New Podcast Announcement!

The Bookstagram Chats Podcast is heading your way!

I am so excited to finally share this news! After months of internal debate, I’ve finally taken the first steps to make this idea a reality.

If you’re a part of the Bookstagram community, you know just how important that community is and that, sometimes, it’s more about the people than the books.

And that’s what this podcast is all about … meeting readers and sharing their stories and book lives. We all love a good Meet the Bookstagrammer post! So, why not turn it into a fun podcast where we can chat about books and learn more about the readers and people behind the ‘gram?

The trailer is up now over on the Podcast page and will be on all the platforms soon, but stay tuned for some exciting interviews kicking off at the end of November!

On Hiatus

As a writer, I’m expected to know the right words to say … or at least have a few prepared. But I don’t.

I’m exhausted. I need to breathe. I need to focus. I need a break.

If you’ve stumbled on this post because my Instagram account is currently disabled, know that I will be back, I’m just taking a breather. I’m stepping away from my phone and back into my life for a bit.

The past year and a half has been difficult for everyone. I pulled away from reality to try to find a little corner of peace and happiness. For a while, that was enough. Then when it wasn’t, I just kept pretending it was.

Between leaving a toxic job situation and starting a new job that is both rewarding and filled with grace and positivity, I’d hoped that would be enough to clear my headspace.

But one change rarely makes the kind of impact I needed.

My struggles went beyond a work-life balance issue. I won’t go into everything here as I’m sure many of you understand the weight working mothers, women, wives, etc. carry. We slap on smiles and make everyone think we have it all together.

We don’t.

We yell at our kids. We cry at our desks. We toss and turn as every mistake and anxiety replay when the lights go out.

For me, I also hide in my phone. I scroll on social media or play stupid games or do anything I can to keep myself from facing reality. And, it’s not working for me. I need to break up with my phone for a bit and reprioritize life. Say yes to playing Barbies or LEGOs with the kids. Listen to my husband when he tells me about cryptocurrency or something on Reddit. Pay attention to the world around me.

But most importantly, I need to pay attention to myself. I need to sit with my thoughts and try to dig myself out of the layers of protection I’ve spent 40 years building.

I don’t know how long I’ll be offline for, but if you need me, use the contact form or email or text me. I’m still here. I’m just trying to find myself. Again.

The Simplified Planner

I am and always have been a complete and utter office and school supply addict. I love the feeling of writing with a new pen on a new notebook. It is only rivaled by the feeling of cracking open a new book. Despite this, I’ve never quite found a planner that I could stick with and actually enjoy using.

I have always been scattered between appointments on my phone, work email and calendar and random to do lists. But, as my maternity leave with AB was ending, I knew I needed a better solution. I needed a way to simplify my schedule, the kids’ schedules and my husband’s. Oh, and keep on top of every day tasks at home and work.

Just writing that brings back the anxiety I felt then. How in the world was I going to keep it all straight and organized without losing my mind.

Enter Emily Ley and The Simplified Life. I saw the book at my sister in law’s and fell in love with the aesthetic. Yes, I totally judged the book by its cover … y’all, it’s gorgeous. So, I looked it up on Amazon and read the description. I knew it was exactly what I needed and I ordered it. This was around Christmas time, well before AB was born, and it sat on my dresser unread until April. I had a few weeks left of my leave and I decided to crack it open.

It spoke to me in a way I don’t know that I can explain. They way Emily writes is so relatable and the tips are so easy and simple (it is called the Simplified Life) that I immediately took action. I decluttered my house like a pro. It was cleansing and I was sold. I’ve been following the principles since I returned to work in May. The difference it has made in our life is immeasurable.

I started following Emily and Simplified on Instagram and absolutely fell in love with the Watercolor Floral Planner cover that launched in the 2018-19 Academic Planner. I ordered the daily edition on launch day and not-so-patiently waited until the August 1 launch day … which was just two weeks after I started my new job (more on that in a later post).

Let me start by saying this Planner is gorgeous. The cover is perfect and I need this pattern in every aspect of my life (thanks to May Designs, I’m gettting close with notebooks, tumblers and a phone case). It’s legit one of the prettiest things I have ever seen. The gold accents on the corners and coil are both practical and beautiful.

Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits, the Simplified Planner is loaded with subtle, simple planning tips. There is prepwork that helps you think through your routines and build a plan that is executable in your daily life. This was crucial for me as I set up my planner.

I start each month by filling in all the important dates – birthdays, work commitments, kid events, etc. – and then on Sunday, I transfer those to each day.

The daily layout is by far my favorite planner layout. The time layout is great for keeping track of work meetings and family commitments and the To Do on the right helps me keep track of daily deadlines and chores.

In addition to the planner, I also purchased the color coding dot stickers, flag stickers and a few other sticker accessory packs … what can I say, I went all in on this Planner madness. Oh, and the Happy Stipe Pilot V5 Pens. I’m a G2 girl, but these pens are amazing as well. I flip between both now.

I can honestly say I’ve never been this organized in my entire life. I could say this is all thanks to the planner, but it’s truly a combination of reading The Simplified Life and using the planner – it’s an unstoppable combination.

 

Another weird side effect … I actually look forward to finishing tasks so I can mark them off. Pilot Frixon Highlighters are beyond perfect for this … pastel and erasable.

FYI The Calendar year version launches on September 5 at 10am Eastern.

