And just like that it’s fall

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost October. This year has flown by, especially these past two months. I’m really taking advantage of the new season to reset, slow down and enjoy the apples, books, pumpkins, cozy sweaters, fall-themed candles, cider, cooler temperatures, and turning leaves.

Here’s some fall inspired quote to kick off the season:

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” -Oscar Wilde

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Breathe in, folks. Smells like fall.” -Gilmore Girls

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

“Fall is a three-month exhale.” -Mari Andrew

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ―L. M. Montgomery

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me / Fluttering from the autumn tree.” -Emily Brontë

What’s your favorite quote about fall? Did I miss any?

My very own summer reading program

One of my favorite childhood memories is participating in my library’s summer reading program. Basically the more books you read, the more points you earn and you can exchange your points for prizes.

I decided this summer I would do my own summer reading program, if you will. No, there aren’t points or prizes. I’ve just been checking out books from the library and reading as much as I can.

Here are some of my favorite books I’ve read.

1). Beartown – Fredrik Backman

I started Beartown in the spring and read a few chapters before I put it down. The chapters were short but there were so many characters it was hard to keep them straight. I decided to pick it up again in June and I’m glad I did. It’s a slow burn, but the character development and story is so good. Beartown is a book about a hockey town, but it’s not a hockey book.

2). Us Against You – Fredrik Backman

I loved Beartown so much I had to read the sequel. Sometimes sequels get a bad rap, but I didn’t find that to be true with Us Against You. The book broke my heart into a million pieces, but in the best way. I fell in love with the characters and hurt when they hurt and cheered on their successes.

3). Miracle Creek – Angie Kim

Miracle Creek was more than just a thriller or courtroom drama. I thought the author did a great job of conveying deep, complex, and messy people. The book tackles family ties and facing the consequences of your actions. It also kept me guessing until the end.

4). The Lost Girls of Paris – Pam Jenoff

The Lost Girls of Paris started a little slow, but after awhile I couldn’t put it down. It’s a historical fiction novel about women working with the SOE as spies during World War II. It was nerve-wracking and pulled on my heartstrings at the same time. I can’t say I loved everything about it, but it did a great job of showing how fierce and resilient women are.

5). The Wedding Date – Jasmine Guillory

After diving into some historical fiction novels and thrillers, I needed a break. The Wedding Date was just what I needed. It was a quick read and it was charming. I loved reading about Alexa and Drew. I also read The Proposal – the second book in the series. The third book, The Wedding Party is up next for me.

Just like everyone, I have also read books that I wish I could unread.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames was that book for me. I thought it was unnecessarily long and unnecessarily depressing. It has a lot of good reviews on Goodreads, but it was not the book for me. I will say the beginning was intriguing and had a lot of promise and I liked reading about the Italian-American immigrant family. But, I found it so grim and depressing that I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

What about you? What are you reading? What did you like and what ended up on your did not finish list?

Learning to work from home

For the past two years I’ve worked remotely. I travel quite a bit on work assignments, but it has still been an adjustment.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about working from home. Be honest- did you just picture someone working in their pajamas, watching tv, and doing laundry and other chores whenever they want? You’re not the only one, but that’s not what it’s like.

I still don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what works for me.

1.) Create a morning routine

I can’t just jump right into work right away because my brain still needs to wake up in the morning. So each morning I read a devotion. I’m currently reading 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. I then spend 5-10 minutes meditating. I like the guided meditations by Tone It Up. They are free online and really set the tone for the day. Click here for an example of one.

2.) Take breaks

If I don’t make myself take breaks during work I will sit at my desk all day. I try to take a 10-minute break in the morning and the afternoon. Sometimes I take my dog for a walk and other times I read a chapter or two of a book outside on my deck. Giving my eyes a break from the computer screen and my brain a break from work helps me come back to the desk refreshed.

