Monthly Archives: January 2019

A RAD Reading Challenge

January 24, 2019

It’s a well established fact that I love reading challenges. I love the idea of getting myself to read outside my usual boundaries. Finishing reading challenges, however, is another story. I feel like my interest usually wanes a third of the way into the year, and then I forget about them entirely. That’s fine if it works for you, but I’m an enneagram 3 and I’m all about completing the goals. That’s why this year I’m going to focus on just one.

Enter the RAD Reading Challenge. It’s the sole challenge I’m committing to completing for the year. Last year’s challenge was to read all the Harry Potter books; this year’s is to complete this challenge. (Find more of my bookish resolutions in my 2019 reading goals post!)

I think the key to completing challenges like this is preplanning a few options for books that would fit the selected categories. It’s nice to give yourself some flexibility, but I always find that if there’s a book on a list, I’m much more likely to actually read it. In that vein, thought it would be fun to share some of the books I’m planning to read for this challenge.

a book of poetry

I’ve had Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur for two years now, and I’d love to read it for real.

a classic you didn’t read in school

Looking at this list of high school classics from Goodreads gave me serious flashbacks, some positive and some negative. I can’t pick one right now, but it’ll be something from this list. Any recommendations for me?

a memoir from someone you admire

This is for sure going to be Becoming by Michelle Obama. We’re reading it for book club next month, and I cannot wait to start it. I’ve heard such amazing things.

a fun or beautiful children’s book

I think for this one I’ll head to the library and pick up something that looks like it fits the bill!

a book with a cover in your favorite color

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren is a mix of my two favorite colors: pink and navy! Definitely bought this because the plot sounded good but also because the cover was so pretty.

a book by an author who shares a name with you

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson sounds pretty wild + good.

a book about food or a cookbook

This is the one that I’m stuck on and I would love some recommendations! Nothing is coming to mind right now.

a book blowing up your insta feed

This will likely be Where the Crawdads Sing, which was everywhere a few weeks ago. I don’t see it as much lately, but considering that I bought it because of its popularity on my feed, it absolutely qualifies.

a book published in the year you were born

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides has been on my “someday” list for a long time, and it was published in 1993!

a book your bff recommends

I just picked up The Likeness from Book Outlet on Bri’s raving recommendation, so it’s likely going to be that.

I’m looking forward to reading these books! Are you doing any fun reading challenges this year?

Life in Los Angeles: Pasadena Half Marathon

January 23, 2019

Last year, my friend Mallory and I ran a half marathon that finished on the finish line of the Rose Bowl. It was Mallory’s first half and my fifth, and we had a great time doing the race together.

This year, I worked that race. My new job is at the company that produces the Los Angeles Marathon and the Pasadena Half, as well as a few other smaller races. It was certainly a different experience being on the other side of the race, seeing how it works behind the scenes.

It was a good, worthwhile, exhausting weekend. I worked at the expo on Friday and Saturday and then arrived at the race at 4 am on Sunday to prep for the event. I didn’t leave there until around 1:30 pm. My role at the expo was to answer questions people might have about any of our races and to register people for the ones that are upcoming, notably the marathon in March. On race morning, I worked at paid bib pick up and then continued to register people after the race.

I spoke to hundreds of people over the course of the weekend. I got to share my experience of running the marathon last year, take photos of runners at our artsy backdrop, and meet some cool volunteers. The mom of one of the volunteers asked me to fill out a form verifying her son’s service hours, and I swear I almost said, “Shouldn’t a real adult do this?” But it turns out that at 25, I am the real adult.

The morning of the race was a bit stressful; there’s bound to be some hard to deal with people in every bunch (trying to be diplomatic here) but I do feel like my coworkers and I handled any issues that arose really well. I have a renewed confidence for my ability to focus on the task at hand and avoid any distractions from working the long line at bib pick up!

I think my main takeaway is that I never considered all the work that goes into setting up a race and then breaking it down after the fact. We were on the field taking down the finish line setup and the signage long after the runners had left. By the time I got home and laid down on my couch on Sunday afternoon, I felt like I’d run a half marathon myself!

If you’re local to LA or ever in the area in January, I recommend running the Pasadena Half Marathon. The course is beautiful and the finish through the tunnel and onto the Rose Bowl is a really cool experience. And I’m not just saying that because I work there!

