Seeing the Good

Josie Feather

I have a lot of goals for 2019. 

I tend to do that. Stack my goal list like I stack my bookcase - unwilling to accept that I might have too much on it, and maybe I should stop adding to it (spoiler alert, I won’t - especially when it comes to the book case). 

But I’m trying to cut down how many goals I add to each area of my life. So this year I’m focusing on one big personal growth goal: being a more positive person. 

As those that have known me closely for a long time can tell you, sarcasm is my main language, with English coming in a distant second. I can be snarky and more than a little pessimistic. On a more serious note, I’ve also struggled with chronic and sometimes debilitating depression for most of my life, which has often made it hard for me to see the good. 

Last year I made some big life changes that have really helped me to gain control over my depression and anxiety. It certainly hasn’t made it completely disappear, but It’s been truly amazing to finally feel more clear headed on a daily basis. However, having that clarity has helped me realize how naturally negative I can be. I can quickly get sucked into letting the little things eat away at me and zap all the enjoyment out of daily living. I’ve had my sights set on this little goal of mine for the last few months and I’ve already noticed a big difference by just being more conscious of it. I definitely still getting sucked into that vortex of negativity at times (you don’t even want to talk to me when I’m hangry, let me tell ya) but I’ve already noticed I’ve been happier and more content on a daily basis, and better at warding off those little annoyances.

Part of this goal of mine is that I’m also working specifically to be positive towards myself this year. I’ve lived my life with a constantly string of negative thoughts about myself running through my brain at all times. I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough. Truthfully, this voice has felt beyond my control. A little bird sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. I just can’t get rid of it, or maybe I’m even a little afraid to ask it to scram since it’s been with me so long.

Part of my plan to try to change how my brain instinctively thinks with these things is by repeating a little positive mantra in my head whenever I feel those nasty thoughts make their way in. I know, way cheesy, and feels more than a little hippie-ish. But what do I have to loose? Feeling a little silly to myself? Nothing changes unless you make it change, and even if some of the things I try don’t help so much, then at least I can cross those off the list and move on to the next method to try.

More than anything in 2018 I learned that I don’t want to be the person content with always being the same. Change it good, and if I’m not striving to be a better person, then I’ll always feel stuck in the same place, being annoyed by the same things, having the same arguments, and never being able to fully enjoy all those silly but beautiful things in life.

The Books of 2018

2018 Book List

I’ve always loved books. As a kid, I remember spending hours carefully combing through the scholastic catalogue to decide what titles I would beg my mom to buy for me. I have fond memories of my mom taking all of us to the library for an afternoon and I would spend hours sprawled out of the floor surrounded with stacks of books, with the delusion of somehow getting through all of them that afternoon. I’ve probably spent more in library late fees then I have in makeup during my lifetime.

Somehow that got a little lost as an adult. I still loved reading but “never had the time”. So two years ago I decided I needed some goals. I’ve found that basically nothing gets done in my life if I don’t have goals or checklists. Is my nerd showing yet?

Two years ago I started small, just making 25 my goal, and still I didn’t quite hit it, only reading 19, but I decided to double by goal anyway to 50 for this year. Guess what? Still didn’t hit that goal, but I’d say getting in 38 and doubling the amount I read from the year before still counts as a win.

This year I tried to focus on diversifying my reading too. I can easily get caught up in reading the same type fo book over and over again, so I tried to pick up something different every time I finished one. If I finished a fiction, I’d grab a non fiction. If I finished a true crime, I’d grab a self help book. I know if I didn’t make myself I’d probably just read Harry Potter over and over again.

