August Reads

Monday, September 9, 2019

Stop what you are doing - put everything down, and pick up Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.  My friend bugged me and bugged me to start this book and I didn't understand until I finally relented.  I have a personal theory that the entire human race should go to therapy, and this book 100% normalizes therapy in such a positive way.  I hated finishing this book because I didn't want it to end!

On another note - I was really bummed by Love Story.  I'm so not motivated to watch the movie now.

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body
Roxane Gay

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
Lori Gottlieb

Love Story
Erich Segal

Saying Hello to an Old Friend

Monday, September 2, 2019

I hear my name.  I’m walking down the hill, with my Air Pods in, listening to the movie Dumplin’ playing on Netflix.  If you start a Netflix show, lock your phone and then tap the home button, it gives you the option to play just the sound. I’ve seen Dumplin’ a time or two and read the novel; I know the scenes well enough to enjoy the dialogue.  Plus, it was the start of a Dumpster Fire week and when those weeks start, I’m not fit for music.

I look ahead and behind me before gazing at the line of cars congested at the light. With his window down, my ex’s friend – formerly someone I called my own friend – smiled at me across the street.  I pulled my right Air Pod out.  “Hey!” I eagerly shout back, genuinely ecstatic to see him. We smile at each other for a beat.  I don’t know what to say.  I know he saw my Snapchat I posted on Sunday which clearly showed I'm out in the world dating.  He knows, and he still shouted hello.

“Have a fun ride home,” I shout back before waving and walking away because the excitement of seeing him after so long is starting to be replaced with the very real loss of our friendship.
He waves back and I continue down the street. 

I’m happy and sad at the same time.  I think about last year’s holiday party and how I restrained myself from fighting the girl I thought was messing with his heart.  On the car ride home, I told him how much I cared about him and I hated seeing this girl toying with him.  I think about the last car ride when he was dropping me off after dinner and a comedy special at a mutual friend’s house. He passed my apartment building – he was heading for my old place I shared with my ex.  I course corrected him and he apologized.

I look back up the street, but he’s already gone through the light.  A break up is really a thousand tiny deaths. When you spend a few years with someone, your lives intertwine.  When your time together ends, the entangling isn’t as easy as untwisting the lines you’ve lain together.  Sometimes, those lines have to snap and break themselves.

Moving into the city, I didn’t have many friends in the area.  I quickly became a part of my ex’s friend group and developed solid friendships. When our relationship ended, he reiterated he didn’t want me to pull away from his friends, but how was that fair to them? The memories you make together involve you being a part of a specific couple.  The dynamics change when you end things.  We both needed separate friends to move through the stages of grief to listen to us cry, get angry, and eventually forgive the other person. 

Breakups don’t just involve two partners.  It involves the entire extended network you’ve knitted together in your time together.  All you can do is be grateful you were able to connect for a brief time because the other option is to be bitter and I don't think that really honors the friendships you created.

I text my ex’s friend that night.  I thank him for saying hello to me and that I missed him.  He responded and told me I’d always be a friend.  I’m probably never going to share a meal with him again and dissect the signs the latest girl he’s dating is sending.  But, we’ll have happy hellos when we pass each other on the street and I know I can always use more of those.

July Reads

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July flew by and I can't believe August is upon us.  In that time, I only managed to complete three books, but of course I have three books in my Currently Reading tab.

I enjoyed Dumplin' so much.  It differs slightly from the movie which made it enjoyable enough for me and threw in a few extra surprises that kept me still interested.  I highly recommend, even if you've already seen the Netflix movie.

Julie Murphy

The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls

R.J. Palacio

Leaning Into Summer Slowdown

Thursday, July 25, 2019

I belong in a warm climate, soaking up the sun while listening to whatever playlist moves me in the moment.  Unfortunately, I reside in a climate that is rainy with a sprinkling of sunshine.  Last summer, I beat myself ragged trying to make sales reselling and snag every resume I could (I was still working as a freelance resume writer). I couldn't beat the weather, though.  Everyone else was outside soaking it up, largely leaving my sales dry and professionals seeking new job opportunities were few and far between.

This year, I shifted my focus.  I spend most nights outside when the weather allows.  I edit podcast episodes in my courtyard.  I walk to a nearby park and edit photos on my phone.  More often than not, my work is not keeping up with the standards I set during the rest of the year. I will happily abandon work to play in the pool or barbecue at a friend's house.  The world is out and I want to enjoy it.

Last year, I was desperate for a few moments to call a true summer day.  I walked away with none.  This year, I have so many in my pocket to sustain me through the rest of the year and keep me motivated.  In fact, Summer 2019 inspired new goals for me to set and achieve.

