Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Motivation

This week’s Jam Session is all about songs that motivate me, some that are upbeat that you can workout to and others that are slow and maybe more calming and uplifting. Both typically have positive messages. I’ve said a few times lately that my attitude just hasn’t been the best and so music is definitely one of my main go-to’s to help change my mood or help me get through things. This list is fun because there is a good mix of newer songs that have been on my radar lately, and a few of them are older, and are some of my all-time favorite songs to help motivate me and change my outlook. There is also a really good mix of genres, which is just a reminder and how vast my music taste is.

A few playlist notes…

If you played high school sports in the late 2000’s you’ll probably agree with me on Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” and I couldn’t count the amount of times that my sister and I rapped through the whole thing on the way to school. Speaking of high school, I included an early Taylor song, which really takes me back! I tried to not duplicate any of the artists, but my favorite Christian rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE, snuck in there with two songs, because to be honest, almost all of their music motivates me. There are three songs that have the word “Arrow” in the title, though they could not be more different. Ed Sheeran is one of my all-time favorite artists, but I was a bit surprised that I managed to still include him on this list. I don’t know if I’ve ever considered any of his other music to be particularly motivating, but this one definitely hits that point. I hadn’t heard Pink’s song until the Grammy’s this year and am still think back about the impact of her very simple performance. Hope you enjoy this week’s playlist!

What are you listening to lately?

See past Friday Jam Session posts HERE.

Life at Random

Day in the Life – February 14, 2018

With social media it is really easy to get caught up in people’s “life highlight reels” and whether its subconscious or not, we make comparisons. I think there are a lot of great things about social media  (hello, its a part of my job), but that pitfall is not one of them. When it comes to bloggers, I usually follow new ones I’ve found for a little while, but if I don’t relate to them or just get too much of the highlight reel, instead of everyday real life, then I tend to let them drop off my list of those I follow.

“Day in the Life” posts from other bloggers are always some of the most simple posts they do, but they are always interesting to me. It’s fun to get a peek into how someone else, who has a different job, location and life circumstances does their everyday life. I finally decided to do one myself because also liked the idea that it captures my life right in the moment and season of life that I’m in. Someday I might look back and think, wow, how different things were then.

In order for it to be somewhat spontaneous, at the beginning of February I decided that I wanted to do a day that was mid-month and then I asked one of my friends, without giving her the context, to pick a number from a range of dates. I laughed that she ended up selecting Valentine’s Day, but I decided to stick to it, so here we go!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

That’s my sweet baby cousin Sawyer June by the way 🙂

My alarm went off at 5:20 am. In all honesty, this was a bit early for me. Most mornings I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30, but this particular morning I had signed up for a 7 am Pure Barre class and I had to account for a 30 minute walk. The barre studio is two blocks from my office, which is just about a mile from my apartment. I walk most days because I don’t have a permanent parking spot at the office, so days that I drive mean that someone that is a regular driver is away from the office that day, or when its super cold or bad weather I can use the visitors spot from time to time.

Anyway, when I first wake up, I always quickly check my work email on my phone to see if any emails from our overseas offices came in overnight and breeze through a few news headlines. After I pried myself out of bed, the rest of my early morning consisted of packing my outfit for the day, makeup bag and lunch in my backpack. (I switch between a backpack and a large purse, based on my mode of getting to work and what I need that day.)

I always need something small to eat before I workout, especially if it is in the morning so I grabbed a cereal bar and also downed a small can of cold brew coffee mixed with a little almond milk to take my vitamins. The cold brew is my favorite go-to if I don’t have time to brew hot coffee for my to to-go cup, or days like today, where it made less sense to bring it and then have it sit while I was in class.

I left my apartment about 6:20 or so and arrived at 6:42, which was great because that meant when the class before me got out at 6:50, I was first into the studio and got to snag my favorite spot. Pure Barre is something new I started right before Christmas and I am really loving it so far!

Class lasted 50 minutes. So at 7:50 I was out the door and immediately walked right around the corner to Peet’s Coffee. Like I said before, most days I make coffee at home, so I try to stick to making Peet’s a treat maybe 3 to 5 times a month. So I got my usual small dirty chai latte and also grabbed a bowl of apple spice overnight oats.