#TendingListThursday: January Goals

January 17, 2019

Feels like it’s better to write a goals post halfway through the month than never at all 🙂

What I’m looking forward to this month:

  • Working my first big work event: a half marathon this weekend!
  • Attending book club for the first time in months
  • A second official adventure day next weekend

What I’m loving right now:

  • Writing my newsletter.
  • Reading more books.
  • Trying to spend less time on Instagram.

Monthly goals:

— Clean and organize my toiletries.
— Sort through books and put some in storage.
— Update my resume and portfolio website.
— Read 10 books.
— Have an adventure day.
— Keep writing my newsletter.
— Write 3 blog posts a week.
— Write 3 freelance articles.
— Pitch a book review to a website.
— Write 5,000 words for a writing project.

My priority this month:

Mental and physical health.

Lots of these goals come from my 2019 goals, if you missed that post!

Life in Los Angeles: Notorious RBG

January 16, 2019

I went to an exhibit called NOTORIOUS RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Skirball Cultural Center this weekend. It was lovely.

Here’s the museum’s description:

With so much at stake on the Supreme Court, come explore the American judicial system through one of its sharpest legal minds. Coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of her appointment to the high court, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever retrospective about the famed associate justice and American cultural icon. 

The night before, I went to see On the Basis of Sex, the movie about RBG’s life that stars Felicity Jones, and I cried for half the movie because I felt so inspired. The exhibit was no different.

We weren’t allowed to take photos, but it was so lovely. Each section of Ruth’s life is in its own little interactive section: a living room set up for her early life, a car for her early marriage, her desk set up for her life on the Supreme Court. You can put on a judge’s robe and sit behind the Supreme Court bench to pose for a photo. I heard a woman when we were leaving say that the exhibit was so much better than she expected. I knew it was going to be good, but I agreed: it was much more interactive than I’d expected.

It would be easy to make this exhibit information-heavy, but it didn’t feel that way. Instead it felt like I was walking through Ruth’s life and learning about her impact on those around her and then later, the country as a whole. Ruth had never intended to become a judge; she instead saw herself as an advocate for others, especially the marginalized. She co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights project and sought to strike down sex discrimination laws one by one. She also had a truly equal partnership with her husband, a rarity at the time. She is amazing.

The combination of the film and the exhibit had a profound effect on me. I’d already known that Ruth was a hero, but to hear about the specifics of her life really cemented that for me.

The exhibit is open at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019. Adult tickets for the museum are $12, and the exhibit is included in the ticket price.

Quarter One Goals 2019

January 15, 2019

In addition to monthly goals, I like to set quarterly goals to make sure I’m keeping myself on track. A few years ago I read a book called the 12 Week Year, which suggests dividing your year into 12 week chunks to better get things done. The idea is that you try to do less in less, more focused time. The original idea is that you take 12 weeks and then a week of resting. I prefer to do it in quarters, which is 3 months.

I broke down my 2019 goals into smaller chunks for this. These are the goals I’m hoping to accomplish through the end of March, at which point I’ll come up with new goals and start again!

Goal 1: Manage my money well.

— Hit emergency fund goal.
— Pay taxes and use any refund to pay off credit card debt.
— Reduce debt to less than $500.

Goal 2: Finish novel draft.

— Sketch out rough novel plan.
— Identify a writer’s group to join for support.

Goal 3: Maintain a thriving online presence.

— Hit my goal of 100 newsletter subscribers.
— Get published on another website.
— Polish portfolio site to best represent me.
— Blog 3 times a week each week for the whole quarter.
— Write about my 2018 concerts, my 2019 word of the year, and three “deep/feelings” posts.

Goal 4: Love others well by showing up for them.

— Schedule hang outs with friends.
— Send 12 cards or letters to people I love.
— Celebrate people well for their accomplishments and just because.
— Give good gifts.

Goal 5: Live with less to experience more.

— Participate in a Contentment Challenge in February.
— Give away 15 books I won’t read anymore.
— Organize the clothes in my drawer (possibly try the KonMari method for clothing.)

Goal 6: Develop heart healthy habits.

— Get back into running with a 10k race in mid-February.
— Eat vegetables every day.
— Simplify meal prep with recipe lists and follow through with meal prep on weekends.

Goal 7: Explore new places + things.

— Have two adventure days (three if I can swing it.)
— Do 4 things from my list of 111 things to do in Los Angeles.
— Blog about each of those things.
— Try two new-to-me restaurants.

Goal 8: Read 100 books in 2019.

