Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Novels With Nell - Hope Heals

One of my goals for this year was to read more. So far, I have to give myself credit for doing a good job of this! I have read at least five books so far and am currently reading three others (one for class, one at night, and one career focused book). Carving out time at night and ending my day this way really has been a great new habit. I can thank Nell for spending most of college trying to convince me to do this. I guess it took us living in different states for me to finally give it the old college try...

Nell's novel recommendation this week is a book that I've heard about a few times through social media. Whether it is someone I know personally or someone I follow both groups of people have come to the same conclusion, that this book is worth a read. Maybe when I head home for spring break I'll have to borrow Nell's copy!

By: Katherine and Jay Wolf

If anyone needs some encouragement or wants an inspiring (true) story, then I can’t recommend Hope Heals enough. The Wolfs have experienced terrible suffering, in the form of Katherine, the wife, having a massive brain stem stroke at age 26. It’s a miracle that she lived, and while they rejoice in that, they still grieve for the many losses the stroke brought. Katherine had to relearn how to do so many things I take for granted daily, such as my ability to walk and to swallow. This may not sound like a very uplifting read but the inspiration comes from seeing the way they cling to their faith in Jesus. I’d heard of their story before but what prompted me to get the book is that they are coming to speak in my hometown as part of a fundraiser for a local Christian medical clinic for adults without health insurance. I wanted to go and wanted to read the book before hearing them speak. Now I can’t wait to go hear them speak and want to recommend this book to everyone! An incredible couple, an incredible story, an incredible God.

“When all seems lost, where can hope be found? Katherine and Jay married right after college and sought adventure far from home in Los Angeles, CA. As they pursued their dreams, they planted their lives in the city and in their church community. Their son, James, came along unexpectedly in the fall of 2007, and just 6 months later, everything changed in a moment for this young family.

On April 21, 2008, as James slept in the other room, Katherine collapsed, suffering a massive brain stem stroke without warning. Miraculously, Jay came home in time and called for help. Katherine was immediately rushed into micro-brain surgery, though her chance of survival was slim. As the sun rose the next morning, the surgeon proclaimed that Katherine had survived the removal of part of her brain, though her future recovery was completely uncertain. Yet in that moment, there was a spark of hope. Through 40 days on life support in the ICU and nearly 2 years in full-time brain rehab, that spark of hope was fanned into flame.

Defying every prognosis, with grit and grace, Katherine and Jay, side by side, struggled to regain a life for Katherine as she re-learned to talk and eat and walk. Returning home with a severely disabled body but a completely renewed purpose, they committed to celebrate this gift of a second chance by embracing life fully, even though that life looked very different than they could have ever imagined. In the midst of continuing hardships and struggles, both in body and mind, Katherine and Jay found what we all long to find...hope, hope that heals the most broken place, our souls.

An excruciating yet beautiful road to recovery has led the Wolf family to their new normal, in which almost every moment of life is marked with the scars of that fateful April day in 2008. Now, eight years later, Katherine and Jay are stewarding their story of suffering, restoration, and Christ-centered hope in this broken world through their ministry Hope Heals.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How To Prepare For A High Stress Week

With my lack of posts last week, I don’t think I did the best job of preparing for a high stress week ahead of time especially since I went from vacation mode before heading back to work. Usually, I tend to do a better job of prepare for weeks that I know are going to be more overwhelming ahead of time. In college, I felt like somehow my tests and projects would all fall in the same week leaving me with some high stress weeks before weeks with a more manageable amount of work. I’ve always enjoyed working ahead since I know I can be overwhelmed when I have a lot of important things due all at once. Since I am sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips I have for better preparing yourself when one of those overwhelming weeks does come your way.

Do What You Can Ahead of Time
You probably wouldn’t be reading this post if you didn’t care about getting ahead and being well prepared for your high stress weeks. By keeping an agenda and knowing when these times are approaching you can start to knock things off your to-do list in advance to make those stressful weeks less overwhelming. Small assignments that could be done in advance are a great thing to try to get out of the way. For me, that was usually some sort of reflection for one of my education classes although it could easily be other assignments as well.

Start Your Week with a Clean Room
I am most productive when my space is orderly. Coming home after a long day to finally get in bed and realize that my room is a mess adds to me feeling overwhelmed. Because of that, I like to make sure that pretty much every week I go to bed on Sunday night with a clean room. If anything, it makes me feel in control of that aspect of my week. To make sure that my space stays this way throughout the week I spend a few minutes before getting in bed ensuring that everything is in its place.

