March 2, 2017

Read Instead

Some days you just want to cuddle up on the couch, drink coffee and read a good book. You'd feel the difference when you start picking up books (real ones, with covers and spines) instead of phone at the end of a long day. You'd feel healthier, happier and smarter. Here's some titles I recommend for you that you might want to add into your reading list. Dig in. Enjoy. Happy reading! 

1. Classics are like vitamins, you should have them everyday:

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora N. Hurston 
Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl 
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor
Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky 
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

2. Books for bosses:

The Big Life, Ann Shoket
Safe People, Henry Cloud
Make it Happen, Lara Casey
Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner

3. Nonfiction I'll forever keep on my bookshelf:

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Tiny, Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
Eat, Pray, Love, Liz Gilbert
Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire), Jen Glantz
Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari 
Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle 
Love Does, Bob Goff  
Scary Close, Donald Miller 
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion 

4. Fiction picks for 2017:

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
The Trespasser, Tana French 
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
See Me, Nicholas Sparks
The Wonder, Emma Donoghue

5. For the writer in you:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott 
On Writing, Stephen King  
Big Magic, Liz Gilbert 

6. A bunch of books featuring crazy chicks gone psycho:

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn 
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn 
Good as Gone, Amy Gentry 
All the Missing Girls, Megan Miranda 
Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller 
Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins 
The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware 

7. Books to grow you spiritually: 

Reclaim Your Heart, Yasmin Mogahed
Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
Blue like Jazz, Donald Miller
Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster 
Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson

8. On my docket for 2017: 

These are books that I've either never read or plan to read for a 2nd (or 5th) time in 2017. I can't speak for all of them since I don't know all the content yet but I compiled this list anyway.

Beloved, Toni Morrison 
The Fran Lebowitz Reader, Fran Lebowitz 
The Mothers, Britt Bennett 
Mad Girl's Love Song, Andrew Wilson 
The Color Purple, Alice Walker 
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou 
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

February 27, 2017

Reclaiming and Reshaping a Voice

After years of neglect, I finally give my journal some attention. It had been mostly tossed aside in favor of this blog for quite a while, but over the last several months, whenever I sat down to blog, I just...couldn't. Everything I wanted to write felt too personal, too sacred, to share here. And so I returned to my journal. Pen and notebook. Writing privately, just for me, not for this little blog, I'd almost forgotten how good that felt. It was freeing.

If I'm being totally honest, I think I also stepped back from this blog out of fear. The internet is a different, far more intimidating place than it was when all this began. Back in 2008, I started a blog because my friends had one, and because it felt like I was writing to my friends. The blogging world felt small because it was fairly small, and that sense of intimacy, real or imagined, allowed for open, fearless, altogether imperfect writing.

Things, of course, have changed. With writing, all of it, on blogs, on sites, on social media, there's a level of scrutiny that didn't seem to exist before. Or, if it did, I was naive enough to ignore it. 

I'm grateful for the scrutiny. It keeps us honest, and it encourages thoughtful, diligent writing, both in journalism and in tiny corners of the web like this one. For me, though, that scrutiny comes with the sense that I need to be a bit more cautious. Careful with my language and my ideas. That's good for me, I know. It's a necessary and ultimately rewarding challenge, but it's also forced me to rethink my writing, and who I am. For better and for worse, I question myself more than ever before, and I'm doing my best to reclaim and reshape my voice.

More than once I've considered deleting this blog, or making it private, or erasing entire sections. It's not that I've ever written anything really wild or controversial, let's be real, this is basically a collection of sappy, melodramatic musings on the people I love and the places I come from. Still, I find myself feeling a bit embarrassed about some of what I wrote in my early 20s. The blogging landscape has changed so much that some of those earlier posts feel out of place and slightly unrecognizable. Isn't that how it always feels when you go back and read your old diary entries?

For now, anyway, I've decided that it should stay. That there's something sweet and sort of powerful about the raw, wide-eyed innocence and optimism of a young person saying whatever they want to say, even if it's cheesy or slightly self-centered or imperfect. Especially if it's imperfect.

We need those bold, unabashed voices more than ever now, don't you think?

January 18, 2017

On Being There

In primary school, my mom would put two packs of M&Ms into my lunchbox each day; one for me, and one to share with my friends. If you know my mom at all, that's the least surprising thing in the world. She's thoughtful and giving in a way that's so extreme, it seems like the exaggerated quality of a sitcom character. For years she kept an entire kitchen cabinet stocked with foods for any guests. A corner of the fridge, too.

It all started out well, the whole extra-pack-of-M&Ms situation. Day after day, I'd pass the 2nd pack around the table, each of my close friends grabbing a few. As weeks turned into months, though, that friend group grew a bit larger, and I still had just two packs of M&Ms. There weren't enough in that 2nd pack to go around, so one day, I decided to share my pack, too. 

