do-a-thon

I didn’t know what read-a-thons were until I got into BookTube, but since I’ve learned of the existence of low-key (or overly ambitious) weekly Internet goals with different reading challenges, I’ve fallen in love with the whole concept.

THE JOYS OF READ-A-THONS

Read-a-thons, in case you’re unaware, are themed (or broad and casual) “events” hosted by one or more bookish people to “marathon” reading: to focus on intentional reading, whether it be reading as many books as you can, tackling your TBR at full speed, or reading certain genres or about a certain subject matter for a set amount of days (usually five to seven). Sometimes there are challenges or rules; sometimes there are none.

The best part about read-a-thons is the community, HANDS. DOWN. Reading alongside other people who are also making reading a priority for the week, even in the midst of chaos or busy schedules, is extremely motivating. There are sometimes Twitter sprints (designated chunks of time where readers put away all distractions to read together), video challenges or Twitter discussions, giveaways, and the like. I love read-a-thons because it pushes me to read more than I normally would in a given week or short period of time. Do I ever complete all the read-a-thon goals? Rarely. But my goodness does it enrich my reading experiences.

Read-a-thons are active. You just do it.

WHAT IF WE APPLIED INTENTIONAL “MARATHONING” TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE OF BOOKS?

I started thinking: What if we got excited for marathons centered on intentional living? What if we set aside a week to focus on not just books (*gasp*), but our ambitions and our goals?

I love the bookish community because it’s all about books. But I also love getting to know the people in the bookish community and all of their real-life desires, fears, motivations, and ambitions. It’s why I love to watch vlogs: I love pulling aside the curtain to see the book lover and the mother, daughter, student, activist, entrepreneur, writer, and creative individual.

I think part of the reason why bookish people love to meet IRL is because we get to see beyond the books. We get to see what makes the other tick. We get to see dreams and passions beyond our shared passion for reading.

DO-A-THON: INTENTIONAL LIVING FOR ONE WEEK (May 1 – 7, 2017)

I love reading goals as much as the next bookish person, and I’m not willing to give that up for anyone. Reading goals already produce joy and growth in my life. But there are so many areas of my life that I neglect or put off because—as with a growing TBR pile—it’s intimidating or I need the motivation.

So, I want to propose something different. I want to host a week-long DO-A-THON to #GetShitDone and #GetInspired. But not just the boring-but-necessary things, like cleaning out my closet KonMari Style (though I desperately need to do this, and the DO-A-THON would be the perfect motivation).

I want to devote a week of my time to doing the things I always say I’m going to do or want to do.

I want to zero in on a creative project.

I want to finally produce those new marketing materials I’ve been putting off for my business.

I want to volunteer in my community.

I want to read to kids at an early literacy program.

I want to start a garden, start composting, organize my sewing room, LEARN TO SEW, learn to hula hoop, and send more post cards.

Listen. This isn’t bucket-list-athon (though it absolutely can be about those bucket list items). Sometimes to create space in our lives, we need to do the things that aren’t fun but necessary. The reality is, I need to clean out my closet and wash my car. But I also need to do some soul work. Maybe it’s the accountability and intentional goal to ask a stranger to coffee or go without makeup for one week. Maybe it’s finally focusing on starting your Etsy shop, or redesigning your invoices, or taking a break from social media, or figuring out an easier way to sort through your mail.

Maybe a part of your DO-A-THON is actually a book-related goal! Maybe you want to read a certain number of books like other read-a-thons, or maybe you want to finally take the plunge and start a BookTube or book blog.

CHALLENGES FOR THE DO-A-THON

The DO-A-THON is meant to be broad, because we all have different tasks, dreams, goals, fears to overcome, and desires. However, to choose intentional goals, the following may serve as a great guide for you:

  • Do one thing that scares you or do something that challenges the story you tell yourself.
  • Complete a project (creative or otherwise) that you’ve been putting off.
  • Do something that involves someone else or do something for someone else.
  • Learn something new.
  • Do something to foster a calm or welcoming environment.

