Tuesday, June 27, 2017

July 2017 Plan with Me! + June Flip Through

Today I'm sharing my July plan with me video over on the channel! Not a ton has changed inside my trusty bullet journal, but I am getting a *bit* more creative with my spreads as I have the time to do so in the summer. I'm still loving my bullet journal experience, and I'm fairly certain this is the longest I've stuck with a planner system in my entire planning life. Looking forward to many more months with my bujo! :D

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Spring 2017 Favorites!

Whaaaaat a SEASONAL FAVORITES?! I know, I haven't posted one of these since December, but when spring rolls around I am so insanely busy that I don't even have time to breathe let alone think of my favorite things from winter. Sorry about that! Hopefully this spring favorites makes up for it, though, and I hope you enjoy my gushing about my favorite things from Spring 2017! :D Watch the video to hear me talk a bit more about my favorite things from spring, and click on the links below to learn more about each item I discuss!

Favorites from Spring 2017

Instax Mini 8 camera
Mandel sandals
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Hellen Russell
Giant Days, vol. 1 by John Allison
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisely
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Review)
Pittsburgh Marathon
Hamilton on Broadway

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vlog: Read-O-Rama Round 7

Last week I participated in #ReadORama Round 7! I had an insanely good reading week, and it was probably one of the most successful readathons I've ever been a part of. I don't know what got into me last week but I was reading like crazy! I really love participating in #ReadORama and this round was no different. I definitely recommend that you participate in a future round because it is just so much fun! :D I hope you enjoy my obnoxiously long vlog of the week! :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet?

During #ReadORama last week, I picked up Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne! I really enjoyed it and I don't see too many people talking about this book, so I thought I'd write up a full spoiler-free blog review for this title to hopefully help folks decide whether or not they would like to pick it up. Keep reading for more details on what this book is about and my thoughts on this read!

Am I Normal Yet? follows our protagonist, Evie, who is living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. At sixteen, Evie is recovering from a severe OCD episode that put her in the hospital in her early teens and working toward coming off her medication and living as a "normal" teenager. When she begins college (this is the UK, so college = the last two years before univeristy), she's hoping to have a new start to her life - making new friends, dating boys, and being over all what Evie feels is "normal". Because she is striving so hard to be normal, she hides her mental illness from everyone - her friends, her crushes, her parents, and even her therapist - even though she is noticing her old behaviors are creeping back in. This is the story of Evie navigating living with her mental illness while still trying to live her life.

I really enjoyed this book. As someone who also lives with anxiety, I related to Evie on a lot of levels. There are times in this story where Evie would feel frustrated with herself and her mental illness and would question why she couldn't just be "normal" like everyone else is, and I would just be thinking, "GIRRRL I FEEL YOU". When I was a teenager, I was first starting to feel my anxiety for the first time, yet I did not have the language to identify what was happening to me and why I would feel the ways that I felt. I'm sure if I picked this book up as an 18 year old, I would have LOVED it.

This book is an extremely honest look into what it is like to live with mental illness. It puts you right into the mind of Evie, who often feels confused, frustrated, and lost through her recovery journey. It does not hold anything back. This book is sometimes exhausting and extremely difficult to read because you're often questioning along with Evie why some things that should be easy are so much more difficult for her, but I love that Bourne wrote Evie's point of view in this way because that is what it is like to live with mental illness. You are constantly exhausted and are constantly wondering why things have to be so hard when they are seemingly so difficult for everyone else. I'm not sure if Bourne herself lives with mental illness, but it is clear she did her research for this book.

This book is also a great introduction to feminism, especially for teen girls. Evie and her two friends, Lottie and Amber, discuss feminist issues in depth in several scenes which I think is absolutely brilliant. Bourne presents it in a way that doesn't detract from the central story, either, but enhances it which was so important to make it effective. You can see Evie interweave these new ideas into her life throughout the book which I thought was so great to see. Not only is the book a great read to understand mental health, but it's also a great read to understand what it means to be a woman in our society. A+!

