What I Spend In A Week

Several months ago, YouTuber Monica Church did a video titled Tracking My Finances For A Week (Day One). It was pretty interesting to watch (although I was also appalled at how much money she spent, lol–$186 in just one day). So this week (August 4th through August 10th) I thought I’d do something similar in the form of a blog post! My guess is that I’ll be way under Monica’s daily amount of $186 for my whole week since I paid my rent and other bills last week, but we’ll see! Here’s how much money I spend, plus how I spend it, in an average week.

Sunday Total: $3.99

I rented Baby Driver on Amazon and re-watched it. (It’s so good.) Other than that, it was a quiet day for my wallet.

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Monday Total: $27.22

On my walk to get the mail, I had a stroke of inspiration and decided I needed a doormat, so I immediately came back up and started shopping for one. After way too much time browsing Harry Potter doormats on Etsy (#procrastination), I ended up buying a doormat from JCPenney that says “There’s no place like home” in script. It was on sale and ended up being $27.22 with shipping (it came just three days later and is super cute).

(I would have also paid $25 for counseling on Monday, but I canceled my appointment because I played too hard over the weekend and needed a quiet day at home to rest and recover.)

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Tuesday Total: $80.96

I got gas, which cost $25.98. Working from home is great–sometimes I only have to get gas once a month!

I also picked up a grocery order from Walmart, which cost $54.98. The amount of money I spend on groceries fluctuates a lot. Some weeks I struggle to hit $30 (the minimum required for a Walmart pickup grocery order); other weeks, like this one, it’s near $60. I don’t worry too much if the number gets high. My grocery order includes not only food but household items (i.e. cat litter and toothpaste). And I don’t mind paying extra for pre-prepared food  (i.e. sliced fruit and cooked bacon) because I often don’t have enough energy to cook, so buying pre-prepped food ensures I’ll actually eat. Plus, I will often go weeks without eating out–so all of that to say, I don’t really worry about setting a strict budget for groceries. I just buy the food I want.

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Eggs, dairy-free ice cream, bagels, Tostitos, toothpaste, frozen waffles, cat litter, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, bananas, cantaloupe, frozen broccoli, hamburger patties, frozen french fries, and pre-cooked bacon.

Wednesday Total: $7.00

I went with my mom, the two-year-old she keeps, and some friends to a local waterpark and had to pay $7 admission.

Thursday Total: $25.00

I had a $25 co-pay for a doctor’s appointment (where I was officially diagnosed as lactose intolerant). Other than that, I didn’t spend any money on Thursday. During tap dance class, an employee at the rec center came and pulled me out of class to explain to me my options for purchasing a pass so I could practice alone in the dance studio, but I decided not to buy a pass; I’d only be allowed to practice like that until we get new floors in the studio at Thanksgiving, and I’d have to pay every time I go, so I’ll just keep practicing in my parents’ kitchen for free.

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Friday Total: $0

I didn’t spend any money on Friday.

Saturday Total: $0

I didn’t spend any money on Saturday.

Total for the Week: $144.17

All in all, I spent about $145 this week. Over $100 of that money was spent on things I had to pay for–life expenses like groceries, gas for my car, and the doctor. The other $40 was on fun stuff; mainly the doormat (an abnormal purchase, haha), and then also a movie and admission to the waterpark. This was a pretty average week-in-the-life spending-wise for me. It was a really fun week. And my favorite thing I spent money on this week is my cute new doormat!

What do you spend your money on the most?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

July involved a lot of sickness, a lot of stress/burnout from work, and a lot of weariness. There were some good times too, but overall I was glad to see July go.

I didn’t make it out a whole lot this month to tap class or Bible study or comparable activities. We hung out with old friends on the Fourth for board games, food, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. I spent time mentoring a younger girl from church, got involved with music ministry, and went to a fellowship lunch. My friend Emma visited from college for a fun weekend involving lots of salad and Hadestown (and an 11:00 PM call to the police lol). Dad and I went to a butterfly farm and Joshua and I went to Chattanooga for a weekend, despite my health being very poor. And that’s about it.

