Being OK With Being Enough

Lately I’ve been struggling with self-worth. I’ve noticed moments of jealousy, comparison, anger, judgement, and frustration pop up. I know- even in those moments- that my reactions are a result of being unhappy with myself, but I have been struggling with silencing the negative voices and curing my insecurities at their root.

I can feel the spiral as it’s happening, which is incredibly frustrating because isn’t the biggest “cure” of anxiety or wild emotions the ability to be aware of your triggers and emotions as they happen? I am fully aware of them- sometimes I even say aloud, “Audrey, what is wrong with you? Chill! Why are you feeling this way?!” But they’re still there.

I’ve been advised to invest in the awareness route. I tend to shut down emotionally or dive head first into distraction when things become overwhelming. I know that’s not right or healthy, but it’s a comfortable band aid. I’m going to give the awareness approach a shot next month, though. We’ll be flying to Dallas and I plan to NOT distract myself into oblivion and, instead, embrace every moment of the flight. (WISH ME LUCK. WOOF.)

But it’s tough to apply this practice when it comes to emotions. I am OVER THE DAMN MOON for my friends and their accomplishments. I’m even happy for acquaintances and strangers who have good things happen for them. But every once in a while, usually when I’m overwhelmed with 15 other things, I feel envy or judgement creep into my happy heart and turn it bitter. It’s frustrating.

I want to be skinnier, good at my job, more charismatic. I want to write a book and grow my own vegetables and travel with friends. I want to kick my flying fear to the curb and cure my lifelong acne and enjoy coconut milk. And honestly, no one is standing in my way. But Bitter Betty is a sneaky b*tch.

I am a STRONG girls support girls & empowered women empower women advocate but I am a human, too. I can be a catty, mean person in my head and to myself at times. I’m always looking for a way to fix that.

All that to say, if you’re riding any certain struggle bus today we can share a seat. No one is perfect. You vent to me and I’ll vent to you, and together we can figure out ways to be kinder, gentler, graceful humans in this world of comparison.

*I know things are tough right now. Speak up, donate, and love your neighbor fiercely.

 

Love, Kindness, and a Little PRIDE

I had a different post scheduled for today but when something emotional happens to you and you’re a writer/blogger, you write about it. This weekend I went to my first Pride.

There is some bad bad bad stuff happening in our world country right now. It makes me physically sick to think about and read about and keep up with. The amount of goodness and love and support and joy that I witnessed on Saturday has renewed my hope and fire and energy. I’m an introvert and I was fully expecting Pride to wipe me out and exhaust me, but it did the opposite. Strangers shouting HAPPY PRIDE to one another, bright colors and countless corporations, politicians, villages, and small businesses sharing their love and support for the LGBTQ+ community, and having my friends around me (even in the +90 degree heat) was exhilarating.

It floors me that marriage is only recently legal. Love was outlawed and persecuted and HATED up until a mere THREE years ago. What the actual hell? One of my very best friends is gay and it kills me that for so long her love was illegal. Guys, she is a FIERCE love-giver. When she is on your side she is on. your. side. And for so long this country wasn’t on her side. I feel so damn overjoyed and grateful to have celebrated her love on Saturday. Pride was the most beautiful, freeing celebration of love. It was awesome.

I witnessed some off the wall stuff on Saturday. Topless women, a drag show, some incredibly colorful outfits. It was nuts, but nuts in the absolute best way. Everyone was happy. Everyone was kind. Everyone cheered for and supported everyone.

Actually, that’s a lie. For a moment, almost directly across the parade from us was a man in an anti-GAY shirt with a megaphone. I have no idea what hate he was spewing because a girl with a large bass drum kept following him around, making noise every time his pie-hole opened. It was glorious and I think she might’ve been a superhero. Eventually he gave up and left.

I want to note that I grew up and live in a conservative small town. Big cities intimidate me and diversity is not something that runs wild in my neck of the woods. I love my town, but how I wish I could bring all the color and love from Pride back home and educate the handful of fearful folks. Someday opinions will change, but to do that we must all embrace and love as strongly and fully as the LGBTQ+ community does. You don’t have to be a negative product of your environment- you can have a positive influence on that environment instead.

I’m turning comments off today. I don’t think much more needs to be said on this topic. The world is filled with hate and you won’t find any of that here today. Take care of yourselves, friends. And take good care of others ❀

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 Selections

Is it that time again, Audrey?? Yes. Yes, it is.

