Monday, July 31, 2017

The Rest of July's Reads

July was a good month where reading was concerned. It felt really great to get back on track with my regular reading rate.

Here's how I finished out the month.

Y'all have you heard about The Room? If you haven't, this book will make zero sense. If you have, this book is an essential read. Also, if you're in the former category, go watch the movie (widely regarded as the legit worst movie there is, but in a "THIS IS HILARIOUS!" kind of way), read the book, and let's chat. Now that we've covered that. The Disaster Artist is actually a James Franco movie due out later this year. The trailer came out last week, and y'all, it's going to be great. The book is a fascinating look into the making of the movie, the quirks of Tommy Wiseau, and just everything in between.

Emma In The Night was an ARC I received awhile ago. It was good. I'm not always a fan of unreliable narrators which this book had. I find myself reading just because I need to know what the heck is happening. The good piece of that is this one kept me reading. If unconventional mysteries are your thing, you'll dig this book.

I already talked about Get Your Sh*t Together here. I'd reiterate here that it's a worthwhile read.

Approval Junkie was a book I wanted based on title alone. It's also a good read that makes you think, "I'm so glad it's not just me." It's pretty obvious in these parts that approval is something I struggle with myself. I really liked the way this book talked about the topic. It was more memoir than life advice. It was a good, thought-provoking read. Also, it make me cry and laugh which I generally appreciate. Oh, and bonus, it's another free read from Blogging for Books.

Counting by 7s is a children's book, and y'all, it's FANTASTIC. I absolutely loved the characters. It's a unique story in both plot and characters, and it's just so, SO wonderful. I can't even delve into it here because y'all need to stop reading here and go read this book.

Onto my August reads. . . 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Time Out - Soda Foundations, Simon & Self-Care

Y'all I've written so many blog posts these past few days. I had so many ideas about how I'd articulate all of these revelations. Ultimately, all those posts were shit. Seriously. I didn't realize it at the time, but now that I look back and admit it.

I read a book this week Get Your Sh*t together. I could have told you before the book I don't always have my sh*t together (especially not as of late), but it was good to read through and not only affirm this, but get some strategies for getting better.

Side Note: She uses Alvin and the Chipmunks as an analogy. It's great. Surprising no one, I'm totally a Simon.

Anyway, as I was thinking, I realized I have once again filled my cup to the brim. You know how when you go to a soda fountain, and the soda fizzes up, and you kind of wait for it to go down, and then you add just a little bit more, then wait for the fizz to go down, then add a little bit more. Then, you just repeat this over and over until you get as close to the lid as possible. Yeah, that's what I do in life. So, that's the worst.

Last week, I presented at a conference on self-care. It was one of my favorite topics and presentations I've ever done. Here's the thing (which the book also affirmed) I know very well what I enjoy doing. I know very well what I want to be doing. However, I run rogue on my to-do list, find mindless ways to hijack my own day, and I can fill a day without every actually feeling full - in the emotional sense, not the food sense to be clear.

As I thought about how much I enjoyed the space I created for others last week, I realized I need to take a moment and create that space for myself.

I had this grandiose vision of how I was going to do this here. I'll lead everyone through the reflection I did last week! Y'all, what the heck? That's not space for me. That's space I'm giving to someone else. There I go filling up that soda cup yet again.

This is probably the one and only time Beavis & Butthead makes the blog.

I'm writing this to say I don't have my sh*t together right now, and I'm offering myself forgiveness. I messed up, and that's on me. I'm also publicly saying I'm making myself a priority. I'm going to be more selfish than usual, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. The things I love the most are the things that are going to start taking more of my time. And the other stuff? It's time to start letting go. It'll take time, and I won't tell you that I'm going to be all awesome, all the time at this. However, what I am saying is that this post is soley about me and what I need and what I must do to feel better. And it feels really great to give that space.

P.S. For the record, I used to say pop, not soda. Kansas is totally pop country. Then, I moved to Texas. I got tired of being the rogue pop user, so I converted. Six years later, it's stuck with me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

June and July-ish Reads

Hey, here's what I've read lately.

The Bluest Eye (not pictured) was a book I read for my online book club. It was the first time I'd read Toni Morrison, and it was a good read. She writes beautifully, and while the story here is definitely tragic, it's well-told.

