11 Random Facts About Me

Here's a good, old-fashion, completely random and self-obsessed post.

11 Facts about Me

  • After almost three years, I finally have the inside of my home decorated 99% of the way I like it. Now it's time to get cracking on the outside! 
  • I am oddly okay with the stretch marks pregnancy left on my stomach. But the ones on my thighs make me really sad. It makes no sense, but I think it's because those showed up the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy and I didn't expect them (especially since they got so bad so fast).
    • Thankfully my favorite bathing suit shorts still fit- but the top doesn't. So I have to decide to buy another bikini top or go full "mom suit" and add a tankini to the shorts...
    •  I decided to start a bullet journal and while I have no idea if I will stick with it, just getting it organized and doing some (very) simple decoration last night was oddly relaxing and soothing to my soul.
    • I went over six weeks without Starbucks after the baby was born. Not without coffee altogether- definitely drank some at home. But without Starbucks. I can't remember the last time that happened.
    • Speaking of coffee, I am going to try having breakfast and then drinking coffee. For some reason if I drink the coffee first, I skip breakfast and get slammed with hunger mid/late morning. Not good.
    • I'm am about to go run for the first time since having the baby! Really, since about halfway through my pregnancy. I've went to the gym but not just on a run. Kind of excited.
    • There is no better motivation for exercise than fitting in to pre-pregnancy clothes. #Truth #KeepItMoving
    • I put mayo on my grilled cheese sandwich, and it's flipping delicious.
    • I also put pickles in spaghetti. Don't judge until you try it. Seriously, just don't. 
    • I use cloth diapers on Pumpkin. The only bad part? All the judgement- seriously, it's that hard and people did it for the majority of history so stop acting like I'm a freak.
    • I am feeling the desire to do a MAJOR closet overhaul. I have tons of stuff in there that I never wear. Some of this is due to weight fluctuation due to being pregnant, but most is due to the fact that I don't know how to shop or build a truly versatile closet. I'm seriously thinking about trying to sell everything for maybe 2-3$ on a local yardsale page or Plato's Closet, but even if I have to donate to Goodwill it's gotta go. I'm tired of having crap in there that isn't being used.
    What's a random fact about you? 
    Come on, confession is good for the soul :)

      Put the Phone Down!

      I have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone. 

      It's kind of awesome in the sense that...it can do so much. It stores pictures of my adorable little baby, and my husband and I can easily share them instead of constantly texting and having to save them. I can connect with friends and family. I can connect with strangers who share my love of reading or read about cool things people are doing across the world.

      But...I can also read really terrible things that bum me out.

      And I can miss my "real" life- I don't need to be checking Facebook while I'm holding my baby!

      NO. I just don't.

      And I could be reading...which is ultimately almost always going to be more productive when it comes to my personal satisfaction and mental health.

      So my goal is to put the phone down more. 

      I can just be more productive than staring at a phone.

      My next goal is going to be to turn off the TV...but I sadly feel like it will be a while before I get there.

      Reading Goals & Attitudes

      So far this year, my reading has mostly centered on my yearly goals. Specifically, my IRL TBR and Diversity Reading goals. These goals have really forced me to re-examine my overall attitude towards reading.

      My entire life, people (mostly non-readers) have kind of thrown books at me. They go "Hmmm a compilation of words- Brittany likes those." Who cares what the words are, right? I think the abundance of these books (which I am grateful for, as some have been great and I wouldn't have found them otherwise) have made me feel like I have to read everything I find. The thought of DNFing, or worse not even attempting to read a book, has made me cringe and feel guilty for years.

      But the reality is- I change. I change from day to day, in tiny ways. But I certainly change from week to week, month to month, and year to year.

      And it's okay for my reading tastes to change.

      Until maybe six months ago, I had a big problem with the idea of DNFing (Do Not Finish- aka giving up on a book, typically because you just don't like it). But I'm hearing more and more people proclaim that they just don't care, and it's liberating. I forced myself to read many books this year just because they had somehow made it into my home. Or because it fit a criteria for my diversity reading project. And...sometimes it can suck.

      I appreciate my willingness to read unusual or lesser known books, as some of them have been great. But there are some books I literally devour...and some that just feel like they get stuck in my throat. And sometimes when I dislike a book and don't want to read it, I just put off books altogether.

      So, I am giving myself permission to quit books. 

      This is a huge change for me, but at this point in my life I truly don't have time to waste on books that I don't enjoy. With this new change in my attitude, I decided to just avoid 3 books (2 books & a play, really) on my IRL TBR. I still count this as a win, because overall I have cleared out a ton of space on my bookshelves and that was the purpose of the project.

      My Diversity Reading project has made me think about books more broadly- I am reading more into the relationships and attitudes we express about one another in writing.

