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Book Club Discussion: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened


Happy Monday you all! If you’re in the United States, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week. At the beginning of November, I decided to start a book club. I love to read for fun and I hope starting this book club will be a reminder for me (and you!) to make time for the things we love.

Book Club Discussion: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

This month’s (which also happens to be the FIRST) Unofficial Book Club pick was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. If you were able to read this with me, you were probably thinking to yourself, “What the bleep am I reading?! Is this real life?!” Don’t worry, I thought the same thing – but in the best way possible.

If you don’t know much about Jenny Lawson, she is a long time blogger and has been writing regularly on her site The Bloggess since 2007. She details most of her daily life and relationships in a witty and sarcastic light and is able to poke fun at herself (A LOT). She regularly covers things like cat pictures and what it means to be the pope of what she calls the church of bloggessianism, but she also occasionally shares some more serious and personal insights on the craziness of the world.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I ended up liking it much more than I originally anticipated. I usually go for more serious books; whether fiction or non-fiction but once I started it had me cracking up even before the first page. Each chapter was more ridiculous than the last.

Just a word to the wise, reading this book in public may get you some crazy glances if when you burst out laughing to yourself. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately for work and reading next to a complete stranger on a plane may not have been the best idea. I’m sure at some point that person next to me was slightly terrified because it appeared I was hysterically laughing like a maniac for no reason.

Anyways…

I think choosing this book for the first selection of the book club was perfect timing. A few days ago I wrote a post called Confessions of a Newbie Blogger and talked a little bit about how I was still struggling to find my own writing voice on the blog. Reading this book has shown me that being yourself will bring your personality into whatever you’re working on – even if (and especially if) it is wildly inappropriate. Sharing your own personal experiences and your unique perspective can give insight into your world and will highlight differences between you and other bloggers.

In a Nutshell

“This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t.”

Right off the bat, Lawson gives the caveat that maybe not every single word in the book is true, but I think as a reader many of us can relate to that. I’m sure all of us are guilty of exaggerating parts of a story to make it more interesting (and I secretly want to believe that everything in the book is true).

Regardless, Lawson starts the story out with her childhood. Growing up on the outskirts of a small town in Texas, her father was a taxidermist and they almost always had odd animals running around the house. Early on in the book she talks about her dad bringing home a litter of raccoons. Yes, a litter of raccoons. And if that’s not enough her mom decided to make handmade tiny “jams” for the raccoons and even after they grew up they decided to keep one as a pet and name it Rambo.

From there, Lawson then goes on to talk about her time as a misfit in high school, giving one chapter the alternative title of “High School is Life’s Way of Giving You a Record Low to Judge the Rest of Your Life By.” Being what she calls the only goth in her high school, she claims to have been met with a lot of confusion from her classmates. Despite her dark look and anti-social persona, she confesses to being just as awkward as I think the majority of us are in high school.

In her own words…

My Classmates refused to take me seriously, so I decided to pierce my own nose using a fishhook, but it hurt too much to get it all the way through so I gave up and then it got infected. So instead I wore a clip-on earring.
In my nose.
To school.
It was larger than my nostril and I almost suffocated.

I honestly don’t think you could make this stuff up. And what I love about the book is that when the stories start to get so far out there, Lawson shows up with photographic evidence to stifle any doubt.

How was I able to relate to the story?

From the surface, it may not appear that I have much in common with Lawson.

My childhood was a complete 180 from the one she describes. I grew up in the suburban Midwest and my dad was not an animal person at all. He didn’t wake us up in the middle of the night with a squirrel puppet (see pages 23-29 for more detail) and we never had to worry about him bringing home an animal with rabies.

A few other differences:

I wasn’t a goth in high school

I can’t say that I’ve ever muttered the words “one time I got stabbed in the face by a serial killer” while at a dinner party

I don’t collect tiny animals that have been (ethically) taxidermied (spell check is telling me that taxidermied is not a real word but I’m going to roll with it anyways)

Even though Lawson’s life as documented in her book seems completely outrageous in comparison to mine, I still think there is a lot that I can relate to.

I think the majority of us go through a period in our life when we try as hard as possible to blend in with crowd. We think our parents sole purpose in life is to mortify us in front of our peers and think our differences are something to be ashamed of.

I think this is a normal cycle for everyone to go through, at least I know that I personally have experienced this. I was a tomboy in high school and cared more about sports than boys. I remember feeling embarrassed because I always got the highest scores in geometry class and would throw the curve off for everyone else (I know everyone hates that person) and a lot of times I would rather stay home on the couch in my sweatpants than put myself in a potential socially awkward situation.

Even though she talks about most things in her book in a comical light, I have a lot of respect for the more serious topics that she covers – her anxiety disorder, her miscarriage and her experiences as a wife and mother. Overall, reading about Lawson’s transformation from a misfit to one of the most successful bloggers out there and a New York Times Bestseller was hugely inspiring.