Erin released the prompts for her next book challenge and I’m so excited! This four month reading challenge goes from July 1 to Oct. 31. I have a few work trips in there so fingers crossed I get some travel-reading done.

Ok, I’ll talk rules and dets after I share my choices πŸ™‚

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

|5 points| Freebie (at least 200 pages): One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
|10 points| Starts with the letter N: Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen
|10 points| Has a mostly orange color: A Tyranny of Petticoats by various authors
|15 points| A book with an unlikable character: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| One of the 100 books PBS calls “The Great American Read”Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (illustrated version) by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Something related to water in the title: On A Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell
|25 points| A book you’ve owned the longest (GoodReads list) but haven’t read yet: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
|30 points| An emotion word in the title: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
|30 points| Each word in the title begins with the same letter: After Alice by Gregory Maguire
|35 points| A book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one (i.e. does the same kind of thing as you do day to day): The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Ok… on to my sales pitch πŸ˜‰

Just kidding, it’s not a pitch. Erin hosts the most supportive and encouraging challenges, though. I use them as motivation to put down the remote or phone and pick up a book or Kindle. I read ONE book in my very first challenge- it’s not about how fast or many you read. It’s about enjoying the stories along the way. Absolutely ZERO pressure.

If you do want to partake, select your books and have them to Erin’s FB page before July (the earlier, the better- but she takes late joiners, too). Reading starts at 12:00am on July 1st and ends at 11:59pm on October 31st. One book can be a reread for you, but all categories must be different books (no doubling up to check off two categories) and all books must be 200+ pages. You can use audio and ebooks as long as they meet those requirements. Any questions? You can check out Erin’s FB page or ask me!

So tell me what you picked or would pick for each category. I won’t lie- I struggled a bit. Almost all of these are from my TBR list, though, so I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll FINALLY finish a challenge.

What I Read…

At the beginning of the year I was a reading machine….then I wasn’t. I didn’t finish Erin’s Challenge (part way through I knew I wouldn’t), I barely cracked a book in April, and I often chose sleeping or TV over reading. I was sick and we traveled quite a bit. I’m not making excuses- I fully own up to all my distractions. I’m back on the horse for now, though, and the horse is galloping.

(Obviously linking up with Jana and Steph today for Show Us Your Books!)

In other news,Β  I joined a book club at my church in May! We read Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I’m the youngest by quite a few years (10), but nevertheless I enjoy the company & discussion.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…/5Β 
At the close of WWII Juliet Ashton, a charismatic and fiery authoress, is looking for her next book topic. After exchanging a few letters with some literature-loving islanders of Guernsey she’s both curious & inspired.
Everyone I know who’s read this book has loved it. I’m not here to contest that. I want to be best friends with Juliet and I want to discuss literature with the Literary Society and I want to run through the fields and build sandcastles on the beach with Kit. It is a gorgeous story of a strong women who is dedicated to her career and her loved ones and reporting a true but entertaining story. It’s also about rebuilding one’s life after bombs have reduced all the one loves to rubble. Gosh, it was a crazy gorgeous story. I was never bored and I teared up a few times and I’m very grateful for everyone who encouraged me to read it!
Should you read it? Please do. It’s lovely and heart-warming and sad in a warlike way but so cozy.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle (Melton- at the time)
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…/5Β 
Carrying over from her blog Momastery, Glennon Doyle Melton shares her youthful struggles, stories of motherhood, and lessons on finding her own version of faith and God’s grace.Β 
(Honest rating is 3.5 stars but I round up.) This book was picked for me. When I joined my church’s book club they had just started this one- so I jumped right in. Glennon and her love-based faith reminds me of Jen Hatmaker and Brene Brown (although, admittedly, I’ve only read excerpts from and about them. I don’t know their backstories). Glennon is a recovered/ing alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, & smoker. When she found out she was pregnant she stopped everything cold turkey (damn), married the baby’s father, and started writing to keep herself sane. Her stories are raw and honest and 100% rooted in love/grace/kindness. I loved that. She made me want to be a better person- but also emphasized that “better” is a term of worth and we’re already 100% worthy.
Should you read it? If what I said appeals to you, then yes. She’s not perfect, her past is spotty, and she takes a pretty liberal approach to loving Jesus- which I believe is 100% His kind of disciple.

