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Welcome to October!

Welcome to October

October is here, and I can’t be happier about it!

Frankly, last month sucked. I was sick for most of it and am still not totally back to normal. Dealing with daily construction on our apartment building isn’t helping, either. It’s so hard to think straight with people hammering on your walls and shouting at each other all day long. I managed to get out more once I felt healthy, but even then it wasn’t enough.

Since I have a lot of work to catch up on, I’m going to take this week off of blogging. I need to focus on kicking this cold/allergy/stress thing once and for all, and work on some blog-related things I didn’t get to while I was ill. Hell, Friday was the first time I vacuumed in almost a month – and it was so needed!

I hope everyone has a great week, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

alone vs lonely

A popular topic online lately is the notion of being alone vs being lonely. It seems that even though we’re permanently connected to the world via technology, people still struggle with loneliness. We grapple with how to deal with both in a healthy manner, or if we even can at all.

In the blogosphere, I read several articles aimed at trying to answer this question. I recently read Darling Magazine’s “Loneliness vs. Being Alone: What You Need to Know” and found it a great starting point if you’re not sure where you fall. Also, I found articles devoted to embracing being alone, like Darling Magazine’s “5 Signs You Were Made for Solo Travel,” Travel on the Brain’s “How to Not Feel Awkward When Eating Alone,” and LifeHacker’s “What to Do If You Start Choking When You’re Alone” (a nod to Liz Lemon’s greatest fear of living solo). Even my “The Year of the Work” letter from Kayley this month focused on the idea of being okay with living solo.

This notion is also flooding into the wellness industry. There are articles, apps, and videos focusing on meditation, self-awareness, self-care, and mindfulness. People are opening up to the idea that being alone can be positive and healthy. Taking a break from technology is also more common as a way to re-connect with oneself.

In my own life, I find myself focusing on whether I’m lonely or just cool with solitude. I think with all the messages I’m seeing around, it’s hard to ignore.

Am I lonely, or just a loner?

As a child and teenager, I spent a lot of time alone riding my bike, listening to music, reading, and just staring at the sky. I was still a social kid, between school, sports, and hanging out with my sister – but being alone was cool too. When I started college, I did what many of us do – I got wrapped up in being busy. I spent all my time in classes, volunteering, working, and being with friends.

Then I graduated, started working 40+ hours a week, and got married. The notion of doing things alone (or for myself) faded away for a long time. After a few years of this, my mind and body started to fight back. I was unhappy and unhealthy. So I bought a bicycle, started hiking and biking alone, started a blog, and spent time in coffee shops grading papers. I loved it at first.

Unfortunately, even in these times I spent alone, I never embraced it. Grading papers is still an obligation to someone else, which wasn’t a healthy use of my alone time. I hiked or biked when I was “allowed” to, and bargained with myself whether I had the time before being home to cook dinner, teach a class, or spend time with my husband. I would rush through hikes, race home on the bike, or give up entirely and just go home.

It took moving here for me to embrace being alone. I started hiking longer and going to coffee shops to work on the blog. Sometimes, I wander around the library, thrift shop, and have the cleanest house I’ve ever had. I read more, sleep more, and started meditating. Also, I use a Bullet Journal to stay on track, so I spend time doing things I want instead of getting distracted by dirty laundry or dishes.

But does doing these things make me less lonely?

I want to believe I’m not a lonely person, just cool with being alone. I am also really hoping that these small life changes I’m making will help in the long run, by establishing good habits I can carry with me through both lonely and not lonely times.

Life on Instagram: August

Life on Instagram: August

Chopped Salad / Vietnamese Pork Soup / Pasta with Chicken and Zucchini / Oven-Roasted Ribs and Corn on the Cob

August was a challenging month for cooking. D decided to go low-carb, and wasn’t digging meat most of the month. Since I do the cooking, it’s my job to figure dinners out for him that meet those requirements (lucky me). Thankfully, it was hot as balls all month, so we ate a lot of salads or veggie-heavy meals. The ribs were a major success, and the first time I did them in an oven.

Life on Instagram: August

Lewis Creek Park / Cougar Mountain / Cougar-Squak-Tiger Mountain Corridor / Lakemont

I didn’t get out hiking as much as I wanted to in August, thanks to the crazy temperatures. It is cooling off finally, and I will hopefully get out more in September. In addition to exploring some new trails, I found a few places that I can go to write or chill out this fall when I need to get outside.

Life on Instagram: August

Coffee-fueled work session / First trip to Whole Foods ever / Re-potting plants / Trying new things…

After a bit of an un-motivated July, I took my time in August to get life back in order and get out of the house more. I found a great coffee shop to work in, got some chores done around the house, and hauled myself to a Whole Foods just to check things out. Oh, and the candy is because D was shocked I never had a Chick-o-Stick before (it was…kinda gross). It turns out there are a lot of candies I never had before. I guess I was more sheltered as a child than I thought (just kidding).