      While my list focused on several different things, the ones regarding race and immigration were the most interesting to me. I probably could have read more set outside the US, but reading about race and ethnicity from minorities has been helpful in the past year or two. My country is sadly allowing politicians to use fear-mongering to rile up emotions and create deadly animosity. Reading stories from "the other side" so to speak (because I am white/non-minority) has helped me see things from both sides and better understand all the different shades of gray.

      No answers were provided, but a clearer context began to emerge.

      It's something I highly recommend.

      That being said, I'm also looking forward to reading just for reading's sake, rather than focusing on a goal. It will be nice to just look for interesting stories rather than stories that meet a certain criteria, and to finally check out stories I thought sounded great but put off because they didn't meet that criteria.

      How have your reading goals & attitudes changed over the years?

      Doing Things the "Right" Way



      My life trajectory has been fairly traditional. I graduated high school, got engaged to my high school sweetheart, started college, got married, and have a baby. With the exception of getting married at 18, then waiting 5+ years to have kids, none of this is terribly exciting or special.

      During the time we were married but without kids, my husband finished his military service/started school/got a full time job. I finished college and got a full time job also.

      There are tons of people who do things differently these days. 

      Have babies before marriage, or before school, or go through multiple serious relationships. I'm not saying any of these things are wrong, okay?

      But so many times over the years, people have told me how great it is that I'm doing things the "right" way.

      There are of course people who hate the idea of my life- and that's okay. The interesting thing to me is that it isn't people who have lived similar lives who've told me how smart my choices have been- it's people who have done things totally differently.

      I hear it from teen moms, or people who had babies before marriage, or people who put their education on hold. I hear it from people who've lost track of their first loves simply for the sake of playing the field.

      There are many paths of life, and different people will enjoy different ones. I can only speak to my personal experience and what I have been told.

      Some people look at my life and think it must be super boring. Again, that's okay.

      But I would just like to say- my life is awesome. 

      Seriously, it really is.

      I have a husband that I love with all my heart, who also happens always make me laugh and holds me when I wake up after nightmares and is great in bed.

      I have a super cute kid that I chose to have, who I don't resent even a little bit (I mean, it's somewhat annoying when she wants to get up at 1 am but it's not resentment).

      Yes I have a boring 9-5 job, but it keeps me away from people and in a building dealing with old papers and puzzles which I actually like, plus I have good benefits and my supervisors seem to really like/appreciate me. I can come home with almost no stress and spend time with my family and friends (and books). I call that a win!

      Look, I'm not telling you to live your life my way. 

      I just want to point out that in this super cool, free fall age of following your heart and being super creative and running wild and free forever...it's okay to be a little boring.

      I think women especially have had this idea presented that now we all need to be Carrie Bradshaw (even though, let's admit, that woman was a friggin' mess 90% of the time). We have this idea that there must be some big grand adventure all the time and we are somehow not taking advantage of the freedoms we finally have if we live a quiet life.*

      *not saying women have all the freedoms of men, but we have more than most women throughout history


       It's okay to actually be realistic, or to not have a creative focus, or to have a family. 

      If you are happy, then be happy. Someone is always going to judge you. And while you shouldn't do things the "right" way just for the sake of doing what others want, you also shouldn't avoid things just to be wild and cool. In the words of Ron Swanson:

      Live your life how you want, but don’t confuse drama with happiness.

      Show Us Your Books Link-Up: August 2016



      I missed last month's link-up...got distracted from the whole "adjusting to work again" thing. So my list is a little longer than normal since it is actually covering two months. 

      Fun fact- I managed to finish my diversity reading challenge (finally!), hit 30 books for the year which was my yearly goal, and read everything on my IRL TBR*!! 

      I think I was worried about having "me" time to read after the baby so I did as much as possible while on leave, and it's awesome to have met my goals with so much time left in the year.

      *really, I've read all the books that were collecting dust on my shelf as of January 1 2016. The books I've purchased this year are not included in this goal.

      I'm going to try a different rating system...I've been using the 5 star system but it's starting to feel inadequate. So I'm going to try an "A, B, C" system this month and see how it feels.


      As:
        
      The last book for my diversity reading challenge. Full review here, but basically you should go read right now.


        
      An Epilogue to Innocence by

       
      Bs:


      I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter- I've "gotten to know her" from the Vlogbrothers as she is friends with John Green. This was super cute and a fun read while also being full of feeling. A great YA choice...I will probably continue the series but I'm not running out just yet.




       

      Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
      Another very good book about a terrible subject. It was compelling, and would have been an A if things hadn't suuuuuuuper sped up at the end.

