Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 7/27

I'm loving ...

... that I unexpectedly had a free evening last night. Some plans got cancelled, and I didn't quite know what to do with myself. It was nice to just be able to sit and watch baseball. And when my brother texted me to let me know he was in town, I was able to meet him for a beer. It was nice to have some downtime.

... that I'm planning some more evenings like that in the future. I need them. I am guilty of overbooking myself, but I need to slow down.  Burnout is real.

... that I get to spend all day tomorrow with one of my besties. You'll get to read more about that on Friday. 

... the bracelet I received from my boyfriend's parents. I met them for the first time on Sunday, and they gifted me this accessory from their recent trip to Jamaica.

... that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming to Netflix. I used to love that show so much.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seeing myself through the lens of a relationship

I always thought the main thing about dating someone was getting to know them. And I still think that's true. But it's definitely not the whole truth. No one told me I would learn as much about myself as I would about my boyfriend.

In the few months I've been with Sean, there have already been a few occasions when I needed to step back and look at my tendencies and my behaviors. It's like I'm seeing myself in a new way. Here are a few things I've noticed.

/// I stress out over stupid things.
One weekend, we had plans to be somewhere, and I was running behind schedule. At least behind my schedule. I was on edge by the time I picked him up. In the end, we were still very early. And even if we'd been a little late, what and who would it have hurt? I need to figure out what matters and what doesn't.

/// When I'm stressed, I lash out.
Related to the point above, I snapped at him a few times. More than a few times. I'm not proud of it. And I've apologized to him. My level of stress had nothing to do with him, but I took it out on him anyway. I need to be more careful about how I let out my stress.

/// I let my emotions takeover too often.
OK, so this one is definitely not new. I've always known I wear my emotions close to the surface. And I've tried to get a handle on it in the past, trying to be more logical. With Sean, I need to be better about this. If he's stressed or upset about something, I need to just listen and keep the calm. I'm no help to him if I get worked up too. Even if I'm also upset (especially if it's on his behalf), I have to hold off on reacting as such. This is not first nature for me though, so it's an ongoing project.

I have no doubt I'll continue to uncover new things about myself as time goes on. And I'll continue to make adjustments so I can be a better version of myself. Not just for him, but for my other relationships as well. And for me.

What did you learn about yourself through your relationship?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Music Monday: Ingrid Michaelson - "Hell No"

I am super excited to see this lady perform this weekend. Her latest single has been getting some radio airplay, and I crank it every time. Her official video is done completely in Snapchat filters, which I think is hilarious and awesome.  But today, I'm choosing the video she did with Deaf West Theatre, because they are also awesome and I love it.

Happy Monday, friends!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 79

My birthday was Wednesday, and I'm one of those people who stretches her birthday into a full week.  Sometimes longer. This year, I kept it within the week.

- Lunch with one of my besties on Wednesday.
- Beers with a new friend at my favorite brewery on Wednesday.
- Dinner with the boyfriend on Wednesday
- Dinner with a dozen of my favorite people on Thursday.
- Lunch with the family on Saturday.

It was a really great few days of celebration. I love my birthday. It's fun to be the focus of so much love and attention. Plus, it always reminds me how many awesome people I have in my life.  I am blessed.

There were also some great blog posts this week, so grab yourself a beverage and enjoy.

I have been anxiously awaiting Karen's thoughts on the new "Ghostbusters" movie. There's a ton of controversy out there about the film (and has been since it was announced), but Karen tells us why the movie is great and just what we need.

My friend, Rachel, is one of the sweetest people I know. Please go check out her post from Wednesday. After you get through all the awesome things she's been up to, you'll get to the best part, which contains her thoughts on all the negativity and bullying going on online these days.

If you have not read Jennifer Aniston's recent write-up for the Huffington Post, then go there first.  THEN, go check out Steph's response to it. It's fantastic. A is for Aniston and agreement ... and also AMAZING. 

I quit StitchFix a while back. I just wasn't liking enough of the clothes, and I decided it was time to end the subscription. However, my wardrobe is suffering, and I'm thinking of going back. Lauren has some great tips on ensuring your StitchFixes are more successful.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Diva Dash 5K recap

Once again, I managed two races this month. What can i say? I cannot resist the lure of a decent race with a good route and a good cause. That's what I got with the Diva Dash 5K.

OK, so the route was tough. It starts going up a steep hill toward the capitol building. But after that, we wound through the historic East Village part of Des Moines and across the Women Of Achievement Bridge, which is one of my favorite things in Des Moines.

The cause was - without a doubt - awesome though. Proceeds from the race went to an organization called Girls on the Run, which uses running to teach girls how to be confident and make good decisions. I love everything I've heard about this program, and I'm proud to support it.