Get to Work (or the library or class) 5 Minutes Earlier
One of the hardest parts of busy weeks for me is the fact that oftentimes I don’t feel in control of everything I need to be balancing. That lack of control can be part of the reason I get stressed. Making sure I’m where I need to be earlier than I actually need to be there allows me to feel productive. By getting somewhere and knowing you have a certain amount of time to get something done motivates me. Arriving early and tackling a quick task before trying to accomplish something else helps you to feel more productive and in turn continues to motivate you when working through other tasks.

Put Your Phone On Airplane Mode
We’ve all heard this trick before, but it’s not until you start to utilize it that you see just how much time you can spend mindlessly on your phone. If you’re looking to get a lot done and need to eliminate distractions this is the best thing to do. Sometimes even putting it out of sight on airplane mode can tempt you even less!

Say No
I am not so great about this, but when you know you have a lot on your plate coming up try to eliminate saying yes to additional things. As fun as these activities may be or seem, they could end up adding unnecessary pressure. Knowing how to say no is something that takes practice but as long as you are doing it with the right intention, hopefully it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings and will lessen your load as well.

Go to Sleep at a Reasonable Hour (even if you didn’t get it all done)

There comes a point in time where you have to realize that you just might not get it all done. While I can’t say I usually feel ok about that, I know that I work better in the morning and that by going to bed and ensuring that at least I’m semi rested then hopefully I can get through the rest of my list the following morning. The less rest you have, the more overwhelming other things are going to feel, counteracting your attempts at feeling prepared.

I would love any other tips you may have to help better prepare for those inevitably crazy weeks. I will say, I am thankful that this week is much more normal and that I get to go home without having class or a meeting after school today. Usually those are the days when I am most productive, and who knows, maybe I'll start preparing for my next crazy week today!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Step Into My Week

I’m back! Sorry for being so MIA last week. With a big assignment due yesterday and no intention to work on it while I was at home with my family I had a lot to work on this past week. I was hoping to be able to get a few posts up but ultimately realized the project was taking me more time than I thought. Fortunately, it’s submitted and I am feeling slightly less overwhelmed. For being a short week with President’s Day off, the week still felt pretty long with all of that to tackle on top of regular teaching responsibilities. To make it up, I’m hoping to have five posts live for y’all this week.

Getting back into a routine after being out of town wasn’t too terrible although I am already missing slow mornings with coffee outside with Scout. (I also forgot to take pictures of my teaching outfits, but I’ll make that a priority this week). Fortunately, I’ll be heading home for Spring Break and will get a taste of that for a whole week come April. Last Monday I woke up bright and early to go to the airport and fly back to Greenville since we had President’s Day off. I got back around noon and forced myself to unpack immediately before making something to eat and heading to Starbucks to start the annotated bibliography project that was due yesterday. The Starbucks workers saw a lot of me this past week since I am much more productive getting work done outside of my apartment. With the great weather we’ve been having this doesn’t take too much of a toll on my bank account since I can go back to ordering iced coffee instead of being tempted by a fancy hot drink. Fortunately, we didn’t have grad class due to the holiday so I was able to make some food to eat for the week.

The rest of the week it was back to school hitting the ground running trying to be productive in any spare moments. Most nights, you could find Ellison and I in the living room typing away with the Winter Olympics on in the background.  

Thursday night we decided to add some fun to our weeknight by celebrating National Margarita Day at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Cantina. We ended up being there from six until nine when we realized it was probably about time to give up our table in the nice weather outside and go to sleep. Friday was a bit stressful since when I arrived at school I found out that I was going to have a new student in my class. My students have had the biggest issue with getting along and it has made teaching more challenging as of late. I stayed late on Friday to rearrange the desks in order to see if that will help at all. Once I got home I convinced my roommates to go on a walk with me since it has been in the seventies and staying light out later. After we went for a walk and I made myself dinner it was back to Starbucks to continue to knock out some of my project.

Saturday morning, I stayed in bed for a while after keeping myself up coughing for about two hours. I have not felt 100% for a couple of weeks and am finally thinking I’m on the mend. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my voice comes back and my cough goes away. I went to Caviar and Bananas downtown and sat outside until I finally finished my fifteenth and final entry for the project. I rewarded myself that afternoon with a nap and a nice walk. Saturday night we had plans to go to two of our friend’s apartment before going to a dueling piano bar downtown. Nell called as I was getting ready so it was fun to catch up with her before seeing friends here in Greenville. One thing that I’ve been really loving lately are the girls I’ve gotten to know here in Greenville. We made it a priority to start expanding our group and getting to know girls outside of our major and each of the girls I’ve met have been so sweet. It’s fun to make connections with them and hear about what their college experience was like. It’s also nice that it gets us away from talking about teaching and grad school all the time since we fell into that habit a lot. A big group of us have officially joined a kickball league starting in April to continue to get to know other people our age in Greenville.