My motto for 2019 (I know, I've mentioned this 4,000 times) is "Be Brave." I'm being brave in asking for what I want, but also asking myself what I truly want.  Instead of finding reasons for why those aren't feasible wants or dreams, I'm taking the time to truly assess them.  I'm changing them from dreams to goals. I'm making them realistic.

To support that, this summer I've also started sessions with a Career Counselor who's helping me align my values and desires into a professional career path.  It's exciting and it feels like the first time I've been allowed to truly think outside the box while being validated for it.

Summer slowdown is a time to enjoy the hard work from the year, but also to ensure the goals I'm setting are truly what set my soul on fire.  Hopefully, the slowdown of Summer 2019 will help me prepare for Summer 2020 in ways I couldn't imagine.

Living Alone After Living With A Partner

Monday, July 22, 2019

I make myself a cup of coffee and sit on the couch with a blanket wrapped around my legs.  I switch the TV over to view Netflix and watch The Office for the 45,672nd time.  I grab my phone and login to Poshmark from the web browser. I share my closet, finish my coffee, and make myself eggs with onions, tomatoes, and goat cheese.  Finishing up with The Office, I get ready for work while listening to a favorite playlist or podcast as loud as I want (within reason, I don't want to upset my neighbors).  I chase Charlie, kiss her goodbye, and head out the door.

No one whined from the bedroom to make them coffee.  No one begrudged me the time I took to spend on reselling, because it took time away from helping them get dressed in the morning.  I didn't have to give advice on whether a tie matched a shirt.  No one snatched the remote away from me to watch the news.  No one stood by the door tapping their feet because I was making them late for work.

Living alone after living with a partner is a new kind of normal.  You're more aware of all of the things you gave up to merge your lives together. Your bedtime is no longer determined by someone else's wake up call.  You don't have to use the bathroom in shifts.  You know who left that dish in the sink.

You're also aware of all of things you have to do alone.  When the new season of that TV show you both watched together drops on Netflix, you can watch it by yourself but you'll think of the comments they would have made.  Your Netflix algorithm is still infected with all of the shows they like to watch. When you're feeling down, there's no one around to make you laugh.  You have to empty the dishwasher every single time.

I gained back my independence.  I gained back the permission to focus on myself instead of serving the needs of someone else.  I gained back my life.  But, I still feel the loss of a life that was almost mine.  It was the wrong life and it would have ended sadly, but the ghost of it still haunts me.

When I get home from work, Charlie greets me cheerfully, happier in this home than she has been in any other.  I choose whether I want to make dinner that night, eat leftovers, or simply eat a protein bar.  I waste a lot of time dancing in front of the mirror.  I lay in the middle of my bed and fall asleep watching The Office for the 45,673rd time.

My Favorite Personal Blog Posts

Thursday, July 18, 2019

I've been blogging on and off for four years. I remember sneakily sitting at my desk at work and drafting up the first post with such excitement.  What feels true to me after four years, is that I still clearly lack direction.  Looking for inspiration to figure out where I wanted these blogs to take me, I reread some of my favorite posts, which I've listed below.  I'm hoping to aspire to this type of writing more often.

If you haven't checked them out, I hope you do and enjoy :)

Stephen Chbosky is Haunting Me...Sort Of

Making Space & Letting Go

Parents Are People Too: What I Learned As A Fur Baby Parent

Two Miles

Things (I Thought Were) More Likely To Happen Than Derek Jeter Getting Married

16 Things I Learned When My Best Friend Got Cancer at 26

Letting In

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's the moment I realize I'm more changed than I thought.

He shook his head at first, and then looked at me.  His friend's outstretched hand held a cigar.  "I know you don't like these," he said.  But he does, and he was saying no. "It's fine," I said. "Seriously, go for it."

After dinner one evening, we walked by a cigar bar.  The smell poured into the street and I waved my hand in front of my nose.  I mumbled I couldn't stand the smell.  Days later he remembered and in the comfort of his own backyard turned down something he enjoyed...for me.

Staring at him, just a few feet away, he blew the smoke out of the corner of his mouth turning his head away from my direction.  I moved closer and kissed him.  He apologized and I shook my head, unsure why I thought he'd never looked so irresistibly attractive to me, even while doing something I wasn't a major fan of.

As I found my way back to my seat, I recognized the uneasiness as something I'd been feeling lately.  It was the same confusion I felt earlier in the evening when he lowered the spice level on his Thai food. Or when he double checked that it was okay to go camping without me. Or the night I thought I was sick and he stayed up with me and continued to stay up to watch over me when I finally did fall asleep.

