I am fresh out of words for this post.

I am trying to piece together what I want to say but the thoughts aren’t exactly flowing, and the first draft felt more like mashed up sentences than like actual reflections.

But I have pictures to share. And I want to reflect on the year. And I want to spell out the things I’ve learned, so my future self can look back and nod and smile and think fondly on the 12 months that made up 2017, because it was a good 12 months, and I did learn a lot, and grew a lot and got better acquainted with the person I am becoming (and I quite like her!).

It was not all good, though. Some of it was bad, and some of it was really bad. There was loss and sadness, and there were struggles and confusion, but these are needed for growth. There is no sweet without the bitter.

As the years pass, the bitter becomes more tolerable, anticipated even. There have been times this year when I anxiously waited for bitter moments that never came, and that is one thing I’ve been trying to do less of lately and will continue to do less of next year: less worrying about tomorrow and more letting tomorrow worry about itself.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:34 [NIV]

Last year I set three goals/resolutions, and here is how I fared:
  • Take a real vacation - DONE
  • Start using a planner regularly - DONE, and then stopped because I felt my type A tendencies unhealthily going into overdrive.
  • Fix up the backyard - DONE (kinda?), we got a patio set, a fire pit and some tiki lights, but the grounds still need some love and it seriously needs to be treated for mosquitoes.

This year, I only have one: to finally finish the Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. I started this book last year, and it is a biggun. The story is moving slow, so I keep putting it down with every intention to finish it later. Later has come.

Other than that, I am taking each day for what it is, planning for tomorrow but not worrying (too much) about it. This will probably prove to be easier said/typed than done, but that is the goal.


Photos from December are below.

Well, well, well, look what time of year it is.

THE END. It's the end of the year. We have made it. We are here.

Every now and then, I come across some really well-written pieces on the interwebs and get the urge to share it here. When I share something, I want it to have real substance. Unfortunately there are so many vapid pieces out there, and it's becoming more and more difficult to filter the fluff. Whether it aligns with my viewpoint or not, the article should only be one thing: thought-provoking. The following (listed below) were just that. Instead of explaining them in my own words, I have pasted some excerpts.

It snowed this past weekend in Atlanta, and it brought back memories of me as a kid, in Michigan, getting ready for school in the morning when it had snowed the night before, continually checking the tv to see if my school's name scrolled across the bottom with the other local closings. 

It rarely did. Even when schools did close for a snow day in Michigan (and I'm talking only if there's like a three feet of snow or more on the ground), my school would always push the boundaries and stay open. I can only remember a handful of real, no-school snow days in my lifetime, and I'd beg my mom to let me stay home, but nope. I always had to go. 

Listen, Linda. HONEY.

I lost NaNoWriMo and here's why:

Downtown views

Above: my shiny, new Peace Lily, about a month after I got it, blooming in all it's glory.

Below: what's left of it (I'm embarrassed to even post this picture).

If there is one thing I do more than anything else, it is read.

I am always reading something. There is always a book on my nightstand and at least three more "on deck" nearby. There is also always a few library books on hold or in queue at my local library; I have one ready for pickup at this very moment. My Goodreads list is long, and there have been actual times at night when I chose finishing a book over curling up under the comfort of my SO. As I type this, I realize how horrible it sounds. But these are my truths.

A while back I wrote about how I get so free magazine subscriptions, I failed to mention the reason why I subscribe to so many: because I love reading the articles. There is nothing better, to me, on a leisurely Saturday afternoon than being able to sit on the sofa in front of the tv with a stack of unread magazine issues. I love it. (At the moment, W magazine has my favorite pieces, and I even get digital copies of Nylon each month, which I promptly download to my iBooks folder.)

But wait, there's more!

I also have a carefully curated digital RSS feed, constantly pinging me throughout the day when there is a new article. If something catches my eye, I will click on it (and I am no sucker for clickbaity headlines either - I have mastered the art of quality article discernment) (which means I pass on quite a few). If I am swimming in work, I will bookmark it for later. And please believe, I will read it later. I also have the newsfeed app (Inoreader) synced to my phone, that way I can stay up-to-date on all the articles I might otherwise miss out on while I am not at my computer. You know in the elevator? Or in the coffee line? When you see people scrolling through their phone on social media? I am standing right next to them, scrolling through my newsfeed.