— Read 30 books.
— Blog books each month.
— Post a quarterly wrap up of my book thoughts + feelings.
— Hit 450 followers on my bookstagram.

Goal 9: Record my memories creatively.

— Try to stretch my bullet journal to last through the end of the quarter if possible.
— Keep up with the One Little Word project.
— Organize photos twice monthly.
— Craft either through Project Life or a possible other scrapbook project.

I’ll check in again the week of February 10th, the midpoint of Q1, to see how things are going and how I can adjust from here.

Do you set quarterly goals? How about monthly?

2019 Goals

January 14, 2019

As an enneagram 3, goal setting is my absolute + forever jam. I’ve been using the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets to help me set goals for a few years now. (My 2018 goals are here.)

Here’s what I have for this year.

Manage my money well.

What this looks like for me: paying off debt, hitting my emergency fund goal, starting a longer term savings fund, and continuing to use You Need A Budget (that’s an affiliate link, FYI, and if you use it you’ll get a free month). It looks like learning how to invest and figuring out how I can start saving for retirement. It looks like spending money only I have and being smarter with my money. It looks like saving for a trip. It looks like being able to give people gifts and make donations to causes I care about.

Finish novel draft.

What this looks like for me: finally doing the damn thing! Hoping to start on this in Q2.

Maintain a thriving online presence.

What this looks like for me: keeping up with blogging on a regular basis, getting published on another website, keeping up with writing my newsletter and getting more subscribers, and telling my story.

Love others well by showing up for them.

What this looks like for me: making more time for others through hanging out with friends, sending them cards just because, and letting them know I’m thinking of them. It looks like volunteering and being there for people.

Live with less to experience more.

What this looks like for me: purging my stuff, donating it, and buying less in the first place. It looks like doing a Contentment Challenge. It looks like sharing the wealth, hitting up the library, and shopping in thrift stores.

Develop heart healthy habits.

What this looks like for me: becoming healthier mentally + physically. Committing to November Project. Running more. Stretching more. Getting a half marathon PR. Training myself to be ready to run another marathon. Eating in ways that fuel me in the long term. Eating more whole foods. Going to therapy.

Explore new places + things.

What this looks like for me: visiting new places in California. Doing 15 things from my book of 111 things to do in Los Angeles. Having more adventure days. Saying yes.

Read 100 books in 2019.

What this looks like for me: Reading 100 books! I talked more in depth about my specific goals here.

Record my memories creatively.

What this looks like for me: keeping up with my bullet journal, Project Life, and my 1 Second Everyday video. It looks like creating for myself.

I’ve already started on some of these goals, and I’m excited to see what this year brings!

12 Bookish Resolutions (aka 2019 Reading Goals)

January 11, 2019

After not quite meeting my reading goals for 2018, I’m excited for a fresh start to set some new reading-related goals for this year!

This year, I will…

Read 100 books. I’m back with a second attempt at this goal. I know it’s doable if I keep up the pace of reading.

Read 60 books I own. Like many book lovers, I’m incredibly guilty of buying new books in favor of reading the ones I own. I’ll be moving some time this spring, and I don’t want to move alllll those books again.

Participate in the RAD Reading Challenge. I love Rachel’s blog and I’m excited to participate in this with her.

Read at least 10 books from the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge list. I want to say I will complete the whole list, but I’m not sure that’s realistic with my other goals! But the secret goal is to complete the whole list.

Keep tracking my reading and to-be-read lists. I’m going to do this this year with Goodreads and a (yet-to-be-created) spreadsheet. This will help with my next goal, which is…

Read 75% books by women and people of color. I had this goal last year and I fell behind on the data aspect of this, so I have no clue how I did.

Keep up with book club. I started a book club in the fall of 2017, and life events have kept me from going the last few months. I want to get back to it, because I love it.

Get my monthly reviews up on the blog in the first week of the month. Last year I wasn’t great about this, and it led to a backup, which for me leads to inaction.

Post quarterly reading updates. I love writing reviews, but I also want to write deeper thoughts about a few books I’ve especially loved over the last quarter.

Keep posting on my bookstagram. I’m loving the community over there, and I want to focus on interacting with people who love books as much as I do! It’s so fun to have people to talk about books with, and I get lots of ideas for books to try

Use the library more. I want to check the availability at the library first instead of deferring to online book shopping.

Stop reading books I’m not loving. I’m awful at this because I feel so guilty and I want to be able to count the book in my yearly book goal. That’s dumb and life is short and I should only be reading books I love.

