Dec 13, 2016

"Books serve to show a man...

...that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."

-Abraham Lincoln (supposedly)

I've never really been into numbering my posts and some months I have trouble thinking of titles so I google "quotes about books" and this one made me laugh so I thought I'd share.  :P

As for the books, after burning myself out pretty hard with self help last month (and keeping up with the news lately) I really needed some fluff.  And then after the werewolves, steampunk, and fantasy, I finally managed to get back into more diverse genres.

♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!



Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (audio)

I didn't even know who Shonda Rhimes was, so I had no expectations going in.  Awesome story and you can tell she's a writer because her words just flow.  So poetic and pretty, in addition to being an incredibly inspiring read.  In addition to loving her journey as she learns to say "yes" and let new opportunities in, I thought she had a ton of great insights into feminism, race, and the balance between weight loss and self love.  (Side note: she reads the audiobook and her voice sounds nice and gives the story a very personal feel so I recommend listening if you like audio at all.)


The Best Damn Marketing Checklist, Period! by Stoney deGeyter (kindle)

5 star for pure usefulness, not for being a fun read or anything.  If you're not a web designer, you can just skip over this, but if you are, TONS of good information for improving your website and ranking higher in searches.


The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (paper)

Such a good story!  This is written by a North Korean defector and it's fascinating to see how the regime maintains power, how they indoctrinate people from an early age, and how much effort it takes for citizens to change their mindsets even after deciding to leave the country.  I also know very little about Asian societies, so it was very educational.  Example: I figured once you got out of the country, you'd be good, but since very few other neighboring countries want illegal immigrants, it's just about as dangerous after leaving as it is to stay.  I was absolutely blown away by how resourceful and courageous the author was.  Highly recommend to everyone, both for a good story and to learn more about the other side of the world (assuming most of the people reading this are in the US).

♥♥♥♥ - Liked



Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen (paper)

I was slow to get into this but once I got my mind into romance mode it was a lot of fun.  Steampunk, mystery, vampires and shapeshifters, all good stuff.  Minor pet peeve: all the mechanical issues could be solved by fixing the "cogs."  Not terribly convincing that the characters know what they're talking about.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer (kindle)

I didn't realize this had come out until I was browsing Amazon in search of something light-hearted (tee hee).  Sooo good.  I don't know that I loved it quite on the Lunar Chronicles level, but it was a great story with a very unique twist on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  A little dark and incredibly creative.



Soulless and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (kindle)

I laughed my ass off for the first five pages of the first book.  I was prepared to declare this the best book series of all time, but unfortunately the rest couldn't quite keep up with that promising beginning.  Still very, very good.  The humor was right up my alley and, like Clockwork Beast, I loved the steampunk world.  These felt like they had a little more substance to them as well (hence reading the entire series), and the only, teeny, tiny little thing that bothered me was a description of someone's pregnancy, because, like the "cogs" from the other book, it was fairly inaccurate.  I don't know why this bothers me in a world with vampires, werewolves, and automatons, but I really just want my authors to know their shit and you are not feeling any babies "sloshing around" a couple months in.  Additional note: the first book has a couple of raunchy scenes, but the rest are pretty tame - I'm not sure why there's such a disparity but I thought it was fine with or without them.


Scandalous Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (paper)

Very interesting read!  Basically mini biographies, each lady got 5-10 pages about her exploits and I really liked that it wasn't a one-sided depiction.  The author is very frank about their flaws, as well as their virtues and all are fascinating.  Although I was definitely more intrigued by the women I didn't happen to learn about in school (sorry Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn).  New favorite: Eleanor of Aquitaine (mother to King Richard and Prince John - often caricatured in Robin Hood stories), who not only freed Richard from captivity when already in her 60s but remained politically active and influential all the way up until her death.  Basically, she was a badass in her youth and didn't let age prevent her from continuing on that way.


These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (paper)

I said in my Goodreads review that this was bittersweet and it really was.  Far more realistic than your average pioneer adventure story, and, at times, a lot harder to read because you just want good things for these people and life was harsh back then.  It makes me feel like a huge woose for some of the things I whine about.  I did feel some disconnect from the author near the beginning but as she matures and improves her writing, that feeling went away and I was wholly engrossed in her life, even the minutia.

♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed



Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler (audio)

I had no strong desire to read this - I just needed something to entertain my brain during certain work tasks and this fit the bill.  Not particularly exciting and no real takeaways, just an occasionally amusing read.

♥♥ - Mildly Disliked


None!


 - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire



Rising Strong by Brene Brown (audio)

NOT a "want to burn in a fire" book.  That would be way too harsh.  But yeah, I was 40 minutes in on the audiobook and I still had no interest in what she was talking about so I gave up.  I felt like she spent a ton of time telling us what she was going to talk about without actually starting it.  I know she's all about anecdotal evidence, but I had yet to hear any anecdotes, so I gave up.  If anyone feels strongly that this was a mistake, let me know and I'll give it another go!


The Superior Wife Syndrome by Carin Rubenstein (paper)

Sooo... I feel like the concept for this was good.  I don't think the author is alone in noticing that there's a large chunk of women who have made strides towards equality in the workforce, but continue to shoulder most of the burden of child-rearing and housework despite being wage-earners.  But the way she phrased and explained things was weird (like using the phrase "superior" to mean basically a sucky, unbalanced marriage with "nonsuperior" wives being the ones who are happier and have better marriages) and her explanations dragged on and on and on.  Way more detail and far more examples than necessary for the most basic concepts.  I got about halfway through before I started skimming, trying to find parts that were relevant to me (since I am nowhere near a "superior" wife - Ryan and I split things pretty damn evenly thus far in our relationship and equality is important to both of us) but even when I did, I just didn't agree with the way she wrote about them, so I gave up.  I honestly feel like you'd be better off reading Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, which has actual tips for better communication and fixing pretty much exactly the problem she's describing, without all the extensive analysis of how the problem came to be in the first place.

Currently...
Reading The Nightingale and waiting impatiently for January so I can start Erin book challenge 6.0!  Oh, and I have The Feminine Mystique from the library, so that might end up being an airplane book next week because it's almost 600 pages.

Challenge Updates


Jenn Self Book Challenge

I'm going to count Year of Yes as a "mindset" book, in addition to Best Damn Marketing for "career," and Scandalous Women for a genre I don't normally read and give myself 45 points out of 175 (since I apparently mathed this out weird when I made my challenge).

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?


Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

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Dec 11, 2016

Weekly Wins

I was hoping I'd feel like I had it all together this week and a plan to get things done calmly and in a logical progression next week.  Alas, shitteth doth happen.  So I was sitting here looking at this empty post thinking, "Every single night felt like I had accomplished nothing" but when I really thought about the week as a whole, I found some successes after all.

The Wins!


Biznass

  • Went to a networking event, didn't die.
  • Followed up with someone from said networking event and will be doing brunch in January to talk about collaboration opportunities!!!
  • Figured out what to do for "package" options on my website and now just need to finish making graphics for them.  Also came up with a better passive income idea, though that's really not a priority just now.
  • Started using Trello (so beautiful) for project management and re-organized the horrendous mess that my Google Docs and task list was becoming.

Health

  • Rediscovered a prenatal yoga video that hadn't been all that exciting earlier on but is a really good fit for my current level (aka lack of) flexibility.
  • Was really bad about reporting in to my accountabilibuddy (sorry Kristen!) BUT I have managed to work out at least 5 days per week the last couple weeks, so that's good AND I'm starting to bump up my overall workout times to 20-30 minutes instead of 15 (which was lazy, but I needed to make it easy to get started).

Happiness Project

  • Finished all the home organization stuff (take that, entry closet!), and made progress with Christmas-y cheer.  I'm having trouble finding stocking hangers, so I'll have to take to the Internet for that one.
  • Also finished my marketing book (about time!) and made a list of the changes to make to my website so I can do it all at once instead of in small pieces.  (I have a privacy policy page now - whaaat?  So formal and professional.)

Personal

  • Offered to help out with my favorite Meetup group since the classes they're running for the next couple months aren't things I need to take (intro to HTML, etc) but I want to keep seeing people and making friends.  So we'll see if that goes anywhere.
  • Have made time for some social things but not enough to feel overwhelmed (about one per week or every other week seems to be a good fit for me).  It's nice to find my balance.

Thoughts and Plans for This Week

  • Run around like a headless chicken trying to get everything sorted before vacation next week?  Does that count as a plan???

What victories did you have last week?  What's in the works for the upcoming week?


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Dec 6, 2016

Happiness Project Month 4: Get Shit Done!

Shouldn't today be Show Us Your Books day?  I really wanted to talk books today but since that's not an option, I will instead address this happiness project thing that I have totally flaked on.

Month 3 Update: Self Actualization


Affirmations

I think I said them about 3 times.  I'm about burned out on this aspect, so I'll skip it for the next month.