I happily followed Lawson into the many rabbit holes and tangents she went on throughout the book and was hooked through the last page. Her detailed account about just surviving day-to-day life rings very true with me. I think we are all guilty of sometimes trying to make it appear like we have our shit together, when really we are having a giant meltdown on the inside. This book made me feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling like that so if you weren’t able to read the book with me this month, I hope I’ve convinced you to pick it up down the road.

I’ll leave you with a few encouraging words from Lawson herself:

I try to be appreciative of what I have instead of bitter about what I’ve lost. I try to accept this disease with grace and patiently wait for the day when they find a cure.
 And for when I get my monkey butler.

What was your favorite part of the story? Were you able to relate to anything that Lawson went through? Have you ever felt like a misfit, but later seen it as a positive experience?

I’ve been slacking and haven’t figured out what book I’m reading next but will share that as soon I know. Have a great week everyone! love, adrienne

 

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Confessions of a Newbie Blogger


confessions of a newbie blogger

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Last week kinda kicked my butt so I’m looking forward to a fresh start this week. Its Thanksgiving week so that means copious amounts of food, stretchy pants and after dinner naps on the couch. I can’t wait!!

But let’s get to today’s post. It’s no secret I’m new to the blogging world. Its been just over a month since I closed my eyes and hit submit on my first post.

I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing out here, what to write about, what type of content readers enjoy, how to convey my personality through my writing and more. Sometimes I’m feeling sarcastic, sometimes I’m afraid of offending people so I don’t sound like myself, sometimes I probably just sound like I need to improve my writing.

I think this is a lot of stuff that will get easier with time, but while I’m working to figure it all out, I thought it would be good idea to keep a record of how I’m growing as a blogger in my teeny tiny corner in this great big space.

How do I differentiate myself from others out there? I’ll be honest. I really have no idea at this point.  But what I do know is that dedication to great content and consistency will give me the best shot at not throwing in the towel after a couple of months. I’m determined not to have my blog turn into one of those projects where the excitement level is high at the beginning but then it slowly becomes less of a priority and quickly burns out.

I want to give it an honest shot, so just having just one month under my belt here are my confessions as a newbie blogger.

This Shit is Hard

Excuse my French, but I really do have a new-found appreciation for bloggers who are able to produce unique, consistent content week after week. Before I started blogging, I did a lot of brainstorming about different topics to write about.  I filled up a couple of pages. I thought I had a great start, but I quickly realized that having an idea and bringing it to fruition are two very different things.

I am an avid reader of a lot of blogs, and before I started my own I often thought, It can’t be that hard to write a blog.

Wrong.

There is so much more to each post than what it looks like. There’s the research, the writing, the photography and the editing, editing and more editing, and once you hit “publish” there’s sharing the post on social media, networking with others and more. I  did a total of 61 revisions on this one post alone. 

It seems impossible to get ahead

After hitting “publish” on my first post, my goal was to draft up about a month’s worth of posts and publish 2-3 posts per week. I quickly realized that was an extremely lofty target.

Working a regular day job, which requires a lot of travel and long hours sometimes makes it hard to find the motivation to sit down in front of my computer and find the creativity to come up with engaging material. After all of the energy that goes into a single post its  difficult for me to start on the next one in order to get ahead. There are definitely a few things I could work on to break this cycle: figuring out what part of the day I am most productive, turning off the distractions and planning ahead a little better. I think if I can do that and get 2-3 posts written and ready to go ahead of schedule, there won’t be so much pressure to come up with something at the last minute.

It takes a lot of work to make it look easy

While in the check out line at the grocery store last week, I noticed a magazine that was featuring Jimmy Fallon’s Rules for Success. On the front cover it read:

“Work your ass off. Make it look easy.”

I might be a little biased towards Jimmy Fallon, but I loved this quote and it made me remember that the majority of successful bloggers (and people in general) out there didn’t become successful because of luck, but rather through persistence, dedication and continually trying to improve themselves (and maybe just a teeny tiny bit of luck).

The Upside

Having said all this, I am still really excited about blogging and sharing a glimpse of our life with the world. Its exciting and a great way to see where we’ve been even if no one else does end up reading.

Its amazes me how much I’ve already learned just in the past month. Before I started the blog, I knew absolutely nothing about HTML and CSS language but I am a bit obsessive about how the site looks so I was forced to make sense of it and learn how to edit it to my liking. 30 days ago I had no idea what the heck a Meta description is, now I do and I’ve started learning the basics about SEO.

Starting this blog has also stirred up an interest in photography for me. I purchased a DLSR camera about six months ago but only picked it up a couple of times. Now I am using it on a regular basis and want to learn as much about photography as I can. One goal of mine is to only use my own photographs on this blog. I think that will definitely make this project more personal for us.

