I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. I could get lost in a book for hours. Still can, actually. But I don’t read as much as I used to.
I’d like to say I have a library that rivals my DVD collection. I went through a phase where I collected all the classics I should’ve read but hadn’t yet after finding a website that sold them for a couple dollars each. That was in college and I still haven’t tackled many of those.
Even though I’ve been accumulating new reads, I haven’t yet devoured them. But it shouldn’t be shocking since more than half of the DVDs in my collection are still wrapped.
So, in addition to everything else I want to accomplish this summer, I’m also going to challenge myself to read more.
Here is my summer book bucket list that I hope to get through by this fall.
If you can’t see a trend with my list, I’m still really into Young Adult books. I’m not 30 yet so I’m still a young adult, right?
I’ve also got a slew of books I got for free because of Amazon First Reads and my Prime Membership. Since Kindle books are easier for me to read on the go, I might swap titles out as I go, but I’ll try to keep this list as updated as possible!
What are you reading? I’d love to get new recommendations so that I have more summer reads to add to my summer book bucket list.
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to purchase products using these links, but I’ll get a small commission from any orders placed.*
I have long since accepted that I’m never going to have that “summer bod” that all the magazines boast about. Their standards of beauty should be taken with a grain of salt. I know this and you should know that too.
But even though I’m not dying to have a flat stomach, thigh gap and curves for days, I’m still trying to make sure my body is healthy.
So when I finally realized I was the heaviest (and most out of shape) I’ve ever been I decided to make some changes.
I know a lot of unhealthy people claim that don’t eat terribly but they rarely mean that. I wouldn’t say I was out of control, but I was definitely indulging my cravings more than I should’ve. Therefore, I figured by make small tweaks to my diet, I’d see some pretty immediate changes.
Spoiler alert, I didn’t.
So then I joined a gym. And then that gym offered me a free personal training session. And then that personal trainer played me like a used car salesman and I was signed up for 8 sessions a month. (Remember, I quit my job so budgeting has been a STRUGGLE for me.)
In addition to my sessions, I was working out a couple more times a week. I sweat my butt off. I even almost passed out a few times with my trainer who lectured me on food choices. Turns out, I just can’t work out when I’m on my period because then it’s lights out.
I actually got lectured a lot by my trainer because we weren’t seeing results. Which was super frustrating for me since I was shelling out all this cash for these sessions. I started to worry that there was something medically wrong with me because I’ve never had this much trouble losing weight before.
It finally got to the point where I could no longer afford to keep going to the trainer, especially since in the approximately 3 months we were working together I lost maybe 5 pounds.
Luckily, I’m a whiz when it comes to watching random videos on YouTube. I’d tried to follow the keto diet but it was honestly too hard for me to stick to. In theory, I knew it would work but there was little room for substitutions. Searching for an alternative, I found myself diving into intermittent fasting.
Let me tell you, it was a game changer.
The first three weeks fasting, I lost 12 pounds. It was crazy to be because I wasn’t even exercising because I self-quarantined myself since my kitten brought ringworm into my house when I adopted him. He infected my other cat and then I found myself with spots as well. I didn’t want to be Patient Zero because I released ringworm at the gym. You’re welcome, gym goers.
Intermittent fasting hasn’t been hard for me to follow. I’ve never really been to eating in the morning so it wasn’t hard to have my first meal at 1 PM. And 5 out of the 7 days of the week, I was eating super healthily anyway. If anything, I’ve found it challenging to get my allotted macros in for the day because sometimes during my feeding window, I’m not that hungry.
In addition to the gym and sticking to my feeding window, the other major change I made had to do with the amount of water I was drinking each day. Since I started working from home, I found that I was drinking less than I would’ve had I been in an office. Watercooler talk is real.
I started off with the recommended 8 glasses a day but soon found I needed something else to take the place of snacking when I was supposed to be fasting. Drinking more water did just that. It also helped me feel full so it wasn’t like I was feeling starved. So now, I’m drinking about a gallon a day.