July made me realize I really needed some more boundaries in my life. I needed to take a step back–several steps, actually, because I was dying. So now I’ve done that. For real, this time. And it’s so amazing and refreshing.

 

 

This month I’m…

Reading: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly (reread). A Very Large Expanse of Sea and Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi (reread). Letting Go of Gravity, Meg Leder (reread). Call It What You Want and Letters to the Lost, Brigid Kemmerer (LTTL, reread). The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draanen (reread). The Deceivers, Kristen Simmons (reread). I Lived on Butterfly Hill, Marjorie Agosin. The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged, Mary Norton (reread). With the Fire On High, Elizabeth Acevedo. Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield (reread). Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder (reread). Every Soul a Star, Wendy Mass (reread). 18 total. I also speed-read and summarized 8 nonfiction books for work.

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And I ordered myself a subscription book box for the first time ever!

Watching: Spider-Man: Far From Home. Mamma Mia. Good Witch season 2. Madelaine Petsch and Emma Abrahamson on YouTube.

Listening to: bad guy, listen before i go, and COPYCAT (Sofi Tukker remix), Billie Eilish. Hey Look Ma, I Made It, Panic! At The Disco. Sucker, Jonas Brothers. Colourway and Anchor, Novo Amor. Fallin’ All In You and If I Can’t Have You (Gryffin Remix), Shawn Mendes. Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia. Take Off All Your Cool, Diamonds Are Forever, and Mona Lisa, Sabrina Carpenter. God Help The Outcasts, Hunchback of Notre Dame. Blood for Blood, Sarah Sparks. He Has Time, Common Hymnal. Hadestown, especially Wait For Me (Reprise).

Writing: I set a goal for Camp NaNo to write a 10,000 fanfiction to ease my way back into writing fiction. I only made it to 7.3k, but that’s more fiction than I’ve written in over a year probably, and it was so amazing and just downright fun to rediscover who I am as a fiction writer. I also posted a story I wrote last February and received over 100 responses in 24 hours! I’m going to keep focusing on fanfiction for a while just to have fun and build up my fiction muscles again.

As far as work writing, I did a million projects for 18 separate clients. I made a ton of money but it was not fun haha and that’s all we’re going to say about that.

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Eating: Not a lot because I was nauseous and having stomach issues most of the month (it seems I’m lactose intolerant now?). Cute strawberries for the Fourth. Talenti layer gelato, mint cookie (this was before my lactose intolerant epiphany). Chicken and zucchini foil packets. Lots of waffles cause apparently that’s all that sounds good when I’m sick. Asiago cheese bagels. Pork chops. And the most amazing meal ever: a salad with cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, hard boiled egg, bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette plus butterscotch bars.

 

Loving: Lin-Manuel Miranda and William Daniels Talk Hamilton, 1776, Mr. Feeny, and More (Playbill). We hired Fiverr workers to write about Fiverr’s IPO (Quartz). Learn Something New This Summer (The Rebelution). Why Spoonies Should Be Mentors (Romans 5:3-5). Open Hands (Madyson Grace). Slow Down (Through the Wasteland). Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse: On Relationships, Riverdale, and What the Future Holds (W Mag). How This Fake Financial Expert Tricked Outlets Into Publishing Her Advice (Huffpost). Working Full-Time Despite Chronic Illness Does Not Mean I’m “OK” (The Mighty). Crushing Burnout Before It Crushes You, The Goodness Revolt.

Grateful for: Finally having a church family. Laughing hysterically over a dice game with my friend, mom, and grandma while it rains outside.

What did you do in July?

June 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

I moved out this month! I moved into my apartment on June 7th with help from friends and I absolutely love living here; it’s so perfect. It already feels like I’ve lived here forever.

I also adopted a cat, a five-year-old domestic longhair mix named Windy.

