A life update, or something like that

There are so many thoughts and feelings in my mind and heart and I’ve been meaning to sit down and get them out for a long time, but I haven’t had a spare minute of time or a spare ounce of energy–which is, sadly, the theme for my life these days. I still don’t, but I really wanted to share; so finally, here are all the things I’ve been thinking about.

I move in less than three weeks! I go back and forth between squealing about my beautiful little apartment and wistfully thinking how much I’m going to miss the bedroom I’ve lived in for 12 years. I’ve finished all the shopping for my apartment–I just need a keyboard and maybe a few more small kitchen things–and it’s time to start packing. I absolutely can’t wait to be in my apartment–to cook for people in my gorgeous kitchen with my cute new dishes, to read on my balcony overlooking the greenspace, and to play on the floor with the cat(s) I’m going to adopt. It makes me so, so, so excited.

This month and last, I’ve been going to more graduations, dance recitals, musicals/plays, and baseball games than I can count. It’s a little weird because I’m used to being the one with all the end-of-year festivities, but now, I’m the one attending them instead (#adulting). I’m really trying to focus on supporting all of my friends (or as many as possible, because there are only so many hours) in this way.

My health is always bad, but it’s been especially bad the last couple of weeks thanks to a gastrointestinal virus that sent me to the hospital and exacerbated my normal health problems. Life was on hold for a bit as I tried to figure that out–it looked like appendicitis at first, and while I was at the hospital we discovered I have gallstones, which means I need to be stricter about what I eat–and then as I tried to get my energy back up and recover.

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I started doing a Bible study of John with my church. I haven’t been very consistent with it the last two weeks as I’ve been so sick, but still, it’s honestly changing my life. I look forward to going to my pastor’s little white house every Monday night to talk through the chapter for that week (we reread the same chapter every day for a week). One thing that has stuck out to me overall is the way Jesus loves people by speaking truth to them. Then the week we studied John 2, where Jesus turns water into wine, I couldn’t stop thinking about His miracles. They’re not party tricks, they all have a purpose–and the purpose of that one was to reveal truth about Himself. (I also like to think that’s what He does with our lives: takes something ordinary and makes it into a source of His joy and glory.) John 4:10 also got me; if people just knew who Jesus is and what He could do for them! This week, in John 9, I’ve been thinking about the blind man whom Jesus healed. The man told the Pharisees, “All I know is I was blind and now I see.” No one can refute your personal testimony, so it’s incredibly powerful to share with others.

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Work is… whew. Work. I’m still running behind after losing some time due to being in the hospital and being sicker than usual. My business is so big that even with my virtual assistant, who’s wonderful, I can’t handle all of the work; I feel like I’m always behind. I’m making way more money than I need to, so I keep telling myself I need to scale back–but then I keep saying “yes” to all the work I’m offered. I don’t really know how to pull back without jeopardizing my income, I guess.

But it’s too much. I love freelancing and I love the client work I do, but I go to sleep at night with my mind racing about work, I wake up in the morning with my mind racing about work, and I’m always so so tired (which is normal for me, but I could be less tired!!). I want to have the time to read while I eat breakfast, to work out on my lunch break, to write fiction (it’s been months since I wrote fiction and a part of me is missing). And sometimes, when things slow down at the beginning or end of the month, I do–but definitely not in the middle of each month. I’m barely surviving.

So I don’t know what to do about all this, but after I move, I really need to figure out a way to be intentional about working less; outside of my desires for fiction/ministry/friends time, it’s going to be even more important then because I’ll need the energy to cook for myself and other adulting things like that.

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This week as I’ve watched the reaction and the pushback to the Alabama abortion bill, I’ve had a lot of thoughts. They basically boil down to this: I’ve seen a lot of non-Christians accusing Christians of only caring about unborn babies and nobody else, but when I say I’m pro-life, I mean I’m pro-life for EVERYONE–unborn babies, kids doing lockdown drills in school, migrant families, everyone. As a Christian, I believe that’s my calling: to always be on the side of life for all people. And most of the Christians I know feel the same way and are actively doing things to help people at all stages of life. I could say a lot more about this topic and I might, but that’s the gist of it and the part that I feel is most important to share. (If you feel differently, I would love to have a respectful discussion about this!)

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This photo is one of my favorites–it’s from last summer when I took family photos for several ladies at a pregnancy clinic.

I’ve been on a big Marvel kick this month after seeing Endgame. I like to set aside a few minutes every day to curl up in the fetal position and cry about it. I’ve been watching other Marvel movies this month, too (I can’t stop laughing about this scene from Thor: Ragnarok. I just think it’s so funny). And as usual, I’ve been reading a ton of good books (a few recent favorites: Romanov by Nadine Brandes, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart, and rereading Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton). I can’t believe I used to think, when I was little, that one day I would read all the books in the world and be left with nothing to read. There are so many books in the world! (And I’ll be taking 225 of them to my apartment–fingers crossed they fit on my new, smaller bookshelves.)

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And as always, lots of words from songs and books and Pinterest (lol) have been in my head impacting me lately. A few favorites:

Who put / the baby in charge / it’s already hard / to buy all the parts / and learn to use ’em / who put / the world on my back / and not in my hands / just give me a chance (exhale, Sabrina Carpenter)

I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. –Psalm 16:8-11

There is so much happiness in the world. There is so much sadness in the world. There is just so much in the world. —The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

You kinda owe it to yourself to do all the things you’ve dreamed.