Sunday was spent getting some work done from home before being productive with some behind the scenes blogging stuff as well. Ellison and I went to Spill the Beans, an ice cream place, to continue to work with a view of Falls Park in the afternoon. I took a break to call my parents and walk around the park as well. 

Lastly, I want to apologize for the lack of photos in this post as well. My iPhone camera doesn't take the best photos so I often forget to pull it out and document what I'm up to. Hopefully next week I'll have more pictures from the week to share! 

I only have a couple of chapters left in 52 Cups of Coffee, and I fully expect to finish it this week. I’ve found myself dogearing a number of pages and learning a lot in each chapter. If you’re looking for a good, easy read that has life lessons built into it that are particularly applicable for anyone in college or recent graduates I’d recommend reading it.

The second book I’ve been reading was recommended by Nell here. I started it on the plane back to Greenville and am about 150 pages in. Even though I have a long way to go (it’s about the size of a Webster pocket dictionary) I’ve enjoyed reading it for a project for class. I kind of want to send it to my college counselor and one of my high school teachers since I think that they would find it particularly fascinating.

Watching: How To Get Away With Murder
Ellison and I realized that we had some ground to makeup in order to get back on track with the most recent episodes of How To Get Away With Murder. Admittedly, we kind of like binge watching a couple of episodes at a time instead of sitting down on Thursday nights and watching it. We’ve also been watching the Olympics in the background the past couple of weeks which has been a fun change of pace.

Loving: Plann
I’ve been using my iPad a lot more this year than I have in the past. It has always been handy but has been especially useful after discovering the app Plann. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have taken on the role as a social media manager for a boutique PR firm based out of St. Simons Island (follow along @lbhprco). When I first got started I spent time going through the Dropbox of client photos and picking things out to Instagram. I had trouble visualizing everything together which is how I discovered Plann. With the app you can arrange Instagram’s (aka plan them out, hence the name), save hashtags, and read about different best posting practices. If you have a blog or have been looking for something of the likes for your own business I’d definitely recommend it.
The weather has been so nice that it has me itching to wear anything but sweaters to work each day. Before breaking out all of my bright colored blouses too soon I’ve been gravitating towards this crisp white top. I have it in a fun black and white stripe as well and loved the silhouette so much that I quickly picked it up in white when it was released. It’s probably in my best interest that the blush pink is sold out in my size since I love that one as well.

I may not be wearing my bright tops yet but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been shopping for them. The pattern on this top would be so cute now with dark wash jeans and with white jeans as spring finally comes.

Quoting: "If you don't have time to do it right, what makes you think you'll have time to do it over?" - Seth Godin

Monday, February 19, 2018

Step Into My Week

Happy President's Day. I hope that many of you are celebrating with the day off! I am flying back to Greenville this morning after the best long weekend at home. Plenty of sleep, relaxing, and playing with our puppy, Scout, were just what I needed. I am heading back to Greenville knowing that this week will be a bit stressful with part of a project due on Friday, but fortunately with today off, it's a short week!

This school week was tough with student behavior and no voice starting on Monday. Yesterday was the first day I finally had what sounded like my normal voice back so I sure do hope that I don't suddenly lose it again on my way back. I had class on Monday night which didn't help me to get to bed early. Fortunately, after teaching on Tuesday I was able to come home at a relatively normal time and pack to head home the following day. I put everything I needed in a carry on despite wanting to use my monogrammed Mark and Graham suitcase that I got for Christmas. Practicality won out since there was no need to check a bag for such a short trip. After getting everything in order to head out of town, my roommates and I watched the Olympics before I went to bed pretty early.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels like they always have a lot to do in the morning before they head out of town. Because of that, I woke up early on Wednesday and made sure I was all set to leave. I still had no voice which wasn't exactly ideal with the Valentine's day party we had that afternoon and all of the excitement the students had for the schools fundraiser fun run event the following day. Our Valentine's day party went relatively well and come 3:00 I was out the door on the way to the airport. The security line at GSP was slow moving but I made it onto my flight without any issue. With about an hour in Atlanta, I grabbed oatmeal and a coffee before boarding that flight and getting in around 7:20 Alabama time. My parents picked me up from the airport and we stopped for a delightful Valentine's Day dinner at Chickfila on our way home. I got to see Scout, the puppy our family got after Christmas, when I arrived home and boy had she gotten bigger. She's a solid 9 pounds now whereas she was about 4 pounds when I left in January.