My office building has a small locker room which is SO convenient. I keep a towel, small body wash, deodorant, dry shampoo and body spray in my locker. It took me about 30 minutes to rinse off, dress and put on my makeup. My hair is naturally curly and doesn’t get very oily, so I only wash my hair every 3 to 4 days, even when I’ve straightened it, like I had done earlier in the week. So with a little dry shampoo and some bobby pins I was good to go.

I walked into my office at 8:39. We are allowed to choose our arrival and leave within some guidelines, which is nice. I typically get to work between 8:30 and 8:45 and leave between 5 and 5:15. Others in the office who have longer commutes and/or kids, typically start and leave earlier.

There wasn’t really much to take unique pictures of throughout my work day. My morning was filled with planning and scheduling out some social media posts and responding to various emails (and eating my overnight oats.) The last few weeks were busy focusing primarily on our board meeting that wrapped up last Saturday, so I also had a few random tasks on my to-do list that I needed to circle around to again.

At lunch, I walked two blocks to the Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then came back to the office and ate a small plate of the leftover spaghetti that I brought with me from home. After lunch, I turned my attention to our website redesign which is set to launch in late spring or early summer. I met with two other staff members to work through the plans for the pages that require their attention and made some really good progress on a few decisions that need to be made. For the rest of the day I worked on website content and planning, snacked on a orange and wrapped up the afternoon with a catch up with my boss on a meeting he went to earlier in the day and what we need from each other for the remainder of the week. I also eventually moved from sitting to standing. I got my adjustable table top desk back in December and absolutely LOVE it!

I left the office at 5:13 and was home by 5:41. I was excited to see that I had a sweet Valentine’s card in my mailbox from my best friend Megan. I needed to be out the door again in about an hour so I relaxed on the couch to unwind and flip through my personal social media and put on an episode of NCIS on Netflix, which is the show that I am currently slowing working through. I like other types of shows, but crime serial shows are my favorite, partially because I can half watch/half do something else and still feel like I enjoyed it.

At 6:40 or so, I got ready to leave again and my friend Lance called to catch up, which was great timing because I had a 30 minute walk ahead of me again and it was a great way to fill that time.

At 7:20 I met up with my friend Carley at the Clarendon Grille, which is also really close to my office. Carley just moved here after the new year, and works for an organization that essentially does the same thing as mine does, just for other grain commodities. I am friends with one of her colleagues who connected us. Anyway, Carley is in an intramural league for cornhole (how awesome is that?!), so I tagged along for the evening to hangout, which included a dinner of a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a Yuengling. We wrapped up a little after 9 so I justified getting an Uber for a quick ride home.

Once at home, I made some decaf lemon tea, watched the rest of the NCIS episode that I had started earlier and did some work on this blog post. I also put on a face mask, which I do maybe once or twice a week, especially in the winter, when my dry skin can use all the help it can get! Around 10:30 I called it quits and headed to bed.

Nothing too exciting, but overall it was a good day!

So There's That Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Jade

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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This next guest has been on my wish list of people to feature for a while now, but I’ve been trying my best to feature people from a wide variety of colleges, jobs and areas of study, so when people like Jade fall into the two categories that I know the most people in — K-State grads and people who studied agriculture communications/journalism —  I feel like I need to at least try to spread them out.

But those people also tend to be some of my most eager participants 🙂 so here we are. Jade’s story is such a fun one to feature. I met Jade while we were students at K-State, though I don’t know if I can quite pinpoint when I first met her. We both studied agriculture communications, lived at neighboring women’s scholarship houses, were both ambassadors for the College of Ag and we had quite a few mutual friends. Overall though, most of memories with her go back to when we were both taking “ag mag,” which is a production class for our college bi-annual magazine. I was the lead editorial designer and she was the lead photo editor so we spent a lot of hours in the lab together. Jade is a self-starter and betters herself by plunging right in and learning along the way. She is sincere, driven by her faith and so incredibly creative. Personally, I think Jade and I have similar personalities in a lot of ways, which might be she’s one of my favorite “creatives” to look to for inspiration.