Basically this is what’s going on in my life these days; this has been a long time coming and it felt good to just get this all out. I’d love to hear what’s going on with you all, too, long-lost blog friends! Let me know in the comments. ❤

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April 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

I got approved for my apartment in April, paid the lease deposit, and started doing some serious shopping. (I JUST WANT TO MOVE IN ALREADY SO I CAN USE ALL THE CUTE STUFF I’VE BOUGHT.) I also got into a bit of a weird space with my business as I realized that it’s not about growth anymore–it’s about maintenance now, as I’m consistently hitting a very nice income level and I have less than zero extra time or energy to keep growing and accepting new clients. My health was awful the middle two weeks of the month, but better than usual the first and fourth week.

I had tap class only two weeks this month, went to small group with my parents’ church once, went to Bible study each week, and went to a few of Joshua’s ball games. I met Mrs. Alvalee’s new dog, went to dinner and informal small group once with Brooke, went to a wildlife preserve with the kids my mom keeps, spontaneously made a day trip with the Coxes (a picnic at the lake and Goats On The Roof), Hannah spent the night, my grandpa visited, we went to a little friend’s soccer game, and Dad and I had brunch.

This month I’m…

Reading: The Wish Granter, C.J. Redwine. Ever The Hunted, Erin Summerill. A Higher Ransom, Aleigha C. Israel. Enchantee, Gita Trelease (WOW). Yes Chef, Marcus Samuelsson. The Martian, Andy Weir. The Boy Who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews (WOW WOW). Love Does, Bob Goff (reread). Miracles on Maple Hill, Virginia Sorensen (reread). Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (reread). Within These Lines, Stephanie Morrill. Jack and Jill, Louisa May Alcott. 12 total (I also speed-read and wrote summaries of eight non-fiction books for work).

Listening to: Imagine Dragons Evolve album in my car. The Jungle, Zayde Wolf. Where’s My Love, SYML. The Night We Met, Lord Huron. Wherever You Are, Ben Rector. My Petersburg, Land of Yesterday, and In My Dreams, Anastasia. Times Are Hard for Dreamers, Amelie (which has been my apartment song for years <3). Emigrate, Novo Amor. Paradise, Bazzi. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Pentatonix. Hallelujah Here Below (Paradoxology), Elevation Worship. Paint, The Paper Kites.

Watching: World of Dance season 3. A Series of Unfortunate Events season 1. Boy Meets World season 2. Coco. The Martian. The Perfect Date.

Loving: Are Active Shooter Drills Harming More Than They’re Helping?, Pacific Standard. Finding Community When It’s Hard to Leave the House, Propel Women. The Ideal Commute Is Not Actually No Commute, City Lab. The Costa Concordia Sinking: Inside the Epic Fight for Survival, Vanity Fair.

Writing: I didn’t think I could top last month income-wise, but I did, and I didn’t even try! I did work for fifteen separate clients. Some of it was normal work for companies or publications I’ve worked with for many months; other projects were new, such as my new retainer client where I write book summaries and another new retainer client where I write cycling email newsletters. And Sophie won Employee of the Week in my freelance content marketing group! (She didn’t really care though.)

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Grateful for: Spontaneously going to the fancy Walmart to get pie and flowers. Shopping for my apartment (SO MUCH FUN STUFF). Hanging out at my pastor’s house with their family. Rainy work days. The world being so green.

What did you do in April?

March 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

March was very long and pretty good. There were some tired and frustrating days but some happy ones too. I made a TON of money, spent time with special people, applied to an apartment, and did a lot of reading, thinking, and forming opinions. It was a bit of a crazy month too–my grandma is getting ready for surgery and my dad took a bad fall and couldn’t work for a week because of a concussion.

In addition to working, obviously, I went to tap class every week; babysat my neighbors once a week; Joshua’s ball games started; and I started a ladies’ Bible study with my church (the small church I attend on Sundays) that is super special and just what I needed right now.

As far as fun stuff, I kicked off the month by spending the weekend with some old family friends, and we saw Les Miserables at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta (my first time to ever go to the Fox). The next weekend, my dad and I saw Beauty and the Beast at a local high school; the following weekend, we went to see our old homeschool co-op’s musical; and the fourth weekend of the month, we went with several friends (Thomas, the Coxes, their grandparents, Brooke and her mom, Mrs. Alvalee, Mrs. Elyse, and Wiley) to see some of our other friends in Newsies. 

Believe it or not, I also did other things this month besides just going to musicals. Andrea and I had lunch at Steak n Shake; Brooke and I had lunch at Panera; Brooke, Brianna, and I saw Captain Marvel; and I got to meet my lovely blog friend, Mikayla, in person for the first time (again, at Panera). I finished up the month by taking a tour of my dream apartment complex and submitting an application!!!

 

This month I’m…

Reading (check out my thoughts on each book at the links): Shoe Dog, Phil Knight. The Prisoner of Cell 25, Richard Paul Evans. Parkland: Birth of a Movement and Columbine (DNF), Dave Cullen. The Wicked King, Holly Black. Brooklyn Rose (reread) and Come Juneteenth, Ann Rinaldi. The Blood Spell and The Shadow Queen, C. J. Redwine. Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson (reread). I Am A Pencil, Sam Swope (reread). #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line, David Hogg and Lauren Hogg. To Best the Boys, Mary Weber. 13 total.

