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Read, Reading, To Read

| On
September 12, 2016

It's good to be back into blogging. I really enjoyed getting to share my last post and just dump out some thoughts about instagram and how it affects our self-worth. But shifting gears a bit, I'm linking up with one of my favorite bloggers today. Bailey from Love Bailey Jean. Every September, she hosts a challenge for bloggers to post every day for the whole month. And I'm just not about that, but man does that impress me. I can't handle posting every day but I thought I'd just pop in here and there to address my favorite prompts.

Today's is....Three books! One you just read, one you're currently reading, and one you want to read.


Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary / Goodreads

Usually I don't bother to give a summary of books I review because there are plenty of those out there, but just to give you a peek, this book outlines several strategies that we can use to succeed in cementing new (good) habits in our lives or breaking (bad) habits. A lot of the strategies were pretty common sense, but it was still very helpful to have someone delineate a great plan of attack for putting new strategies in place. For example, the strategy of convenience says that habits are easier to form if the action we want to take it convenient. So if you want to go to the gym in the morning, have your clothes all laid out and plan to go to the gym nearest to your house. Logical, right?

I think the best way to read this book would be to have a habit in mind that you have had trouble implementing or would just like to add to your life. Then, as you read the strategies, you can try to apply them to your own situation. This book is definitely one I will review (if not reread) as needed.

Also as a side note, I love the author's podcast Happier. So if you're not a reader or just want even more Gretchen (or as podcast-listeners think of her, Gretch) and her sister Elizabeth, check it out!


The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

So far, this book is fantastic. I haven't been reading it very quickly, but it's really quite fascinating. The 19th Wife is an odd mix of somewhat biographical retelling the life of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young who eventually denounced Mormonism and polygamy, and a modern-day (fictional) murder of a fundamentalist Mormon by his 19th wife. This book is just brilliant the way it weaves together the two stories. That said, there is a good bit of language and sexual content in the modern day section which I'm not too keen on. So far, it hasn't been a deal-breaker to me, but it definitely takes away from the historical part, which is very interesting.

To Read.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

This one might be cheating because I've technically started it and read like twenty pages. But I haven't gotten read any more than that anyways, so I'm adding this one to the list! I've heard lots of good things about this book, especially that it's funny and I'm all about that. Let me know if you've read it and if you liked it!


Why I Took a Break from Instagram (and You Should Too!)

| On
September 09, 2016

Guys, I really loved instagram for a long time. I've come a long way from my first couple posts years ago that only got a few likes. Now, I know how to take a better picture. I know what my followers will like and what my friends will comment on. I love picking out the perfect filter and coming up with funny captions, and to be honest, seeing those 'like' numbers add up. But a few weeks ago, I finally decided to delete my instagram app, thinking it would be just a temporary thing. But now I'm not so sure I want it back.

This summer, I traveled all through Europe and got to see some really, really beautiful places. The streets of France, wandering through England and Belgium, and taking in the glorious outdoors in Iceland. Every time I got a great shot of somewhere I visited, I got a little extra excitement from the thought that in a few hours or days, whenever I got internet again, I would get to share it on social media. It felt like a compulsion--posting it on instagram, just so everyone could see all the adventures I was having. But I really enjoyed it! Is that bad, in itself? To get joy out of showing off a little bit? I'm not sure.

But what concerned me more is that more and more frequently, I didn't feel like I was having enough fun, or a 'good enough' time unless I got to show it off to other people. I would stand in front of a magnificent ice cap in southern Iceland and instead of taking in its grandeur with awe, I would think of the best way to frame a photo, or what I would caption it. When did seeing something beautiful not become enough for me? Why do I have to post a photo in order to feel like I'm fully experiencing life?

I never want to get to a place where I do activities just so that I can document is on social media. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, but it's not that far off from reality, at least for me. I know months before my trip I was excited for all the fun pictures I'd get abroad and how I'd have an exciting new profile picture. I even started thinking of captions on the flight there.

I know I sound silly. I sound like a caricature of a millennial. I hate that I became that obsessed, but what's weird is that I didn't really feel obsessed...I didn't feel like I was any more consumed by social media than any of my peers. This is so normal for my generation and I'd venture to say, most people living in our day and age (in developed countries, at least).