I did a mini-portrait session with her for my college graduation, and I guarantee you that if I am back in that part of the country when I need professional photos done in the future, she will be my first choice! I hope you enjoy reading a bit of Jade’s story!

– Amanda

(headshot photo by La Brisa Photography)

Name: Jade Comstock
Age: 29
Hometown: Fall River, KS
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agricultural Communications & Journalism
Current Location: Salina, KS
Current Job: Missionary for Christian Challenge Salina & Photographer/Owner of Jade Creates
Background Story: I grew up in a family of five on a small horse farm in Southeast Kansas. I grew up loving being outside and loving agriculture.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I was heavily involved in FFA in high school, so that meant we traveled to Manhattan a lot for events and I fell in love! I originally majored in Ag Education, but soon figured out it wasn’t for me. I loved to College of Agriculture and didn’t want to leave, so Ag Communications was an easy switch that ended up being perfect for me.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
My first few years I lived in the Alpha of Clovia Scholarship house. I also loved being a part of Ag Ambassadors. But the most impactful was being a part of Christian Challenge my senior year.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I can look back and say I was way too focused on friendships and relationships and school was very secondary to that. It even led me to leave K-State for a while to get away. While I love the people I met and grew with, I do wish I would have focused a little more on classes!

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be open to anything! This is a scary time of life, but you never know where the next year will take you. Have fun with your friends and be open to new opportunities! Also… take a fun class. Wine tasting was one of my favorite classes and I actually learned things that I still use today!

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
It’s been a little crazy! I moved to Salina to do photography full time. After a year of doing that, I knew I needed to be doing more. I started a job with a non-profit here in town where I was able to mentor and work with eight high school girls. I loved it so much! Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to join Christian Challenge Staff in Salina. The organization made a big impact on me in college, and I really felt like this is where God was leading me, so I made the switch. While all of that was going on, I was continuing to build my photography business and have started to branch into baking for events!

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Being an Ag Comm grad has helped me so much! I was able to get ahead with my photography by knowing how to market myself well and use social media to my advantage.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
The not so fun side of running a small business… taxes and such! I still feel a little clueless on this stuff, but am learning every year.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
A good old fashioned planner is my best friend! But outside of that, I love using social media to market myself and my business. (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) I use wordpress to run my blog. I have an awesome app called Pocketsuite that keeps all of my contacts, contracts, calendars, billing and more all together. And.. back on the not fun taxes and such..Quickbooks Self-Employed helps me keep my business and personal finances separate. I really could go on and on… I love apps and technology. There are so many that help me run my business!

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
As you can probably tell… I love doing lots and lots of things. This is a strength as I get to do lots of different things and really experience life. BUT sometimes I get my plate overloaded and I get stretched too thin and drive myself a little crazy.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
People! My jobs all revolve around people. Getting to make a difference in peoples lives helps me see that it’s worth doing and I can keep going.  And, obviously, my faith. Above all trusting in God to lead me and give me peace and keep me going

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Again, putting God first helps me stay focused. But outside of that, i am working on being healthier, so working out daily has really helped energize me. I love getting outside and traveling. Seeing new places is very exciting and pushes me to be more creative in my work.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Probably having a business that hasn’t flopped!

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I am currently single and living with my dogs. This past summer I got my first house, so I have spent a lot of time trying to channel my inner Joanna Gaines and make it look pretty. I also love love love baking. Getting to do that for my coworkers and students is so much fun.

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
I have recently rebranded my business. I am looking to expand outside of photography. I want to offer baked goods and just more creative insights to people.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Coffee and Jesus. Every morning. 🙂

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I need music. It keeps me creative and focused!

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
Hmm… maybe a baker in a big city… or an adventure wedding photographer… or an interior designer. I could go on and on.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
The people. They are awesome. I miss them so much. Oh and of course Taco Lucha. Gimmie all them tacos.

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Graduation – May 2013

Thanks for being my guest today Jade! I love to see how you are growing personally and professionally since college, and I am excited to follow along and see how you expand your brand! Good luck!

For quick reference, I listed all of the ways you can connect with Jade’s business online. I would definitely recommend checking out her Instagram, it’s so pretty!