As I said above, I think I would have really enjoyed this book as a teenager, and that's because it's written in a really accessible teen voice. There were times when I would get frustrated with Evie and her friends because of the way they would speak to each other, but then I realized that is probably how I spoke with my friends when I was a teenager - constantly ragging on and poking fun at one another, while acting extremely proud and "cool" to save face*. I had to constantly transport myself back to high school and remember how I would act when I was at that age, and then I had a better understanding of Evie and her friends. That's what made me realize I might be just out of the right age range to really appreciate this book. I know 18-year-old Riley would have loved it, though!

I really love that this book is geared toward a YA audience. I think if I picked this up when I was first experience anxiety without knowing what was going on, it would have been a total saving grace when I felt like I was drowning and no one was understanding what I was going through. I hope that teenagers today who are going through what I went through when I was that age are able to get their hands on this book and are able to feel comforted in the fact that there are people out there who get it, that they are not alone, and that there are people out there that will love and support them regardless of what they might be going through.

Overall, I gave this book...
4/5 Stars!

I think this is a really important read for the YA age group and would definitely recommend giving it a read, especially if you're interesting in learning more about what it's like to live with mental illness. This book is the first in The Spinster Club series, and I definitely think I'll be continuing on!

Have you read Am I Normal Yet? What did you think? 
Let me know in the comments!

*I'm definitely not saying that all teenagers act this way, but I can say for myself that I and many of the people at my high school acted this way!

Friday, June 16, 2017

My ENTIRE Organization System!

This week over on my channel, I'm sharing my ENTIRE organization system! I talk a lot about what I use my planner/bullet journal but I don't really chat about the other platforms I use to get organized in other aspects of my life. While this video doesn't delve too far in depth to how each platform works for me, you will get a bit of an overview of each thing and hopefully get a little glimpse into how I balance a busy work and personal life!

The platforms I discuss in this video are my bullet journal, my Google calendars, and Microsoft OneNote. If you have any specific questions about any of these platforms and how I use them, please feel free to leave them in the comments! I would love to answer any and all questions about my organization system and give you any details you're curious about!

I hope you all enjoy the video and happy organizing! :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Marathon #6: Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY

Despite the crushing 90 degree heat that New England has been experiencing over the last few days, I will be starting my sixth marathon training cycle today. Since I'm hopping back into marathon training today, there is no better time to announce what my sixth marathon will be! This fall I will be checking New York off my marathon map of the United States and running the Wineglass Marathon!

My running partner/friend Danielle told me about this marathon when we first started running together last summer. She had run it a few years ago an absolutely fell in love with it. Last summer we trained for separate marathons together, but over the last few months as we were discussing potential fall marathons, we thought hey, why don't we run one together? Danielle had wanted to get back on this course and I hadn't ticked New York off my list yet, so this seemed like a great race for us to run together! Plus - check out these medals!

Definitely want to get my hands on one of those!

I'm looking forward to another great summer of training, especially with a friend at my side! I'm hoping to make this training cycle and marathon my best yet. Like with Pittsburgh, I will provide monthly training updates for you all so you can know how my training is going. I'm hoping that with a friend training with me, I'll be motivated to work hard and do everything correctly. Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vlog: SciFi Summer Readathon

Last week I participated in the SciFi Summer readathon! It was a wonderful week of awesome SciFi reads as well as an action-packed week of travelling, seeing my parents run their first half marathon, and complaining about how rainy and gross the weather is/savoring the sun when it decided to make and appearance. I really enjoyed my first Seasons of Reading readathon and I totally recommend you check out participating in the next one! <3

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Read-O-Rama Round 7 TBR!

My dear bookish friend Michael and I were chatting over Twitter a few days ago and he informed me that he was planning to participate in the next round of Read-O-Rama, happening during the second full week of June. Not knowing that this was happening and absolutely loving the Read-O-Rama readathon, I instantly hopped on their Twitter to check out the challenges. 

