May 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

In May I enjoyed working with a lot of new clients on some exciting projects, and I was also able to spend a lot of time with my family. This month I had three voice lessons and went to two of Joshua’s baseball games. I had a four-day at-home medical test in addition to three doctor appointments and one infusion, and struggled with losing more independence because of my health. I also fit in quite a bit of fun stuff in May: I spent a day with Grace Anne (!); we had a family Mother’s Day dinner; Brooke and I went out for coffee; I went to graduation at Joshua’s school, spent the night at the house, and Dad and I went to a Gwinnett Stripers game; I went to a fellowship lunch at church; Andrea came over; we went bowling with the Coxes; I went to my pastor’s house for lunch with some friends after church; and my family came over here for lunch on Memorial Day.

This month I’m…

Reading: Fighting Forward, Hannah Brencher. Everything that Burns, Giselle Trelease (DNF). Kate in Waiting, Becky Albertalli. Fully Alive, Susie Larson. Love A La Mode, Stephanie Kate Strohm. The Queens of Animation, Nathalia Holt. Girls’ Club, Sally, Sarah, and Joy Clarkson. Call Down the Hawk (reread) and Mister Impossible, Maggie Stiefvater (reread). 100 Days of Sunlight, Abbie Emmons (reread). Beyond Awkward Side Hugs, Bronwyn Lea. Kisses and Croissants, Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau. The Beauty in Breaking, Michele Harper. Ballplayer, Chipper Jones. Keep My Heart in San Francisco, Amelia Diane Coombs. Luck of the Titanic, Stacey Lee. 16 total.

Listening to: fire, Jordy Searcy. Supply & Demand, Wilder Woods. We Do Not Labor In Vain, FAITHFUL. whywhywhy, MisterWives. City of Angels, Damian McGinty and Cozi Zuehlsdorff. Another Place, Bastille and Alessia Cara. Funeral, Maisie Peters and James Bay. Float, HARBOUR. The Wire, Patrick Droney. survivin’, Bastille. Halfway Up, The Brook & The Bluff. Range Rover, Ben Rector and Steve Winwood.

Watching: The Frey Life and Colleen Christensen on YouTube. Gilmore Girls seasons 1 and 2. Thor Ragnarok (re-watch).

Eating and/or cooking: Pulled pork with butternut squash zig zags. Trader Joe’s soft baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Banana bread with extra banana. Pretzel bagels with scrambled egg whites. Tostones. Mini PopTarts. Chicken and rice bowls with homemade pico de gallo (my current obsession).

Writing: This month was my last month with a client that’s made up almost half of my monthly income for going on two years now. After phasing them out, I jumped back into the swing of marketing, and things kind of blew up (it was one of those months where I’d groan and say “can people please stop offering me work” every time I opened my inbox). I ended up working with 12 clients total this month (counting retainer clients, old clients, and new clients) and making more money than I’ve made in a long time. I was able to work on some really exciting projects for dream clients like Chewy and Healthline. It was stressful and physically difficult, but made me feel excited about my career in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. Outside of work, this month I wrote 30 letters and received 24. I also did volunteer work with People Hope, Diamonds, and DSN.

Loving (this section is BACK!): Morning Brew and Marketing Brew. Everything that Made Me Happy in April, Tea Stained Adventures. I Ate the Shawn Mendes Bowl the Way Shawn Mendes Intended, Vulture. San Francisco Giants Outfielder Drew Robinson’s Remarkable Second Act, ESPN. The Youth Prepare for #Summer2021, A Glorious Summer They’re Unlikely to Get, New York Times. Costume Designer Mitchell Travers Teases IN THE HEIGHTS Looks, Talks Eye-Popping Career & More, Broadway World. Etcetera #15, A Farm Girl’s Life.

Buying: Birthday washi tape. Silly Putty. Two floral masks (lol, right before restrictions started easing). A Six of Crows laptop sticker. The Frey Life’s new “Take the Next Step” t-shirt. A new journal. A computer (that was not in the plan for this month, but it had to happen and I love my new-to-me MacBook Pro).

Grateful for: Broadway is coming back! Seeing a doctor who has some of my same medical conditions. Friends who can spot when I feel like bursting into tears even if I think I’m hiding it. My library buying all the books I ask it to (still not over this!!!). Needing less sources for a project than I thought. Baseball and vaccinations. The little girls at church making me cards. Summer storms.

What did you do in May?

My Journaling Routine + The Four Types of Journals I Use

I’ve always loved to journal, from the green folder I started scribbling in when I was 10 right up to last night when I sat on the couch in front of Gilmore Girls writing my way out of a tired week and a prickly mood. You know when people ask what one item you would grab if your house was burning down? My answer is ALWAYS my filled journals. They’re irreplaceable and I regard them as one of the most valuable things I own.

I searched my apartment looking for all of the filled journals I could find and came up with 26, including my current journals (although only six of those 26 were main journals). Just for fun, I decided to put them on the scale. They weighed 12.40 pounds!