As I mentioned in my May Favorites post, I also started drinking shots of apple cider vinegar twice a day. I’d seen conflicting information about ACV breaking my fast, but I think the benefits outweigh that. My metabolism definitely needed some help. My digestion could use a boost too. And my skin hates me. Just seeing that those were some of the benefits of ACV was enough to have me filling my shot glasses with straight up vinegar.
Yes, it’s been more work to drop pounds. But I’m getting older and I’m not as active as I used to be. I get it, body. Instead of beating myself up about it, I found things that worked for me. And as cliche, as it sounds, it really is better to change your lifestyle than be on a diet.
At the time that I’m writing this, I’m happy to say I’ve lost 24 lbs total. I’ve still got a lot way to go until I could consider myself healthy, but I’m not going to let that overshadow the progress I’ve made. My summer bod might be a little different than the ideal but really it’s about feeling good. Because when you feel good about yourself, it shows.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing to be healthy and stay in shape. I’m looking for workouts, activities and recipes so feel free to tweet me @BratKneeD your favs!
Another month, another roundup of my favorite things. May is going to be a little different for a few reasons. For one, I’m trying to cut back on my spending overall. I have a real problem when it comes to spending because online shopping makes it so easy. But since I quit my job, it’s been my mission to cut back where I need to so that I can still splurge and treat myself every now and then.
May was an easy month to cut back because May 21st is my birthday. That means lots of birthday coupons and some presents.
Moe’s Birthday Burrito
I go to Moe’s Southwest Grill a lot. Anyone who knows me knows this because I don’t shut up about my burrito obsession. So I’ve racked up quite a few rewards points over the years. However, on your birthday Moe’s gives you a coupon for a free burrito. It doesn’t require you to log your trips. You just get a burrito for being born.
Sign-up for Moe’s Rockin’ Rewards and use my code BrittanyD14. You’ll get 50 points when you sign up and I’ll get 100 points when you scan your first visit. Click https://punchh.com/b/moes to Rock On!
Sunnydale High Mug
Just like with my burrito obsession, anyone who knows me knows Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my all-time favorite television shows. When it comes to tv show memorabilia, I usually just stick to graphic t-shirts. But now I’ve branched out. The Sunnydale High School mug I got for my birthday will get lots of use because I’m also obsessed with coffee. And since I work from home, I brew a lot of coffee each day.
You could call me a wino and you wouldn’t be wrong. There are so many vineyards and wineries in my area. And when the weather starts to warm up, it’s hard to resist sitting outside in the country sipping on wine. In my quest to find something to do for my birthday, I discovered a local winery that I had yet to try out.
On top of being a winery, Terhune is also a farm with fresh produce for purchase year round. But what excited me most about our trip to taste their wines was the fact that they had fresh apple cider donuts for sale. You best believe we snagged a bag to snack on between wine tasting and dinner.
I’m obsessed. I have always stuck with cheap products that I didn’t mind tossing if they didn’t work because they weren’t expensive. But I’d never really found a brow product I was in love with. Luckily Influenster sent me some eyebrow pomade and a brush to try out for free.
Honestly, I would’ve never purchased this one my own because the price tag was too steep. If I hated it, I would’ve hated myself for wasted my hard earned dollars. I hope this product lasts for a while because I love it so much and my brow game will never be stronger.
(Note: I’ve removed the Brow Pomade post from my blog, as well as the name of the brand because the creator came out as an anti-vaxxer and I can’t support that.)
Apple Cider Vinegar
I’ve been working hard to lose weight. I’ve come to realize that weight loss really is 80% diet and 20% working out. I really don’t eat terribly unhealthy so it was hard to not lose any weight for a while. But in my researching to find a diet that fits my lifestyle, I kept stumbling upon apple cider vinegar. I decided to pair ACV with intermittent fasting. I saw a lot of success with my fasting so I figured why not try to supercharge it.