There are a couple of things I want to focus on in the coming month.

– Make blogging a higher priority

– Get at least one week ahead with posts

– Have fun with it!

Are there any other newbie bloggers who feel the same? If you’re an old pro, what sorts of things did you struggle with when you first started blogging? Is there any technique that kept you blogging in the beginning?

I’d love to hear! Have a great Thanksgiving week everyone. love, adrienne

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10 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling on Business


10 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business

My 9-5 job requires quite a bit of travel. A lot of weeks that means leaving the house around 5 am on Monday morning and getting back late Friday night.  It can be exhausting and can quickly throw off any of my well-intentioned healthy eating and exercise goals.

In September, I spent the entire month traveling for work. Because of the long hours we spent working on a project my company catered the majority of the meals from chain restaurants in the area. I won’t deny how amazing this seemed at first, but after a couple of days I realized I had probably consumed more sodium than I normally do in an entire month.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Traveling for business often means eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner and having less opportunities to squeeze in some exercise throughout the day. I’m back on the road again this week so today we’re talking about 10 ways that, with a little planning, can help you stay on track with your goals if you find yourself in a similar situation.

1. Research local restaurants

Do a little research before you leave on your business trip. Check out sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon to see what sort of restaurants are near your job site. Experiencing new food can be one of the greatest parts of traveling and healthy eating doesn’t have to mean flavorless food. Try to look for places that have more nutritious options on their menu.

I typically travel to the Washington D.C. area and there is a great place here (and up the east coast), called SweetGreen. They primarily serve salads, wraps and rice bowls, but what’s really inspiring about this place is that they partner with local organic farmers to use quality ingredients. Their menu changes regularly based on the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Finding places like this can give you the best of both worlds – great tasting and good for you.

2. Pack your running shoes

I know what you’re thinking. Running shoes can be bulky and take up prime real estate in an already packed carry on, but do your best to squeeze them in there. This way you won’t have an excuse to skip out on exercise throughout the week.

3. Bring a few healthy snacks for the airport

Airports can be very tempting places. Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Five Guys – these are just a few of the establishments that are usually found in airports. It’s easy to wind up at one of them while waiting for your flight or killing time during a layover. Instead, try throwing a couple of granola bars or a pack of mixed nuts in your bag to hold you over.

4. Stop at a local grocery store

The first day I arrive I usually find a local grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on throughout the week. Having a couple of apples, bananas or carrots on hand will help you avoid unnecessary sugary snacks and give you something to munch on while spending time in your hotel room.

5. Choose a hotel that offers an in room refrigerator

To piggy back off #4, having a refrigerator in your hotel room can give you a lot more options. You can pick up more of those food items that you normally buy at home. This can be an easy way to stick to your normal routine and stay on track if you are working hard to make healthier choices.

6. Request a room close to the hotel gym

This one might make me sound a little bit lazy, but I am much more likely to go to the hotel gym if its super close to my room. You can pop in and out for a quick workout or walk on the treadmill. Most hotels these days have gyms, and with a lot of companies you can include your travel preferences when you book your trip.  I usually stay at the same hotel every time, so I request a room on the first floor near the gym.

7. Look for gyms or workout studios that offer trial classes

For a long time I had a membership with a yoga studio in my hometown and I loved it, but when I started traveling for work I wasn’t able to go nearly enough to get my moneys worth. I decided it didn’t make financial sense to pay monthly for something I wasn’t using so I ended up canceling it. However, I know that a lot of gyms and other types of workout studios will offer free or reduced rate trial periods or classes. Do a little research about the area, and find out if there’s a place nearby that offers a fun workout class free for first timers.

8. Explore the area on foot

Instead of driving everywhere, make an effort to explore the area on foot. Head to the downtown area and check out the local shops and restaurants. Another option would be to talk to the employees at the hotel – ask them if there a safe walking trail nearby or a lake where you can get in a quick jog. Even a quick walk can be very beneficial after a long day at the office.

9. Do some basic exercises in your room

If you don’t feel like heading to the hotel gym or have time to find a local class, you can always do some basic exercises in your hotel room. This is especially true now as the weather is starting to get colder and the days are getting shorter. There are several types of exercises you can do even without a lot of space. Try doing some planks, wall sits, push ups or squats while you watch TV. A short workout is always better than no workout.

10. Make a plan and stick to it

For me, this meant deciding that I was going to make healthier choices when it came to meals and snacking and sticking to it. What’s convenient isn’t always what’s best. Continuous travel is definitely something that can challenge your dedication to a healthier lifestyle, but with a little planning and some good old fashioned will power you can still meet your goals even if your job requires you to be a road warrior.

What types of challenges do you face on the road? What techniques do you use to stay on track? Do you have any tips or tricks that help you make healthier choices away from home?

P.S. The beautiful photo above is by Sylwia Bartyzel and is posted on Unsplash.