I knew I already had a hefty TBR for the month of June that I wanted to get through and I really didn't want to bump any reads out of my June lineup, so I was thrilled to find that the majority of the challenges met books that I was already planning on reading this month! Because I've already talked about most books (aside from the graphic novel) in my June TBR video, I did not want to make a separate TBR video specifically for the readathon, so instead I'm sharing it right here on the blog! Keep reading to find out which books I will be getting to during the readathon and the challenges that they will be fulfilling!

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
A book with water on the cover: The Puffin Pixels edition, which is the edition that I'll be reading, has water on the cover.
Michael and I will be buddy reading this book during the readathon!

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
A book with RAMA in the title or author's name: You can easily find RAMA in the title.
A book you've been anticipating: I've been wanting to read this since I first got my hands on it back in FEBRUARY.
A book released in the summer of any year: This book was released on August 1, 2015.

Giant Days, vol. 2 by John Allison
A book with under 150 pages: This volume has 128 pages.
A graphic novel: Pretty self explanatory!

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
An own voices book: Zadie Smith is a woman of color and from what I know about this book, both of the main characters in the book are women of color.

The only challenge I am not planning to meet is the Read 7 books challenge. The titles I have picked out are all quite lengthly (minus Giant Days) so I don't think I'll be able to fit in any more than what I have picked out for myself. That's okay, though! I'm still looking forward to having a great time reading next week and to hopefully find some new favorite books! :D

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reading Habits Tag!

Today I'm doing the Reading Habits Tag! This tag is extremely old (something like 4 years old... yikes) but I saw a few of the BookTubers I like to watch doing this tag and thought I would also share my answers to these questions! No one tagged me to do this, I just wanted to participate in this tag and talk a little bit about how I read and the things I do while I'm reading. I hope you enjoy watching, and if you want to share your answers as well, consider yourself tagged! :)


1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
6. One book at a time or several at once?
7. Reading at home or everywhere?
8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?
9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
11. Do you write in your books?
12. Who do you tag?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Black Bear Half Marathon Snaps {June 2017}

Over the weekend my parents ran and completed their very first half marathon! I made the journey up to the University of Maine Orono campus to cheer them on. Running a half marathon is a huge undertaking and I wanted to be sure they had someone cheering them on and giving them support where they needed it! They both did such a fantastic job and I am super proud of them! Here's a few snaps I grabbed before and after the race, as well as a few ~official race photos~ snapped by Marquis Images.

Pre-race! Ready to rock!

Crushing the half!

Post-race! Happy to be finished!

I made a sign to cheer my parents on. Here are the two finishers posing with it! :D

#prouddaughtermoment #runnerfamily

Friday, June 2, 2017

SSSBC: June 2017 Prompt

*Acronym'd to SSSBC (pronounced "triple-S-B-C") for time-saving purposes

It's finally time to pick my first writing prompt of this creative writing project I'm attempting over the summer, and I'm excited to get my first Short Story under way! After some Googling around the internet, I came across this blog that shared a ton of really fun writing prompts. I sifted through them and came across one that I would love to tackle for my first short story of the summer:

"After a religious cult takes over the government, caffeine is outlawed. Tell the story of a brave and coffee-loving family who opens a #CaffeineSpeakeasy."

I really love the aspect of an alternate society as well as the aspect of the use of a #CaffeineSpeakeasy hashtag. I feel like I have a few ways I can go with this prompt and I'm excited to get this project underway! I'll check back in at the end of the month with (hopefully) a finished product to share with you! :)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 2017 TBR! + Sci-Fi Summer Readathon TBR

You guys. How is it already June?! 2017 is nearly half way over - WHAT?! While the year is going scary-fast, I am so excited that the hot summer months are knocking at our door. I LOVE summer and I especially love taking advantage of the warm weather and reading outside all day long. It's seriously the best. This month I have picked much more light-hearted reads to get me into the summer reading groove and I am definitely looking forward to indulging in some easier reads throughout the month. I'm also planning to participate in the Sci-Fi Summer Readathon that starts today and lasts until June 7th (more details below!) which I am super excited to try out! Any who, here are the books that I'm hoping to read this month:

2017 Goal Picks

Non-Fiction: You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery
Diverse: Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Classic: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
TBR Jar: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler


Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

This week, from June 1st to June 7th, I'm partaking in the Sci-Fi Summer readathon, hosted by Seasons of Reading! This will be my first Seasons of Reading readathon and I'm excited to use this week to catch up on some of the sci-fi titles that have been waiting for me on my shelf. The point of this readathon is (fairly obviously) to read any and all sci-fi titles throughout the course of the week. I've selected three books, two of which I'm already about 100 pages into and need to get off of my "Currently Reading" shelf on GoodReads once and for all. :P We'll see how the week goes - hopefully every title can be completed! :D

The Martian by Andy Weir
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Replica by Lauren Oliver

To hear what I have to say about each title, make sure you watch my TBR video below!

May 2017 Reading Wrap Up!

Despite yet another busy month (this time in my personal life!), I managed to read quite a bit this month! I read a lot of books that I liked this month. Only one book I read this month was below 4 stars which of course I am thrilled about! I'm really happy with my reading for May and I'm looking forward to a more low-key summer to read much, much more!


Participated in 1 readathon (#BookBuddyAThon)
Completed 3 reading challenges
Completed non-fiction, classic, diverse, and TBR jar reads
Read 109 pages of Infinite Jest
2,226 pages read
7 books completed


Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Physical copy, 1/5
TBR Jar pick for May

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Physical copy, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book with a title that starts with "the"

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Physical copy, 4/5
Classic pick for May

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Physical copy, 5/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A 2017 release

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Physical copy, 4/5
Diverse pick for May

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Physical copy, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book with an animal on the cover

Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McArter
Physical copy, 5/5
Non-fiction pick for May

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Short Story Boot Camp!

New Project Alert!

I've been trying to figure out a way to get back into creative writing for a good long while now. I've always wanted to attempt a novel, but I've never seen a project that wasn't for school anywhere past a few paragraphs. Creative writing is tough but I'm constantly itching to attempt some sort of writing project and I'm always at a loss at where to event start. I was sitting around over the holiday weekend wondering how I can introduce creative writing back into my life and BOOM - the Summer Short Story Boot Camp popped into my head.

Inspired by NaNoWriMo, this is a project I'm taking on to reacquaint myself with writing creatively. I knew I didn't want to plan to take on a full on novel quite yet, so I thought why not do three short stories - one each month of the summer - and see how it feels to just write again. I will be writing a new short story during the month of June, July, and August. Because I'm having some trouble with coming up with writing ideas as of this moment, I'm going to look up a writing prompt to base my short story around which I will announce at the beginning of each month. At the end of each month, I will share the final product with you all right here on the blog!

I have no idea how this project is going to go, but I am excited to reincorporate this avenue of creativity back into my life during the quieter months of the year for me. I will be vlogging my experience and sharing my journey at the end of each month so be sure to be on the look out for those posts! I'm looking forward to seeing how this project will go and I can't wait to share it with you all!

If you have any tips for creative writing or any writing prompts you'd like to see my attempt, leave them in the comments below! Any and all help will be willingly and lovingly accepted! :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

June 2017 Plan with Me! + May Flip Through

My first full month in my new bullet journal is complete! I'm having so much fun in this bullet journal and just letting myself be ~loosy goosy~ and do whatever feels good. I've been writing down thoughts and memories and doodling and pasting things in and jotting down quotes I like to fill space... it's just been an absolute blast which is exactly what I need in a planning system. I'm looking forward to seeing how my journal evolves through the month of June! Click play on the video to see what my bullet journal looked like through the month of May!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Runnin': 100 Days of Summer 200 Mile Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I participated in a little running challenge called the April Showers May Flowers 100 Mile Challenge hosted by Will Run for Bling and Charity. It was a virtual running challenge where you had 45 days to run 100 miles. I managed to complete this challenge during the tail end of my marathon training and fulfilled the 100 miles when I reached mile 24 of the Pittsburgh Marathon. Best part? The challenge supported an awesome charity and I received a medal bigger than my face.