Moving was busy and stressful and once I got settled, I did a ton of (probably too much) of fun stuff and not much work (so, logically, my health suffered). I went to tap class; spent a lot of time at my pastor’s house; and my grandmother came to live at my family’s house again for a while.

All the other fun stuff I did beyond moving + normal activities: had Brooke over for dinner, had Mrs. Alvalee over for lunch, had my grandpa and family over for dinner, Joshua turned 14, Dad and I went to a lavender festival, Joshua and I saw Aladdin, Hannah helped me adopt a cat, Brooke and I had breakfast at Ihop, my old next-door neighbors came over for swimming and S’mores, Mrs. Alvalee and I went to the house for my grandma’s birthday dinner, and Brooke came over to watch the first Avengers movie and have dinner.

This month I’m…

Reading: Live Fearless, Sadie Robertson. Don’t Date Rosa Santos, Nina Moreno. Beautiful Blue World, Suzanne LaFleur. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer. Always Never Yours, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (reread). Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel Cruze. Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, Marie Lu. Elsie’s Stolen Heart, Martha Finley. No God But One, Nabeel Qureshi (I haven’t finished this yet but it’s been a HUGE part of my month). 11 total (and I also speed-read and wrote summaries of eight nonfiction books for work).

Listening to: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Godzilla version. Shawn Mendes: The Album on rainy days. Light On, Maggie Rogers. Water, Bishop Briggs. Talk, Khalid. Stormy Weather, Etta James. Never Be Alone, Shawn Mendes. 7 Days, Alessia Cara. 7 Billion, OBB. The Wheel, Tuck Everlasting. Talking Slow, Dylan Jordan. A Whole New World, Arabian Nights, and Speechless, Aladdin (2019). Sweet but Psycho, Ava Max. Señorita, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. Sunset Lover, Petit Biscuit. Nailed To The Cross, Rescuer, and Counting Every Blessing, Rend Collective.

Watching: Iron Man. The Amazing Race season 31. Boy Meets World season 3. Iron Man 2. The new Aladdin. The Avengers.

Writing: I did so much fun stuff this month that I feel like I didn’t start working in earnest until the last couple days of the month, but my income was still where I wanted it to be, so that was nice. Clients I did work for: the magazine where I’m associate editor, a pet insurance company, travel sites, Runner’s World, my Inside Cycling newsletter, a parenting/technology website, an app that puts out nonfiction book summaries, a nutrition app, a new website launched by Bodybuilding.com, an old client that’s a media agency, an Instagram growth service, The Write Life, a mattress review website, and Livestrong.

Eating (this is a new section since I’m now cooking for myself and I have a TON of food pics from this month haha sorry): Tomato Parmesan grilled cheese. Lots of fruit. Sausage alfredo bake. Talenti dairy-free raspberry gelato. Frozen pizza. Pan cookies. Pork chops, steamed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. An amazing salad recipe from a friend. S’mores.

Loving: The Full Story Behind Shawn Mendes’s Brand-New Tour Wardrobe, Vogue World. We Need to Start Talking About Medical PTSD, The Mighty.

What did you do in June?

 

 

 

Week in My Life — Apartment Edition!

This was my first week living in my new apartment and lots of fun stuff happened (although the week also KILLED ME physically), so I thought I’d do a week in my life post!

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Monday, June 10th, 2019

I spent the morning running all over the apartment complex doing this and that; three separate Comcast guys had to come to my apartment to get my internet going, but finally it worked. I did a HIIT/abs workout and made tortellini for lunch. Then I worked all afternoon, primarily editing and submitting articles I wrote last week; I also had a phone meeting with a potential client for a gig I really wanted, and unfortunately spent more time on the phone with Equifax. Ugh. Brooke came over for dinner and we had my current favorite meal (tomato parmesan grilled cheese, grapes, watermelon, Pringles, pan cookies), then walked down to the outdoor seating area by the pool and talked for a few hours.