That’s it. The challenges, again, are not meant to be rules; they’re meant to be helpful guides.

If you’re interested in joining me for #DoAThonLife (May 1 – 7, 2017), use the hashtag to share some ideas of what you might do (or what others might do) to foster a creative, more abundant space for intentional living. And follow @DoAThonLife on Twitter for more updates!

Hi all!

I wanted to share some exciting news. I’m joining the team* at The Reading List, an editorial agency created by Lindsey Alexander and her partner, Salvatore Borriello. I met Lindsey through the Editorial Freelancers Association a while back and was delighted to meet her when I moved back to Raleigh, NC. I’m honored to work alongside all of these incredible editors; I know I will learn so much from their work experience and skills.

I’ve also started my first course through the University of Chicago Graham School toward earning my Editing certificate—something I’ve wanted to pursue for a long time. Cheers to new editorial adventures!

* I am a freelancer for The Reading List, not a full-time employee. I’m still living that entrepreneur life! 🙂

the-reading-list-editorial

I said on my BookTube channel that I didn’t have any resolutions or goals for 2017, but I’ve changed my mind in, oh, a day? I’m just a sucker for resolutions, you guys. I wasn’t always this way, but I’m finally coming around to the truth that I am a goal-oriented person. My downfall, however, is always my all-or-nothing goals. I tell myself I’m going all in or there’s no point to it all, which is just silly. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way about readathons or monthly TBRs, and reading in general. Reading has always been something I enjoy when I’m relaxed, and so I can’t actually control it. I’m 100 percent a mood reader, so even though I strive to complete monthly TBRs, I don’t fret when it doesn’t happen. And more importantly, I don’t quit reading altogether (exercise experiences, anyone?).

So yes, these are more of goals than resolutions. Goals are more about achieving attainable milestones, whereas resolutions are more about instilling lifelong changes. When it comes to resolutions, I’m as vague as they come: be mindful, encourage creativity, move and breathe, read and write more, more yoga, eat healthy, etc. Sometimes the smaller resolutions are nice. I once knew someone whose resolution was simple: to only drink coffee with two hands, meaning she couldn’t be chugging coffee at her desk with an ever looking to-do list, and she couldn’t multitask while she enjoyed her morning cup. She had to have both hands on the mug and be present. I loved it. Sadly, I wasn’t able to commit to this simple resolution, and I won’t be able to this year either (for reasons I’ll explain in a bit…).

BOOKISH GOALS

  1. Read at least 50 books in 2017. This may not seem like a lot for most avid readers, but I’m a pretty slow reader. I’m also hoping to exceed 50 books, but I wanted to set the bar a little bit lower for my first Goodreads challenge. I hope tracking a Goodreads goal is more intentional and less of a burden, but we’ll see how it goes!
  2. Meet up with BookTube friends! A few of my BookTube friends and I are planning a trip to Chicago this year, and I can’t wait to meet them. I’d love to meet up with several BookTubers/book lovers because this community has been so special to me. I was planning to go to BEA this year, and honestly, I still might, but it’s definitely up in the air for now. Either way, I want to meet some Internet friends!
  3. Host a readathon. I think it would be so fun to host a readathon with some other bookish friends. I’ve talked to a few other BookTubers about it, but we haven’t decided when it will be or what the goals/theme would be. Running the Twitter sprints for the summer BookTubeAThon was such a blast, and I’d love to do something like that again.
  4. Post a book review, in blog or video form, at least once a month. This may not seem like a lofty goal to most readers, but I am notoriously bad at consistently posting separate book reviews. I love to do it, but it just takes extra time. This year, I’d love to aim to review every book I read, but I know that isn’t really realistic. Hopefully I can include as many book reviews as possible! I love the idea of blogging my book reviews, too, because I’m definitely able to get more of my critical thoughts down through writing rather than filming. But either way, I’m going to make this a goal!

PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL GOALS

  1. Take at least four courses through the University of Chicago toward fulfilling my Editing certificate. This is something I’ve wanted to do professional for a long time, and I’m finally taking the plunge! My first class is in March, and I’m hoping to knock out the four core classes, if not the first three. It’s going to be challenging to participate in these four- to six-week courses on top of freelance work, a social life, hobbies, etc., but I know I’m going to learn so much, and I’m ready to advance my knowledge and skills in the publishing world. I’ve taken many other editing courses in the past, but I’ve always been most excited about this particular certificate.
  2. Give up coffee. Yep. You read that right. I know. But listen, take a deep breath, people. This is a decision I didn’t want to make, and it took me a loooong time to admit to myself that this was something I should try. I love coffee more than the average human, that’s for sure. My husband roasts coffee, and we’re total snobs about it. I have a regular coffee maker, chemex, french press, and aero press coffee machine. I. LOVE. COFFEE. I also don’t love anxiety. I’ve heard that being caffeine free can do wonders for people with anxiety, and there are many other perks, too. Apparently, being caffeine free helps you sleep better, have more energy (Lord knows not in the beginning), generally feel calm throughout the day, and it doesn’t hurt the wallet, either. I already don’t drink sodas or energy drinks, so coffee is the main way I consume caffeine, and I’m going to try and ease myself off of it. This may be in the middle of the year that I try this or at the end. I’m not sure, but I want to try it. I know I may not stick with it, and that’s okay. I just want to see what all the hype is about and hopefully do something to help my anxiety.
  3. Inspire more breath and movement. Okay, you caught me: I Know this is a resolution and not a goal. But going along with the whole anxiety issue, I’ve learned that yoga is absolutely essential to my life—not just a nice thing to make me feel better. If I go a week without yoga, I can feel it. I don’t take time to breathe, be mindful, stretch, and ultimately, relax my muscles. It’s so, so important to my mental health. I would say it’s much more important to my mental than physical health, but the physical benefits don’t hurt either. The past few months, I’ve gotten out of the habit of consistently practicing yoga because of illnesses, travel, and general complacency. Not this year! I’m going to be stronger physically and less anxious mentally. I’m going to push myself to remember to BREATHE correctly, whether that’s in a yoga class or sitting at my desk. I want to learn to not only recognize fear, anxiety, and stress, but disrupt it. Change the way I respond to it. A lot of people tell me they like to use a word or phrase to motivate them in the new year instead of resolutions. For me, that word is breath. 2017 is the year I breathe.
  4. No phone in the bed at night. Here’s my tendency to be an all-or-nothing person. I’ve already broken this one this year, but I’m trying to remember it’s about progress. I want to be off my phone less in general. I already don’t have Facebook, which is incredible, but I love the Internet so much. I’m constantly on Twitter, Instagram, and (duh) YouTube. It’s such a fun part of my everyday life. But, being on my phone so much, especially right before bed, is so distracting. I want to be able to read more without picking up my phone every five seconds; I want to walk my dog, have late-night conversations with the hubs, prepare for the day ahead, and so much more. I already don’t watch a ton of television—well, okay, I binge every now and then—but I want to cut down on screen time. Having my phone in another room at night will also help me when my alarm goes off to get out of bed and stop snoozing. Side note: why is snoozing the best feeling ever?

    So those are my goals. I’d love to know some of yours—bookish or personal! Cheers to another year of life, love, and reading!

reading-a-book-in-winter

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the ebb and flow of scarcity versus abundance affects my entire life. This is a mind-set we’re taught to put on from an early age—one of those subtle rules we assign meaning to in some way or another, whether it’s scarcity-thinking of finances, possessions, time, friendships . . . it truly devours and gnaws away at us, to the point where abundance is always an arm’s length away.