Favorite Quotes:

“Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.” p.123

“…when in doubt, mercy triumphs judgement.” p.140

“Everybody has the answers right inside of her, since we’re all made up of the same amount of God.” p.117

“Be confident because you are a child of God. Be humble because everyone else is too.” p.176


Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey
β˜…β˜…β˜…/5
Meredith is desperate for a new start- so desperate she leaves her million dollar life behind in California. Jack just so happens to be desperate for a house cleaner. Despite a rocky first impression and gruff boss, Meredith is determined to rebuild her life here at Blue Stone Ranch and win Jack over.
I don’t know if romances are my thing… That said, I stayed up until 2:30 AM ON A WORK NIGHT to read this book. So I enjoyed it… but I don’t know how to rate it in regards to other spicy novels because I hardly ever (possibly never?) read them. But I really, really loved Meredith. She was hilarious. I laughed out loud several times during her self talks & conversations with Alfred. I also appreciated that she was kind and friendly and never in competition with anyone else. Also, considering her life in California, I found her humble. I genuinely loved her character. While rough around the edges (because he was supposed to be), I enjoyed Jack, too. He was a hardworking ranch owner but he never looked like a hillbilly or heathen. I liked that. The story made sense and the side characters were fun. (Edith is probably the absolute best ever.) I think Meredith had a lot of growth confidence-wise and independence-wise, but she was never an unlikable character to start with. Based on the other reviews I’ve read, Grey tends to write great characters so I’ll probably pick up another of her book someday.
Should you read it? If you like romance novels or you want to try reading a romance, then yes.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
β˜…β˜…β˜…/5
Nova hates the Renegades and knows that average people can be their own heroes- why should they lean on the inflated Renegades Council and the prodigies they employee? When the opportunity to take down the superhero establishment presents itself, Nova jumps at the chance and is immersed in the world of “good”,Β  but things aren’t always as they seem.
This was the definition of three stars. It didn’t blow my mind and I had plenty of issues with it, but it was entertaining and I enjoyed the story and I will definitely give the next book in the series a chance. Nova and Adrian are both great characters. Flawed but genuinely good at heart. There are secrets and lies and hidden identities, but fortunately no love triangles or anything that makes my eyes roll out of my head. There are way too many similarities to X-Men for me to ignore (but maybe that’s because I’m a big X-Men fan). I’m hoping that book #2 brings some depth to the Council and the Renegades as a whole. I want Nova (and Adrian, for that matter) to discover something shady within the all-too-perfect organization. I’m also curious about Max- I hope we get more on his past. This was a +550 page book, but it didn’t feel that long to me.
Should you read it? Only if the description really appeals to you. It’s action-y and a little YA. If you liked Meyer’s other books you might like it.

It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse- and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly
β˜…β˜…β˜…/5
Fed up with her husband’s behavior and on the verge of divorce, couples therapist Winifred M. Reilly stumbles upon a new approach. Can changing her own behavior and attitude really alter her partners destructive habits?
My marriage isn’t in trouble, but I like reading books on relationships and parenting and things like that. This one was interesting. (Steph mentioned it once and that’s how it came across my radar.) I think it could have been half as long. The last 25% is what really resonated with me. I think this marriage book would be helpful for longtime couples who find themselves having the same fights over and over again. It’s a book about a) finding happiness within yourself, not within your spouse and b) making changes to the daily script and not falling victim to the same old fights with the same old reactions and the same old results. Honestly, it made sense and I think the advice would work for two people stuck in a rut who still might love one another. I compared the stories and results to my own marriage, and I think there are some things I’d like to do going forward that might change the outcome of our two or three “consistent” arguments. I liked how the book focused on the reader- not the reader’s relationship. I think that made it helpful and applicable.
Should you read it? If you’re looking for creative ways to communicate and respect your spouse, it might be worth your time. Skim the first 50%, though. It’s mostly about the author’s marriage and failed reparation attempts.

Favorite Quote:

“When a prevailing belief in our culture is that people should either leave a relationship that doesn’t make them happy or pressure their partner to improve his or her performance, no wonder so few of us have any idea where to begin.”


Did you see that Erin’s 9.0 Challenge prompts are finally available? The challenge doesn’t start until July but obviously I’ve already picked out my reads. (Sharing those on Thursday!) If you’ve been on the fence about dipping your toes in the book challenge pond I’d encourage you to join in this summer! I can’t sing Erin’s praises enough as a host and the categories are so fun to match with books!