At first, I tried to chug an ACV drink recipe recommended for those fasting. I couldn’t do it. It was disgusting. So instead, I decided to suck it up and just do a straight shot. I’m happy to say the taste does not bother me anymore. And I haven’t had any issues with any burning since I chase the shot with water.
Needless to say, it was a month of celebrating no matter how much or little I spent. Here’s to hoping there’s more weight loss, more burritos and more wine in my future.
I quit my full-time job on May 22, 2017. When I quit, I hoped that I’d never have to go back to working in an office setting ever again. Here I am, writing about this one year later and I have had to cave and get another full-time job yet.
Quitting wasn’t easy. I never quit a job without having something new lined up. It was kind of a reckless but at the time, it was the only option. Without getting too deep into the reasons why I’ll say this. The office I was working in was a toxic environment. One that I didn’t need to subject myself to any longer than I already had. That’s why six months after joining the team, I completely erased the company from my social profiles and resume.
Besides leaving behind a terrible company, I learned a few things that I wished I’d learned sooner. Even though I can’t go back in time, I figured it would be nice of me to share with anyone who might also be struggling in a workplace that isn’t right for them.
1. Know Your Worth
For as long as I’ve been in the workforce, I’ve always been a “yes” woman. I constantly did tasks outside of my job description. And that meant that I was doing more work and not getting compensated for it. I guess that’s just part of being a salaried worker.
But that meant I was underutilizing my skills while also selling myself short. Now that I technically work for myself, I can say no to projects I don’t want to work on. I can charge clients what I deserve to be paid for a project due to my experience. I can do work that makes me happy.
Before quitting, I mainly had to grin and bear it which in the long run made me miserable. Instead, I get to showcase work that I’m actually proud of and that feels pretty darn good.
2. Life is Too Short to be Unhappy
I haven’t worked a job that I haven’t complained about incessantly. What made crappy jobs bearable were the people I worked with but there comes a point where those people aren’t a big enough reason to stay. It sucks waking up and dreading the day. It sounds so stupid to complain about having a job, even a shitty one when there are so many other people out there that are struggling to find work at all.
But in the end, it’s about giving yourself the best quality of life. If you can change your circumstances, why not go for it?
3. Career versus Job
When I was contemplating quitting I realized that I was no longer looking for a career. I wanted a job that I could complete and get paid for that would support my eating, drinking and traveling habits. I wasn’t looking for the path to the top of the ladder anymore. I don’t want to be in charge of people.
That job could really be anything as long as it paid the bills. It’s not beneath me to take a job that won’t utilize my skills or further my experience if it pays enough. While I’m lucky to be able to continue working within the digital marketing realm, I’m not ruling out things like waiting tables or bartending to make a quick buck when I need to if it means never working in an office again.
4. Where You Work From
There are some people who have full-time office jobs that have the luxury of working from home at least some of the time. There are even companies that are completely remote. I, unfortunately, have never worked for those kinds of companies, which makes no sense to me. Since almost all of the work I do is online anyway, I could’ve technically worked from anywhere. There was no benefit for me to be in the office. If anything, I was less productive then.
Now I have the freedom to work from anywhere. Sometimes it is distracting to be at home since there are a million other things I could be doing. Mainly Netflix but still. The beauty of working remotely is that if I need a change of scenery I can head to a cafe and bang out my to-do list for the day there.
I know that I’m very lucky to have been able to quit. And I understand that quitting isn’t an option for everyone. However, if I knew what I know now, I might’ve quit my jobs way sooner. Eventually, I might have to go back to an office job and if that time comes, I’ll be on the lookout for a job that’s perfect for me. But until that day comes, I’ll be conducting conference calls from the comfort of my own bed.
Back in the day, I made a video about the 25 things I wanted to do in my 25th year. It was a video bucket list, of sorts. I posted the video right after my 25th birthday and if I’m being honest, I never thought about it again. Which is really a theme for my life.
Since I recently turned 29, I decided to revisit said video to see exactly what I’ve accomplished from that list over the last 4 years. Rewatching the video and transcribing the points was difficult because damn was I annoying. For some reason, I didn’t come up with 25 things, which is also on brand for me.