3.) Create a welcoming space

I have a giant canvas photo over my desk. It was a gift from my brother and it was taken at Holden Beach, one of my favorite places in the world. I have a standing desk with a tall chair so I can sit if I want but I also have the option to stand. I have a globe from my grandma and some wedding photos in frames around the room. My office is in our guest bedroom and the windows are at my back when I work, so I also bought a floor lamp to light up my workspace (I found some cute décor at World Market and Target).

4.) Stay organized

There is something at home that makes it harder to stay organized. I purchased a desk calendar and a planner to keep organized. I have a lot of interviews and meetings throughout the week so the only way I keep them straight is with seeing them on the calendar and planner. I don’t like setting calendar reminders on my computer because I get too many of them and seeing them in writing on my desk keeps me on track.

5.) Shut the door to your office and walk away from your work at night

The one thing no one told me about working from home is how easy it can be to keep working through the evening. When you go into an office you physically leave the building and drive home at the end of the day. That doesn’t happen when you work from home. It’s so easy to continue answering emails and keep working into the evening hours without realizing it. I’ve made a conscious effort to stop working at a certain time, turn off the lights and my computer and walk away from my desk. I sometimes still check my email on my phone, but I’m working on it. 🙂

These are some of the ways that I’m learning to work from home and maintain that work-life balance.

What about you: do you work from home or have you worked from home in the past? What works/worked for you?

Missing my dad on father’s day

I’ve written about my dad passing away unexpectedly at 60 years old and I’ve written about how my grief has changed over the past two and a half years.

I wouldn’t say it has gotten easier, because that’s a strange way to think about it. It sure hasn’t gotten easier he isn’t here. But, I would say as time has passed my grief has changed. I still have some off days but they come and go.

This week I had a few of those days. I was easily annoyed and a little sad and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I saw a Father’s Day commercial that it clicked. I was really missing my dad. I saw a grief counselor after my dad died and her words came to mind. She said that your body has a time clock and even if you aren’t thinking about an anniversary or holiday coming up you can find yourself being in a bad mood or upset. She said your body just knows.

That was happening to me. Instead of trying to fix it or push it away I let myself feel sad and then I thought about things that my dad has taught me.

He taught me how to work hard. Whether it was a sport or a career he taught me what it means to work hard at something.

He offered advice when I was unsure of something and it showed me that I am more capable than I might realize. It taught me to believe in myself and to be kind to myself.

He taught me how to ask for help when I need it. He was always there anytime I needed something and today I am able to accept help and ask for it when I need it.

He taught me to let things go and to not take myself so seriously. I tend to take things to heart and overthink things and he helped me learn how to laugh at situations and myself.

I could go on and on because the list doesn’t stop there, but I will just say that I am thankful for the time I had with my dad even if it wasn’t nearly long enough.

Instead of staying here in this feeling of sadness I’m thinking about the countless softball practices my dad took me to and hearing his voice say “finish” during softball games. I’m thinking of summers and bonfires and swimming when he would quiz me while I was on a raft and if I got it wrong he would tip me off of it. I’m thinking about him taking me to see the Disney movie the Princess and the Frog in theaters and watching tv in the basement. I’m thinking about simply sitting on the porch and talking or not talking but just enjoying the time together.

Thanks for everything, dad. I miss you.

To the graduates

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Perfection is not attainable and the sooner you realize that the better you’ll feel.

You will fail. Learn from it and move on.

It takes time to get to where you want and that’s okay.Enjoy the process.

You may end up in a different place or career than youenvisioned and that’s okay too.

Stop comparing yourself to others. It only leads to youtearing yourself or the other person down.

God has this. Seriously, God is bigger than any worry or anxiety you have.

Spend time with your family and friends. Tell them how much they mean to you every chance you get.

Let it go. That time you said the wrong thing or had an awkward interaction doesn’t matter. Chances are the other person doesn’t remember it.

Ask for help. You don’t need to do everything on your own.Be there for others and when you need help ask for it.

Enjoy the now. It’s great to have an event or something tolook forward to, but don’t let that stop you from being present.