Listening to: Les Miserables. Anastasia. Spring Awakening (Rise cast version). Zero, Imagine Dragons. Personal, HRVY. Mutual, Shawn Mendes. Glorious, Rise cast version. Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Wherever You Are, Ben Rector. Quarter Past Midnight, Bastille. Castle, Halsey. Down In the River To Pray, Colorado All State Treble Choir.

Watching: Deadly Class season 1. World of Dance season 3. Captain Marvel. Royal Misfits, Anastasia’s Broadway.com vlog (I’m just a LITTLE sad about Anastasia closing). A Series of Unfortunate Events season 1.

Writing: I finished up the college textbook project with Barnes & Noble. I did all the usual work at the magazine where I’m associate editor. I did tons of blog posts/articles for travel websites, a pet insurance company, an entertainment website, a consumer protection company, an Instagram growth service, and two outdoors websites. I wrote magazine features for two Arkansas-based publications and did some SEO optimization for a product development company. I sent 10 LOI’s, pitched six story ideas to publications, and applied to 54 jobs. Didn’t have time for much fiction, unfortunately, but I broke a number for my monthly income goal that I hadn’t expected to hit anytime soon.

Loving: Featured Blogger: Hailey Hudson, Multitalented Writers. “Do you ever think about me?”: the children sex tourists leave behind, The Guardian. I Am a Strong Woman With Chronic Pain, The Mighty. The guns debate is a culture war. And young people will win it, The Guardian. Why People With Chronic Illness Can’t Simply “Push Through,” The Mighty. Captain Marvel, Double Standards & The Pressure Facing Female-Led Films, The Young Folks. The Problem With Trying to Make Illness “Relatable” for Healthy People, The Mighty. Parkland one year on: what victories have gun control advocates seen?, The Guardian. Why the Church Doesn’t Need Any More Starbucks, FaithIt.

I also was able to contribute my perspective to a very important article, What teen movies like “Five Feet Apart” get wrong about chronic illness by Sara Radin. Please read it–this is an incredibly important topic to create a dialogue around and something that I plan to speak about more.

Grateful for: Stepping outside my front door on a beautiful afternoon and immediately hearing kids call, “Hailey, watch me ride my bike!” Late night laughter (and… politics) over milkshakes and burgers with my favorite people. Cute dogs at the ballpark. Driving everywhere with the windows down (because my air conditioning is broken but, you know). Waking up on a Saturday morning to confirmation of a big retainer deal with a client. Hugs at Bible study and almost crying on the way home because it’s new but familiar and finally. Gear in the mail from clients. Walking down the street under the lights of Atlanta in a beautiful dress. Talking nonstop about my apartment, furniture, etc.

What did you do in March?

February 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

February was an okay month, but not great. I hit some big financial goals with work, which was very exciting, but my health suffered: I had a bad cold for basically the first two weeks of the month, and as soon as I got over that, all of my other health problems went into a flare (from stress, not taking one of my prescription meds for two months, and who knows what else).

I turned 20 years old and Brooke and I took a road trip to Chattanooga for three nights to celebrate. Joshua and I had a donut date; I went to tap class and picked up my neighbors from school each week; my dad and I went out for dinner and shopping; and I went to my informal small group once and my parents’ small group once.

This month I’m…

Reading: Fiercehearted, Holley Gerth. On My Own Two Feet, Amy Purdy. A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer. Around the Way Girl, Taraji P. Henson. Finishing Becca, Ann Rinaldi (reread). In The Water They Can’t See You Cry, Amanda Beard. The Cruel Prince, Holley Black. The Deceivers, Kristen Simmons. King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell (reread). What’s Best Next, Matt Perman. The Peterkin Papers, Lucretia P. Hale (kinda a DNF). What The Night Sings, Vesper Stamper. Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline (DNF only because it was due at the library). 14 total.

Watching: Blackfish. The Grammys. Titanic. Deadly Class, Syfy. A Plastic Ocean. Julia Robertson’s vlogs from last summer.

Listening to: I Am and Back From the Edge, James Arthur. Nearer My God To Thee, BYU. Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. Vapor, The Liturgists. Why, Perfectly Wrong, Particular Taste, and When You’re Ready, Shawn Mendes. Nervous (acoustic), Gavin James. When The Party’s Over, Billie Eilish. Castle On a Hill, Ed Sheeran. Love Again (stripped), Dylan Jordan. How Long, Charlie Puth. This glorious Anastasia piano medley for hours on end while writing textbooks.

Loving: A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Queen of Air and Darkness, Cait (Paper Fury). Active-shooter drills are scaring children away from school, NY Post. The Modern Trap of Feeling Obligated to Turn Hobbies into Hustles, Man Repeller.

Writing: I reached a milestone number in my savings account this month and also not only reached my monthly income goal for the first time, but surpassed it, which felt SO good (although unfortunately I had to work several evenings and a couple of Saturdays). I got a new client this month, a curriculum development company; I spent about 20 hours a week writing child development college textbooks (for Barnes & Noble Education) and the other 20 trying to cram in all of my other pre-existing client work.

That other client work consisted of four blog posts for a pet insurance company (example); proofreading, social media, a feature, and a department for the magazine I work for (follow our Facebook page here); some work for a consumer protection website; 15 short travel articles (examples here, here, and here); a couple of outdoors articles (example); some blog posts for an Instagram marketing company; an article for Just Labs Magazine; some work for a content writing company; articles for an entertainment website (examples here and here); an article for CYC (read here) and some other random small projects like advertising copy for a sportswear company and an article for an old client.