What are your bookish resolutions for 2019?

My Favorite Books of 2018

January 6, 2019

I read 78 books in 2018, more than I’ve ever read before. Some books I loved, some I hated, and some were fine but forgettable. Today, I’m sharing the ones that have stuck with me. They may not be the best books of all time or ones that will win any literary awards, but here are ones I can’t stop thinking about and hope to reread one day.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

This list is in no particular order, but this book absolutely gets the top spot. This book has everything: it’s the saga of one man’s life growing up in Ireland, picking up with him every 7 years to see what he’s up to. It shows how Ireland’s cultural attitudes changed over time and how Cyril adapts to them. It stuck with me because it’s gutting and heartwrenching, but so, so good.. It made me happy and it made me cry. It’s one of those books that only comes around once in a while.


This book stuck with me because it’s like Friday Night Lights, but set in Sweden instead of Texas, and with hockey instead of football. It’s the story of how one small town’s obsession with its youth hockey team is a positive force for so many, but ultimately destructive in other ways. It’s about family and growing up and becoming an adult. The emotion in this book is unparalleled. I loved it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

This book about the Golden State Killer was published after the author’s death, and shortly after that, the killer was captured. This book stuck with me because it’s like a cross between a novel and a textbook: the depictions of the killer breaking into houses are so vivid from people’s memories that it was easy at times to forget these things actually happened. It’s the first true crime book I’ve read in a long time that I wasn’t able to stop thinking about.

The Great Alone

I have recommended this book to everyone I know. Kristin Hannah is incredible. This book is about a teenage girl that moves to Alaska on the whim of her father, a Vietnam vet who struggles with PTSD. Everything is fine at first, but then it gets closer to winter, and trouble strikes. This book stuck with me because evokes such specific feelings. I felt the cold of Alaska, I felt the stress of being in that situation, and I felt stressed right along with the characters.

The Immortalists

This book, a story of four siblings who visit a fortune teller to find out the date of their deaths, ripped me apart. It stuck with me because the siblings all approached their lives differently after the meeting, some in healthy ways and others in healthy ways. It made me wonder if I would want to know the date of my death if I had the opportunity. I feel like I wouldn’t, but I can see how knowing would make me concentrate on what I really cared about. It’s helpful to remember that any day COULD be the last day, and I should be living in a positive way as if it is.

The Best of 2018

January 5, 2019

Instead of doing a typical “year in review” post, I’ve decided to instead recap the best of each month of the year. To do this, I went through my monthly highlights on Instagram and wrote down the very best things!

(Here’s my 2017 recap.)

the best of january.

I spent the first day of the year in San Diego. I woke up early and went to visit November Project San Diego, which was my first ‘traverbal’ and so fun, even if my parents were hesitant about dropping me off at 6 am in a park on a foggy morning. The Patriots made it to the playoffs. I ran my fifth half marathon, this time with my friend Mallory.

On the blog, I talked about my 2018 goals and word of the year, as well as my reading goals.

the best of february.

I saw The Killers in concert on the first of the month and Dua Lipa the following week. I started cycling classes. I had feelings about doing the damn thing, aka making it work in LA. I read a lot of books, saw Black Panther, and started watching Queer Eye.

On the blog, I wrote about my February reads and recapped my favorite books of 2017.

the best of march.

I turned 25 with a really fun celebration. I went to a lot of movies. I ran a marathon! I tried to go home but my flight was cancelled for a snowstorm on the East Coast. I had extra time in LA as a result. I worked at the Irish Film Festival in Boston, and I got to hug my dog!

On the blog, I wrote about what I was currently loving and about planting roots.

the best of april.

I celebrated one year in Los Angeles! I saw Victoria Beckham while I was getting ice cream. I went to Disneyland. I decided to move in with my now-roommates.

On the blog, I wrote about finding adventure where I am right now and what I was loving.

the best of may.

I saw Taylor Swift in concert with Bri and stayed up all night after the fact to watch the Royal Wedding. I saw Bleachers in concert. I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies.

On the blog, I answered questions for bookworms and talked about my struggles with anxiety.

the best of june.

I voted in my first California primary. I did two workouts on Global Running Day, one in the morning with November Project and the second with Lululemon. I went to Pride. I ended the month in Santa Barbara visiting my friend Sarah.

On the blog, I only wrote about the books I read in May. Slow blogging month!

the best of July.