I also got to meet up with two different groups of ladies at the race -- women from my work and women from my dance fitness class.

Oh, and the weather was perfect. Still in the 60s, low humidity, and partly cloudy. We could not have asked for better running weather in July. It was great.

My time was not great, but I ran the whole thing and felt better than I had the past two races. I'm calling that a win.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Diva Dash 5K
Sunday: Off
Monday: 45 minutes on the exercise bike (getting ready for an upcoming ride)
Tuesday: Yoga at home
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off

I took a lot of time off this week for my birthday. I'm not sorry.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Currently -- July edition

Sipping on ... Shakeology. Specifically, chocolate with a little PB in it. I'm trying to clean up my eating habits. This makes for a pretty tasty and convenient breakfast.

Watching ... "Army Wives." Yeah, I am still working my way through this series again on Netflix. Whenever I have a chance to watch TV, that is.

Reading ... Rally Caps, Rain Delays, and Racing Sausages by Eric Kabakoff. It recounts his visit to 30 of MLB's ballparks. I'm almost through it, and I love it.

Listening to ... the latest NEEDTOBREATHE album. It's so good. "Happiness" is my jam, but "Let's Stay Home Tonight" is also pretty solid.

Working on ... the third book in my baseball romance series. Slowly. But progress is progress, right?

Thankful for ... all the birthday wishes I received yesterday. It's humbling every year as I'm reminded of all the awesome people I have in my life.

Looking forward to ... celebrating my birthday (again) tonight. Sean took me out for dinner last night. This evening, I'm having dinner with my family before meeting up with friends for wine, beer, and live music.

What's up with you lately?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here's to 36!

 The last trip around the sun has been pretty great.

I wrote another book.
I published another book.
I made beer.
I visited a new ballpark.
I ran a lot of races.
I discovered hockey.
I went to many concerts.
I met a pretty awesome guy.

Yep. It was a good year.

I have very few complaints about 35. The ones I do have honestly aren't worth mentioning.

I turn 36 today. 
This photo is from a few months ago. I was not motivated enough for a selfie this morning.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the year ahead has in store.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Try a little kindness

There's a lot of negativity in the world right now. Between politics and the violence breaking out everywhere, tension seems to be the overwhelming mood. I see it online and when I'm out and about in my community.

It makes me uncomfortable.
It makes me sad.
It makes me worried.

You may not know this about me, but I tend to be a fixer. When something is broken, I want to fix it. When someone is upset, I want to help them.

I know I can't fix all the problems of the world, but I know I'm not completely helpless. There are a lot of things I can do to counter the negativity weighing on everyone.

I can ...

... pay a compliment to a stranger/acquaintance.
I've already started doing this, offering praise when someone does a good job or a kind word if someone has a cute outfit or hairstyle that day. It's a small thing that costs me nothing but might make that person's entire day.

... buy coffee for the person behind me in line.
This is a tried and true way of paying it forward. I love when I get into one of these chains.

... give an extra generous tip to my server.
I'm already a good tipper (rarely below 30 percent), but occasionally, I just like to throw an extra 10 or 20 percent out there.

... give a gift to someone for no reason.
It might be something as simple as a $5 Starbucks gift card or a bag of their favorite snack. Surprises can be nice and generate good feelings.

... donate to a local charity.
I've been meaning to support the local animal causes for a while. I just need to look up their web site and see what they're needing right now -- food, treats, toys, etc. -- and then go pick it up and drop it off at the shelter. It'll take very little time and probably won't cost me that much, but some furry friends will definitely enjoy it. And right now, animals are easier to love than people.

These small deeds might not seem like much, but they have the power to start a wave of good feelings. And I'm not being completely unselfish either. Each one of these things will make me feel good as well.  After all, it starts with me.

Crazy how relevant this song still is almost 30 years later. 

What kinds of things do you do to help spread good vibes?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Music Monday: Christina Aguilera - "Change"

Somehow I missed the fact that Christina Aguilera released a new song recently. I happened upon it on YouTube while going down a rabbit hole and it is fantastic. If this is a peek of what she's doing now, it's quite a departure from her past few albums, but a welcome one.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 78

This week's round-up is a bit light. I think a lot of bloggers are on breaks. Or maybe they're just at a loss for words with all the chaos in our world lately. I can't say I blame them.  Regardless, I do have a few good posts for your enjoyment.

Erin is welcoming her first baby in the next few months. As she awaits her precious girl, she waivers back and forth between excitement and mourning the loss of pre-baby life. I think it sounds normal, but I'm as child-free as you can be. Can any other mommas relate?

