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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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Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things


Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things Life Lately: Thankful for the Little Things I’m sad to see the fall weather go but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I think it gives us all a chance to reflect back on changes and events of the year and also gives us an opportunity to look forward to the new year, new goals and new challenges.

I’m sure a lot of bloggers will be sharing similar posts over the next couple of days, but I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Sure, there will always be things and situations in life that aren’t ideal, but overall we are extremely blessed. Derek and I are surrounded by wonderful family and a great set of friends who we love to the moon and back. We are healthy, employed and have everything we need. 

Above are some snapshots I took over the course of the past couple months. I love looking back at photos – it gives you an opportunity to be thankful for the little things too:

1. These were some fresh flowers we picked up to photograph this post. I don’t buy them often but they really help brighten up any space.

2. Some fresh veggies we used to make vegetarian minestrone soup a few weeks ago. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that having access to fresh food is truly, truly a blessing.

3. I snapped this photo of Derek on a hike a month or two ago when the leaves first started to change.

4. Derek could spend hours looking through old vinyls. We took a mini road trip to Springfield, MO a little while back and stopped at one of the local shops.

5. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Americans love anything pumpkin flavored this time of year. My guilty pleasure  has to be pumpkin beer. We picked up a four pack of black pumpkin ale from one of our favorite St. Louis Breweries, Urban Chestnut, and added a little bit of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice around the rim of the glass.

6. Derek actually enjoys doing yard work. He is a rare bird and I’m so happy he puts up with me 🙂

7. I’m thankful for vacation days so I can work on little crafts and colorful projects around the house.

8. Coffee, coffee and more coffee. Derek and I cannot function without it. Coffee mugs are the one thing we collect together. We picked up this mug at The Coffee Ethic in Springfield, MO.

9. A quick shot of the sunshine coming through our front kitchen window the other morning.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and get to share it with the people you care about most. I’m off to change into my stretchy pants for the next couple of days! There are three pies sitting on my counter right now just begging me to eat them. Enjoy, 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