Because I had such a great time running in this challenge and because training for marathon #6 is right around the corner (announcement on what marathon I'll be running is coming soon!), I thought I'd attempt the next challenge - the 100 Days of Summer 200 Mile Challenge! If you're doing the math in your head, that means I have to average 14 miles per week throughout the challenge in order to hit the 200 mile mark within 100 days. I definitely think I can do it, but I know it will be difficult when all I want to do is lay outside with a book! But hey, I guess that's why they call it a challenge, right? :P

This challenge starts on May 27th and lasts until September 3rd, so I'll be underway starting on Saturday! I have more summer running plans which I will be sharing here on the blog soon, so stay tuned for that post! I'm looking forward to another great summer running and training season!

Do you have any summer fitness plans?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring 2017 & Birthday Book Haul

Today I'm sharing my Spring 2017 book haul! I made a few purchases based off of my #Project5 book buying plan and I also received quite a few books as birthday gifts! I'm so excited about all of these books. I swear, every time I get my hands on new books I get so frustrated that we don't have the technology to read 20 books simultaneously. :P


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Giant Days, volume 2 by John Allison
Lumberjanes, volume 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
We Are the Ants by Sean David Hutchinson
Drown by Junot Diaz
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown Waite
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NYC Snaps {May 2017}

Our weekend in New York with Erin and Cullen was so much fun! We all tried so hard to document it all, but when you're also trying to enjoy each other's company and really experience the city, time gets away from your and moments will just have to live on as memories. Here are the photos we did manage to snap throughout the weekend!

Lunch at the Corner Social

Pre-Hamilton drinks at The Playwright

Hamilton (!!!) at the Richard Rodgers

Channeling our inner Schuyler sister in front of the Richard Rodgers

Experiencing Times Square at night

Post-show drinks at The Grange



Posing in front of the Flatiron Building

Afternoon treats at Doughnut Plant

Erin's birthday dinner at Nikko

Exploring the City College of New York campus and being goofy (per usual)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vlog: Going HAM(ilton) in NYC!

Over the weekend Brett and I traveled down to New York to meet up with our friends Erin and Cullen and to finally see Hamilton on Broadway! If you didn't know, we originally bought tickets to Hamilton last June, so it's been nearly a year that we've been planning this trip and it finally happened! We had an absolute blast seeing the show, exploring the city, eating so much delicious food, and spending time with some of our favorite people. Hopefully this vlog captures how much fun we had this weekend! :)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Full Bullet Journal Flip Through #1 {September 2016 - April 2017}

Although I do individual monthly flip throughs of my bullet journal, I thought it would be fun to do a full flip through of the first bullet journal I completed! It's really interesting to see how my planning style grew and evolved through these pages and revisiting old systems definitely gave me some inspiration for future planning! Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed spending time in my Moleskine over the past seven months and will continue to join in on my bullet journal planning!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Adulting & Mental Health

This blog topic has been on my mind for a few months now and I'm finally feeling ready to write about it. 

Adulting is hard, guys. That truly seems to be the millennial mantra, and I don't say that in any negative way (for some reason my generation, the millennials, has become synonymous for BAD, but that's a conversation for a different day), I say it because it's true and millennials aren't ones to put on a happy face when things aren't working the best way they could be. Calling adulthood what it is - extremely difficult - is just in our nature. Balancing the hundreds of spinning plates that makeup adulthood is hard, and when you live with an unpredictable mental illness like anxiety, it becomes that much harder. There are days, sometimes weeks, where the only thing I can do when I get home at the end of the day is lay in bed, knowing that all of my responsibilities are piling up and waiting for me to take care of them once I muster up enough energy or motivation to stand up.

The major way that my anxiety manifests itself is lack of self-esteem. I am constantly thinking negatively about myself, feeling like I'm not good enough, and feeling generally awful about myself. This is pretty detrimental to motivation, energy, and ultimately productivity, making doing anything a normal adult does from something as time consuming as taxes or as seemingly simple as grocery shopping the most difficult task on the planet. I'm thankful that I still somehow gather the energy to get the most important things done, like paying bills and getting myself to work in the morning, but often things that pertain to taking care of myself, like eating right and drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, are the first things to get thrown on the back burner. With the way my anxiety manifests itself, it's really no surprise that this happens. I don't feel important or worthy, so why should I be taking care of myself?