As far as marketing, I pitched 21 story ideas to 12 publications, sent 19 LOI’s, and applied to 77 jobs. (It felt like every time I applied to a job, I either got shortlisted or hired, and it was to the point where I was turning stuff down left and right and exclaiming “NO!” aloud anytime I saw something new in my inbox.)

I had a little time to work on my ice skating novel, which was SO wonderful that I wish I’d had more. I was also interviewed on a podcast about how I grew my business as a teenager and that was a fun “first.”

Grateful for: Clients with a sense of teamwork who foster camaraderie. Waffles for dinner on a Wednesday. The fun One Line A Day journal that I’ve been wanting forever and finally bought. Mentor meetings with fellow freelance writers with chronic illnesses. Driving down the road on a rare sunny day with my eight-year-old passenger asking me to turn up Panic! At The Disco. The cutest one-year-old high fives at small group. Having a phone that works, finally!

What did you do in February?

Day In My Life (Winter 2019)

I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t decide to do this post until mid-afternoon Tuesday (and also because my phone basically crashed earlier this week and it was too much work to get out my camera, lol). Next time!

Tuesday, February 19th

It was an extremely rainy day on Tuesday, just like every other day recently! I had to take my brother to school at 7:30; because of my chronic fatigue, I can’t remember the last time I got up that early, and it was definitely a struggle to not be drowsy on the road even though I went to bed at 8:30 the night before in preparation. Traffic was backed up all the way from the interstate almost to our neighborhood; it was a mess. But we finally made it to his school with about 30 seconds to spare.

When I got home around 8:20, I snuggled with Sophie, rested, and had my quiet time and wrote out my schedule for the day. Then I made breakfast (scrambled eggs and a fruit smoothie), cleaned the kitchen, and we had a Panic! At The Disco dance party.

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My first block of work was from 9:30 to 12:00 (it happened under a blanket on the couch with Sophie, enjoying a quiet house). I finished the first round of revisions on the textbook chapter I wrote a week or two ago–the chapter is about the federal, state, and local laws surrounding education, so Tuesday morning I was researching the rights of students who are pregnant, disabled, incarcerated, etc as well as school safety (bullying, active shooter drills, etc). It was absolutely fascinating. I love that I learn so many different things from my job and the projects I take on.

That took a little over an hour and then I finished writing a blog post that was due Tuesday on the best time-saving Instagram tools for social media managers. I learned some things I didn’t know about influencer marketing, which was cool.

Around noon, I stopped working and watched a few of Madelaine Petsch’s YouTube videos. Then I worked out; since I had a cold/virus thing for over two weeks and had also been traveling, it had been forever since I had the energy to get in a solid workout, and it felt so good. After working out I took a shower and had lunch (which came with another kitchen dance party, this time to Shawn Mendes).

At 1:15 I went to pick up my brother from school. It was still absolutely pouring rain! I had a chance to catch up briefly with some of our friends.

By 2:00 we were home and I was working on a blog post highlighting some wedding venues in Melbourne for an old client. At 3:00 I outlined an article I was writing for an entertainment website (it was on Alaskan Bush People, which my family used to love watching) and sent the outline to my editor for approval; then I took a brief break to be excited about all the mail I got (I received a book as a birthday gift, two copies of a magazine I had an article published in, and a check for the article).

At 4:00 I edited the Instagram tools blog post, added images, optimized it for SEO, and submitted it; at 4:45 I did some brief edits on a piece for Craft Your Content. Finally, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing marketing and admin tasks–which, Tuesday, consisted of pitching article ideas to editors I found on Twitter, applying to some jobs, and answering lots of emails. It was sleeting outside, but I was cozy at my desk in my bay window with fairy lights and a candle!

We had dinner at 6:00 (my dad was out of town, so just three of us). After dinner I played the piano, wrote a letter, watched a few YouTube videos, and read King of Scars. Then Brooke picked me up and we got a pizza and went up to our friends Blake and Luke’s place to hang out with them and Noah. We talked for a while and played 5 Minute Dungeons. By the time we got home a little after 10:00, I was stumbling around with exhaustion–but despite how tired it was, it took me a little while to go to sleep because I was in pain, too. Staying out so late was NOT a smart decision–I was in even more pain Wednesday and didn’t move from the couch with my laptop all day.

Editor’s note: This was much busier than my average day! Most days I sleep until 8:30, work from home all day, and am asleep by 9:00. I might work out OR go somewhere, but not both (#chronicillnessprobs). That being said, my too-busy day Tuesday is part of what sent me into a flare that, five days later, I’m still recovering from; I’ve left the house twice since. But that’s the way life goes for me!

What does a day in your life look like?

27 Questions Movie Tag

Growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of movies. We had a few specific DVDs that I would watch over and over, but that was about it, and we rarely went to the movie theater. The last couple of years, though, I’ve realized how much I love movies. I’ve started going to the movie theater a lot more and watching a ton of movies on Netflix. I even have a client that’s an entertainment website, so I get to write about movies, which is pretty cool. All of that being said, I randomly came across this movie tag and thought it looked really cool. I’m aware that there are quite a few gaps in my cinematic knowledge (for instance, I’m 20 and I saw Titanic for the first time last weekend), and my taste in movies is very diverse. But I’m working on filling in those gaps just as fast as I can!