The question I kept asking myself was, why is he doing that? The simple answer is that he was thinking about me.  And I don't expect anyone to think of me.

The thing that movies and books don't tell you about love falling apart is how it changes you.  There is far better love out there--they've got that story line nailed down--but they don't talk about how your sense of trust is broken, almost skeptically so.  The person you were before you fell in love for the first time is jaded, even though you don't want to be.  It doesn't matter that you've moved on and are ready for the next adventure.  There's still a visible scar left from the last tumble. Falling again isn't as easy as the first, even though the next person deserves it so much more.

As I leaned my head back and looked up at the stars, I felt a twinge of anger that the past can still hold so much power over who you are.  I was mad that I didn't know how to accept someone else's kindness without wondering what the motive was underneath.  I was mad that I set the bar so low.  I was mad that I ever let someone forget me. I was mad that I no longer trust easily.

An hour or so later, his friend offered him another cigar.  This time, he turned it down without looking to me and, instinctively, I knew if I wasn't there he would have enjoyed another. I leaned into him.  He pulled me closer, where I remained for the rest of the evening with my head on his shoulder.

I'm not who I was before, but maybe that means I'll be open for far more meaningful experiences.

Get it Movin' Playlist

Thursday, July 11, 2019

It's been quite some time since I created a playlist.  My tastes used to lean specifically emo or pop/punk, but my current Liked Song list on Spotify is pretty random and probably the furthest from my standard.  Lyrics tend to reach me, but lately, beats and the mood it inspires is something I crave.

Below is a list of songs I listen to when I'm running low on energy and need a quick pick me up.  The lyrics don't exactly express that, but try leaning into the sounds.

To be honest - this playlist is heavily inspired by the movie Someone Great and its soundtrackIf you haven't watched that movie...why?!?!

Let me know if you gave any of these a listen and if they inspired anything for you! I'm also open to new inspiring tunes :)

Cheap Date Ideas

Monday, July 8, 2019

Recently, I was catching up with an old friend who was struggling financially in the arena of dating.  Taking girls to dinner to never see them again seemed to be a waste of money but he also didn't want to cheapen the experience by asking them to split their meals. His wallet was as empty as his heart.

I'm a self-admitted cheapo.  Spending too much money on anything is guaranteed to bring on a panic attack...and what I define as too much money is what normal people spend on a soda.  I'm over the edge, I'm aware of this.

Dating doesn't have to be all high pressure fancy dinners and flowers.  There are tons of ways to connect with a new suitor or reconnect with your love that won't break the bank.

Take Advantage of Where You Live

Do you live by the beach? Beach dates are easy, cheap, and a great way to talk and get to know the person you're dating or to reconnect with your partner. I live in Pittsburgh which gives me the opportunity to take in sights like Mount Washington or walk along Point State Park.  Utilize what's nearby to access free fun and in-depth conversations.  Here are a few ideas:
  • Go for a hike.
  • Or a much simpler nature walk through the woods.
  • Walk along a river/lake/ocean/bridge overlooking one of these things.
  • Explore a neighborhood you're not quite familiar with and pop into shops that interest you.

Put Together a Puzzle

Nothing like a team activity to see how your date performs under pressure!  There's also a sense of accomplishment you'll build a bond over when the puzzle is complete.

Hold A Competitive Game Night

Competition makes the heart grow fonder. Each of you could choose a favorite game and wager a bet - loser plans the next date!  This will also help you identify whether your latest date is a sore loser or takes winning a bit too seriously.

Go Thrifting Together

While a little nontraditional and may require you to spend some money, it'll be minimal at best. Thrifting together will bring up different memories for each of you to share as you dive through old treasures.  It will even give you a sense as to what your date values and if your aesthetics match.

Hit Karaoke Night

Maybe you're too shy to jump up on that stage, but the two of you can still enjoy those brave enough to do so.  At most, this will cost you a drink or two while guaranteeing some laughs.


This is easy and can be done anywhere! Pack a thermos in the chillier months or some snacks in the summer and you have a romantic evening set for two. Don't forget a blanket for you to sit on!

Go Bike Riding

If you're athletic and being in the outdoors is a priority to you, there's no better way to allow someone to get to know you like bike riding.  Just about everyone can ride a bike and in larger cities bikes are available to rent at a lower cost.  You can slowly coast down streets, dissecting the lawn choices of homeowners in your neighborhood and chat while you take a quick tour.

