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Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

It’s been a busy week! I started doing some freelance writing and editing, and I’m driving almost 3 hours away for a job interview/meeting this morning. It’s going to be a long day – but hopefully a productive one!

Here are some things I enjoyed online this week:

I plan to spend the weekend watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and working on some blog posts for May! Oh, and brainstorming things to do on my next vacation (which isn’t happening soon enough!).

What are your plans for this weekend?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

No Friday Favorites post this week. I totally forgot to keep track of the things I was into – oops!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. I am off to find something green to wear and see if I can get my hands on a corned beef sandwich for lunch this afternoon!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the arrival of spring!

 

My 2017 Mantra: Good Enough is Good Enough

My 2017 Mantra

I know, it’s already March and I’m just getting around to writing a post about my 2017 goals. Sue me!

Every year, I choose a mantra or quote to live by, rather than a resolution. Instead of a checklist of lofty goals I’ll never meet, I find it more productive to devote each year to improving one big thing. This year, I’m tackling my problems with perfectionism.

My 2017 mantra:

“Good enough is good enough.”

I chose this because I need a break. I want to focus on self-care and letting myself off the hook more often. It’s hard for me sometimes to stop picking on myself and say “fuck it, that’s good enough.”

Only a couple months in, I find it freeing to give up on perfection and decision paralysis. Reminding myself that “good enough is good enough” relaxes me when I stress over something stupid. I get caught up with little things, and I need an easy way to snap out of it. So far, this seems to work.

I am also giving myself a break in one major area of life: cooking. Sure, I’m relatively good at cooking and baking…but I don’t really love doing it. You wouldn’t know that, though, given how much time and energy I devote to meal planning, prepping, cooking, and pouring over recipe books or magazines for new recipes. So this year, I am scaling things back. I am sticking to recipes I know well, spending less time planning, and avoiding new cookbooks or magazines. Variety may be the spice of life, but I’m going to let restaurants bear the burden of introducing us to new things. I want to spend 2017 doing more of what I love, and less of what I don’t. If that means our meals are repetitive or boring, then so be it.

The only other goal I gave myself is to read 50 books this year. This is less of a challenge and more of a reminder to take time for myself each day. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures, but I’ve gotten out of practice over the years for several reasons I should probably share with a therapist and not the general public. 😉

Check back tomorrow to see what I’ve been reading!

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?