It's obvious where this is going, right? Because eventually, of course, I was passing out both packs of M&Ms each day. They were my favorite little treat in the lunchbox, but at some point, I decided it wasn't worth hurting anyone's feelings. I just wanted everyone to feel included.

Things clearly could've been handled by, you know, not bringing M&Ms anymore. Or not passing them out at all. Or realizing that, duh, hello, nobody cared nearly as much as I thought they did. But I was 8, or maybe 9, and extra sensitive, and everything felt like a big deal.

I didn't tell my mom about it, because she probably would've started putting 3 packs in there and all hell would've broken loose. My brother was the one I turned to, and after I explained the situation, he looked at me with such a blank expression that I started to repeat myself.

"There's a solution."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Don't have as many friends."

Oh, to be a boy, right? I've mulled over and laughed about his quick reply several times over the years. That conversation took place more than 2 decades ago, but it still feels relevant. In 2nd grade you hand out candies, and at 20-something, it's phone calls, dinner dates, your time.

The thing is, it's incredibly hard to be there for all the ones you love in exactly the way you really want to be there. That's a conversation I seem to be having with so many people lately, all of us feeling stretched just a bit too thin. Sometimes you have to settle for sending a text instead of making a phone call, or mailing a gift instead of making the trip, and all the while you feel sort of terrible about it. In different phases of your life, there just isn't enough of you to go around, and unfortunately, that may be when you're needed the most.

People I love are marking milestones, and so am I, and I've come to realize that it can be hard to keep up. There just aren't enough M&Ms for everybody, you know? And that's okay! Even if it feels like it isn't. You just have to do your best and be honest with yourself, because it's impossible to be there, all out, for all the people you care about most. Especially when you don't quite have things figured out for yourself just yet.

This is a small reminder, for myself mostly, that by all means, you should be there whenever you can. Show up, show your love, and make it count. And when you can't? Skip the phone call and send the text. I'm sure it still means something. 

January 12, 2017


I started sharing annual lookbacks in 2012, which I called my favorite year yet. Then came 2013, a year of firsts; 2014, a year of opposites; and 2015, a year of learning. This past year, of course, has been a year of growth. It wasn't just physical growth, although there was plenty of that..hello, baby bump! There was also a whole lot of new, uncharted emotional territory. I found out that I was pregnant in the middle months of last year, so 2016 started with that electric thrill of knowing you're on the edge of something big. And big it's been.

So here's what I hope for you in 2017..yes, you, my readers..if there's any.

I hope you take a look around at the people who have held you together for another year. Let's face it, even the most independent spirit needs a shoulder to lean on, and in the routine of day to day it's easy to forget that you've had people cheering you on and holding onto you on the days and nights where you couldn't even think of taking another step forward. Yet here you are, and so are they, and you're the luckiest person in the universe to be able to say that.

I hope you silently thank the people who walked out of your life this year. For one reason or another, not everyone stays, not just romantically, but in friendships too. Not every person you expect to stand by your side ends up coming through. Some people weren't intended to be in your story for the rest of your years, but temporary characters woven throughout your stories, to teach you lessons and make you a better person. And if they left your life, I hope you don't beat yourself up and carry it with you, but be grateful for the times you had together, and wish them well.

I hope you open your arms to new people. That you don't only decide that the faces you've come to know and the voices you're so used to hearing are the only ones that will ever matter. That you don't pass up the chance to say hi to that stranger who's reading the book you love, or to that person who you suspect you would get along with, but you're too afraid to make the first move. Make moves. Close the gaps between you and the people in this world. Remember that for every person in your life that you love so dearly, they were once a stranger too, and now you can't imagine life without them, so why not give others that chance too?

I hope you open your heart, too. Maybe you have someone who will be kissing you at midnight and holding your hand into this new year, and for that, be grateful. Yet over time we tend to stop exploring and believing there's anything left to discover in a person, we stop caring as much because we think we know everything. Take a look at this person, and look at their face, are they the same person you knew at the beginning? Discover them again, and again, and again. If you don't have your forever person, or any person at all, then I hope you open your heart as wide as you know how. That you don't allow past hurts and loves gone wrong to cause you to never try again. I hope you do the opposite, I hope you love without hesitation, without worrying they will break your heart, because let me tell you, everyone's gonna break your heart a little. If you never open your heart, you'll never find the love you deserve. So do it.

I hope you take chances, little ones, big ones, everything in between. Whether it's a simple change from your usual style that you've been too nervous to try, or it's an opportunity that changes your entire life, I hope you take it. I hope you don't allow past voices and the self-deprecating words in your head tell you that you're not worth it; that you don't let them keep you from going for dreams and chances you never thought possible. That you don't stay within the confines of comfort that you've used as an excuse to play it safe. That you see more than that in yourself, and that you do something about it.

I hope in 2017, you surprise yourself with just how incredible you are.

Cheers to 2017!


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