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 29

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

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In Case You Missed It On the Blog in January

  1. 2017 – A Year in Review
  2. Home for the Holidays 2017
  3. Favorite Things {in 2017} I Need to Tell You About Right Now
  4. Top 20 Favorite Pictures From My Camera in 2017
  5. So There’s That Vol. 28
  6. The Road I Traveled: Meet Elizabeth
  7. Love Letter: To My Planner
  8. The Road I Traveled: Meet Brandi
  9. Vision Board Party
  10. Book Review: January 2018

Scottsdale Work Trip

Mid-January I headed to Arizona to represent my organization at the Wheat Foods Council annual meeting, which is a partner of ours. While it was a work trip with very little down time, I AM SO NOT COMPLAINING. It was between 60 and 75 degrees the entire time which was a nice mid-winter break from the bitter wind chill in DC.

Seriously, why are cacti so fascinating.

52 Things I Want to Do in 2018.

Source: The Girl Who Loved To Write

Chelsea, at “The Girl Who Loved to Write” is one of my favorite bloggers. I didn’t do true new year’s resolutions this year, but I loved this list she put together of 52 things she wants to do in 2018. I love a good list, and this is an approach to self-improvement that is more my style.

Positive Thinking

I’m laughing about this now, but I was definitely not laughing at the time. I’ve been struggling a bit with being positive lately, and so a few weeks ago when I got up early for a 6 am workout class before my late morning flight to Arizona for work, I was feeling really good and determined to have a better attitude going into this trip. Wrong move.

I had timed out the rest of my morning so that I could get everything I needed to done and out the door to the airport on time, which included ironing the shirt I was wearing that day. I only have a table top ironing board and no table so my kitchen counter is where I do my ironing. At one point I set my iron too close to the edge of the counter, and it fell and landed on my foot. I am pretty sure my next door neighbor (who I know was home because I could hear him moving around in his own kitchen #citylife) thinks I’ve lost my mind or something based how loud and how long I yelled. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but this was rough. I determined after a couple of minutes that the hot part of the iron never touched me (how does that happen?!) but that the reason it hurt so much was that the heavy iron had landed on ONE of my toes. But I was on a timeline so the purple swollen toe got shoved into a shoe and to the airport I went. I swear, the list of ridiculous (and eventually funny) things that happen that I can’t make up is way to long.

 Why It’s Good to Embrace Negative Feelings

Link to video HERE.

I tried to get this video to embed directly, but I couldn’t get it to work correctly. If you click the photo though, the link will take you to the video 🙂 I saw a friend post this Ted Talk on Facebook a few weeks ago and it came to me right at a time when I really needed to hear it. It stayed with me so much, that I’ve thought about incorporating it into a blog post idea that I’ve been turning over in my head recently. Stay tuned, and in the mean time, watch this!

My favorite quote from the video was “Tough emotions are part of our contract with life.

Ted Talk Summary: “Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.”

Spelling is Hard

My friend Nicole, who is an agriculture communications professional like me, tweeted the other day about what her crutch word was. Even though we are typically really good at spelling, I promise you that all communicators/writers/journalists/etc. have a word that is relatively easy that stumps them every time. Nicole’s word is “scissors” and I tweeted back that mine is “necessary.” Then our friend Jenni, who is a journalist for a paper in the Midwest, tweeted back that hers was “diarrhea.” Maybe you have to know these two ladies for it to be funny, but I thought her response was hilarious and it kept me laughing for the rest of the day.

Exodus 14:14

Exodus 14:14 is my favorite verse, so for Christmas, my best friend Megan gave me this handmade copper (also my favorite) bracelet and it’s been the perfect reminder to wear on my wrist. The bracelet is from “The Muddy Hammer.” If you like my bracelet, you should check out some of their other stuff HERE. #notsponsored

Busy, Busy, Busy

I typically try my best to avoid going on about being busy. It’s hard, but I think that’s a lazy answer when people ask you how you are, and while its also subjective, most people live what they consider to be busy lives. And to be honest, I personally prefer to have a busier schedule.

