Now that the joys of Christmas and the sparkle of a New Year have dulled, we have entered the heart of winter…and flu season. As I currently type this, I am curled up on my couch, littered with Kleenex and cough drop wrappings. Sounds like a glamorous Instagram moment, right?
(These are my Alaska and North Dakota picks for my Make America Read Again challenge – to read the full list of books this year, click here.)
January certainly started out with a wintry bang, didn’t it? Bomb cyclones and government shut downs aside, it’s been a rather lovely start to 2018 in our household. Despite a relatively harried holiday and work schedule, C and I managed a few days of rest and recovery…and, of course, reading. We both had been feeling more than slightly burnt out with work and routine, which is honestly why I haven’t been updating this little blog of mine lately. We are used to having the time on weekends to travel and explore, but now that Charles is becoming more involved in his firm that means a whole lot of weekend work for him (and weekend boredom for me). On a non-work related note, I was also getting SUPER burnt out from reading all of the American lit for this year’s reading project…although I do love me some American bravado, in my heart I will always choose Brit or French lit as my true love.
But after planning a couple of exciting adventures together for the spring (more on those in a few weeks) and me taking a reading break with some strategic Netflix binges of “The Crown” and “The Great British Baking Show,” we’re feeling energized and motivated for this year.
I’ve missed you, loyal readers (well, the eight or so of you that exist)! This post is long overdue! I’d blame it on life and work, as most wayward bloggers do, but I also had a bout of pure laziness/lack of motivation. Alas, let’s not dwell on the past and dig right in to the present – after all, it’s the most wonderful time of year!!
Hillary and I went to elementary and middle school together, and though our paths have diverged since then, we have been able to keep in touch through the power of social media ;). Since then, Hillary has nabbed a bachelor’s in Human Development and her Master’s in Clinical Health. She not only teaches at our hometown college, but also has started her own business from the ground up! Her passion is female empowerment, especially by helping women with a history of abusive or toxic relationships. She has created a blog with features from women of all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles, a loyal Facebook following, and an array of programs to help women achieve their goals and work toward healthy relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. Personally, her programs and support pages have encouraged me to achieve my own personal work and fitness goals. The Smart Lioness is her passion and she works on it every single day in addition to her academic position – whether it be her Facebook live chats, her blog posts, her downloadable planning sheets, or her weekend brunch groups. Basically, she is the definition of a GirlBoss and an incredible asset to our hometown of Dothan, Alabama.
I think there are an abundance of websites and blogs that push this new trend of “self-care;” and though I certainly think having time to relax is important, I have issues with too much encouragement of wine time or food indulgences. What makes Hillary’s business unique and special is that she finds ways to give you balance without tipping over into the realm of overindulgence or laziness. Instead, she helps you become productive while staying mentally sane!! Plus, she’s just a wonderfully empathetic and witty person to be around in general. I highly highly encourage you to check out her course catalog (especially the Dare to Roar challenge that I myself have taken!) and start on your own journey to mental health and balance.
What program from The Smart Lioness would be most useful for you? How do you find balance in your work week? I’d love to hear!
(These are my Virginia and Kansas picks for my Make America Read Again challenge – to read the full list of books this year, click here.)
Winter is coming, y’all. I am currently wrapped up in my late grandmother’s crochet blanket she made many moons ago, my 90’s style Meg Ryan turtle neck, leggings, and fuzzy Halloween-themed socks keeping me warm in this 29 degree wind chill. The best part about living in Atlanta? These cold spells are SHORT – instead of the six months of dreary winter, we get little hints and peeks of chill and then return to our normal 70-degree afternoons.
The only sad part about this cozy situation is that I didn’t get to spend all weekend curled up with my piles of books. I had two days of Continuing ed classes, tickets to this month’s musical at the Fox Theater (not complaining about this one at all, especially as the husband is finally back from all his work travels so he could join me), and an overflowing list of errands to run. It was a wonderful weekend, if a bit busier than I would’ve liked on this frigid weekend. Still, I managed to squeeze in some precious time in my book nook. Round two of my Halloween-themed reads cuts rather close to home and explains why I love podcasts like My Favorite Murder and shows like 60 Minutes: nonfiction crime.
(Psst, these are my Connecticut and Rhode Island picks for my Make America Read Again challenge – to read the full list of books this year, click here.)
The heat wave FINALLY broke here in Atlanta (as the handmaids would say, “Praise be”) and I’m embracing my favorite season of the year with ALL THE THINGS. We’ve got baby pumpkins on our coffee table, butternut squash soup is on repeat for our weekly meal plans, and I’m planning a Nora Ephron movie marathon this weekend and a day of leaf-chasing in the mountains.
…But of course, let’s not forget the best part of this season: FALL BOOKS.
October is especially near and dear to me as it is the season of tricks (and treats, because I totally didn’t make it all the way through Whole30…but can you seriously blame me when all the best candy is out in full force right now?!?). I absolutely LOVE mystery books and thrillers. Though I have a bit too much of an active imagination to read true “horror” novels — I avoid books with crazy amounts of gore, especially this month as my husband has had to travel for work for most of October and Lord knows I can’t sleep with all my house lights on for the entire month — I DO enjoy a good page turner or who-dun-it novel. I even wrote my senior thesis on gender issues in the novel Dracula.
I also REALLY love a good book about witches. A couple of weeks ago, I realized I actually had several “witchy” reads on my Make America Read Again list, as well as some mysteries and thrillers. And they all happened to be set in New England, so it’s a perfect time for me to read books set here as this is the time of year when I truly miss my days as a Boston girl. To get us in the holiday spirit, I’ll be having a couple of posts about these books – first up, lets talk about all that hocus pocus.
Is it weird I occasionally love a sad story? I used to hesitate recommending books that left a tear in my eye, thinking something must be inherently wrong with me if I sometimes enjoyed a drama or tragedy that pulled on my heartstrings.
However, over the past few years I’ve realized that these types of stories serve as a catharsis – something for me to fix my emotions on and connect with in a deep way, similar to a moving piece of art or a compelling film. Can you think of a better feeling than being completely immersed in a character’s story, whether it’s happy or sad? Although I love comedic and light hearted stories just as much, often they don’t move me or motivate me as much as stories with gravitas do. Thus, sad stories continue to reign my reading stacks!
This summer I ran through a series of serious-minded stories, and most of them were fantastic reads. Here are a few I recommmend (have your Kleenex handy):
I realized this weekend that I am incredibly behind on my “Make America Read Again” posts. I have read for about 25 states, yet haven’t reviewed most of them. Mea culpa, y’all! Balancing work and play isn’t always easy, especially when you’re spending the month of October on the whole30 diet and your whole life is meal prep and clean up and label reading…but that’s for another post. Let me start to catch up by reviewing two more Mid-west state books for Ohio and Illinois!