      Cs: 
       It's worth mentioning that Cs are average. These books were not bad, by any means. They just...weren't great.



        Corrie Ten Boom's Prison Letters
      This was interesting. It's letters between family members who were imprisoned during the Holocaust. Their ability to praise and have faith during such a bleak time is impressive, and probably the thing that most stood out in the book. 

       
      I don't entirely remember how I got this book...I think it was given to me? I don't know. It was an okay read. Apparently part of a series- maybe if I had read the others first it would have been better, but the writing alone wasn't enough to really pull me in. 
       
      At the end he does speak about Christ, and how he is the ultimate guidance which is important. Also he mentioned how Christ hung out with "sinners" and that we can be the right "they" for others, which I appreciate. Too often, especially with a book like this, it can seem as though we are supposed to live in our little Christian bubbles. 
       
      Life According to Steph
       
      What have you been reading? 
      Link-up with Show Us Your Books and let us know!

      Colossians 3:17 Desktop




      I made myself this desktop with Canva, and I'm loving it. Wanted to share in case anyone else would enjoy it.

      Monthly Recommendations: Aniversary



      This will be my first month linking up with the Monthly Recommendations group from Goodreads. Each month they do a theme and ask everyone to give recommendations based on the theme. This month, though, is their 1 year anniversary! So this is kind of a recap tag covering the topics they have discussed over the past year. The group was created by Kayla from Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters- check out the group and recommendation links here!


      An underrated book
      A book about survival

      • Y'all, I freakin' love this book and hardly anyone else knows about it. It is a book about terrible things, but I read it in my freshman English class and we had such passionate debates...the depth of this story is amazing, and it fits both categories perfectly.

      A book set in school
      • This book got renewed buzz a few years ago when the movie was released. I really can't even put into words what I love about this book, it's just infinite (you'll understand after you read it). My only regret is not reading in high school, because as much as I relate to it now I just know it would have been an even deeper connection had I read it then.

      A creepy book
      • This book has been on my TBR for years, and I can finally cross it off thanks to Audible. I'm pretty sure it was made into a movie- as I had vague recollections of it, and was pretty sure certain bad things were going to happy...and they did :(

      A trilogy
      • I'll be honest, I haven't read the third book of this trilogy yet. But the first two were SO good! Especially in today's climate where so many people are making an effort to read more diversely, I don't understand how this author is more celebrated! It's chick-lit-ish but deals with topics like culture and friendship and love and professionalism in meaningful ways. Each character is Hispanic, and it illustrates the different countries and political climates and social values that fall under that label. It's intruiging to see how they interact with each other and American culture in general (as they all meet in the US).

      A book you think others should read 
      ASAP/before the end of the year
      • My friend Tim wrote this awesome collection of short stories. It's a little dark and twisty and sooooo good! You can read my full review here, but truthfully the more I think about this collection the more I love it. I highly recommend, and how awesome to support a new author with so much promise!
      • More info on Tim's blog here

      A fantasy book
      • I first heard about this book from John Green on the Vlogbrothers channel, who is friends with the author. I was a little late reading it, but it was one of the most creative plots I've ever read and I LOVED it. Looking forward to the upcoming movie. There are more in the series, which I haven't read yet, but probably will soon.

       A book with little to no romance
      • This book has divisive ratings on Goodreads, which I understand. I will admit that there is a turning point where the tone of the book changes completley, which is a little odd. However I found both sections of the book enjoyable if different. Part of the plat does included sex...but not romance...I still think it's a good fit for this category.

      A stand-alone
      • This was my first Liane Moriarty book, although I know lots of people love her. It's one of my favorite books so far this year (complete review here).

      Your favorite book friendship
      • I just read this before the release of the movie, and I think it's one of my favorite John Green books. Specific to this tag, I chose it because the main character is complaining about something and his friend says "You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves" and gives this short speech that basically says how we all have flaws but deal with each other anyway. I loved that this guy called his friend out and was honest while still being like "Yeah you'r being dumb right now but we'll still hang out tomorrow."

      A book set outside of the US, or that features travel/vacation
      • This book focuses on the lives of two Nigerian people- a woman and a man, who meet in school but end up seperating and traveling to different countries. It examines race, love, and is probably the best example of globalization that I've read.

      A book with your favorite empowering female character
      • The characters of Scarlett and Melanie are some of my favorites in literature )yes, I'm choosing both of them). They are very different, and Scarlett isn't exactly a likeable character most of the time. But she is determined to survive and to thrive. Even if her values are sometimes shallow, she makes things happen. Melanie never lets life harden her- yes, she fights back but she remains good-hearted and steadfast in her beliefs. Their refusal to be emotionally broken is what inspires me.

      Please check out the others who are linking up or join the group & share your own recommendations!