Favorite action film?

Black Panther or Baby Driver. I absolutely loved both of those.

Favorite comedy film?

The Parent Trap. Classic. I will never not enjoy re-watching that movie.

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Favorite “dark humor” or “black comedy” film?

I haven’t seen any black comedy films (that I’m aware of).

Favorite scene from this film?

n/a

Favorite animated film?

Fun fact about me: I can’t stand animated movies. I really, really, really just don’t like them. That being said, my friends Emma and Hannah had me watch Kubo and the Two Strings about a year ago and I absolutely loved it! Beyond that, I can’t think of any animated movies I like. I haven’t seen most of the classic animated movies, honestly, like The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Shrek. I’m just really not into animation.

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Favorite short film?

n/a

Favorite romance film?

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before or Titanic. SO GOOD, both of them. Just those gifs are making me grin like an idiot. I also like La La Land and Beauty and the Beast–the 2017 Emma Watson one, not the animated one. 😉

Favorite biographical film?

Hidden Figures. I absolutely love the story of those strong, sassy, intelligent women who wouldn’t let anything stand in their way. I love the acting, the blended soundtrack, and the aesthetic (warm color tones, soul music, heels clicking). This movie reinforces how much of a math person I am NOT, lol, but I love it anyway and it’s such an important story.

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Favorite drama film?

Dunkirk. Dunkirk is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. Every aspect of it is just so well-done and I love, love, LOVE it. Also, Good Will Hunting (although “favorite” isn’t really the right term for that one, lol).

Favorite music-themed film?

I guess La La Land? I’m not totally sure what’s meant by “music-themed.”

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Favorite indie film?

I really want to see Ashes in the Snow, which is an adaptation of Ruta Sepety’s (one of my favorite authors) book Between Shades of Gray.

Favorite book adaptations?

I know a lot of people don’t like the Narnia and Harry Potter movies, but I do. They’re obviously not perfect, but I think they’re really really really good and they have a very special place in my heart. I re-watch them a lot.

Films you want to see but never get around to watching?

A few titles that are currently on my list to watch: Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, American Sniper, High School Musical (lol), The King’s Speech, and a bunch of Marvel movies.

Favorite soundtrack?

I haven’t seen The Theory of Everything, but I have that movie’s soundtrack memorized. It’s been the background music to so many of my novels and short stories during the last few years. Every note of it is absolute perfection and makes me Feel Things™.

Film you refuse to see?

I refused to see Everything Everything when it came out and I refuse to see Five Feet Apart, which is coming out next month. The book Everything Everything really bothered me because it was ableist and did not accurately represent individuals with chronic illnesses, so for the sake of my mental health I didn’t see the movie. I don’t know whether Five Feet Apart is going to do a better job of that or not, but I’m not going to see it just in case (even though I want to, because Cole Sprouse is in it lol).

Film that you can’t wait for it to come out?

Spider-Man Far From Home!!! So excited! The new live-action Dumbo movie also looks cute and I’m interested in the new Aladdin.

Best tearjerker?

Another fun fact about me: I cry at movies ALL. THE. TIME. If I didn’t cry, it’s not a movie.  Dunkirk made me cry. Mona Lisa Smile made me cry. Free Willy made me cry. Crying about movies is my favorite thing to do, tbh. So basically, it doesn’t matter whether or not a given movie is a so-called “tearjerker”–I’m probably going to cry anyway. I’ve been known to cry at documentaries, okay?

Remake you wish had never been made?

Can’t really think of any. (Although, WHY are we getting a Frozen 2? Ugh.)

Best film you’ve seen in 3D?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie in 3D.

Most beautiful film? (in terms of cinematography)

Can’t think of any at the moment.

Movie that didn’t meet your expectations?

I was excited about the Maze Runner movies, but the first one really just didn’t do it for me (I LOVED The Death Cure, though). I wasn’t nearly as enthralled with Mary Poppins Returns as I had hoped to be, and the same goes for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was good, but I didn’t love it like I’d hoped to.

Movie that exceeded your expectations?

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald BLEW ME AWAY. Literally, it was SO SO much better than I expected it to be. There was also a modern-day retelling of Little Women that came out last year, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I ended up loving it.

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Best cinema experience?

I saw The Greatest Showman in theaters three times and each time was better than the last. Seeing Crimes of Grindelwald on opening night was also so much fun because it was the first time I had seen a Harry Potter movie in a theater. I felt like a real fan!

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Most surprising movie moment?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and can’t think of anything.

Favorite dance sequence in a movie?

The La La Land opening scene where they dance on top of cars on the freeway!

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Most disturbing movie you’ve ever seen?

I make a point to not watch disturbing movies. 🙂 I do remember watching this one movie about aliens and cornfields at a friend’s birthday party that was pretty creepy when I was younger. (I think it was Signs.)

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In a year or two, I’m looking forward to doing this tag again and seeing how my answers have changed!

If you want to do this tag, feel free–and tell me a few of your favorite movies in the comments.

Big World. Ours Now? // Birthday Road Trip!

Today is my 20th birthday, and to celebrate, Brooke and I took a really fun road trip to Chattanooga over the weekend. Friday I stopped working at noon and we left around two; we listened to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack multiple times as I drove us up to my grandpa’s house, where we were staying. When we got there, we went to his favorite restaurant, where I had my favorite gyro plate and coconut pie. That evening, Brooke and I started watching Titanic because somehow I’d gone almost 20 years and never seen it.