Resolutions

I only had one and that was to spend 15 minutes a day on at least one of my projects.  Big fat fail.  But I think I know why.  I think it was too vague.  I tend to do better with a specific task to check off each day, rather than "work on ___" or "exercise ___ minutes."

To Do

  1. Sort and purge old photos - I made progress.  Ryan was awesome and let me sift through my physical photos and show him funny old high school memories, which made it easier for me to let some go.  I never take them out and reminisce on my own, so I don't need them, but I wanted to share them with someone before I said goodbye.  So physical photos = done, and digital photos I made it through 2011 and the "old" folder which was everything from before I had my own camera.  The good news?  2011 was the year I thought I might become a photographer and (I think) the only year with hundreds of scenery pictures to sift through.
  2. System for memory keeping - Nope.  In part because I never finished the photos part.
  3. Passive income project - It took me all month to really come up with an idea that made sense to me.  'Cause sure, I can sell templates, but what makes it any different than any other templates you can buy from Theme Forest or on Etsy?  Then I thought of making branding packages which would include logo, business cards, and social media setup, in addition to the template.  This makes way more sense for me, personally, BUT it's hardly "passive" income because people are going to need to customize all these things and, with the exception of a WordPress website, I don't know how to set it up that they can handle customization on their own.
  4. Set up Etsy shop - Again, dependent on the previous step so no.
  5. The book - Decided to let this go.  I waited too long and my idea has floated away.

In Conclusion

My brain has felt really scattered and all over the place this month.  Business really died down after the election (and it took me a while to recoup and get back to it, too) and the house is messy and things are generally a bit blegh.

But I'm starting to feel better and I don't want to be or feel blegh anymore, so I think what I want to do for month 4 is the thing that will help the most to make me feel more content.  And no, that's not the month of "fun" I was originally planning.

Month 4: Get Shit Done!


This will be less interesting to read about, but it needs to be done.  I'm going to tackle the photos again, but I'm going about it a different way.  And I only have 2 weeks to work with because on the 21st I'm flying out to California to spend Christmas with family.

No affirmations, no resolutions, just getting down to business.

To Do


  1. House - The state of my house is often a reflection of my mental state.  I know putting it to rights will galvanize me, so I want to do it first.  A) Reorganize entry closet B) Set up new crib, dispose of old one C) Decorate for Christmas!
  2. Sort Photos - I've broken this down into years and picked days that I know are relatively open to work on this.
  3. Get Photos Printed - Easy enough once I finish the 1st step.  Should be a one-day task.
  4. Baby Book and Scrapbook - Instead of going solo, I'm going to enlist Ryan to help me.  Both for accountability and because it will mean more later.
  5. Finish Digital Marketing Book - I've been reading this in small doses because there's sooo many tips I want to utilize, but I need to just get it done and stop spending every other day tinkering with my website.  Batching.
  6. Make Specific Business Goals - Instead of reaching Wednesday and thinking, "Hmmm, what do I want to work on?" I want to go back to setting goals and planning my week on Monday.
  7. Business "Packages" - I need to think on this a bit more, but I don't think I'll be opening an Etsy shop (because of that whole needing customization thing), but I do want to design examples for a "Website/Social package" and a "Complete Branding package."

That's probably more than enough.  The goal (similar to last month) is to start the new year feeling decluttered and fresh and ready to start mentally preparing for big life changes.  (I have a huge stack of parenting books just waiting for me.)

It's crunch time, ladies and gentlemen!

What are your last minute tasks for the year?  Anything you're in a rush to get done before the holidays?


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Dec 4, 2016

Weekly Wins!

My brain feels completely scattered lately.  I wasn't even going to post this and then I remembered my first bullet point under "biznass" and I still wanted to brag about it, sooo...

The Wins!


Biznass

  • Months after finishing the project and getting paid for it, a client was finally ready to put her website up online!  Naturally the deployment wasn't as smooth as it should have been so I spent a few days troubleshooting and now it is up and beautiful!
  • Followed up with some clients about invoicing.  I absolutely hate doing this so the victory here is following through instead of just taking the loss since the invoices aren't all that expensive.
  • Finished my FB ad campaign (got 16 new "likes" on my page, decided I'm not sure that quantifies as any great success, and probably won't pay more money for that unless those 16 people end up being very engaged and interested fans), and started a Google ad campaign (we'll see how it goes!).