But with that said, the first six weeks of the new year always tends to be a WHIRLWIND for me, and this year has been no exception. It’s partially why this post tends to be short on pictures. This last week I hit that six week mark with our winter board meeting which is always right here in DC. My planner is quickly filling up again, but the meeting was a bit of a mental finish line mark for me, and it was nice to spend it surrounded by our farmers, who continue to inspire me and are such a large part of why I love my job. I’m a bit biased, but I am really excited that our newest elect to the board’s officer team is a farmer from Oregon.

When the farmer is extra tall and you are extra short, benches are necessary for taking good photos. Thanks for being a good sport Darren!

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Signature

 

Capture

Link up here.

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Tim

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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Today’s guest is another friend from college. I met Tim while I was living at the Smurthwaite Scholarship Leadership House for women and he was at Smith House for men. Early on he gave me a bit of hard time for being in agriculture communications, while he was instead  in the journalism school, but I think we eventually got past that 🙂 I’ve always appreciated Tim’s work as a journalist. He is a great writer and professional, and I love that every time I open my K-Stater magazine, (which is always a great piece), that I know who put in all the hard work and talent to put it together. Plus, he’s a great guy and one of the biggest true K-State sports fans I know. I enjoyed getting caught up on his career and hearing about the lessons he has learned along the way so far. I hope you enjoy his story!

– Amanda


Name:
Tim Schrag
Age: 27
Hometown: Kingman, Kansas
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Bachelor of science in journalism and digital media, 2012
Current Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Current Job: Editor of the K-Stater magazine for the K-State Alumni Association

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
My dad went to Kansas State University and earned a degree in horticulture. He also played football and ran track for K-State in the 1980s. He really loved that place, so I really loved it too. Then, I had the opportunity to visit and I knew immediately it was where I needed to be.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
A bulk of my time outside of the classroom was spent working for the student-run newspaper the Kansas State Collegian. I quite literally lived in that campus newsroom. It’s where I cut my teeth in journalism and really got comfortable learning how to craft a news story. I worked as a reporter, desk editor, recruiter and served three times as editor-in-chief. Looking back, I know there were countless long nights, misspellings and hard lessons learned, but I barely remember those. What I do recall, are the great people I met through the paper, the late-night discussions, prank wars, inside jokes and the basics of how to work in news organization.

I also had the opportunity to intern for the Wichita Eagle and the Manhattan Mercury.

I also lived in a scholarship house on campus, helped recruit students to K-State at the Journalism Education Association’s national conventions and worked as a class leader for a freshman introduction to leadership concepts course for the Staley School of Leadership Studies.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I probably stretched myself too thin at times. That was stressful, but then I learned that sometimes it’s necessary to say no on occasion. I wish I learned that lesson earlier.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I started a job as a copy editor for the Hutchinson News, right out of college. It was a great learning experience and I wasn’t ready for it.

I knew basic design for broadsheet newspapers and Associated Press style, but I copy editing just didn’t come natural to me. Thankfully, the News’ copydesk had some really talented staff who were willing to teach me. It made me a stronger writer. They taught me to look for holes in every story, how to write a good headline and so many other undefinable aspects of working in a news organization.

I spent about three years with The News. Half of that was on the copydesk. The other half was as a late breaking news reporter. I covered just about everything from congressional town hall meetings, city government, fires (so many fires, too many fires), elections and just about everything in between.

Most of my time at The News was spent working during nights and weekends. I enjoyed the work but really hated the hours. They don’t prepare you in J-School for how much that part sucks. They tell you, but you don’t really know until you live it.

Then in 2015, my college mentor told me about a job opening at the K-State Alumni Association. They have a quarterly magazine which goes out to members. He had been it’s longtime editor before retiring in 2012. He told me to apply for the job. They hired me and now I’m telling my alma mater’s story while also learning the ins and outs of alumni relations.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Being the editor of my college’s newspaper seemed to directly relate to my current position as the university’s alumni magazine editor. That’s fairly obvious.

