’m also very independent at the same time. Which probably doesn’t make sense. I’m worried about how my anxiety will be affected in the move, but I’m also really, really ready to shake up my life and make a big change.

Grateful… for my grandma. I learned last week that my grandma is 1 in 7. What does that mean? Well, stage IV colon cancer patients have a 1 in 7 chance of living past five years. My grandma was diagnosed in 2008. And though the cancer has returned three times since her initial diagnosis, she’s managed to kick its butt each time. This time around has been much more difficult on her, but the lady is a fighter. She’s incredible.

Wanting… a new bed. I was hoping to buy a new bed before my move, but it probably won’t happen. But this is a purchase I want to make very soon! I want to go to an actual furniture store (not IKEA!) and buy an actual adult bed and an actual adult mattress. No more hand-me-downs!

Loving… fresh flowers at home, tiny ice cream cones, the Colorfy app, group texts with my coworkers, snuggles with Dutch, and rainy afternoons.

What are you currently reading, anticipating, and grateful for?

Love, Laughter & Happily Ever After – The Wedding

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On Saturday, my mom and stepdad were married in a beautiful ceremony by the water in downtown St. Petersburg.

It was a gorgeous day – sunny with big puffy clouds in the sky and a slight breeze off the water. They professed their love in front of friends and family, with my mom’s best friend officiating.

I love weddings. I really do. They’re just so full of love and happiness, of hope and excitement. Even during the times when I’m a bitter, chronically single girl, I love weddings. They turn me into a sap.

My mom’s wedding was no different. I feel like I’m such a broken record nowadays, but honestly, my mom deserves this so much. She has been through a lot in her life, especially as it relates to the crap she put up with when married to my father. I’m so happy she has found someone who treats her with patience and kindness and respect. It gives me hope that someday I can find the same.

There’s not too much to say about the actual wedding day because everything went perfectly. (There was a slight mishap when two of my mom’s friends who arrived early to decorate started decorating in the wrong area… but we got that sorted out quickly!) After the ceremony, we stayed for pictures and then cleaned up and headed over to the restaurant for the reception.

And the reception was just as wonderful! The service was fantastic and the food was delicious. And I just loved how people completely loved on my mom and her new husband. I’ve known for a very long time how special and awesome my mom is, and it pleases me to no end that she has found a group of friends who see that as well.

But, before I knew it, it was time for my mom and stepfather to leave for their honeymoon. There was a lot of emotion tied to this day – the stress of getting everything done on time and helping people find the location, the happiness seeing my mom get married, the joy of being around my family and my mom’s friends – and seeing them off felt like the final pin into this journey of planning a wedding. As I packed all the wedding paraphernalia in the car, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a few weeks. The wedding planning was over, my mom was now married, and they could take a break and relax on their honeymoon.

So, it was a beautiful wedding and I am so happy for my mom. I’m also thrilled to officially welcome Robert into our family. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how he would fit in, but he does. It hasn’t been a seamless fit, but it’s a fit nonetheless. And I’m happy to call him my stepfather.

Happy wedding day, you two lovebirds! I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for you guys.