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The next day, we went to Huddle House for breakfast (where the waitress called Brooke and me little baby-faced deer who didn’t even know it). Then we drove downtown to the Southern Belle riverboat, which runs tours around the Tennessee River. We spent some time in the gift shop (a barge that’s permanently docked) while we waited for our noon tour to begin. Apparently we picked an eventful day to go: Not only did someone have a surprise 40th birthday party on the boat, but TLC star Honey Boo Boo was on the boat with us, so there was a reality TV crew crawling everywhere with cameras.

The hour-and-a-half tour was really fun. We ate lunch, saw a blue heron rookery, and almost fell off the deck when the riverboat captain unexpectedly blew the horn as we passed under a bridge.

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When the tour ended, we went to the Incline and rode up Lookout Mountain, where you can see seven states. We only stayed at the top for a few minutes before coming back down and heading home.

At home, I took a two-hour nap; we got Krystal takeout; and Brooke and I finished watching the Titanic (my new favorite movie) and then stayed up too late talking.

Sunday morning we’d been planning to go to church, Panera, and the IMAX theater. But my body was telling me in no uncertain terms that I had done way too much on Saturday. I was so exhausted and in pain. So I slept from 9-12, we went back to the Epicurean for lunch, and then we watched several hours of home videos. We had popcorn and ice cream for dinner and Brooke and I watched Everybody Loves Raymond and the Grammys for a while.

Today (my actual birthday) we slept in and ate at Ihop for breakfast. Brooke and I didn’t leave Tennessee until noon, and I didn’t get home until about 3:00. I’m planning to spend the rest of my birthday writing postcards, reading The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (one of my most anticipated 2019 releases), and eating chocolate chip cookie cheesecake. Here’s to a new decade of life!

Room Tour January 2019

I’m planning to move out later this year, and while I can’t wait to get a little apartment and decorate it, all I’ve been thinking about lately is how much I’m going to miss my bedroom. We’ve lived in this house for over 10 years, and since I was homeschooled and now I work from home, I spend a lot of time in my bedroom. It has a bay window and vaulted ceiling, plus lots of books and fairy lights. Normally there’s a candle burning, music playing, and hard work happening (or hard relaxation, depending on whether it’s a weekend or a weekday). I work at my desk, work out on the carpet, and watch Netflix or read in bed. Here’s a tour of my room! (I apologize for the terrible lighting in the photos–I took these pictures at a weird time of day.)

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First of all, we see the pull-up bar that I don’t use nearly as much as I thought I was going to and my bookcase (which I use every day). Most of the 300+ books I own are on here, and they’re arranged by genre. Obviously, they don’t all fit and they’re kind of a mess. But can we appreciate that I have a whole section for Louisa May Alcott?

I have a bulletin board behind my door (and this is a TERRIBLE photo of it). It’s been about a year and a half since I redid it.

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In my chest of drawers (the top is always messy), the top few drawers are filled with pajamas and clothes, while the bottom few drawers are filled with papers (literally–to the brim) and random stuff.

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This bookcase at the end of my bed contains old journals, school notebooks, yearbooks, and magazines, plus my modest DVD collection and the stuffed owl that Hannah gave me (it came bearing my Hogwarts letter). On top of the bookcase is an anthology I was published in recently. To the left, there’s a box full of copies of my book, and a little tray with all my stationary and letter writing supplies.

Here’s my closet with the fairy lights that make my room look purple instead of pink at night. And in the spirit of transparency, here’s what my closet actually looks like inside. (Not pretty: Clothes everywhere, all my extra blankets falling out of the top, and a ton of workout equipment jammed into the bottom.)

Next we get to my desk. I absolutely love my desk, and my bay window, and everything in this area of my room.

The crate on the right holds everything I need for work–folders with W9’s and printed project briefs from clients, notebooks where I keep track of my marketing, etc. The one on the left is where I keep filled notebooks and journals, plus some Bibles and old books and my camera. The little whiteboard (my favorite Alaska souvenir, lol) holds my quote of the week.

I have a few of my favorite quotes of all time–they’re from random books/movies/TV shows and have huge personal meaning to me–on my bay window. The bay window collection of quotes is a very exclusive club. New members are only added once every six months or so.

My desk itself has more quotes on Post it notes, a neat stack of planners/folders, my computer, and a few other little special items. Sometimes I also outline articles with Post it notes on the wall, lol. I like Post it notes.

This is the messiest part of my room, but here’s my dresser (shot sitting on my bed): Old American Girl dolls, a stack of library books (on the floor), stacks of books I own and keep meaning to read (on the bench), and my jewelry box. On top of my antique table I have a ton of Writer’s Digests and magazines I’ve been published in. I can’t figure out a cool way to display them. (Also, peep the big whiteboard to the right–sometimes it’s used to outline novels, currently it’s being used as a habit tracker of sorts.)

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On top of my nightstand, I keep a postcard someone once wrote me speaking life over me, a paper rose that a stranger made me once at a coffee shop, and a gorgeous notebook I’ve owned since last July but didn’t write in until a week or two ago (lol oops). Also, there’s a bucket of bookmarks. Because who doesn’t need one of those.

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There’s nothing I love more than collapsing in bed with a book at the end of a long day. I used to have four blankets on the end, but currently I just have one (my Ravenclaw blanket) because all four would never stay neat. On the wall I have a painting from a friend and some motivational quotes I love.