Health

  • After a slow start to the week, got some good workouts in!  A good mix of biking, (light) strength training, and yoga.
  • Did I already tell you guys how amazing my pregnancy workout leggings are?  They're amazing.  The most comfortable things I have ever put on my body.  I wish I never had to leave the house.
  • Have some (very modest) meal plans for this week.  Back to healthier eating! (until Christmas, because Christmas!!!)

Happiness Project

  • Still deciding what to do about this.  I should be switching from "self actualization" to "fun" but I really didn't do self actualization at all and I feel too mentally cluttered to be all, "la la la, let's ignore life and plan fun activities instead."  Maybe I'll do a "get all the shit done before the year ends" month so I can relax a little in January.

Personal

  • Survived a birthing class!  I know, this does not bode well for the actual birth, but oh my goodness.  Do you know how big 10cm is?  Have you seen a demo of an epidural or a c-section???  For the c-section, they cut open the first layer of skin, part the muscles with their hand, and then cut open the uterus.  Watching (even in cartoony simulation form) made me wince.  I know too much!
  • Instigated the next brunch group meetup for later in December.  I'm just barely getting to know these ladies, but we had a ball last time, talking creative topics (and movies and pets).
  • Was frustrated with a couple conversations I'd had with people, realized I was doing my usual "bottle it up and avoid that person until I feel better" BS, and decided to just be straightfoward and tell them what was bugging me.  One didn't respond and one responded much more positively than I anticipated and wasn't awkward about it later.  So overall it's probably a healthier way to deal with conflict than to go hide or fume or pout.

Thoughts and Plans for Next Week (aka This Week)

  • Erm...  I'll let you know when it's over.

What victories did you have last week?  What's in the works for the upcoming week?


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Dec 1, 2016

Quarterly Goals - Winter 2017

Well... this season is just lame.  No better way to put it.

Autumn Seasonal Goals (September, October, November)

1. Try something new each month - Check!

September: ocean kayaking & cohosting kiddie sleepover, October: comedy club, November: massage (technically I've had one before but it was a hot stone massage and I didn't like it.  This was MUCH better).

2. Finish Zelda, Twilight Princess - Check!

And it was glorious!  I can still count the number of games I've played all the way through on one hand, but it always makes me feel accomplished to finish one.

3. Passive income project - Meh

I started...  Yep.  Just barely started.  What happened to November again?

4. Go to archery! - Sort of?

Ryan and I went to the archery club's Halloween party and "volunteered," intending to help with clean up.  They didn't actually need much help but it was nice to chat with some people.  As for actually going and shooting, I don't know, I don't really care anymore if I make time for it.  Ryan's the one with the membership (and expensive equipment) so it's not like I've invested all that much in the hobby anyway.

5. Write 60 pages in story - Newp

Decided to let the story go.  At this point I think I'm really just feeling more nostalgia than actual desire to do it.

6. Toast house training - Semi check

Shortly after making this goal, something seemed to click in Toast's little doggy brain.  We've been gradually expanding her freedom, and she's doing really well!  We started off leaving her out while running errands and moved on up until she was making it for the whole workday.  So far so good!

7. Finish sorting photos - Nuh uh

I have sporadically sifted through a couple additional trip folders, but I'm nowhere near completed.  I fully regret the days when I thought I might be a photographer and took hundreds of scenery pictures.

8. Family scrapbook! - Nada

Um yeah... apparently our family doesn't need to be documented.  There's always Facebook, right?


3/9 - Pa pa pa pathetic.  That's all I have to say about that.

Winter...

Winter Goals

  1. Broaden My Cultural Horizons - I really like the Southern Poverty Law Center's message about education being the solution to hatred and prejudice.  I can't do a whole lot about other people, but I can continue to educate myself, which I plan to do through books and events that are outside my norm.
  2. Attend 1 Networking Event Per Month - My client market (local Delaware businesses) is just not online, so all my beautiful Instagram photos or money spent on Facebook ads is just not going to pack the same punch as actually going out and meeting people.
  3. Try Something New Each Month - Same as usual.
  4. Have a Baby; Don't Freak Out - Yeah, basically this is a reminder to myself that starting February I have no idea what to expect and not to set high expectations for all my amazing accomplishments the following months.  Also I've totally had adopter's remorse immediately after getting both dogs and both times it turned out to be ok and I fell in love with them and can't imagine ever going back and not getting them, so I need to remember that when it gets stressful and overwhelming.

Do you make seasonal goals?  What are you planning for this winter?


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