 

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

I could tell as soon as I woke up that I overdid it a bit Monday — too many stairs, too much cardio in my workout, and stayed up too late. So I wasn’t feeling great. My balcony is in the shade each morning, though, so I got a slow start out there. I worked from 9:30 to 1, then went to yoga class. That was completely horrible… I’ve been sick for over three years, yet I still forget my body can’t do things other peoples’ can. I do yoga at home in the air conditioning for 15 minutes at a time and I’m fine, but this yoga was an hour in the full sun! I came SO close to fainting and throwing up and I will not be going back, lol. However, I did meet four people who are about my age (it turns out one lives directly below me, but I swear I haven’t been making as much noise as he says I have haha) and the fitness instructor, who is wonderful. So it wasn’t a total waste.

After yoga, I was really not feeling well so the rest of my pre-planned schedule for the day kind of fell apart. I didn’t run errands or go to Brooke’s house; instead I just worked for a couple of hours, ate dinner, and watched Boy Meets World before falling asleep.

 

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Thanks to yesterday’s yoga class, I woke up with numb legs, heavy eyes, and an extremely sunburned back. Ugh. I filed my Inside Cycling newsletter for the day and worked on a blog post for an Instagram growth service; then Mrs. Alvalee came over. We had Culver’s takeout for lunch and researched cruises, trying to find one to take. After that I had to rest in bed for a while. Finally I got up and, although still extremely sleepy, edited and submitted a Runner’s World article; wrote a book summary; did banking stuff (which included ER bills and taxes and was extremely stressful); and then worked on an article for a telemedicine site until 7:30. Errands and going to Brooke’s for dinner did not happen again. Wednesday wasn’t a super great day (probably because I never read my Bible lol), but I ended it by listening to Stormy Weather (Etta James) and Light On (Maggie Rogers) and cleaning up my sweet little apartment and that was dreamy. I also had to force myself to stop reading Legend (recommended by Hanne) and go to sleep.

 

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Still dead from yoga; a mower outside my window woke me up at 9:00, but I could have kept sleeping for hours. It was a beautiful day, though!! High 70s, sunny, and breezy. I had tap class, which is always the best hour of my week; we have so much fun working on our dances. Then I got groceries, swung by the library, and came home–where I put on a cute dress, turned on Frank Sinatra, and made myself a delicious lunch to eat on the balcony. By 2:00 I was sitting down to get work done; I’ve been doing too much fun stuff and I’m behind. Unfortunately, after I wrote one article I had to go rest in bed, and then after working on a few more I had to rest again–so not a whole lot happened. My grandpa was in town and he and my family came over for dinner; they brought burgers from a local place, I made salad, and then we went down to the firepit and made S’mores.

 

Friday, June 14th, 2019

I woke up feeling just awful; this was been a too-busy week with no time to rest, and my body was giving out. But I really needed to suck it up and try to get some work done. I enjoyed the almost-chilly morning air on my balcony while taking a meeting and filing my Inside Cycling newsletter. Around 12:30 I finally ate breakfast, and then I had to rest in bed for an hour; I was having muscle spasms and heart arrhythmias, which are two symptoms that only surface for me when I’m really really run down. I worked in bed for a while; got up around 4:00 for some food; and worked at my desk for two more hours. At 6:00 my family came over because it was Joshua’s 14th birthday. I was really hitting the wall, but still managed to participate in swimming and eating dinner.

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Saturday, June 15th, 2019

I didn’t feel well enough to get out of bed until 11. When I did get up, I read my new book (No God But One–first bookmail at my new apartment), ate breakfast, and caught up on letter-writing. My dad came to pick me up and we went to a lavender festival at a lavender farm; we picked our own lavender, ate ice cream, and I bought an adorable white sifter plus a plant for my balcony. It was so fun! Once home, I read, slept, and then got up for dinner and to read Prodigy by Marie Lu in one sitting before going to bed for good.