And that’s my room!

January 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

I’m glad that January was a really, really good month–happy and busy and full. I was expecting the opposite, so it was nice! I stayed busy with work, discovered so much good music (a big highlight, honestly), and did fun stuff. I also had a lot of energy (well, what counts as “a lot” for me) and felt pretty good physically for most of the month.

The volume of my work stayed pretty steady and I had a good month with some new clients and old ones alike (I made just about as much money as I made in my highest-earning month in 2018), and I enjoyed my first month of having a virtual assistant to take some tasks off my plate. Outside of work, I took tap dance class, picked up/sometimes babysat my neighbors from school, went to my 20’s small group only once oops, and went to small group with my parents’ church twice.

Fun stuff: Anna and I kicked off the month with pizza and shopping on New Year’s Day (I got six items of clothing for $55!). We had lunch with friends from Mississippi, Hannah and I went to Panera and watched a movie, and I had a coffee/mentoring date with a friend from small group. I went out for coffee (which I can longer HAVE because acid reflux–it’s sad), shopping, and lunch with Andrea and Zoe, and Brooke and I caught up over dinner before small group. I played with my favorite one-year-old a lot, went to a brass ensemble performance at a local college with my dad, and we had family friends over for snacks and board games. I attended and helped run Sara’s Diamonds 2019 conference for chronically ill Christians; spent a really fun Sunday with Emma and the Coxes; and spontaneously had a picnic at the park (in the cold) with Brooke. I also ended the month by having my car towed for the first time and getting a cold, neither of which were fun.

 

Reading: The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden (reread). The Secret of a Heart Note, Stacey Lee. The War Outside, Monica Hesse (DNF). The Librarian of Auschwitz, Antonio Iturbe. Taking the Lead, Derek Hough. Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick. Gay Girl, Good God, Jackie Hill Perry (cue the tears). The Blue Castle, L. M. Montgomery (aww!). Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins (both rereads–I just wanna live at SOAP). I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai. Revolution in World Missions, K.P. Yohannan. Queen of Air and Darkness, Cassandra Clare (ALL 900 PAGES–IT RIPPED MY HEART OUT AND I AM NOT OKAY–I LOVE THE BLACKTHORNS MORE THAN LIFE). Letting Go of Gravity, Meg Leder (unexpected emotions, hello). The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin (reread). 15 total.

Watching: Riverdale, all of season one and part of season two (so obsessed). Spider-Man Homecoming (re-watch). Glamour’s YouTube videos on money. Some of Monica Church’s vlogs. Good Witch, the beginning of season two. A little HGTV. One episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo because Joshua and I wanted to laugh at it. Mona Lisa Smile (loved this movie so much). The True Cost documentary (as research for a work project, but I loved it). Winner Cake All (just the Broadway Princess Party episode).

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Listening to (I LISTENED TO SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC THIS MONTH, I’M OBSESSED WITH ALL OF THESE SONGS): Natural, Imagine Dragons. Dusk Till Dawn, Zayn ft. Sia. Youngblood, 5 Seconds of Summer. Fear Nothing, Riverdale cast. Wherever I Go, Dan Bremnes. It Is Finished, Passion. Cross My Mind Pt. 2, A R I Z O N A. Start A War, Klergy. Youth, Shawn Mendes ft Khalid. Hold Tight, Sabrina Carpenter. Kings and Queens, Matt Kearney. Life of the Party, Shawn Mendes. Bridges, Johnnyswim (new JS music!). come out and play, Billie Eilish. Queen, Shawn Mendes. Whatever It Takes, covered by Landon Austin. Home, Bruno Major. Wolves, Selena Gomez and Marshmello. Walking the Wire, Imagine Dragons. Particular Taste, Shawn Mendes. High Hopes and Roaring 20’s, Panic! at the Disco. One Of Those Nights, Shawn Mendes. Save Me Tonight, ARTY. Be Alright, Dean Lewis. Nearer My God to Thee, BYU Vocal Point. I also finally discovered the local pop hits radio station.

Loving: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Buzzfeed News. The Paradox of Jughead’s Hat, Medium. Marie Kondo of Netflix’s Tidying Up: she’s not coming for your books, Vox. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, Time. The Good, The Bad, And The Guilt Of Working From Home, Fast Company. Wellesley grads frown at “Mona Lisa Smile,” Chicago Tribune.

Writing: At the magazine where I’m associate editor, I wrote two features, wrote the editor’s note, came up with a social media strategy, and proofread the February issue. I wrote four blog posts for a pet insurance company (example); wrote 15 short (and fun!) blog posts for a new client of mine that creates travel content for a variety of brands (example); wrote eight blog posts for a small outdoors brand (example); wrote a couple of pieces for Craft Your Content (read here and here); wrote a rush work piece for a fitness content marketing company; wrote two blog posts for two social media marketing companies; wrote two blog posts on LinkedIn for a content writing company; wrote a fascinating piece on fast fashion (and finished another long piece from last month) for a consumer protection company; and came up with a content strategy for an email newsletter company. Whew!

I also applied to 88 jobs, sent 33 LOI’s, pitched 26 story ideas to 14 publications, and had my final coaching call for the freelance writing course I enrolled in last June.