So here it is, my book list of 2018

  • “Not a Sound” Heather Gudenkauf

  • “Girl, Wash Your Face” Rachel Hollis 

  • “At the Waters Edge” Sara Gruen

  • “Trigger Warning” Neil Gaiman 

  • “The Creative Curve” Allen Gannett 

  • “Here Lies Daniel Tate” Cristin Terrill

  • “The Alienist” Caleb Carr

  • “Go Set a Watchman” Harper Lee

  • “The Night Gardener” Jonathan Auxier

  • “The Fountainhead” Ayn Rand

  • “Onward” Howard Schultz

  • “Devil in the White City” Erik Larson

  • “Stolen Innocence” Elissa Wall

  • “I Suck at Girls” Justin Halpern 

  • “Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng

  • “Furiously Happy” Jenny Lawson

  • “Lost Girls” Robert Kolker 

  • “True Story” Michael Finkel

  • “Chasing the Devil” David Reichert

  • “Pointing from the Grave” Samantha Weinberg

  • “The Graveyard Book” Neil Gaiman 

  • “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” Michelle Macnamara 

  • “Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg 

  • “Extraordinary Ordinary People” Condeleezza Rice

  • “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” Caitlin Doughty

  • “Shutter Island” Dennis Lehane 

  • “My Life Among Serial Killers” Helen Morrison

  • “Above Suspicion” Joe Sharkey

  • “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” Mindy Kaling 

  • “Misery” Stephen King

  • “Smarter Faster Better” Charles Duhigg

  • “In a Dark, Dark Wood” Ruth Ware

  • “Monstrous Creatures: The World of Lore” Aaron Mahnke

  • “Good Omens” Neil Gaiman + Terry Pratchett

  • “Paddle Your Own Canoe” Nick Offerman

  • “Greenglass House” Kate Milford 

  • “American Heiress” Jeffrey Toobin 

  • “A Life in Parts” Bryan Cranston 

And just for fun, here are two favorites by category (because I can never pick just one)

Fiction - “Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng & “Good Omens” Neil Gaiman + Terry Pratchett

True Crime - “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” Michelle Macnamara & “Above Suspicion” Joe Sharkey

Self Help -  “Girl, Wash Your Face” Rachel Hollis & “Smarter Faster Better” Charles Duhigg

True Story & Biography - “American Heiress” Jeffrey Toobin & ““Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg

If you’re trying to get yourself to read more, I definitely would suggest starting with some goals, something challenging but still realistically attainable based off of how much you’ve been reading already, and then up your goal as you progress. I have so many books on my “to be read” list, hopefully this year I make a big dent in it - although I have a feeling I’ll just find more to fill it up anyway :)

Seven Years Later

I started blogging seven years ago. SEVEN YEARS AGO.

geez louise, it’s crazy to think about that.

In the beginning I was just having fun, making crafts, showing off whatever crazy outfit I put together that day, and generally just experimenting. It was great. Then that whole blog craze kicked up - remember that? Everyone and their moms were blogging, and all the sudden businesses were throwing money at bloggers like it was a rap music video in the 90s. It felt like you had to blog every day of the week and had to find your niche like, yesterday.

I tried for a while to keep up, and even had a bit of moderate success, but eventually life caught up to me and I felt a little burnt out on the whole thing. I also ended up loosing my .com URL, but we won’t talk about that. Over the last few years I’ve been more focused on my career, my marriage, and also refocusing on my health and figuring out what that means for me. Blogging fell way to the bottom of the list, and most times, off of it completely.

When I did try to blog I found it was not something I was passionate about. Or, at least, I wasn’t passionate about blogging the same types of things I had in the past. I do still love putting together an outfit on occasion, but style is not something I think too much about anymore. Crafts, well, let’s just say the minimalist in me has put a stop to making anything I think might not be used. All of those things were great for me to explore in the past, but they’re just not me anymore.

So. Where does that leave me? I’ve thought at times about completely shutting down my blog. I mean, we’re well past the prime of blogs here. Yes, there still some mega blogs left that still make it work, but the day of the little blogger getting big seems to be behind us.

You know what? I kind of like that.

All that pressure of needing to “build your blog” is gone. True, there are way less people reading blogs these days, but is that really what it all needs to be about? I don’t think so. The blog started as a way for me to experiment and push myself, not have followers or make money, so why can’t it be that again?

One of my big goals for 2019 is to make writing a daily habit. I used to absolutely love daily journaling in high school, and I’ve always had these far off dreams of really pushing myself with writing, but, I’m going to be way honest here, I’ve been terrified. You may notice this post is hundreds of words longer then anything else I’ve ever shared on this blog. That’s because I’ve always been so afraid to actually put something that truly means something to me out there. But it’s time for that to change.

So I will be back blogging, but it’s going to look a lot different. Lots of words, not nearly as many pretty pictures (although, probably still some, since I still love photography and, heck, I’m a professional stylist for goodness sake). Those of you who have followed me in the past may not be interested in it or like it, that’s totally okay. Feel free to move along, unfollow, or do whatever else you need to. My husband and grandmother may be the only people who bother to read any of this, and that’s totally okay too.

So I’ll be here writing away, maybe oversharing, most definitely tripping over my own words. It may be weird and a little painful for a while, but just like I’ve learned with running, eventually it’ll get easier, and may even be great.