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.

The best writing advice I ever received

Write what you know. But, don’t let that stop you from asking questions and writing about what you learn.

Read a lot. You become a better writer when you read what other people write and learn from them.

Write like you speak. It’s easy to put on a tone when writing and use words you wouldn’t normally use. While there is a time for that, it’s more refreshing and genuine to write like you speak.

Write short sentences. A meaningful short sentence is better than a long sentence with unnecessary words.

Find the time. For a long time I didn’t write. I was busy, I was tired, or I wasn’t inspired. Although writing can be hard, sitting down to write can be harder.

All I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine.”

Stephen King

Coming to terms with my grief

“Grief is such a specific thing for everyone and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s always there. You deal with it and you go through it and all of the sudden years later it’s like ‘oh no buddy, I’ve been here the whole time.’”

Jason Ritter

My dad died unexpectedly a day after his 60th birthday. I didn’t have the words for a long time and I still struggle to find them sometimes but I’ve learned that my grief ebbs and flows.

It’s now been a little more than two years since he died and my grief has taken a different form. I no longer feel a constant sadness of the things I wish I could have said. When my dad died I thought of the last time I talked to him, the last time I saw him, and the things I wish I could have said to him. At the advice of a pastor I wrote it down in a letter – all of it. How much I love my dad, how much I missed him, how proud I was to have him as a father, and how thankful I am for all the things he’s taught me.

My dad was a constant sounding board. Anytime I was anxious about something or needed advice I would talk to him. He showed me what hard work looks like. He encouraged me to write because he knew I enjoyed it and he cheered me on at every stage in my life.

I truly believe he knows all of these things and is with me still today. But my grief is still there. I say my grief because I think that everyone reacts differently to loss. There’s no right way to act or feel and some days are harder than others.

Jason Ritter talked about grief recently on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert and it really resonated with me. He said: grief is such a specific thing for everyone and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s always there.You deal with it and you go through it and all of the sudden years later it’s like ‘oh no buddy, I’ve been here the whole time.’” He went on to Tweet about grief: “So cool how grief is just like ‘ok, that’s enough, I’ll leave you alone, I understand that sobbing forever isn’t a realistic life plan’ and then years later you see or read something and it’s like ‘PSYCH I never left, have fun bursting into tears for the rest of the day, hahaha.’”

This. This is what grief is like. There’s no preparing for it but having people in your life who are kind and understanding helps a lot.

Not a lot of people can put grief into words because it’s ever changing, but for now, these are the words I have.

Keeping resolutions by setting intentions

Now that it’s almost March I started thinking about my New Years resolutions. This year I decided to set intentions instead of specific goals. My list includes:

  1.  travel more
  2. Be kind to myself and others
  3. Read more
  4. Write more
  5. Fear less
  6. Love fiercely
  7. Grow in faith
  8. Enjoy every moment and stop waiting for weekends and big events to have fun.
  9. Work on finding a balance between work and life

So how have I been doing? I’m happy to say that I’m working on all of these.

  1. I traveled to California last month and have a few trips planned this year.
  2. In my previous post I pointed out the importance of self love and extending the same kindness and grace to others.
  3. So far I’ve read 7 books this year and I’m reading two right now. I’m also getting ready to start a book club with a friend.
  4. This blog is proof that I’m working on writing 🙂
  5. For me the next three are all connected.
  6. I am a worrier and I’ve been working on that this year by choosing to worry less and spend more time growing in faith and prayer.
  7. Part of that is loving people and myself more.
  8. I am blessed to have a husband and family that love doing adventurous and fun things. I went to a Cher concert with my mom recently, I just took a trip to Chicago with my husband and we’re planning a family vacation. But instead of spending all of my time looking forward to these events I’m working on enjoying every single moment- even Saturday errands, grocery shopping, and lazy afternoons of watching Netflix. More time is spent in the small monotonous moments than in the big moments and that’s beautiful too.
  9. I’m still working on finding the balance. I used to think success was defined by long hours and burn out and that’s just not the case. It’s important to have both.

All of these are tied back to being kind to others and myself, spending time with my loved ones, and finding time for the things I love to do. It continues to be a work in progress but I’m enjoying the work.

What about you? Did you make any new year’s resolutions? Did you keep them? And if you did, what helped you succeed?

How you talk to yourself matters

“This shirt is unflattering– I look awful today.”

“I can’t believe I said that earlier, I was so stupid.”

In the month that is all about love, sometimes it can be easy to forget how important self-love is.

I am guilty of this.

I pride myself in being kind and supportive and would do anything for any of my friends and family. In fact I’m quick to offer grace and words of encouragement to others especially when they are down on themselves.

Annie had a bad day of work? Girl, you got this. You are an intelligent, capable, badass warrior princess.  

Heidi is frustrated with a series of first dates that haven’t gone anywhere? Love, you are such a catch and you are going to find someone who can keep up with your wittiness, intelligence, and humor.

Laura feels like she’s in a slump? Lady, you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re doing more than fine and continue to multitask and work toward your goals with the best of them.

But do you think I talk to myself this way? Most of the time I don’t. I’ve become more aware of the way I talk to myself this year and am working on extending the same grace, kindness, and patience to myself.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Here are some things I’m doing to keep the negative self-talk in check:

1) When I think something negative about myself, I ask myself if I would say what I just thought to someone else.

2) If the answer is no, I acknowledge that I’m being hard on myself.

3) If it’s something I want to work on – getting in better shape, for example – then I remind myself to be patient and do small things daily to work toward a goal.

I think we could all be a little kinder to ourselves and I hope this helps if this is something you struggle with too.

Welcome home

No matter how much time has passed, I always come back to the keyboard or notebook. There is something about writing that centers me. I don’t always have the words, but when I do I find myself back here.

I first stared blogging eight years ago. After a name change, several different themes, and blog posts I took a break from blogging and deleted my site. As a reporter, I wrote so much during the day that it made it hard to make time to write for fun.

But, I couldn’t stay away for long. I am back and look forward to sharing more stories with you. 

I hope you enjoy them! 

…writing is about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. — Stephen King