Go to Trivia Night

Trivia Night holds a lot of chances for conversation while still being a team sport.  It allows you to be in a public setting if you're not quite ready to bring them home.  Or, if you're in a long term relationship, it gets you out of the house without straining your credit card.

Do you have any cheap date ideas?  Leave them below in the comments! :)

New Year's Resolutions: 6 Month Checkup

Thursday, July 4, 2019

This year, I was serious about setting some resolutions to stick to (New Year's Resolutions 2019). I made them in the hopes of injecting deeply needed positivity into my life.

And then, everything fell apart.

Hindsight is 20/20. It's really super easy to go back and beat up on yourself with the information you have at hand today.  There are always signs but sometimes those clues only stick out once the puzzle is completed.

Now, it's July.  I have a new life I'm still struggling to define. I'm a lot clearer on the things I don't want, but I'm still not sure about what it is that actually moves me.  I'm working on finding the things that settle my soul.  I'm learning to love myself and to appreciate the amazing people who are currently in my life, but also expressing gratitude for the people who were only meant to make quick cameos in my story.

In January, my resolutions were:

  1. Swim once a week.
  2. No potato chips.
  3. Read 1 book a week, 52 books total for the year.
  4. Not staying up late mindlessly scrolling on social media.
  5. Follow my dreams by not listening to those who doubt them even if I'm crashing and burning.

I moved into a new building with a pool and I do make the effort to swim when I can. I fell off reading, but I'm back on the horse. I still stay up too late.  I ate a lot of chips this past spring but I can't remember when I had one last. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my dreams are.

I'm realigning my resolutions for the rest of 2019: to live in the moment, be grateful for those moments, and to love and know myself more fully.

Here's to the next 6 months!

June Reads

Monday, July 1, 2019

The sun came out (fina-freaking-ly!) in the second half of June here in Pittsburgh.  There's nothing I love more than getting lost in a book underneath the sun and next to a body of water.  Which is why I was pretty adamant about moving into an apartment complex with a pool.  This is how I lamely like to spend my summer: I read until I sweat so much I can't take it anymore.  I go take a dip in the pool, swim around like a mermaid, and get back out to dry off while reading.  Then, repeat.

This is all to say that I read a ridiculous amount of pages in the summer and also fully fund the sunblock companies.

I really enjoyed my first read of June, What If It's Us.  It's co-written by Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda author, Becky Albertalli and I really like the way she draws the reader in.  I almost read it in one sitting, just like I did with Simon a year ago.

What If It's Us
Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

The Sun Is Also a Star
Nicola Yoon

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline

Apps I'm Digging Right Now

Thursday, June 27, 2019

When I upgraded to my iPhone XR, I was so excited to download all the apps I couldn't fit before on my limited storage iPhone 6.  I discovered there are a lot of random apps to download out there.

I decided to do a round-up of the apps I used over the past few months and share justhow I use them. Some of these apps have paid options, but I only use the free versions!


Right now, I'm really focused on keeping a gratitude journal for the moments when life knocks me off my feet.  Penzu is a great way for me to document 5 things I'm grateful for each day.  It also has the ability to lock my posts so I don't have to worry about someone accidentally getting in there.  I wanted to have my gratitude journal with me at all times in case I really needed to either write or read how great things really are.


Oak 100% changed my life.  Falling asleep is extremely difficult for me; however, when I turn on the Relaxing Sounds Sleep meditation (background - fireplace), I'm on my way to dreamland in no time at all.  There are also options for guided meditation but I'm still too far away in my mindfulness practices to sit still long enough.


Yes, I am late to the Lightroom party.  I tried to stay away, but here I am, advocating for it's magnificence.  I do not purchase presets, but fiddle around with my own.  My goal is to create an Instagram feed that is bright and as unfiltered as possible.  I rely heavily on exposure and adjusting the color temperatures.


This app covers my booty daily.  I can track where my bus is and how much time I have to scoot out of my apartment and make it to work only mildly late. Transit is easy to use, kinda fool-proof which is good for a dummy like me.

My Recommended Reading List

Monday, June 24, 2019

On this blog, I published a few To Read Book Lists (5 Non-Fiction Books to Read This Spring5 Books to Read This Spring10 Books That Changed Me), but I realized while I am documenting what I read each month, I haven't done much recommending lately.

Reading is an ebb and flow hobby for me.  Sometimes, I rarely find myself coming up from air because I'm so invested in a book and I'll greedily down the next one right after as well. Other times, books remain on my shelf looking unloved and unwanted. 

This a list of 6 books I felt truly stayed with me, no matter what season of reading I found myself in. If you check any of them out - let me know what you think!!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

 The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

The Phantom Tollbooth - Norman Juster 

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