A Lesson we can all Learn

When people ask me why I wake up so early, I say “I need time to chill” or “I like to move slow in the morning.” In reality, I wake up early to give myself time to put on my brave face or to curl my hair or straighten it. In other words, I wake up early to give a damn. Why? Simply because we live in a society where a girl who doesn’t take the time to paint her face or tame her hair is deemed as lazy or that she just doesn’t care about herself.

This is bull shitake mushrooms – sure, there are days when I am lazier than others or that I care more about how I look, but that doesn’t mean I view myself any differently or like myself any more or less. The video and song below from Colbie Caillat is my new anthem – why should I try to make others like me when sometimes I don’t even like myself. I need to remember to start there and care about that before I give a crap about what other’s think.

At the same time, sometimes I take the extra time for myself – because I want to feel a little more comfortable or to reassure myself. Sometimes, it is nice to spend a little more time or money on yourself, and that is totally okay – and, quite frankly, encouraged. After all, if you don’t spoil yourself, who will?

Weekend in East Tennessee

This weekend, we celebrated our belated anniversary (our original trip was derailed by a pair of lovely colds) on Douglas Lake in East Tennessee. We stayed at Mountain Harbor Inn (great Living Social Deal) and it was fantastic. The room was gorgeous, the view was perfect and the staff was incredibly helpful.

photo 1photo 4photo 2 photo 3[1] photo 3 photo 2[1]photo 1[1]

Day One Update

Chapter OneDay one of NaNoWriMo has barely begun and I dove in head first knocking out the first chapter and over 2600 words. Chapter 1 is now posted on the Fiction tab.
In true Girl in Nashville fashion (pun intended), while developing the main character and the story, I also worked on outfits to fit each chapter to help push along some inspiration. So, for each chapter, there will also be a fashion muse post.
Enjoy! (Please keep in mind, these are rough chapters that have not been edited.)

 

Cats & Dogs

CatsDogs

This may be the most amazing collection of photos I have ever taken. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we brought home a new kitten and, well, the pup is taking some time to get used to this new life form.

The kitten, Snow, is playful and loves to use Bandit’s tail as a chew/chase toy. Then, every once in a while, Snow will snuggle up with Bandit.

As you can see, Bandit gets a little freaked out by the cuddles.

Adventures in MBA Vol. I

MBAFor those that know me, you know I love to plan. I list to make lists and agendas. I really, really, really like planning things a year in advance – much to the dismay of the spontaneous people I have surrounded myself with. So, a few were surprised when I announced I was starting grad school. I didn’t really plan this one. I knew I wanted to start sooner rather than later and that a program that required frequent attendance would be an issue with work travel. So, I opted for online.

When I started mentioning online classes I heard a lot of, “you’ll love it,” it’s easy,” “you know you’re degree won’t mean anything if you got it online.” Pretty sure everyone was wrong.

I do love the flexibility, I will give them that. But the easy thing – that’s a flat out white lie.

Hi, my name is Andrea and I am ridiculously sucky at math and accounting. So, taking an online accounting course is hard as peanut brittle (yum). I have to teach myself something that is not only completely new but also might as well be written in Russian. I am three weeks in and I have cried more than once, wanted to throw my computer a handful of times and refused to speak to my boyfriend when he interrupted to ask how to cook the meal I’d then refused to make. Math makes me mean. Accounting? That makes me Lannister mean.

While the later point about my degree being worthless remains to be seen, I can say that the school I chose is a reputable school with an outstanding and renowned MBA program. At the end of the day, it is a piece of paper. The value I gain will be the work I put into it and the knowledge gleaned.

On that note, here are a few things I have learned so far:

  • I listen to Classical Music & NPR when doing homework or driving to work (it makes me feel smarter)
  • In accounting: 9=5 + x; x does not always equal 4
  • Getting accounting homework correct leads to victory dances that rival touchdown dances
  • Group projects online are a wee bit painful
  • Everyone has an opinion on MBAs and online programs – form your own
  • I love TED and the Harvard Business Review – and the Wall Street Journal (also, this makes me feel better about following Perez & E! News)
  • Candy Crush is evil … totally unrelated, but I had to share

Motivate Me

motivateme

Eat Clean. Train Dirty. Nothing tastes as good as fit/skinny feels. Just say no.

We’ve all heard it. I’ve said it. Heck, I’ve lived it. But, for me, it hasn’t been maintainable. I do really awesome for a few months then I get derailed and fall of track and gain a few pounds back. I beat myself up and wonder why I just can’t have the willpower to say no. I look at “fitspo” pictures and remind myself how far I have left to go instead of how far I’ve come and I get even more discouraged.

As a female, it is really easy for us to compare ourselves to others and become convinced we are not good enough. Hearing our “peers” brag about saying no to cheeseburgers and desserts makes us feel bad about not saying no. Should this be the case? No. But even though we know better, we still do it.

So, here is where I am. I am discouraged. I am confused. I am angry with myself and I am disappointed in myself.

I think there is a lesson here though and it is one I’ve ben trying to learn for my 31+ years … no one else can make me better or happy. I am solely responsible for this. As important as it is to have role models or mentors and family or friends, at the end of the day, I am the only responsible and accountable for my own actions and results.

Take this morning for example, I woke up at 4:45, got up, took my pre-workout and then went back to bed. This was after flipping the pages of my fitness magazines as I waited for the pre-workout to kick in – what could be more motivating, right? Wrong. I need to be my own motivation – because without that, what good is a random stranger’s picture when I don’t even believe in myself.

This year has been a rollercoaster when it comes to my health and fitness. I know I feel better and happier with I eat right and work out, but I also know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to seeing and acknowledging my progress. But, I am working on it – and that’s the best I can do.