A glimpse into my brain when my anxiety pays a visit.
[Comic by Sow Ay]

I don't say this to search for sympathy, I say this because this is genuinely how I feel when my anxiety decides to rear its ugly head. On days where I feel great, I know I'm good at what I do, I know I'm a good person, I know I deserve the things I have, and I know that I'm going places in life. But with my anxiety comes fear, doubt, self-loathing, and it. is. exhausting. I often wonder if it will get to a point where these spinning plates will start crashing down one by one. Will there be a day where I don't find the energy to get up for the bare minimum? Is this as bad as it can possibly get or can it get worse? Will I ever feel confident again? Will I ever feel normal again? (See? Exhausting.)

Mental illness is tricky because you never know when you're going to have a good day or a bad day, and while there are things in our world that can help treat it, its something that you need to live with for the rest of your life. I'm still figuring out how to cope with mine and my coping strategies do change and evolve each day, but I thought I'd share what I do to gain more energy to keep the plates spinning during the bad days, and maybe it could help someone else out there.

[Comic by Beth Evans]

Get to a quiet space. 

Usually my brain is so loud with such negative thoughts that any other noise makes my feel that much worse. If I can give myself some genuinely quiet time without doing anything else (no phone, no music, no TV, no anything) it often slows my brain down enough where I can actually get to a semi-productive place and start or continue the project that needs to get done. Bonus points if you can get outside for some fresh air and change of environment.

Put on a favorite TV show or movie and focus on that for a while. 

I have several go-to television shows that will always distract me from my negative thoughts or will comfort me when I'm feeling especially overwhelmed. I allow myself time to get lost in the fictional world I'm watching for however long I need in order to get my energy back. Getting back to a better place (not necessarily a good place, but a better place) takes time and you can't rush it, so make sure you give yourself the time you need to get back into a mental space where you can be productive.

Vent about it/write about it.

If I'm feeling up to it, I talk to Brett about how I'm feeling. Speaking about my anxiety and negative thoughts is very difficult for me and always makes me cry tears of frustration, but Brett is patient and will listen to me vent when I need to. It always helps to get it out and it puts us on the same page which is an extra bonus. If I don't feel like I can talk about it out loud, I'll write about it, mostly in my journal but sometimes a blog post like this is a better venue.

Let yourself feel that way.

I think this is one of the most important things I do. Living with anxiety is so frustrating. All I want is to feel better and normal and it's frustrating when I'm just sitting there feeling terrible and having no way of knowing when I won't feel terrible anymore. So the easiest thing to do is be okay with feeling the way I feel and not rushing to feel better. I try to remember to just do what I can when I can, and when I have my next good day, I'll know I can get more done. Everything just takes time, and remembering that and believing it will be better in the near future will make a difference.

If you're someone who lives with a mental illness, I hope that you could relate to this post or maybe find it helpful. I'm a big believer that we as a society need to continue to discuss mental illness because there is still such a HUGE stigma around it. The more we talk about it, the more we can relate to one another, and the more we can relate to one another, the faster we can dismantle the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vlog: #BookBuddyAThon Round 4

Last week I participated in the #BookBuddyAThon! A busy week and a bout of anxiety really slowed down my reading process last week, but I still enjoyed myself nonetheless, especially my buddy read with Michael of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (check out my review)! I really love the #BookBuddyAThon and I'm hoping that the next round I won't be as busy or feel as terrible so I can read even more! :D 

Did you participate in the #BookBuddyAThon?
How'd you do?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

During the #BookBuddyAThon last week, my book buddy Michael and I chose to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as our buddy read. This book absolutely blew me away and I am so glad that we picked this book to read together. I knew I had to take time to write a full review on this book to encourage folks to pick up this book because I truly believe everyone needs to read it, especially if you live in the United States.