My journal routine has taken some time to nail down. For several years, I would write what I did each day in one journal, and then I would use another journal to take notes on sermons and write out prayers and things like that. But over the past few years, I’ve fine-tuned the different journals I use and what I use them for. Currently, I write in the following journals on a regular basis:

  • One Line A Day journal
  • Gratitude journal
  • Bullet journal
  • Journal

(Yes, I’m aware I have a lot of journals–I always have trouble picking and choosing which ones I’m going to pack for a trip and which ones I’m just going to catch up on when I get home. I used to take brand-new blank journals to Colombia because I was scared of taking a filled journal and then losing my luggage or something.)

I typically end up writing in at least one of my journals every day. I treat journaling the same way I treat reading: I don’t force myself to journal, it just naturally happens. I thought it would be fun to do a quick breakdown of my current journals, what I use them for, and what I like about each one. Let’s get into it!

One Line A Day journal

I’ve been using a One Line A Day journal (Amazon) since February 2019, and I absolutely love it! I normally catch up on this journal every 2-3 days and write a few quick lines about what I did each day. It creates a Timehop-like situation that’s a fun throwback (well, sometimes–other times it just brings up bad memories, lol). It also comes in handy as a fast and easy way to find exactly what I was doing on a certain date if I ever need or want to know.

Gratitude journal

I’ve been writing in a gratitude journal for about six months. My only stipulation for myself here is that I have to write a minimum of one thing I’m grateful for each day (specific things–tangible ways I saw God’s goodness in my life that day). Some days I write multiple things, but I add at least one each day. The notebook I use for this is a notebook my dad got from his work.

Bullet journal

Hanne made me a bullet journal at the beginning of 2020, which I absolutely loved! (The journal itself came from Michael’s.) She made me monthly spreads for each month in 2020, including things like monthly goals, books I read that month, and a log of my medical appointments. Now, I primarily use my bullet journal to keep track of letters I’ve mailed and received. However, I’ll sometimes also use it to make fun lists–mostly lists related to books, like books I want to reread or books I own and need to read (ha. That one is pretty long).

Journal

I saved the best for last: my journal journal! I use my beautiful leather-bound journals to write about whatever’s happening in my life that I need to process. Often, I’ll brain dump into my phone notes during the week, and then on the weekend I’ll sit down and transcribe things into my journal. I normally end up writing in this journal once a week–sometimes more often.

I used to treat my leather-bound journals the same as my One Line A Day journal; I’d essentially transcribe my daily to-do lists into my journal. But ever since I started just writing here and there about what was on my mind (which I think was sometime in 2019) instead of worrying about getting down every detail of every day, journaling has been so much better.

I’m almost done with my current journal, and as I was looking through my empty notebooks and journals, I realized I don’t have one to use next (I do have blank journals, but no leather-bound ones like I use for my journal journals–I’m very picky about what type of notebook I use for each type of journal, lol). So, I think a trip to Barnes and Noble is in order… which makes me extremely excited because the journal section at Barnes and Noble is my favorite place in the world!

It’s taken me a few years to sort out all my journals and their various purposes. But I really like the journals I’ve settled on! Outside of my journals, I have lots of other notebooks I use to record various writing things, work things, chronic illness things, etc–these are just my personal journals. (I’m definitely not lacking in journals and notebooks, lol.) Journaling has always been a natural part of my life and looking back on my old journals is so much fun!

Do you journal? What types of journals do you use? Let me know all about your journaling routine in the comments!

Hope in the Dark Launch Tour

I’m so excited to announce that my sweet and talented friend Hannah Wright is releasing her debut novel, Hope in the Dark, later this month. If you like Christian historical fiction, you’re definitely going to want to check it out! I had the privilege of interviewing Hannah to learn a little more about the book and her writing process. Keep reading to check out what she has to share–and stick around to the end of this post to learn how to preorder her book.

Tell us what Hope in the Dark is about and what inspired you to write it.

Hope in the Dark is about a young lady named Elizabeth Matthews who has just moved out west to Featherlight, Idaho from the home that she grew up in North Carolina. Although North Carolina was comfortingly familiar to her, she was left with a broken heart and a determination to not trust a man again. 

Samuel Bryson has grown up in Featherlight and he is honor bound to provide for his widowed mother and siblings. He is determined to live up to his own expectations of being just like his father and he will let nothing get in his way. And that includes marriage. 

The two soon become aware of suspicious criminal activity going on around them. Newly hired school teacher Elizabeth and Samuel find themselves desperately searching for answers to the suspicious criminal activity around them. They find themselves thrown into facing their worst fears… and each other. In the midst of many unknowns, will they find the courage to do what God is calling them to? 

What aspect of this book are you most excited for readers to discover?

I think I’m most excited for readers to discover the theme of God’s love. Elizabeth and Samuel both have struggles and they have to realize just how much God loves them and that they can trust Him through every situation. Also, I’m so excited for people to meet all the characters! 🙂 

What’s something that has surprised you about the publication process with Hope in the Dark – something you didn’t expect, whether good or bad?