I got a fun freelance gig. I saw The Goblet of Fire at the Hollywood Bowl, with an orchestra playing the film score. I saw Harry Styles Live on Tour two nights in a row. I flew to Philadelphia, where I got to hug my friend Sara, and then made my way up the East Coast. My second stop was New York, where I stayed with two different friends and decided that California was still where I wanted to be living for now. My last stop was home, where I saw my dog, hugged my family, and went to the beach.

On the blog, I started my weekend update series (would love to bring it back!) and wrote about what I was currently loving.

the best of august.

I saw Niall Horan in concert three times in one week: once in Irvine, CA, and twice at the Greek Theatre (my fave) in LA. I ran a lot. A picture from my bookstagram was featured in a post on Buzzfeed. I went to Disneyland three times in one weekend, since my pass was about to expire. November Project did Hell Week, which involved five straight days of workouts. I saw Panic! at the Disco in concert. I saw my friend Mallory again. I flew to Denver and saw Niall Horan at Red Rocks.

On the blog, I wrote about Playing With Matches.

the best of september.

I went to the Getty Museum with Bri. I ran a 5k race, my first official race since the Marathon in March. I hiked a mountain, and thought I would maybe die in the process. I had my first Adventure Day, which involved seeing Needtobreathe in concert. I went to a book swap, and came away with a bunch of books. I saw Bastille in concert. I started marathon training.

On the blog, I shared a weekend update and then another one.

the best of october.

I went to Malibu Wines with friends. The Red Sox made the playoffs and then won the World Series against the Dodgers (while in LA!) so that was very fun for this Boston transplant. I got a new job at Athleta and made good use of the generous discount right from the start.

On the blog, I wrote about the story behind my arrow tattoo, shared my November Project story, and wrote about attending a screening of the movie First Man.

the best of november.

I voted in the midterm elections and got a long overdue haircut the same day. I got a massage due to some back issues, and contemplated making it a regular monthly thing (still haven’t bit the bullet, but hopefully!). I ran a turkey trot and got to see my friend Mallory again. Had a surprise welcome home party for my friend Molly.

On the blog, I tried something new for the format of book posts.

the best of december.

I started the month with a new job at the LA Marathon and put my LA marathon dreams on hold as a result, since I now have to work that weekend. I saw Picture This in concert the same day I started the job. I caught up with friends over coffee dates and dinners. I started a newsletter, Three Things on Thursday. I went to Ireland for Christmas and New Years, my first time in the country since July 2016.

On the blog, I shared my November reads.

I’m excited for what 2019 will bring!

#HarreadPotter: December 2018 Books

The two books I read in December were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Both were great. That’s a boring blog post, so instead I’m going to talk about my experience of reading all seven Harry Potter books this year.

For years I intended to read the series in its entirety but never quite got around to it. Truthfully, I’d usually get stuck on the first or second book. Those are the ones I’d read the most, and definitely the quickest reads, which is why it’s ironic that I’d get stuck there. I just didn’t want to read them for the 15th time, and I’d stop.

But this year I kept going and pushed through, and it was totally worth it.

In re-reading the series, I got to rediscover the characters I grew up with. I was seven when I read the first book. I don’t think it needs to be said how important the Harry Potter series has been to my development.

I learned that my favorite book is no longer Order of the Phoenix but rather Goblet of Fire or Deathly Hallows. I learned that the comments made after the 2016 election about how the books are alarmingly applicable to current times are true. I learned that I still want to be Hermione when I grow up. I learned that this series is as applicable to me now at 25 as it was when I was 10 years old. I get different things out of it now, but I love it just the same. I hope it’ll be as applicable in another 15 years.

I know I’m romanticizing a book series, but it’s something I can’t help. It’s part of who I am, and I’m happy for that to be the case.

I won’t be doing another reread in 2019, but if you’re on the fence about doing one, I definitely recommend it. My practical tips:

Start early, and keep going. I ended up reading the last two books in the last two weeks of the year. I was reading the last one on the car ride home on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. I made it in the end, but I’d have preferred to avoid that if possible.

Plan it out. If you’ll need to borrow the books from a friend or a library, give yourself plenty of time to get a copy. You don’t want to be stuck on December 29th looking for the last book.

Don’t read them all in a row – or do! There’s no right way to go about doing this. Maybe you want to immerse yourself in the world, or maybe you want to sprinkle the books in amidst your other books for the year. Whatever way you choose, I hope you enjoy the ride!