I honestly can’t believe I finished five books this month. I finished zero last month. I’ve been working on a few of these for quite some time, but I’m still happy with this month’s results.

What did you read?

Life According to Steph

Coffee? Coffee.

I spent a few minutes trying to come up with a clever title for this post, but all I can imagine is me pulling myself out of bed, twisting my hair into a messy bun, and asking you if you’re up for coffee. You nod, just as tired and drained as me, and we confirm our date for coffee.

(We’re also going to meet Kristen at the coffee shop for What’s New With You?, though…)

If we were having coffee I’d probably have something iced or frozen because I straight up hate this heat. Damn, guys. I’m over it. I’d open the conversation by telling you that I dream almost daily of a backyard pool oasis or shaded pontoon boat on the lake. I have access to neither and it makes summer quite torturous.

If we were having coffee you’d have to excuse my nose-blowing and throat-clearing. I am fighting some weird sinus/allergy/summer cold bullshirt. This is my third time being sick THIS YEAR and I am so over it. I don’t think I’m contagious, though. No fever and so far K and my close-quarters coworker haven’t gotten it.

If we were having coffee I’d ask about your long weekend (last week). Two of my best friends came back to our hometown (where I still live) and brought their significant others with them. The girls had fun winery/brewery hopping and then we met the guys for dinner and margs. The plan was to have a fire at my house afterward, but it rained so we sat in the living room and played What Do You Meme and watch the Rocket vs. Warriors game. I love having my friends home to hangout and relax with me πŸ™‚ It doesn’t happen very often- usually I jet off to see them.

(And yes, I’m v pissed that the stupid Warriors are in the finals again. UGH.)

If we were having coffee I’d confess that there’s a deeper psychological reason for my summertime hatred. In the winter it is 100% ok to go home every night, snuggle under a blanket, and hibernate with a book and tea. In the summer there’s this grand expectation to do things. Whether it’s vacation or exercise or swimming or gardening or going to the beach or camping or whatever… it’s there. People discuss their weekends at the lake or on the road and then look at you expectantly. I feel like it’s a lot of pressure to be active and have fun. I don’t have a boat or a pool or a real garden or any athletic skill. Most of my friends live far-ish away (& I’m an introvert). I am SWAMPED with work in the summer. Honestly? My summer weekends look a lot like my winter weekends. It just feels kind of daunting, you know?

But if we were having coffee I’d genuinely want to know about your summer plans! Tell me the vacations you have planned and the weekend activities you’re looking forward to! Maybe it’ll give me some ideas to get out and about.

If we were having coffee, before we stood up and said our goodbyes, I’d ask if you read/heard any of the commencement speeches from this year’s graduation season. Steph shared Abby Wambach’s speech from Barnard College. I love it and I’d definitely share it with you.

And then I’d check the time and realize I’m late for work (because vacation days aren’t an option for me in the summer) and we’d hug and make plans to meet again soon. And I’d probably order another drink for the road.

The Roaring Swinging Fabulous Groovy Blog Collaboration | The 1950s

Hello! Fair warning- you will not find Grease on my list of recommendations. Welcome to the 1950s! While girls and boys were sipping on shakes in the malt shop the rest of the world was fighting in the Korean War, racing to space, and whispering behind closed doors about communism and capitalism.

On the first Tuesday of the month, February through November, we’re highlighting books & films from/about specific eras that we recommend! (Television shows, too, sometimes!) There’s no commitment or link-up during those months on your end, but in December we’ll host a recap/link-up for the entire year!

I’ve mentioned this before, but music from the 1940s makes me happy. Some of those same artists trickled into the 50s (Sinatra, Crosby, Martin, …) but when the mid-century rock n’ roll starts I lose interest. (Which is funny, considering my father-in-law plays bass in a nationally recognized Elvis band.)

Alright, on to the recommendations…

B O O K S

I only have one book to recommend but it’s one of my favorites.

It’s the only TJR book I’ve read: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid) is so entertaining and engrossing. It spans a few decades, but it starts in the 50s. This book has star power, small twists, romance & friendship, and lovable yet flawed characters. I really loved it.