Don’t rush. You’re not behind and life isn’t a race. It’snot about who gets their dream job first, who gets married first, or who haskids first. It’s about enjoying where you’re at and recognizing everyone is on hisor her own path.

You don’t know everything. Most of us are limited to our own experiences. Talk to other people and learn from their experiences. Read. Travel. Learn.

Overall, be kind to others and yourself. Apologize when you need to. Have the courage to try something new. Learn when to say no to commitments. Invest in yourself. Hold on tight to those closest to you. There will be hard times- don’t let them make you colder. Find out what make you happy.

I got a tattoo and here’s what I learned

After nearly two years of wanting a tattoo, I finally got one.

The tattoo is of a tree, in memory of my dad. More than 20 years ago he planted several pine trees in the back yard of my childhood home. Today they are tall, towering trees. The tattoo for me represents family, growth, strength, resiliency, and a deep connection to my roots.

When I started thinking about getting a tattoo I made a rule for myself that I had to want the same design for more than a year. I wanted to make sure that it was something I would want for a long time and wouldn’t get tired of.

I googled a lot of pine tree tattoos and I asked my brother to sketch some designs, which made it even more special to me. I knew I wanted the tattoo to be simple but realistic and I did not want it to look like a Christmas tree.

Next I did a lot of research about tattoo parlors, tattoo artists, placement, after care, and more. I started reaching out to artists and realized that many of them are busy and it can be hard to get on the schedule.

Once I found an artist and a business I scheduled an appointment. When the day came I showed up and was told the artist would be there soon. After sitting there for five minutes I got an email that said he would be late. To make a long story a little shorter, I was not loving the vibe of the business. After waiting for another 30 minutes I decided to leave.

I made an appointment with a different artist at a different business. When I arrived for the consult two days later, it was cleaner, more relaxing, and the artist was very nice and knowledgeable. After about 10 minutes I had an appointment booked for a week later.

When the day came I was a little nervous. It obviously was my first tattoo and even though I did a fair amount of research I still didn’t quite know what to expect. I asked my husband if I was making a bad decision and he told me that I wasn’t, he supported me, and reminded me that I had been talking about it for three years.

I arrived for my appointment and went over the design again with the artist. After getting things ready he asked if I was ready and then began tattooing me. I was surprised by how quiet the machine was, how little it hurt, and how quick it was done. The whole process took maybe 30 minutes and although it felt a little bit like a burn a few times it was not as painful as I expected.

The healing process went pretty quickly too. I had saniderm on the tattoo for about four days and after I took that off it was almost completely healed after a week.

I am really happy with how it turned out and it’s even more special to me because of the meaning behind it.

My takeaways:

  • Get something that is special to you and make sure it’s something you will like for a long time.
  • Do research, look at reviews, and ask around for recommendations.
  • Take someone with you.

My favorite books I’ve read (so far) this year

1.) The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

I’ve read several books by Kristin Hannah now and this one is by far my favorite. It’s set in Alaska and the reader truly gets a feel for how dangerous homesteading was. With a wild and beautiful backdrop the author writes about family, restoring faith, love, forgiveness, and survival. 

2.) Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

I was surprised by how quickly I fell for this novel. Set in the deep marsh of North Carolina lives Kya Clark. A girl who grew up alone and overcame hardships. This is a story about resiliency, survival, prejudice, and strength.

3.) The Huntress – Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is no stranger to strong women characters. I bought this book the day it was released and finished it within three days. The storytelling and character depth is unmatched. The author weaves three story lines masterfully throughout the entire book.

4.) Where’d you go Bernadette – Maria Semple

I cannot say enough about this book. It was fun, witty, sarcastic, odd, and just plain enjoyable. There’s mystery and adventure and several laugh-out-loud moments. I didn’t want it to end.

5.) Elevation – Stephen King

This book is different and short. It’s far from a horror story and, in fact, I would call it a feel-good novel. There’s a supernatural twist but more than that is a story about friendship, community, and rising about the fray.