Angie Thomas has written one of the most, if not THE most, important YA contemporary novels of the last decade. Many people are marketing this book as being inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and while that may be true, I would say that that is an extremely reductive description of this book. The Hate U Give is honestly so much more than that. This book captures the many struggles of people of color, especially black people, in the United States, specifically focused around police brutality, the killing of unarmed black people by American police officers, and the lack of justice that is brought to this community a regular basis though our justice system. Thomas has done sure a huge service to the world and especially the United States by writing this book and has written about this very delicate topic in a way that is accessible to anyone to get a glimpse into what it means to be black in the United States today. White folks need to read this book and understand what the people in our country are going through every. single. day.

The Hate U Give is narrated by our protagonist, Starr Carter, a black teenager in modern day America who lives two different lives - her life at home in Garden Heights, a low-income, gang ridden city, and her life at school in Williamson, an extremely affluent, upper class, predominantly black town. Starr struggles on a regular basis with what version of herself she should be in these two environments, fearing that being too much of herself would label her as a "thug" in Williamson and label her as "snobby" or "white" in Garden Heights. Starr is often exhausted by constantly putting on a front for her peers - something PoC struggle with regularly in the US. After fleeing a fight that breaks out at a party Starr attends in Garden Heights, she and her friend Khalil are pulled over by a white police officer on an empty street. Starr witnesses Khalil get shot and killed by this officer, and her story takes off from there.

I see Starr in so many of the students that I work with. I work at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and the majority of our students come from very affluent backgrounds. A lot of our students of color feel this same identity struggle that Starr goes through on a daily basis. Many of the students I work with have witnessed instances of police brutality first-hand. Many of the students I work with have lost friends or family members in their home towns and have had to deal with the same level of grief Starr deals with in this story. This book hits so close to the stories I hear from my students on far too regular of a basis and my heart broke over and over again for them while I was reading Starr's journey. Books never make me cry, but while I was reading this story I definitely felt a lump in my throat, a knot in my stomach, and burning in my eyes. It was all just so real and appalling that things like this happen every day in the US.

Not only did Thomas write Starr's story in a way that the reader could really connect with her, but she wrote her supporting characters in a way that really painted a whole picture. The details of each characters' back story is so rich and detailed that you could tell that Thomas really took her time with this novel and did not take the responsibility of telling this extremely important story lightly. I could feel the pain of Seven's need to take care of her sisters that live in an abusive household. I could feel the struggle of Maverick trying to take care of his family by breaking ties with his gang and taking responsibility for the time he missed while in prison. I could feel the bond between Maya and Starr strengthen when they finally became fed up with Hailey's ignorance. I identified so much with Chris who strived to understand Starr and her life in Garden Heights and his willingness to use his white privilege to go to bat for her and her family. Every character's story painted a full picture and I really appreciate the care Thomas took when telling this story.

I also greatly appreciate Thomas being completely unapologetic in telling Starr's story. As the reader, you felt the anger and frustration and pain Starr felt. You were there right along with her and the only way you were able to do that was because Thomas was 100% honest with her own experience as a woman of color living in the United States. Though this is a work of fiction, you can tell that 99% of this story is true. The situations are true. The feelings are true. I truly appreciate Thomas's vulnerability in telling this story because it would not have had the same impact if she held anything back.

Of course, I gave this book a...
5/5 Stars

It would feel so wrong to give this book any other rating. The Hate U Give is so timely and so important. It creates discussion in the YA community about this topic and honest dialogue on racism and police brutality at the YA age is so essential. It is part of our nation's history and it is part of our nation's present, and if we don't continue to speak honestly about it, it will continue to exist. The more we talk about it on every age level, the more we can work together as a society to fight it. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#PicsBurgh {May 2017}

I spent last weekend in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Marathon and to visit my friends Cullen and Erin. Not all the photos I took while I was there wound up in my race review so I thought I'd share some of the photos I took throughout the weekend outside of race festivities (which was mainly my last day while visiting Erin at work)! I hope you enjoy my pics from #PicsBurgh*! :D

*Last year when Erin and Cullen moved to Pittsburgh, Erin and I thought it would be funny if every photo she took while living there was hash tagged with #PicsBurgh (because we're hilarious), hence the title of this blog post.