Cue the introspection. Maybe I just really want to share my excitement about expanding my horizons. Maybe I want to show people that these awesome places really exist in the world! I do think that's part of it. But if I'm honest with's at least equally (if not more) about curating an image and perpetuating my own security. If I post pictures of myself doing exciting things with friends or visiting exotic places, then I therefore must be popular and loved and glamorous. 

But does the opposite have to be true? If I decide not to post a picture of my friends, does that mean they don't exist? If I don't post a picture of myself traveling, does that mean I don't lead an adventurous life? Of course not! But so often, we make that conclusion. At least, I do.

I guess the real question is 'where am I finding the source of my value?' I think that my previous use of Instagram would say that my value is found in my image that I've cultivated. The words that others would use to describe me. The jealousy or admiration that I receive from others.

In Isaiah 43:4, the Lord says, "You are precious and honored in my sight and...I love you."

Again and again in Scripture the Lord tells us of our value. Not because of anything we've done, any image we've created. Really, he loves us in spite of ourselves. Everything we do should make God turn his face away from us in disappointment but yet he still embraces us. All of the secret sins that we (of course!) don't share on social media are fully known to him, but we still are able to live in harmony with him thanks to the ultimate sacrifice.

So when I've received the most valuable and undeserved approval possible, why do I still fight for my reputation with others? I'm not saying I'll never use Instagram again--I'm sure I will. But I want to be increasingly aware of the needs and compulsions that lie behind a seemingly small choice to post. I want to remember whose love I already have.

Have you ever taken a break from social media? Why or why not?

Monthly Goals / September Edition

| On
September 03, 2016

Wooooo it's September! I'm so excited to be back into the groove of writing monthly goal posts. I really think that writing these posts help me achieve more + reflect on my life more, both because of the accountability and because it forces me to take the time to think about what I really want out of my month.

But as a side note, I'm excited that it's September, becauseeeee September is almost October and October is autumn and I LOVE AUTUMN. I love when it starts to get cool here in Florida (so like 75 degrees) and we get a little bit of a break from the humidity. But as little as it sounds, I really just love fall clothing! I love vests and boots and jeans and sweaters and long sleeves. I'm getting so excited just thinking about autumn! But for now...tis September. So here we goooo.

This month's goals:

BODY / Get up at 7:30 at least six days a week. My schedule this semester is a little haphazard and it's been taking a toll on my sleep cycle. Some days I get up at 7, some days I get up at 10! That just makes me feel a little out of wack for the whole rest of the day. I really just feel infinitely better when I get up early! To make getting up early as easy as possible, I plan to go to bed promptly around 10 o'clock every night and put my phone away from my bed. I also like to use an app called Alarmy that requires me to take a picture of something (like my bathroom sink) before it can be turned off. Then I have to get up!

MIND / Get at least a week ahead of schedule in my apiculture class. So apiculture (beekeeping!) is my one online class this semester and because all of the course material is available immediately, I'd love to take the opportunity to get a little bit ahead of where I need to be so that I can have some wiggle room later on if I need.

MIND / Read every night before bed. I really love to read + I think it's a really effective method for winding my brain down for sleep. Currently I'm reading The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. Follow me on Goodreads to see more!

SOUL / On tough days, make a list of things that I've accomplished. Some days I make a long to do list and by the end of the day, I feel like I have it all left to do the next day. That tends to really get me down and in a funk so on hard days, instead of focusing on the things I didn't get done, I think it'd be helpful to list things that I did get done. For example, today I didn't do a single bit of school work. But...I did get to love on some lonely shelter pups and got a birthday present for a dear friend. That might not sound like much, but it's a happier thought than thinking about all that I didn't do.

WORLD / Start composting. I live in an apartment and don't have any sort of garden, but I still want to find a way to compost my kitchen scraps. Composting is basically like a super efficient way to recycle food waste into a really useful organic material. I've heard there's a community composting area in my town, but I'm not sure quite how to go about joining it. This is my month to figure it out!

What are your goals for September?

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