Thursday morning I woke up before my mom went to work and had a slow morning with Scout before a dentist appointment. I came back and had lunch at home before heading to a local coffee shop to attempt to get some work done. That afternoon, Scout and I walked along the bay for a little while before coming home. Nell joined my family for dinner before we caught up over ice-cream at one of my favorite ice cream shops in Fairhope (if you haven't seen my guide to Fairhope, AL definitely check it out). She left later that evening and I went to bed pretty early.

Friday I slept in some before spending a decent bit of the morning trying to work on my LinkedIn. LinkedIn has quickly become one of my favorite types of social media. Lame, I know, but I'm ok with that. After trying to get things accomplished Scout and I went on an even longer walk along the bay that afternoon. We were probably gone for about and hour and a half before coming home and enjoying Friday afternoon/night with the family. My mom was sure to make some of my favorite meals while I've been home and I''m not quite ready to go back to cooking for myself since I don't do as well as she does.

Saturday we had a slow morning before heading to an RV show. Back when my brother and I traveled competitively for soccer on the weekends we had considered getting an RV. Although that isn't the case anymore, we decided that would be a fun activity. We went in a bunch of RVs which was entertaining. It really is amazing to see what all they can put into these vehicles. On our way home we stopped for lunch on the bay. When we got home I finished the book I had been reading, Behind Closed Doors (more on that below), before hanging out the rest of that afternoon.

Yesterday my grandparents came to town to join us for lunch. We sat outside for a while with Scout to enjoy the weather before sitting down for lunch. After they left I went to attempt to do a bit of school work to ease my workload once I got back to Greenville (update: was not that successful) before taking Scout on another big walk by the bay. I packed up in the afternoon, got clean, and hung out with my parents before thinking about going to bed in order to wake up early for my flight this morning.

Do y'all feel like y'all were there? I certainly did more this week than most it seems like. I'm hoping that with a lot to do this week, I'll be super focused and get it done so that I can enjoy the upcoming weekend. For a closer look at what I've been up to  I'm including some other favorites below! 


Reading: Behind Closed Doors
Holy cow y'all. I started this book on my flight home on Wednesday and by the time I had gotten off of my second flight I had read about 130 pages. I finished the rest of the book on Saturday afternoon. This was one of the most twisted of psychological thrillers that I've read. It was definitely a page turner and addictive in that sense. 

It's about a seemingly perfect couple in England whose lives seem too put together to be true. Curiosity builds as the couples friends begin to realize that Grace, the wife, is only ever seen with her husband. The house has huge steel shutters but is the most inviting place for dinner parties. The story is told with chapters that go back and forth from present and past. At first I wasn't sure if I'd love this set up, but it ended up telling the story really well. If you've never read a thriller like this then I may not recommend you start with this one, but if you already love this genreI'd highly recommend this book. Know that it is pretty twisted though! 

Watching: n/a
When I am able to come home for a break I tend to take a break from TV (aside from watching whatever my parents are watching at night) and my computer. Because of this, I haven't really been watching much. My roommates and I have been watching some of the Winter Olympic coverage at night. 

Loving: Being at Home
This short break was much needed. I've never been a huge fan of February and the thought of going from January to April without a break at home seemed intimidating. With Friday and Monday off and the ability to take a personal day on Thursday (although it kind of turned out to be a sick day) this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to head home. There's something about waking up in my room, hanging out with my parents, and being back in my hometown that instantly relaxes me. I find it much harder to get work done when in town which means that coming home has started to feel like its own little vacation. 
It has been in the seventies since I got home on Wednesday. It has been so nice and a nice change in the grey weather we had been having in Greenville. With such warm weather, I am especially glad to have thought to pack two pairs of my favorite Lululemon shorts. Honestly, I should have traded the pairs of leggings I packed for extra pairs of these instead. If you've never tried Lululemon's shorts the Tracker Shorts are my favorite. I also really like the Hotty Hot Shorts but I have to order the long version in those. 