But wait, there's more!

When I was a kid, my mom would make me read from the dictionary and learn a new word each day. Here is the thing about the dictionary: it has a whole bunch of words you already know, so finding a new word can take more time than it sounds. Here is the thing about me reading the dictionary: I literally did not complain about it, not even on the inside. It was no big deal for me. I just kept reading until I found a new word. This is probably where my affinity for reading began. Thanks, Mom.

There is a point to all of this, point being that every now and then I come across some great write-ups and get the urge to share it here in this space. But it does not happen often enough for me to make it a regular series, similar to Amber's Sunday Morning Coffee series or Today I'm Bobbi's This and That series. When I share something, I want to have real substance, and unfortunately there are so many vapid pieces out there that it becomes more and more difficult to filter the fluff. Whether it aligns with my viewpoint or not, it needs to be one thing: thought-provoking.

The articles listed below were just that. Instead of explaining them in my own words, I have pasted some excerpts.

This month was a busy one, full of game nights, day trips, vacations, theatrical productions and other fun stuff. 
Zinburger has three things that caught my interest:
Fireside season is officially in full swing at The Active Spirit household.

Before we left Cuba, J had one last thing he had to do: Visit a local fire station. 

So we went to Cuba.

Technically, summer ends today, September 21st, and technically, I read these books over the summer, so technically, this post is ripe and in season.

My last summer reading list had two strong hits and one almost-miss. This list? This list is a triple hitter. So much so that I'm not even going to waste time fleshing out this intro.

Let's get to it.

Recently Read

It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover
This book is for every woman who's been so romantically entangled with a man that she can't see clearly. It documents the good, the bad and the ugly, and how all three of those things can sometimes get transposed to the point where you're not sure which is which. Some might classify it as "chick-lit," but I didn't know that going in (despite the floral cover art). In fact, I knew very little about the plot when I checked this out from the library, and I think that's how any new reader should approach this book: knowing as little as possible. So that's all I'm going to say.

Final Girls, by Riley Sager
I recently revealed my shameless love for all things horror, especially in film. When the buzz surrounding Final Girls started to swell, I added it to my library cart (I love the library) and patiently waited my turn in queue. The story starts off a bit slow, but it kept me turning the page into the wee hours of the night. Also, I did not see the twist coming at the end, and I almost always see the twist coming.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
The titular character here reminds me of another character from a short story I read in college (I can't remember the name of the story, but I'm sure it's in one of the anthologies tucked away on one of my shelves, so maybe I'll track it down later and update this post) (UPDATE: it's called "where i work" by Ann Cummins). She's such a well-written character. She's socially disconnected from the outside world until she and the IT guy from her office randomly help an elderly man who has passed out on the street. Things unfold from there, and it's a great journey to self discovery and happiness.


If a book fails to hold my attention after 50-100 pages, I'll just add it to my did not finish list. These were recently added:

The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy
I'm not a non-fiction reader, but I heard such great things about this memoir so I decided to give it a try. Ms. Levy is a great writer, and I enjoyed reading her words, but sometimes it felt like she was trying too hard to be witty/insightful/deep, etc. As eventful and dramatic as her story was, though, I just could not finish it.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
This was on my goodreads list for a while, but there was just too much back story to explain. By page 60-70, the narrator was still giving background information. We should be moving forward that many pages into the book, not still explaining what happened before the book opens (the only exception is literary fiction). Also, I didn't realize it was a science fiction novel, and it's generally one of my least favorite genres.

Brain on Fire, by Susannah Callahan
Another memoir... I really tried to venture from my standard fiction faves. I really did. If anything, these attempts tell me I've truly found my niche when it comes to leisure reading.

At the time of this writing, I will have been married for two years. In this short period, there have been a few regrets: regret for not communicating more thoroughly in certain situations, regret for not intentionally taking more time out of the day to spend nurturing our union, regret for things that have been said from a place of anger, et cetera. These are the kind of things that generally disrupt the quality of any romantic relationship, but they can also be used as a tool for growth. Thankfully, despite these things, I can still confidently say I 100% married my best friend; I married someone with whom I look forward to spending the rest of my life. 