However, I believe the professors, faculty members, staff and other students all taught me life lessons that have shaped me in some way.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
People talk about “adulting” and how terrible it is. In college, professors, parents and recent grads all warn us about the real world. It hit me harder than I thought it would. I wish I would have heeded the warnings a little closer.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Google Docs keeps me organized. I use Apple Voice Memos to record interviews. Adobe products help our team put together our publications.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
This always feels like a trick question. I tend to avoid it. That might be because I tend to be very direct. That’s neither a strength, nor a weakness in my book. Do your best, be honest… especially when you mess up, and don’t be afraid to ask questions — even if they seem obvious. That’s how I try to work.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Caffeine and junk food seem to always help me power through.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
I don’t answer work emails after 5 p.m. or on the weekends unless it’s an emergency.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
My goal is to make a product that people want to read. Anytime a reader tells me something that can help me produce a better publication, I feel great.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I probably watch too much TV and movies. Who doesn’t these days? I also follow K-State sports (I have season football tickets), go hiking and hunting.

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
When I figure that out, I’ll get back to you.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Make your bed as soon as you get up. It sounds dumb, but it starts your day off with an accomplishment.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Caffeine, specifically soda, usually Pepsi.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I guess being a student. Having so many opportunities, being able to meet people so easily. It was just a great life.


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Thanks for being my guest today Tim!

Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Favorite Albums in 2017

I am SO EXCITED to bring back this series. Blogging is such a fun hobby for me and a way to both journal my life and exercise my writing skills outside of work, so in 2018 one of my goals is to blog more regularly. Friday Jam Sessions used to be some of my regular posts, but how I was doing them at the time — choosing one song to highlight for a bunch of different categories and writing a review for each — were just so time consuming so I eventually got out of the habit of doing them. But music and discovering new artists and tunes is still one of my favorite things and I missed sharing these posts. So now that I’ve become loyal to Spotify a few years ago, I am going to switch things up and share playlists I build on there around different themes. This is much easier for me to do because I listen to Spotify almost all day, everyday, regardless if I am at work, in the car or at home. And I’ve always had the habit of sorting songs into playlists based on moods or themes as I go. So right now I am aiming to get one of these posts up about every other week or so. Let me know if there is any particular theme you want me to feature!

See past Friday Jam Session posts HERE.

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To start us out, I decided to look back at 2017 and feature my favorite 10 full albums that were released that year. My music tastes stretch far and wide, but not surprisingly, artists that came out with full albums that I listened to over and over to, were almost all artists that I consider some of my all-time favorites. I decided to put three songs from every album on the playlist, which was NOT EASY. I should also note that Chris Stapleton technically came out with TWO new albums this year (because he’s amazing) but I counted them as one in this list…and still included three songs from each.

  • Ed Sheeran // Divide
  • Maren Morris // HERO
  • Chris Stapleton // From a Room Vol. 1 and 2
  • Logan Mize // Come Back Road
  • Harry Styles // Harry Styles
  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack
  • Aaron Watson // Vaquero
  • Taylor Swift // reputation
  • Turnpike Troubadours // A Long Way From Your Heart
  • Halsey // hopeless fountain kingdom

A few playlist notes…

Halsey was a bit of a surprise to me because I don’t recall really liking much from her first album, but I really liked her sophomore album this year. Harry Styles’ freshman solo album solidified that his talents stretch far beyond his work with One Direction and I spent most of 2017 demanding that my friends listen to it. I was over the moon that Logan Mize finally gave us a new full album and proceeded to reminisce about all of his concerts I went to in college. My obsession with Ed Sheeran continues to know no limits and after discovering Maren Morris when her original EP came out a few years ago I have to remind myself that she’s still considered a new artist. After listening to him a bit in college, Aaron Watson shot up my list when I finally caught one of his concerts back in September and was kicking myself for having missed out on more of his music for so long. Maybe its because we’re the same age and I feel like I’ve grown up with her, but I’m still a shameless fan of Taylor, and after being a little concerned about LWYMMD as the first single off the new album, the rest of it was everything that it should be. Turnpike Troubadours has such a distinct sound, and I finally made it to one of their concerts for the first time, which only solidified my love for their music. Chris Stapleton’s sound continues to memorize me and I will never be able to wrap my mind around the fact that he spent so many years writing for other people before making it on his own. I FINALLY saw him live in concert this past year, and he is even so much better live — if that is possible. Finally, I couldn’t not mention the album that seems like everyone can’t stop talking about, and that is The Greatest Showman soundtrack. The movie was SO GOOD and the soundtrack has been on loop in my car for weeks. I think I know every word to every song by now.