Posts From Last Week:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Novels with Nell: The Darlings

Happy Valentine's Day! What a perfect day for a Novels with Nell for anyone looking to make plans for the evening. I was just telling my roommate how I wished that I had more time to read all of the books that have made their way to my Amazon cart. If you're looking for a cozy Wednesday night in, Nell has a new book recommendation for us. 

I just ordered and am looking forward to starting one of her previous recommendations, The Overachievers. It sounded interesting and would work well for a book review project I have to do for one of my graduate classes. I plan to start it today, but I also packed another book, Behind Closed Doors, for my flight this afternoon and I think we can both guess which I'll pick up first. 

By: Cristina Alger

For all the Gossip Girl fans out there, this book is for you! New York City, a high powered family, and scandal. My only issue was that I don’t know a lot about investment firms, hedge funds, and the financial world, so parts of the book covering that were lost on me. But I still really enjoyed the book so you don’t have to work on Wall Street to get into it. With the chapters rotating through different characters’ perspectives, you learn something new and piece the story together with each section. A page turner for sure!

“A sophisticated page-turner about a wealthy New York family embroiled in a financial scandal with cataclysmic consequences.

Now that he's married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position.
But Paul's luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie-will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?
Cristina Alger's glittering debut novel interweaves the narratives of the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all racing to uncover-or cover up-the truth. With echoes of a fictional Too Big to Fail and the novels of Dominick Dunne, The Darlings offers an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society-a world seldom seen by outsiders-and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Two Casual Valentine's Day Outfit Ideas

For once, I actually have plans for Valentine’s Day! Before you get too excited for my social life it’s because I am flying to one of my favorite places to see some of my favorite people. I could be normal and lessen your excitement and anticipation for where and who this might be but we’ll hold off a bit (gotta have some reason to bring you back to the blog).

            To me, Valentine’s Day is what it is. I’m not one to turn down hand written letters and candy so I can’t hate it but it isn’t my favorite holiday of all time either. As a teacher, I feel like I can really play it up. Thinking back to when I was younger, my teachers always had fun sweaters or dresses for the occasion. My mom used to have this awesome Minnie Mouse Valentine’s Day sweater that she would wear to our class parties and if I thought she still had it and my students wouldn’t make fun of me I’d gladly wear it. Since fourth graders can be a bit judgmental I plan to stick to pink hues to celebrate without going too overboard. Since I’ll be going straight from teaching and our class party to the airport for a flight, a casual outfit will be my go-to. Last year we got to wear jeans to school on Valentine’s Day and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that is the case this year as well. If not though, I have found grey corduroys to be a fair and equally comfy option.



pink sweater // grey cords // earrings // slip on shoes // watch // gold bangle (similar) // bracelets (1 & 2 )

I thought it would be fun to share two different casual outfit ideas for you today as you begin to figure out your own plans and the attire you’ll want to wear. This first option is a safe bet for teaching the day of. I discovered this Lou and Grey Sweater on Loft’s site after ruling out so many other blush sweaters that washed me out. When this arrived after being purchased on sale (Loft is always running sales so make sure you search for some sort of code) I was obsessed. I’ve thrown it on more times than I should probably admit in the week or so that I’ve had it. Paired with grey cords (also from Loft) I feel festive, warm, and still normal enough to run an errand after school without getting weird stares. My grey Dr. Scholl’s Slip On shoes have been some of the most comfortable shoes I own for teaching. Fortunately, with a pair of no-see socks they are easy to slip off in order to go through airport security. If you are looking for a casual jean-less outfit then this could definitely work for you.




white sweatshirt top // pink jeans // slip on shoes // gold bangle (similar) // earrings // watch // bracelets (1 & 2 )
            For those of you wanting to look festive but wear your most comfortable pants then this second look may work better for you. I have been living in this white sweatshirt top from Anthropologie. It made my favorite list this month and is incredibly versatile. I’ve worn it out to events and downtown, to school, and even with leggings to run to the store. It comes in three different colors although if your skin tone is similar to mine, I’d steer clear of the pink. Since the pink one washed me out being that close to my face I discovered that a pair of comfy pink jeans was a great alternative to pair with the top. I tend to steer clear of jeans with rips but gave these a try despite that. This top looks equally as cute with the same cords as above in the muted pink color I also snagged. Paired with my favorite slip on shoes this outfit is just as casual and airport friendly for Valentine’s Day (although I’ll wear pink any day).

If you’re a last minute shopper and still on the hunt for gifts, don’t forget to check out my Valentine’s Day Gift Idea post. Meanwhile, I'll be wearing this to bed tonight to wake up festive for tomorrow! 

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