 

 

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

I didn’t wake up until after 10:00 and it was glorious and much-needed. I did some dishes and laundry, then went over to my family’s house for Father’s Day lunch (steak, twice-baked potatoes, green beans, and chocolate mousse). I gave Joshua a remote control car for his birthday that Sophie is terrified of, so we played with that and watched Amazing Race. Around 4:30 I came back to my apartment and cleaned a little more, then ate leftovers for dinner and rented Iron Man 2. 

 

And that’s what I did during my first week living in my new apartment! What did you do this week?

May 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

May was an interesting month. It was supposed to be filled with lots of working, seeing friends, and shopping/packing for my apartment (!), and it was–but unfortunately I also had a gastrointestinal virus for two weeks that sent me to the ER (where I also found out I have gallstones, ugh).

Besides tap class and watching Joshua’s baseball games, I didn’t get to do a lot of my normal weekly activities such as Bible study this month. But I did get to do some fun stuff, such as seeing my pastor’s daughter in Anne of Green Gables, seeing Endgame with friends, watching Jesse be an umpire, and driving to Alabama for the high school graduation of one of my best friends, Abigail (although I was super sick that day). I also ate at a food truck with my dad, saw Emma’s dance recital, went to the waterpark and Ihop with several friends, had a picnic at the park with other friends, and my aunt and uncle unexpectedly visited! Finally, I took myself to see The Sun Is Also A Star, we went to the lake the evening of Memorial Day, I went to lunch and shopping with Brooke, and Mom and I saw our next-door neighbors’ dance recital. Andrea and I ended the month with a day trip to tour a beautiful historical farm.

This month I’m…

Reading: More All-Of-A-Kind Family, All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown, and Ella Of All-Of-A-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor (rereads). Romanov, Nadine Brandes. Wild Blue Wonder, Carlie Sorosiak (reread). Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, the March For Our Lives Founders. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, Dan Gemeinhart (YES). Rebel of the Sands (reread), Traitor to the Throne, and Hero at the Fall, Alwyn Hamilton (WOW). Love and Gelato, Jenna Evans Welch. Staying Stylish, Candace Cameron Bure. 12 total. (I also speed-read and wrote reviews of eight nonfiction books for work.)

Listening to: White Flag, Hallowed Ground, and River, Bishop Briggs. Love Me Again, John Newman. If I Can’t Have You, Shawn Mendes. Exhale, Sabrina Carpenter. Dancing Around, Flor. New Rules, Dua Lipa. Havana and Sorry Not Sorry, Pentatonix. Falling like the Stars, James Arthur. ME!, Taylor Swift (because we are learning a dance to it in tap class).

Watching: The Amazing Race season 31 (TEAM FUN). Land Girls season 2. Avengers: Endgame (HOLD ME). Thor: Ragnarok. Captain America: The First Avenger. The Last Summer. The Sun Is Also A Star. Tucker Budzyn YouTube videos. Julia Robertson YouTube videos.

Writing: I intended to back off this month and not take on any extra work, and then I got sick and ended up getting behind, so I barely made my minimum monthly income goal. I did work for my normal retainer clients–a consumer protection company, a parenting magazine, some travel blogs, a book review app, a pet insurance company, a parenting website, an outdoors website, an email newsletter company where I’m in charge of the cycling newsletter, and an Instagram growth service–plus a couple of small jobs for other people. Overall it was a pretty good work month and ended with booking some exciting and lucrative projects for June.

Loving: Charity Anderson Caps Off Her Whirlwind Year with Derek Hough Live, Dance Network. Avengers: Endgame Shows Us a Universe That Still Can’t Do Right By Women, Tor. The Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer plays way differently after Endgame, Polygon. The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush, For The Church. My Body Is Not A Battlefield, Folks. We Know They Are Killing Children — All of Us Know, Desiring God.

Grateful for: The peace of sitting in the shade at the ballpark before a game, eating dinner and listening to the conversations all around me. Giant skillet cookies. Kind Facebook messages from neighbors.

What did you do this month?

 

 

 

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. ❤

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.)

writing

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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(x)

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?