As you might recall, I recently read the Harry Potter series for the first time. I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind finding others that are in a similar vein. Heather has some good suggestions here.

I am always trying to improve my habits. I more than like Joey's bullet-style journal of tracking her habits. I might have to do this.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, July 15, 2016

June fitness recap

I know the journey to getting in better shape is a slow and steady one.  And little goals along the way will help me reach my overall goal.  So I have fitness benchmarks I want to reach each month.

Work out 16 days a month.  Grade = C
I was a little better in June than I was in May, but I still probably only got about halfway to that benchmark.

Strength training once a week.  Grade = F

Track my food each day.  Grade = F


12 Races in 2016 update:
I completed my fourth consecutive Run to Exile. It wasn't pretty (stupid humidity), but I still did it. I also ran into my friend, Karin, while waiting in the race chute.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Yoga at home
Tuesday: 2-mile outdoor run
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred (I always forget how hard this is)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 7/13

I'm loving ...

... The Basil Protocol. It's a cucumber basil saison brewed and served at the brewery where I work. I liked it last year when it debuted, but this year's batch is even better.

... that I have a decent start on my third baseball romance novel. I wrote more than 2K words the other night. It's still so early in the story, but I feel good about it. (And you still have time to pick up the first book in the series, which just came out a month ago. The second will be out this winter.)

... the new running shoes I picked up last week at a going out of business sale. I was long overdue for these.

... the Perfectly Posh products I got to try recently thanks to a friend who is a consultant. I might end up doing more of a review in the future, but this Enchant Tress hair serum made my curls look amazing on Saturday.

... these little ones. They're the daughters of two of my closest friends, but Nora and Isabella are basically my nieces. Their smiling faces (along with that of a little boy whose photo also hangs in my cube) completely make me forget about all the ugliness in this world and at the same time make me want to improve it for their generation.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Show Us Your Books: June

Life According to Steph

I'm failing at reading this year. But I'm not going to feel bad about it. I have three jobs, a social life, and a new relationship. I've also released a book, finished editing another, and just started writing another. So, yeah, while my reading is suffering, it's not like I'm lazing around. And because I don't want to feel bad about it, I decided to cut my reading goal in half. Instead of 70 books, I'm going to aim for 35. That's more approachable but still respectable. Right?

Anyhow, I managed to squeeze two books into last month.

by Violet Duke

I loved the first book I read from this author, Love, Chocolate, and Beer, and the others in that series. So I was excited when I saw she had a football-themed series. But I had a really hard time getting into this one. I just didn't immediately like or relate to either of the main characters, and it felt like the author was trying too hard to prove the female character was knowledgeable about sports and independent. I'm all for those kinds of characters (I write them), but there comes a point where you can emphasize it too much.

by Laura Lippman

I had a hard time getting into this one too. The pace of the story was really slow. And I felt like there were too many perspectives -- each of the girls, the detective, the attorney, and the mother of the victim. It was strange and sometimes hard to follow. I pressed through it, but I was happy to be done. The film version didn't do much for me either. Despite a great cast (Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, and Dakota Fanning), the story was just too flat and dull.

Clearly, June was a terrible month of reading for me. Hopefully July will be better.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Music Monday: NEEDTOBREATHE - "Happiness"

I've been listening to NEEDTOBREATHE off and on for years, but their newest album might make me a diehard fan. I pre-ordered, which gave me access to a handful of the tracks, and I am in love. This song (especially the acoustic version) is so good. So so so so good.  I wish I had a more descriptive way of expressing my appreciation. Here, just listen.

I am now even more excited to see them live for the first time this fall. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 77

I've slacked on this feature, but I assure you I intend to keep going with it. I like highlighting other bloggers. I think it's important to share posts that speak to me and acknowledge the great insights out there. 

Here are some of my favorites from not only the last week, but the last few weeks. Grab some coffee and enjoy.

I can't wrap my head around things going on in the world today. I can't imagine trying to explain it to kids. I love "The World Today," which is essentially a letter Sarah wrote to adorable son, Henry. I think she tackles everything we should be saying to our littles. She also had a great post on deal breakers. I agree with her on these, and clearly Henry has some great parents.

Monica answered some important questions about issues that female runners face from time to time.

Juliette has some awesome beauty tips. There are so many I wish I'd known earlier in life.

I don't like the cyclical nature of friendships and relationships. But it's a reality. Some people come into your life and then you realize they don't belong there. Sometimes that realization takes too long, but it's never too late to detox your life of negative relationships. Kelly has some great advice for recognizing and handling toxic people. 

Finally, in total self-serving and self- promotion interests, Rachel and Rebekah each reviewed my latest book, Dropped Third Strike.

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