So let’s take a look at the bucket list I laid out for myself to see where I’m at and what I should have crossed off by my 30th birthday next year.
1. Watch More Netflix
I know this was a joke, but it’s one of the only ones I can say I successfully accomplished. I’ve watched so much Netflix it isn’t funny. I should get paid for the amount of time and effort I put into it. Or I should be committed because it’s not healthy.
Even though, as I mentioned both in this post and the video, this was a joke, I’m leaving it in here because I needed to make this list as close to 25 as I can.
2. Commit to Making Videos Regularly
It took me a year to really get started with this one, but I did consistently post one video a week for a little more than two years. It was on a different channel than this video was posted on but, it was by far my most successful time on YouTube. Until it wasn’t anymore.
I miss making videos. I know I’ll start doing it again. If only YouTube would get it’s shit together, maybe it would actually be something fun to participate in again.
3. Do More Things That Push Me Outside My Comfort Zone
Could I have been vaguer? I don’t even know what I meant by this but I guess I’ve done plenty over the last four years that could qualify for this.
4. Keep Learning New Things
This is another vague one that I’m going to say I accomplished in some capacity. Over the years I’ve taught myself many things. I started learning ASL online. I’ve learned to code (minimally, but I get by). And there are a few other things that are also further down this list so I think it would be cheating to mention them here.
5. Write A Book
Nope. Not even close. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for at least two of the four years since this video came out but I’m no closer to having a full-length novel written than I was then.
6. Blog More
I used to blog frequently here. But then I switched my hosting company and lost the content since I didn’t know how to backup my site. But I’m getting back into it now and that should count for something, right?
7. Learn Photography
While it’s definitely taken me longer to explore my DSLR camera, I’m finally learning more about photography. I’ve gotten more familiar with the settings on my camera. I’ve upgraded my lens collection to include ones outside the kit lenses that came with my T3i and 80D.
8. Volunteer for a Charity
Of all the things I haven’t accomplished on this list, this is the one I’m most ashamed of. I’ve definitely donated more of my money to different charities and causes that matter to me, but I haven’t given any of my time.
Please shame me.
9. Run a Marathon
Need I say more?
10. Explore More
This is another one that’s left me scratching my head. I don’t know what kind of content I was reaching for when I made my list, but cool I’ve done more exploring around the town I’ve lived in for the last 20 years or so.
11. Be An Honorary Member of the Holy Trinity
Does the Holy Trinity still really exist?
12. Get in a Relationship
But if I get in a relationship how can I continue my successful career as a Cat Lady?
13. Get Fit
I did get into the best shape of my life after this video and then somehow I ended up in the worst shape of my life and I don’t know how or when that happened.
However, I’m happy to report that I’m finally back on track. I did a stint with a physical trainer but I spent more time almost passing out than I did losing weight. Instead, I’ve been working out when I can but ultimately, intermittent fasting has been the answer I’ve been looking for.
14. Do Something Reckless
Seriously, Brittany? What did this even mean?
15. Travel More
By traveling period would’ve meant I’ve traveled more. Since posting the video, I’ve been to many different states. Some were for a reason I’ll touch on later and others were for vacation.
I’m also happy to say that I’ve got more travel in the near future.
16. Write a Screenplay
Why did I set myself up for failure?
17. Inspire Others
How does one even quantify this? If anything, I think I’ve inspired people to eat more burritos.
18. Teach Someone Something New
Does teaching your mother to use her phone count?
19. Build a Community
When I said this, I was in the mindset of becoming YouTube famous. While my intentions might not have been the purest, I think that over the years, I have built a small community of like-minded people. But as a 29-year-old, I realize that by a community, I really mean friends.
20. Try New Foods & Drinks
In my quest to become one of Yelp’s Elite, I’ve definitely explored more restaurants and cuisines in my area. I even went a little crazy in New Orleans last November because why would you head to a city like that and not taste the local delicacies. (Yes, I’m talking about turtle soup.)