Make sure to check in during September for more updates on that trip to Whole Foods, what I’ll be wearing this fall, and a few easy DIY projects for fall!

Oh, and if you haven’t already:

Follow me on Instagram!

Reading Lately

Reading Lately

This has been a slow summer for reading. I’ve torn through several magazines, cookbooks, and home decor books, but I haven’t read a lot of books. I’m still trying to get through The Omnivore’s Dilemma too. It’s not the kind of book I can just chew through – it’s graduate-school level academic, which even today still feels like homework.

I have managed to read a few things I found noteworthy, though:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I just got done reading this one last night. I originally bought it to take with me to Portland in May, but didn’t get around to reading it until last week. It’s the first fictional book I’ve read in a long time, but it came strongly recommended, so I gave it a shot. It was a great, quick read, and had a strong message about finding your path in life and deciding what’s important to you. While I’m not usually into those kinds of stories, this one was so well done I really did take a lot of lessons from it.

Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano

I’ve been a fan of Guiliano’s work since French Girls Don’t Get Fat, and I don’t know how I managed to miss reading this until now! I loved reading about her path to a successful career, balancing life and work, and how to be a great leader in the workplace. She’s a great inspiration to those of us who want great careers, but also want to help others have great careers too.

The Year of the Work by Kayley Vandenberg

Now, I know this isn’t a typical “book.” A few months ago, I subscribed to Kayley’s monthly letters. Each month has a different theme, and delve into a more personal side than we’ve seen from her online writing. I make a point of taking her letters somewhere special to me each month – last month, I ended up at my favorite beach. I haven’t felt confident enough to write her back yet (still kind of fan-girling out a little), but I will whenever I muster up the balls. It’s a great throwback to the old days of having pen pals, and I’m looking forward to my next letter very soon!

*****

I have a few books waiting on my shelf next…but for now, I’ve gotta get myself through that Pollan book before I forget what it’s all about!

July on Instagram

July on Instagram

Holy shit, July flew by quickly this year!

I started out the month doing what I spent most of June doing – hanging out by myself. The husband was insanely busy at work, either working late or going in super early. For the second year in a row, I wound up alone watching fireworks on the 4th. One more year, and I’ll consider it a tradition!

One reason I didn’t blog much last month is that some family came in to visit. It was…mostly stressful, to be honest. I spent much of the week feeling like a chauffeur/house mom – and don’t get me started on how long it took me to clean the place after they left. Boys are gross. Grown men aren’t much better. Sure, there were some fun moments – but I don’t remember them yet. Ask me again in a few months, and I might be over the trauma to come up with something. 

After going through my Instagram photos from last month, I also realized I spent much of the month cooking. I’ve gotten into the whole “meal prep” thing. Unfortunately, I am starting to find it’s more work than I wanted to deal with. Meal prepping for a family of 5 is probably worth it – meal prepping for 2 people isn’t. The weather was so hot that we ended up eating salads most nights anyway.

Speaking of hot weather, I did manage to make it to the beach once this summer! I’ve been trying to find unique and chill places to read my blogger buddy Kayley’s “The Year of the Work” letters, and I attempted to do that at the beach in July. Instead, I ran into an old college friend and spent the afternoon catching up with him. It was just what I needed to wrap up a long month of solitude! Hopefully we can keep in touch, since he’s the only person I know out here who isn’t family!

I haven’t really made a plan for posting in August, so this month will be more “flying by the seat of my pants.” I miss blogging a bit, but man it’s hard to get back into the habit!

Enjoy the last remaining weeks of summer, and start working on your Pumpkin Spice Latte recipes!

Life on Instagram: January

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone is doing well, and getting hyped up for the weekend!

Today, I thought I’d share my favorite Instagram photos from the past month! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at @afternoonglow!

Life on Instagram: January

(Clockwise from top-left)

Packing away the holiday decorations! / Enjoying the pretty flowers my mother sent me while planning for the new year / Started off the year working on a few DIY projects! / New mantle decor to bring in some color (and more candles)

Life on Instagram: January

Started off the year with the lightest dusting of snow. / Breaking in my new trail running shoes / The fog here is serious…and creepy / I’ve only been out hiking twice in January, so I’m sharing both!

Hope you had a great start to the new year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for February!

A New Year…and I’m already behind

A_New_Year_2016

(A new planner for a new year. Thanks to Profresh Style for the inspiration!)