Hmm… I think one thing I didn’t expect was being able to connect with some amazing people through the process of self-publishing. God definitely blessed me with the most amazing editor and cover designer and it’s just so awesome thinking of how He had me meet them. I definitely realized that I can’t do self publishing on my own and the Lord brought some good friends into my life to help me with the process. 

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Haha well my family is in the process of moving so I definitely don’t have a set routine! 🙂 But my routine lately has been I wake up and try to spend some time with God before having breakfast. Then I’ll usually check emails and start on whatever I have to do that day, when I was writing Hope in the Dark over quarantine, that was when I would write usually. Then I’ll have lunch and then in the afternoon I might work some more or just chill if I am finished with my to do’s. I try to exercise a couple times a week, (that definitely doesn’t always happen haha), but I might do that in the afternoon. Then I usually have a snack and relax a bit before dinner. After dinner I like to watch some YouTube to relax before bed. If I get in bed early enough I like to read! 

What are you writing next?

Well, I’m not for sure yet if I’ll write it next, but I’m working on plotting a Christian fantasy novel! 

Any advice for other writers?

Well, I definitely need suggestions too!  I really like the quote “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” If I had one piece of advice, I would say pray about your writing and ask God to help you craft the stories that He wants you to tell. Have fun and really enjoy the writing process. Write stories that you would want to read. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself for your first draft, just write your story!

Hope in the Dark comes out on May 25th. Click here to preorder your copy. You can also follow Hannah on Instagram to keep up on all the exciting book-related news. I’m so excited for Hannah and can’t wait for all of you to read this book!

April 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

April was a difficult month. Medically, I had a few crises and my overall health/daily symptoms got worse, leaving me with a rollercoaster of emotions to process. This month I had four medical appointments, three infusions, and two procedures. I spent two weekends at my family’s house, went to four of Joshua’s baseball games, and had one voice lesson. I also managed to spend a fun day with Brooke, go to a coffee shop with Kenna, have a finger food night with small group, have Kenna over for lunch and an online retreat, go out with Kristen and Margarita, and go to a “Vivaldi by Candlelight” concert in Atlanta with my dad.

This month I’m…

Reading: Ace of Shades and King of Fools, Amanda Foody. The Nightmare Thief, Nicole Lesperance. Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising, Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, and Rule of Wolves, Leigh Bardugo (all rereads except for RoW). Salt in my Soul, Mallory Smith. Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary (reread). A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver. Leonard (My Life as a Cat), Carlie Sorosiak. 13 total.

Listening to: Waking Up Easy, Lime Cordiale. Life Keeps Moving On, Ben Rector. Roses, The Band CAMINO. You Are Gold, The National Parks. Cover Me In Sunshine, P!nk, Willow Sage Hart. Canyon, Ellie Holcomb. April in Paris, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. Eliza, Jayna Jennings. Just Tell Me, Alexa Cappelli.

Watching: The usual YouTube suspects–like the Frey Life, Kiara Madisen, and Linda Sun. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. Doctor Strange. JOJO RABBIT. And, Shadow and Bone on Netflix (seeing one of my all-time favorite worlds come to life was an absolute DREAM and involved much squealing–more here).

Eating and/or cooking: Lemon sugar cookies. Molasses cookies. BBQ chicken zucchini nachos. Cookie dough Luna protein bars. Protein oatmeal. Strawberry yogurt. Honey nut Cheerios. Ozery Bakery cranberry orange morning rounds.

Writing: Work-wise, some things are shifting around. I’m getting back into the swing of marketing–which feels good–and taking on some new clients. I wrote 32 letters this month and received 30. I co-led a virtual DSN meetup, had some Diamonds meetings, and volunteered with People Hope. I also did Escapril (well, mostly just for the first part of the month). I ended up writing eight full pieces and drafting four more, making for 12 completed days total before life went off the rails and I didn’t finish the month. But I’m really glad I did at least part of Escapril. It reminded me that just because I don’t feel well enough to write very much (outside of work) doesn’t mean I am no longer capable of writing.

Buying: A cyclamen (houseplant). A cane. Way too many new shirts, plus some earrings. A Gerbera daisy.

Learning: How to just take the next step.

Grateful for: People (mostly my mom) who have been driving me everywhere. April in Georgia. Colorful new clothes. How good it feels to write and journal and watch movies. Friends who drop everything to call you and pray aloud for you while you cry. Winning a book in a giveaway. A surprise friendaversary gift in the mail. Feeling the sunshine on my skin. Baby bunnies. Milo the goat (#IYKYK). Laughing hysterically about stupid things at 9 PM. Everyone who has prayed for me and sent me encouraging notes. And overwhelmingly grateful God gave us music and story and art.

What did you do in April? What’s one thing you are grateful for about this past month? Any plans for May?