21. Go to a Convention
Like Pringles, I haven’t stopped going to conventions. In my video, I mentioned VidCon, Playlist Live and comic cons. I can proudly say that I have done all of that. I’ll be head to VidCon in a couple of weeks and I’ll be back at New York Comic Con in October.
Yes, I have encountered and befriended new people in the last four years. And only a couple of my new friends are cats.
23. Start Working Outside an Office
Well, does quitting my job count as a success? Because I did that too. More about that to come soon.
So there you have it. The (almost) 25 things I wanted to do in my 25th year. It’s probably the saddest bucket list you’ve ever come across but I was young and naive when I created it. And clearly I wasn’t producing the best content when it came to YouTube videos. At 29, I’m kinda surprised I’ve crossed off as many as I have. But also, as an intellectual, I acknowledge that a lot of these things were bullshit resolutions that I would’ve accomplished whether I made a list or not.
As I’ve entered the last year in my 20s, I don’t really have much that I want to accomplish before turning 30. I’m pretty content with how life is right now so why fix something that ain’t broke?
I’m not going to lie. I’m a creature of habit. Once I find something that works, I stick with it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have favorites. This month, I may have treated myself to a few new things. Things that I might not have needed and other things that have made my life considerably easier.
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I’m usually a very careful shopper. I stick to the necessities and don’t often splurge. Then my friend asked if I could take some headshots for her LinkedIn and I decided to pull the trigger on a somewhat frivolous purchase. I vowed that this year I would take more pictures, so I’d had my eye on a 50mm lens for a while. It was my friend’s request that made me finally pull the trigger (even though I didn’t need the lens to do it.)
The splurge happened when I decided to go for the f1.4 instead of the f1.8. The f1.4 was almost triple the f1.8 but I couldn’t help my self. I wanted that beautiful bokeh and I didn’t want to settle.
And boy am I glad I didn’t. Just look at how stinkin’ cute these pictures came out. (I can’t confirm if they cuteness came from the lens or my handsome boys, but for the purpose of justifying the purchase, we’ll go with the lens.)
I know I’m late to the game on this but I really couldn’t fathom why you would need something like this. All I could picture me doing with it is using it as something to mindlessly fidget with.
And then I got an iPhone 8 Plus.
The phone is huge and my tiny panda hands could not handle the transition from the iPhone 6s to this.
My PopSocket has been a lifesaver and I don’t use that term lightly. Do you know how many times I drop my phone on my face? Yeah, it hurt when I’d drop my 6s but I’m pretty sure the 8 Plus could kill me. I’m not going to back that with science or experimentation but just trust me.
I’ll admit, I purchased a knock-off PopSocket first. It’s just in my nature to go with the generic. Would not recommend. Not only did the knock-off fall off after 1 day but it also didn’t feel like it could’ve supported the phone had it not jumped ship.
So basically this was splurge #2 of the month because I shelled out a whole $10 for the real deal. Hasn’t fallen off and I see no signs of that happening any time soon. (Just know I just knocked on wood after typing that.)
I was going to use the following mirror selfie to demonstrate my expert PopSocket usage, but then I realized I’m not actually using it. But I think you get the picture, right?
While I wouldn’t claim to be a put together person, I love to organize things. It’s a very soothing thing to get things in order. Now that I work from home, I needed a way to get organized without feeling like I was cramping my style. Sure, the paperwork can be easily hidden away in drawers and boxes but the things I need readily on hand were starting to get lost in the shuffle.
My home office is one half of my bedroom so I didn’t want it to feel too much like an office since it’s where I do most of my work and most of my relaxing. So I settled on a hanging grid that I could easily clip things to. When I finished a project, those papers could easily be filed away and the grid would still look cool. When I’m not using it for keeping my projects organized, I can decorate it with pictures or quotes or other textiles that inspire me.
To me, it feels more like a decoration than an office supply. I’m all for getting things done while looking cool.