M O V I E S

(1953) I didn’t see it until I was in my 20s, but Roman Holiday is cute and fun and it includes Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck. When Peck was hired his contract gave him solo star billing. Halfway through filming he suggested newcomer Audrey be billed equally. (That didn’t happen in the 50s in Hollywood.) I really love both of these actors and their work outside their films.

(1954) If you’re new around here you might not know that I LOVE Clue. It’s one of my all-time favorite films. It’s silly and eerie and mysterious and star-studded.

I don’t have an exact year for this film’s settings, but many of the flashbacks in Big Fish are set in the 50s. I watched this movie a long time ago, but I need a refresher. I read that it’s based on a book and that the book/the plot is based on the Odyssey and 12 Labors of Hercules.

(1959) Again, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen it, but obviously Dead Poets Society makes the list. It’s a sad movie (especially now after Williams’ passing) but the message is good.

(1959) Another film I waited until my 20s to see, Chocolat is seriously so sweet (pun intended) and beautiful. It’s about the way we have faith and lose faith in other people, though in the end there is always something to connect us- even if it’s simply a love of chocolate.

*dates indicate setting, not release

B O N U S

I’ve only watched a few episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but I loved them! I love the constant dynamic between upper class and lower class, male and female, Jewish and not Jewish. The show is very progressive for 1958 and that’s 100% the point.

On the shelf…

Books I want to read include…

Television shows I want to watch are…

Now be sure to hope over to Alexandra’s blog and check out her 1950s recommendations, too!

The 1960s was a time of revolution and political unrest. From the rise of the Vietnam war to the death of President John F. Kennedy to the birth or hippies, the 60s were quite the time to be alive! Join us next month for our entertainment recommendations from the era!

Did you miss our previous decades-themed posts? Find them here: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

Odd Things About Aud: Book Edition

I have some odd reading habits. (I imagine all voracious readers do, though I don’t consider my reading style to be “voracious.”) Perhaps you do some of these things, too. Maybe you think I’m a total nut who doesn’t know how to read properly. Either way, today I’m a open book. (Pun so intended.)

I always look to see how many pages a book has. Sometimes I even read the last page or paragraph of the book. I know I’m spoiling it, but sometimes my anxiety needs to know. Also, when I really love a character, I check the last page or chapter to make sure they’re still alive. #sorrynotsorry

I don’t enjoy thrillers. They make my whole body shake and I dream about them and I try to figure out “who done it” the whole time… but after reading The Woman in Cabin 10 I can accurately conclude that I tend to breeze through them much faster than any other genre. (And I definitely didn’t enjoy that one!)

I work better with a challenge. I like making a summer reading list or participating in Erin’s challenges because they give me a direction and a “to do list” for book reading. Even if I read things off that list, I have something that I’m working toward. I read best that way.

About halfway through a book I decide what I’m going to rate it on Goodreads/my blog. Then I give it the second half to up its score (or, unfortunately, wreck it).

If a book is good enough, I scour the internet for fan art/more details/background stories. I don’t think that’s too out of the ordinary, though, right? (I am all about the fan art with The Lunar Chronicles.) I try to curb the searching if I feel like it might ruin the ending/next book.

When I’m super into a book I typically force myself to put it down… even if I pick it up again 5 minutes later. I think my brain just needs a few minutes to process what I read or feel that urge to HAVE to jump back in. If someone were to watch me read they’d see me read for 30 minutes or an hour, set the book down and look out the window or toss the dogs’ toys a bit, then crack it open for another hour of reading.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with my Kindle. K gave me a Paperwhite for my birthday last year. I love it because it’s portable AND it’s backlit (that’s the term, right?) so I can read in bed while he’s sleeping. And therein lies the hate… If I’m not tired I will open up that Kindle and read for hours. Last week I read from 9:30pm to 2:30am. I have always been more productive at night, but I tried to change my ways after I graduated college. Kindle is making me regress…

I need to have at least 2 books going at the same time (and they can’t be similar). Also, there’s no limit to how many books I have going… Right now I’m reading seven. I switch based on what I’m in the mood for (like how one would pick a movie) and I scatter them all over the house so something is always at my fingertips πŸ™‚

To be clear, I don’t always let myself spoil books. There are times I avoid GoodReads reviews or skip over a book during the #SUYB link-up. I’m not a total monster.

Do you have any strange reading quirks? Do we share any?

*I’m going to take next week off from blogging. I’ll still be hopping around and reading your posts, but my creative juices are lacking and I think a week off will help! πŸ™‚