I might be the last blogger to get on board with 2016. After ringing in the new year with family, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep ever since – and I’m failing woefully! If I could have one decent night’s sleep, I’d be in heaven right now!

I decided to take the first week of the year to think hard about what I wanted to accomplish in 2016. I’ve tried resolutions in the past, and never live up to them (except that one year in college when I gave up soda). I’ve also tried a quote or mantra, but I rarely live up to those too – and even if I do, it’s due to coincidence more than intention. So for 2016, I’m trying something new:

I’m not doing any of it this year.

No goals, resolutions, declarations, mantras, or laundry lists of things to do – I can’t do it this year. I think after having such a rough 2015, I’m ready for whatever 2016 brings. My life is still very much in flux, and it doesn’t seem right to start setting goals for a future that is still uncertain. I’m still trying to find a job, trying to blog on a regular basis, and we’re moving in a couple months – and these things will impact where things go in the coming year.

The blog is one thing that I’m hoping to work on in the next year. While I learned a ton by blogging 5x/week about a wide variety of topics, I find myself burnt out from it. Creating quality content is a lot more work than I ever imagined, and I worry this blog will turn into a carbon-copy of everything else I read. How many posts about holiday cookies or Target hauls does one really need, honestly? So for the near future, I have to think about where I want the blog to head in the next year.

Sigh…more to think about, right?

2015 Year in Review: Life

2015 Year in Review: Life

Life in 2015 was…a mixed bag.

On the career end, things were frustrating. I’ve learned a lot over the past year about myself, my career wants and needs, and where I want to go in the next year. 2016 is going to be another life-changing year on the career front, and I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up.

As for the rest of it, I’d have to say 2015 was the year of working on myself. I spent a lot of time outside, enjoying the fresh air and amazing views. My pink sneakers show the wear and tear of a hundred hikes, runs, and walks through some of the nation’s most beautiful parks. While they won’t make it long into 2016, I am going to miss my bright neon pink shoes – they’ve come a long way!

2015 Year in Review: Life

Fall Reading List

I also had the chance to read…for fun…a lot this year. I’m pretty sure I read more books for pleasure in 2015 than I have in the past ten years. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve rediscovered my love of reading – and I am definitely going to keep that going next year. In fact, I have that Carrie Brownstein book waiting on a shelf for me (thanks to a very nice and thoughtful brother-in-law). 

2015 Year in Review: Life

PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park / PNW Parks: Lake Sammamish State Park / PNW Parks: Seward Park / PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

One of my favorite features I did this year was my “PNW Parks” series. It was a great opportunity to explore the amazing parks in my area, and I can’t wait to share more with you next year! There are so many parks I want to check out, and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I can get back out there!

So here’s to another amazing year of reading, hiking, and getting on with my career!

One Year in Washington!

One Year in Washington!

August 17, 2014: Leaving Ohio…

I know it sounds cliche, but it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Washington for a year now.

Parts of this year flew by quickly, while others have crawled along slowly. My first few months here were a flurry of changes, from a new apartment, new job, and new city to navigate. It was also the only time in our 10 year relationship that my husband and I spent any real time apart. The time spent alone, getting to know my new surroundings, was both scary and liberating. This past year showed me that I am capable of doing a lot more on my own than I ever thought, and that it’s important for my well being to keep pushing myself to do things for myself.

One Year in Washington!

(Clockwise from top left) Bellevue Strawberry Festival / Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room / On Pine St. in front of the Pike Place Market…and some amazing flowers / View from my old job’s parking lot

One of the main reasons I wanted to move here was that I kept hearing how beautiful it is – and so far, Washington has lived up to the hype. I’ve spent more time outside here than I ever did in Ohio, thanks to the better-than-normal weather and an amazing parks system. I’ve found mountains to hike, beaches to lie on, and a hiking trail right outside my back door. There are hundreds of parks in the area to explore, and I’m looking forward to branching out to see more in the next year.

One Year in Washington! (Clockwise from top left) Newport Beach Park / Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park / Lake Sammamish State Park / Newport Beach Park..I go there a lot

The past year hasn’t all been a positive experience, though. Losing my job early on was a huge disappointment, and being led on by my former employer for months made finding a new job much harder. I said goodbye to teaching for the time being, which was tough. It has been insanely stressful to not know where my career is headed, but I’m hopeful that it’ll lead somewhere great. Whenever I start feeling down, I go back to my old blog to remind that while life is much harder now in some ways, I’m more confident, resilient, and happier than I was. In the meantime, I’m spending time applying for jobs in new career fields, going outside as much as possible, and building this blog. It hasn’t been a perfect year, but compared to where I was before, it’s a hell of a lot better. 🙂 Here’s to another amazing year!