One of my goals is to drink more water every day. I used to drink a lot more when I was working in an office because it was a chance to get away from my desk. Watercooler conversations are a workplace cliche for a reason. Now that I’m home, it’s felt like more a chore to get up and refill.
But I realized you don’t have to refill as much if you’ve got a larger bottle.
I’ve been shooting to drink a gallon of water each day (and more on the days that I exercise) so with this 32 oz. bottle, I only need to get up 4 times to reach that goal. If I use my brain for one thing, it would be how I can top my laziness each day.
I had to make sure I got one with a straw though. That’s my deal breaker. I know I’ll probably regret this when I’m older and I have excessive wrinkles around the mouth but I don’t think you understand how many times I spill all over myself when I drink from the mouth of the bottle or jar. Yes, I’m an adult but still.
Honestly, I made a lot more purchases in April than I should probably admit, so it’s hard to really narrow down my favorites. Also, I still haven’t washed the clothes I got from Goodwill so I can’t actually tell if they’re my favorite or not. If I thought I was treating myself last month, just wait until May is over. It’s my birthday month so I’m sure I’ll find other ways to pretend I have a disposable income and treat myself.
If you asked me what I do, you’ll probably be shocked to see me hesitate. My heart wants to say I’m a writer but my brain wants to say otherwise. So sometimes I’ll say I work in social media, which is not a lie. Other times I’ll say I’m a content creator, which is also the truth. But why can’t I be the thing that my heart literally desires?
The answer is simple. Writers write. And I haven’t written anything worth my words in a very long time.
I’d like to say there’s no reason why I don’t write. I’d like to say there’s no one to blame. But the answers to both of those questions come to me so easily that I can’t be trying to trick myself into believing them: fear and myself.
Some people find it hard to admit things like that but I’ve always been the type of person who could easily decipher the root of my problems. The only difference between this and my anxiety and depression is that I can’t seem to move on. I know what makes me anxious. I know what makes me sad. I know what keeps me from writing. However, I can only muster up the courage to work through the former two.
And now I’m writing this.
It might seem strange because it is. I’ve rambled on for a couple hundred words about not writing but in doing so I have written. I am writing.
I’m the type of person who likes to put stuff out there so that the universe can hold me accountable. Stuff is such an ambiguous word but I mean it. For some reason, things don’t feel real to me until they’re said out loud. And sure, these words aren’t technically being spoken but they are hopefully being read by friends and strangers alike. So that’s got to count for something, right?
I’m hoping the question, “Well what are you afraid of?” has been on your mind since I mentioned the word fear. Because I know it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the last hundred and fifty words. But who’s counting? Obviously, that person is me. The real question is why am I stalling?
As a person of the internet I know I only have your attention for so long. If you’re reading this, you’ve made it further than I thought, or maybe hoped, anyone would. Because if fewer people make it to this point, the smaller the Universe of Accountability will be. I’m basically a scientist.
Okay, so what am I afraid of?
Where do I start? I’m afraid of failing, of sucking, of burning out, of succeeding.
Did you hear that record scratch too? Good. That means I’m not completely batshit crazy.
Yes, I said I’m afraid of succeeding. I’m afraid of succeeding because if I succeed in the way I want to succeed there is a lot of weight to bear. I want to be for others what my favorite authors are to me. They’ve unknowingly shouldered the weight of so much of my baggage over the years that it’s time to pay it forward. Trying to find the right words to explain what I want to get out of writing only makes my endgame seem selfish.
I want people to look up to me. I want to be an escape from the real world. I want to make people laugh, cry, feel. I want to tell stories they’ll never forget. I want to be quoted in metaphorical AIM profiles or actual Tumblr blogs.
But then it all comes back to fear. Because if none of that happens, I’m afraid I won’t be able to see the value in the process.
However, this reminds me of a trending hashtag from years ago. It was #6WordStories and I couldn’t believe how people could say so much in so few words. I gave it a shot myself but I didn’t so much write a story as I did a mantra that has stayed with me since.
Failed attempts? At least I tried.
So this is me trying. This is me possibly failing. But in the end, does it really matter?