I’ve been freelancing now for a few weeks, and I’ve been blown away by the abundance of projects and work I wasn’t anticipating. It’s been so nice, and honestly, I didn’t expect this cushion. Now that I have it so soon, however, my grip tightens. What if it’s not enough in a month—four months? It’s feast or famine. What if, just before I take a breath and know I’ve officially settled into this transition, something is taken away? These past few weeks have been a dream. When will the other shoe drop?

Scarcity-Thinking Steals Joy

I think people pursuing ambition always have to fight away the monster of scarcity-thinking. It steals joy and replaces it with fear and anxiety. A scarcity mind-set is carved out of a purely physical perspective, even if it’s just time on this earth and not having enough of it. Being a freelancer full time again means I’m trying to figure out those healthy boundaries of work and life, and while being protective of my time is a necessary step, it’s easy to peer through the lens of “only.” I only have this much time to spend with friends. How will I manage my time? If I have all of these editing projects now, I’ll only have a few to work on later. What will I do then?

In My Reading Life

I’ve even noticed the scarcity mind-set creeping into my reading life. Not having enough time to read means I’m paralyzed from picking up my next book, even when I try to make time for myself. There’s always something different—something better—I should be spending my time on. I’m a reader who reads when relaxed, not a reader who reads to relax. I have to feel as though I’m in a place of abundance—spiritually, mentally, emotionally—before I can really dig in, quiet my brain, and enjoy a good book.

While reflecting on this word only, I remember Jesus feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). The disciples know what scarcity looks like.

“‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered” (Matthew 14:17).

But what happened? Jesus gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to the disciples to scatter among the people, and “they all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matthew 14: 20-21).

The Abundance Mind-set

Jesus came to give abundant life (John 10:10), and I can put on an abundance mind-set because of his generosity—trusting that even the leftovers of the abundance of Jesus are far greater than the scarcity the world offers. I don’t have to worry or be frustrated, and what’s more: I don’t have to scrap the bottom of the barrel. I can dare greatly, and I can rest—even in the possibility of failure and falling. There’s freedom to fail when you aren’t clawing for a false security. And when we aren’t afraid to fail, we can be vulnerable, creative, joyful, generous, and alive.

goodbye-cake-coworkers-last-day-at-work

My coworkers made this amazing cake for me on my last day (all my favorite things).

I quit my job. This is a terrifying sentence to write, but I also feel electric. A year and a half ago, I devoted 100 percent of my time to freelance work, and I loved it. I had the dizzy, hopeful feeling that exciting new projects and experiences were waiting just around the corner.

Then, to my surprise (and delight!), one freelance gig turned into a full-time job. I worked at a leading digital marketing company as a client content editor, and I loved the work. I loved my team. I still love my content team; they are all such lovely, passionate, hilarious, wonderful people. We became a family, and I will miss them something fierce.

But as summer was coming to a close, I felt the tug of freelance on my heart. I missed everything about it: setting my own schedule, working from home, working with authors, editing manuscripts, abiding by The Chicago Manual of Style. . . .  so, so much. Sure, I’ve continued with freelance projects on the side, but weeknights and weekends weren’t cutting it. It was too difficult to work full time and give authors, publishers, or editorial agencies my full attention.

One morning, walking our lazy hound dog, I told my husband how much I missed book editing and how I’ve had to say no to so many projects I genuinely wanted to say yes to. He encouraged me to consider freelancing again, and once I got the itch to do it, I couldn’t ignore it.

So here I am! If you’ve been a part of my editing career in any capacity, I want to thank you—even if it was just encouragement from the sidelines. I didn’t have much to lose when I jumped into my freelance editorial business years ago. It felt as though I were jumping into my skin, getting into a new rhythm that would never leave me.

And now, with such a wonderful career on the line, I will admit this to you: it’s scary. I had a lot to let go of to make this decision; and in some ways, I feel more as though I’m jumping out of my skin. But it’s right. It’s time to stretch.

I hope you’ll join me as I make room for what will grow.