In the Woods was a mystery/thriller read. It's been in my queue for awhile, and I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it. It's a masterfully written thriller, and I dug it so much I ended up getting too much Tana French reads at the JoCo Book Sale.

Still Missing was another mystery/thriller. It's about a realtor who's kidnapped while on the job (#creepyaf), and then her experience is retold through her therapy appointments. There are some b-a-n-a-n-a-s twists here, and it's another great read.

Mortified was okay. I love, LOVE, LOVE the podcast, and I feel like some of the humor of that was lost in translation. The book actually had some reads that were from the podcast, and as I was reading I realized how the emotion of the live shows is what really makes this all work. So, don't read this, but absolutely 100% go and check out the podcast.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? is incredible, amazing, and all the things. I laughed out loud, I ugly cried, and I just adored this one. I've recommended it left and right, and I may just read it over and over and over again. If/when I write a book, I want it to be like this one.

Lilac Girls was this month's selection for my online book club. It is outstanding. It's the story of three women with three different experiences during World War II. The stories and issues covered are ones I previously knew little about and was captivated. It's an emotional read, but a worthwhile one for sure. Highly recommend, and I'm excited to discuss it at book club tomorrow.

The Good Stuff was a collection of my all-time favorite sports columnist's work. It's from 2001, so it's missing some of my most favorite pieces he's written, but these were still so great. If you're not familiar with Joe Posnanski, stop what you're doing, and read these:

Home in Capital Letters

You're welcome. (P.S. There are so many more of his pieces I could share, so make sure to dig deeper on his blog to fall more in love.)

Insight: Why We're Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life was fantastic. I learned a lot about how I seek out feedback (or don't) and give feedback (or don't). It made me reflect a lot about how I go through work/life, and it gave me some good tools for how to make some changes. The other perk of this book is that it's got lots of assessments and questions. I will actually probably read it again because there is so much to think through and process. (Oh and shout out to Blogging for Books for allowing me to check out this awesome book for free. Please accept this rave review as a big thanks for letting me do what I love!)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Telling My Story

"And that's how this story starts - with the humble goal of seeming competent and not too annoying. Like most women I know, I ultimately want to be likable and trustworthy - as well as glamorous - but it's important to take baby steps."
- Alyssa Mastromonaco, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Here's the thing y'all - I think about blogging a lot. My head swirls with the beginnings of posts and best of intentions when it comes to writing, and then, well, I clearly don't. 

My elementary school aspirations were to be an author, and along the way, I clearly found other career paths, but that piece of me has always remained.

I started blogging more publicly for lots of reasons, but above all else, it was to start actually using and listening to my own voice. I've kind of forgotten how to do that.

Part of that means I've been overthinking blogging and writing for the wrong reasons. I'm writing for others and not for myself. Instead of making this little corner of the internet my own, I've set my sights on comparing myself to all the other corners. And here my poor little blog has set gathering dust. I also wish I could tell you that it was just my blog where I navigate this, but it's sort of everywhere.

June was a weird month. Professionally, it was one of the very best I have ever had which also translated into personal happiness. I received pretty incredible acclaim for the work I've been doing (and love), and I actually was able to revel and enjoy that recognition, as well as get in some quality time with my co-workers who I do adore.

However, my reading tells another story. For those who don't know, I track my mental health by the number of books I read. When my book count is down, my mental health is, too. Most weeks, I read at least two books. For the month of June, I read two total.

Seeing my reading come to a halt caused me to take a hard look at what was happening. And you know what it was?  I'd shut out my own voice. I was giving my attention to lots of things, but I wasn't truly present in lots of ways.

I've been so focused on writing to garner likes and views from others (seriously, I'm not ashamed to name that Pavlovian response sucked me in) that this space stopped being any good for me. I failed to see the posts here that people have loved and responded to the most are the ones I wrote in the late night hours (it's actually just before midnight now) when I was at my best (#collegescheduleforever) and sharing what I needed to share for me and no one else.

I read a book this week that rocked my world - Alyssa Mastromonaco's memoir Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have to Ask When You Work in the White House. I literally laughed, ugly cried, and just loved it all. However, above all else, it gave me that little nudge to say, "Hey, write whatever the heck you want. You do you, and it'll be okay." 

So, this is my public declaration to say I'm giving this another go.  See you around here soon-ish.