There are many people who live by the "no regrets" motto, but honestly, I believe everyone has things from their past they would do differently. There is nothing wrong with regretfulness in my opinion. It keeps us empathetic and makes us more thoughtful with our actions, so I do not live by that motto. If anything, I live by the "less regrets" school of thought.

That being said, when it comes to my marriage, there is one thing of which I am sure I will never regret: not having a wedding.

[It's my 5th time sharing a post like this, so I figured it was time for a proper graphic.]

My last Netflix Recommendation post was Christmas-themed. This one will fittingly be horror-themed, since we're now in the midst of 'Scream Fest' (that time of year when a bunch of horror movies are released in succession). So far we've seen the release of Annabelle: CreationIT, and Mother!, and Jeeper's Creepers 3, Jigsaw, and another installment of The Purge series will soon be coming down the pipe.

Scary movies aren't for everyone. I get it. Nobody in my inner circle willingly goes to see horror films with me - it always takes some coercion, and while I have absolutely no problem going to the movies solo, sometimes I prefer to experience the thrill with a friend.

I also have no problem experiencing the thrill in the comfort of my own home, which is where Netflix comes to the rescue. I've seen almost all the top movies in the horror section of the site, even some of those b-list titles that look kinda sketchy or are a low-budget dupe of a popular big-budget option. I'll watch those.

This is why I can confidently share the picks below, because I often click on the obscure title expecting very little, but sometimes... sometimes... they pleasantly surprise. Another thing about these? They're the least "scary" of the ones I've watched recently, so even if you're not a fan of the genre, you might still enjoy them. Maybe.

At your own risk.

These kinds of posts aren't that popular anymore, but when read I these lists on Charlotte's blog (using google translate since it's written in Swedish), I got inspired. This is one of those posts I'll re-read years later and remember how I felt and where I was in life, and they also show how much about my personality has or hasn't changed over time.

And so, here are ten lists for today, September 15, 2017.

10 Favorites

Color: white
Food: tacos (is this even a proper blog post if i don't mention tacos at least once???)

Just sharing a list of things I've been super grateful for lately:

The was a cafe
open only 'til three
just north of the city
named Crooked Tree...

If there is one qualm I have with any major industry it's the one that focuses on all things "beauty."
Starting this post off with a gratuitous photo set of myself.

Summer will always be the number one season in my heart. Always.

I get to visit the beach, I get to celebrate my birthday, I get to soak up some sun, I get to take walks later in the evening since the daylight lasts longer, I get to eat good barbecue,  I get to try all the new rosé that has debuted for the season... Summer has historically been the personal start of a 'new year' for me - partly because it's when I turn another year older, but also because I always enter fall feeling refreshed and changed in some way.

Change is in the air
This past month I've been feeling so grateful - more than usual - for everything in my life, good and bad, the struggles and the victories (there have been much of both). I got into my car to drive to work last week and thought thank you, God, for this life of mine. It's not necessarily a new feeling, but it's been more frequent than usual which makes it feel like a change. 

It's Only Frickin' Tuesday.

I had the chance to volunteer at Paws Atlanta last week, and even though it was hot and uncomfortable and the mosquitoes feasted on my arms for lunch, I had thee best time hanging out with the pups.

Paws is one oldest and last remaining no-kill shelters in the state of Georgia. They get dogs and cats dropped at their front door every day, and no matter the cost, they provide food, shelter and veterinary care for every pet that comes through their door. 

Enjoyed a mini beach getaway and came home to some fresh blooms in the backyard.
Saw an old friend take the leap into a new adventure with the love of her life.
Did some thrifting and walked away with a whole new summer wardrobe for less than $20.
Celebrated five months of keeping my first plant alive by buying a new one for the fireplace mantel.

Ok, where do I begin...

Last time I posted about Halo Top, I mentioned how the texture was terrible and the flavor was weak. It left a bad taste in my mouth - pun intended - and I was ready to write it off completely until I tried mixing it into my smoothie. I found a way to make it work, but for a $5 pint of ice cream, I shouldn't have to find a way to make it work. It should just work, straight from the container.

Still, more and more people continue to rave about it. My bad review was really the only one I could find, which made me think maybe I needed to try another flavor. 

So, I tried two.
© the active spirit. +