I am sure that I forgot or overlooked a few albums,  but I did have these others on my list when I was planning this post, so I suppose they deserve honorable mention.

  • Little Big Town // The Breaker
  • Thomas Rhett // Life Changes
  • Old Dominion // Happy Endings
  • Grace VanderWaal // Just The Beginning
  • Demi Lovato // Tell Me You Love Me

And these are artists with albums coming in 2018 that are on my radar so far that I am looking forward to.

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Vance Joy
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • Brothers Osborne

What are you listening to lately?

Capture

Books and Reading

Book Review: January 2018

As a kid, my parents used to joke that for punishment they should take my books away because that would have been one of the few things that really would have made an impact. But they didn’t thank goodness, and books became the first thing that really fueled my love for words, stories and their impact, which eventually influenced my career path.

But then college happened and I almost stopped reading altogether outside of textbooks, articles and what not.

In the almost 5 years since I graduated (say what?!), I’ve struggled to bring reading back into my regular routine, so when I do read its usually when I’m traveling or a random binge, where I start and finish a book in one day. However this hasn’t stopped me from bringing in a few hauls from local bargain sales and adding to my endless list of popular books that everyone else is suggesting.

So my goal in 2018 is to read at LEAST one book a month (baby steps), but to aim toward more like 2 to 3 books. Since book reviews are some of my favorite posts to read, I figured that making this a monthly post is the best way to keep myself accountable.

In January, I read two books and I am ALMOST done with “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, but just couldn’t quite get it finished in time, so that will go on next month’s review.

My list is already pretty long, but please let me know what you recommend!

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The Castaways
By Elin Hilderbrand

Synopsis

“Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy’s closest friends for what will be revealed.
Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life.”
  (via GoodReads)

My Review

I love Elin Hilderbrand, and to anyone who asks, I usually describe her as the Sarah Dessen for adults (though for the record, as an adult I still LOVE Sarah Dessen.) Hilderbrand’s books always make me both laugh and cry, and while yes, you can describe them as a mindless, fun vacation read, I would argue that they often stay with me for a while and make me think a bit. Anyway, The Castaways had a little bit of everything — humor, romance, drama, mystery, etc. — and was probably one of Hilderbrand’s more complex stories. It flowed really well, considering it changed narrators with each chapter and kept me interested until the very end. This story was bittersweet and interesting look at how six different people react and work through the same tragedy. Plus, as always, Hilderbrand makes me want to visit Nantucket someday since that is the setting for all of her books.

Favorite Quote(s)

“Women clearly felt things more deeply: they read sub-text where men saw only white space.” 

Recommend?

4 out of 5 stars… so yes! Definitely recommend if these kind of books are your jam.

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Good as Gone
By Amy Gentry

Synopsis

“Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.” (via Good Reads)

My Review

I love crime shows and mysteries, so I was really looking forward to this book after reading a few good reviews — some that even said that it was equal to “Gone Girl” (which I LOVED.) But I was ultimately left disappointed. The first half of the book was pretty good and had me pulled in, but after a while the narrative switches started to get too confusing and I actually guessed the ending maybe around 3/4’s of the way through. While I realize that religion was a key piece of the story, but I think that the story could have been shortened and simplified a bit. There was just too many things going on that never quite connected for me.

Favorite Quote(s)

“My whole life, ever since I could remember, I’d always hated the thought that no one could ever know what anyone else was feeling or thinking. The fact that no one could ever be inside my head with me seemed like the loneliest thing in the world. I wanted so bad for there to be something that could make those boundaries just disappear. Something so big it was like air, a magic flowing across the planet, connecting everyone and everything.” 

Recommend?

2.5 out of 5 stars. If suspense is a genre you are really into I’d say, ‘sure why not.’ But otherwise I’d say skip it.

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What books do you recommend?