Fiction-wise, for the first time in months, I began working on a novel (my ice skating contemporary YA novel) and it was just flowing. I haven’t worked on it much, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot, which feels so good. Also, my copy of the Out of Shadow anthology I was published in finally arrived.

 

Grateful for: Book mail (there was a lot of it this month #Christmasmoney). Constantly sending Voxers (voice messages) with a freelancing friend throughout every work day. Being happy. Nailing down monthly retainer clients. THE GRISHA UNIVERSE IS COMING TO NETFLIX. Playing Marvel board games by candlelight. Being excited. Discovering and enjoying so much good music. Having enough energy to walk the dog (this mostly backfired on me though lol). Candles and books on rainy Saturdays. Playing with a cute dog and talking to some nice ladies at my mechanic. A waitress giving us full-size waffles for the price of mini ones. Laughing and drinking hot chocolate in my car in a dark park. A friend sending me a Kindle book when I was having a stressful day. ❤

What did you do in January?

Liebster Award

Hanne tagged me in this back in December, and I’m finally getting around to doing it–yay!

What is your favorite winter tradition?

I guess my favorite winter tradition is anything to do with Christmas–getting a tree, watching The Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents, etc. (It’s only mid-January but Christmas already feels like a dream, or a dream of a dream.) (Points to anyone who got that reference.)

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What is your favorite quote?

I have a ton of favorite quotes. Here are the ones that have made it to Post-It notes above my desk, which means they really mean a lot to me in this stage of life for one reason or another:

It’s time to take the world and make it your own.

I might be a dreamer, but it’s gotten me this far, and that is far enough for me.

You figure out what matters. And you do something about it.

Life is short, the world is wide, let’s make some memories.

You can do anything you want. You are bound by nothing.

One of these is from a TV show I love, one is from a musical I love, one is from a book series I love, and two are from movies I love. Again, bonus points if you recognize any of them!

What is the book you read most recently, and what did you think of it?

Currently I’m in the middle of I Am Malala (not sure why I haven’t read it before? It’s good). I’m also going to reread Anna and the French Kiss later today in one sitting, and do the same with Isla and the Happily Ever After tomorrow, and I’m so excited because I love both of those books so much.

What is your favorite board game?

This isn’t necessarily a board game–it’s a dice game–but I like Qwixx. I also played a fun game the other night called Hail Hydra, and I like Payday and any Harry Potter-themed board games.

What’s a name that you love but won’t ever use for your kids?

I love the name Linnea, but if I have biological kids (not planning on it) I’d want to give them names that are easy to pronounce and spell, just to make their lives easier. I might use it for a middle name, though. Something classic for a first name and something a little different for a middle name. I really like Caroline Linnea, Elisabeth Bethany, Elise Vivian, something like that.

If you could learn one physical activity and do extremely well at it, what would it be?

There are so many things I’d love to do, but my health problems hold me back from most of them. I would LOVE to compete on American Ninja Warrior, for instance.

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What is your favorite brand? (i.e., Forever 21, Nike, etc; not restricted only to clothing)

OrangeTheory Fitness has really good branding. Also, UPS has a weirdly impressive social media strategy, especially on LinkedIn.

Outside the work world, though (I’m trying to have a weekend, I promise), I love UnderArmour clothing.

What is your favorite trait in a friend?

Someone who’s loyal, funny, including, understanding, etc.

What is your secret talent?

Umm I don’t think I really have one? A lot of people who are in my life right now don’t know that I’m a classically trained pianist. I try not to bring it up. 😉

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If you could meet one person that’s currently alive, who would you meet?

There are SO MANY people I want to meet. A short list: Laura Osnes because she’s the loveliest, kindest, most amazing, most talented lady ever. (I keep waiting for the Broadway Princess Party to come to Atlanta.) Shawn Mendes because look at him. Miss Val, the UCLA gymnastics coach, because she’s just the best. Katie Davis, founder of Amazima. Cole Sprouse because I learn half a dozen new vocabulary words every time I listen to him talk. Danielle Fishel because who wouldn’t want to meet Topanga Matthews? Brigid Kemmerer, one of my new favorite authors (out of all these people, she’s probably the one I have the best chance of actually meeting someday). Also, I’d love to meet some of my blog friends in person, like Hanne or Sara. Hopefully that will happen someday too! (I totally did not answer this question haha)

What was your favorite moment of 2018?

The fifteen minutes I spent in the middle of the Alaskan mountains, running up and down hills covered with pink fireweed. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful place we visited in Alaska (probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been), and I felt so joyful and free.

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I was about to publish this and then I reread Hanne’s post and realized I’m also supposed to share 11 facts about myself. My mind is blanking but here goes…

  1. I listen to literally all music genres except country and 80s
  2. I work full time, 40+ hours a week, as a freelance content marketer
  3. I used to hate contemporary books but now I LOVE them
  4. I don’t like to wear makeup. The feel of it bothers me + it takes too much time
  5. My bedroom has a bay window (which is where my desk is) and vaulted ceilings and I love it very much
  6. Instagram used to be my favorite social media platform but now I think Twitter is taking over
  7. I love big dog breeds–one day I want a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees and a Bernese mountain dog
  8. I danced for seven years growing up and I currently take tap dance
  9. I love the mountains and being outside, although I can’t really hike anymore
  10. I absolutely LOVE history
  11. I’m a Ravenclaw!!!

I was tagged in this a really long time ago and I’m not sure who’s already been tagged, so just do it with these same questions if you want to because they’re good ones!