The Charm Offensive: Finding Happily Ever After

Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Reality dating tv shows have just never really been my jam. So many of my friends and sorority sisters look forward to watching The Bachelor or the Bachelorette every Monday night, but I just never really got the appeal, to be honest. So, when I heard about the premise of The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. But it turned out to be my favorite book that I read in the month of August! And that is high praise, because I managed to read a total of 15 books in August, with five of them being 5 star reads for me! So, thank you to my friends at Atria Books for asking me to be a part of the blog tour as we celebrate the release of The Charm Offensive this Tuesday September 7th! I know you guys are going to fall in love with this one!

“Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So, it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.”

The Charm Offensive, Alison Cochrun (Atria Books)

This is hands down one of the best romances that I’ve read this year! I love everything about this novel. I love how much asexual representation was shown in the novel, and even learned about the different forms that asexuality can take.

What struck me most was the focus on mental health and neurodiversity. The characters felt real and I connected to them so quickly. Very often, we see mental health discussed in novels as almost an afterthought. But in The Charm Offensive, we really got to see up close how Charlie and Dev navigate the world and how their mental health issues affect their relationships with others, both in romantic and platonic relationships.

This book was so thoughtfully written with plenty of heart and humor. I cannot wait to see what Alison Cochrun writes next!

Click HERE to pre-order The Charm Offensive from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday September 7th!

A Christmas Adventure: Royal Holiday

Review: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. While this time of year is a difficult one for me since losing my mom, I find comfort in the holiday season and spending it with my family. I feel the most fulfilled when I’m surrounded by Christmas decorations, listening to Christmas music, and playing with my godchildren. Curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and a warm blanket next to the tree watching The Family Stone or Elf is my definition of the perfect cozy night around this time of year. As much as I’ve always been a book lover, I’ve never really been one to go for Christmas themed books for some reason. But now that I’ve really been trying to read more intentionally, I wanted to try some out this year!

I wandered down the book aisle at my local Target and saw a few different options. I saw one that everyone always recommends: Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. But the one that caught my eye the most was Jasmine Guillory’s newest novel, Royal Holiday. The gorgeous green cover was so festive and caught my eye instantly; I had to pick it up! Reading through the summary, I saw that it was actually a romance novel! Now, I love fiction so much but I NEVER go for romance novels. I don’t really know why, but they just have never really interested me much, but I decided to take a chance on this one. I’m so glad I did!

Royal Holiday is about a woman named Vivian, a middle-aged social worker from Oakland, CA. This piqued my interest because I live just over an hour away, so I immediately felt a connection to her story! Her daughter, Maddie, is a stylist and has been hired by the British Royal Family to style the duchess for the Christmas holiday. Since Vivian never takes time for herself, Maddie suggests that she join her! The story takes us along their trip to the gorgeous estate in northern England where the royal family stays for the holidays. There, Vivian is introduced the Queen’s Private Secretary, Malcolm Hudson. Their chemistry is real from the beginning, but their lives are an ocean apart. The novel takes us through their romance with the end of Vivian and Maddie’s trip looming over them.

My favorite part about the novel is that it brought back that feeling of winter vacation as a kid when you had no responsibilities and were able to escape reality and get lost in the magic of Christmas. It also showed readers how important it is to not only treat yourself from time to time, but to be able to let go a bit and be open to new experiences, no matter your age. It gave readers a portrait of a fun, respectful romance between two partners who learned how to communicate well in a healthy way. I think we all need more examples of that. Overall, this was a sweet, romantic story about a couple learning to overcome the challenge of time and distance. I recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of romance novels, Christmas themed books, or both. It’s also a great introduction into the world of romance novels because this was my first one! I’m open to others now that I’ve tried one out! It was a quick read, I finished it in under a week so it’s perfect even for those of you that have a busy holiday season. So, you can read a bit here and there between baking Christmas cookies and finishing your holiday shopping and wrapping! It was a fun, festive read that helped get me even more in the Christmas spirit.  

Shop the Christmas books & movies referenced in this post!

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The Testaments: The Book I’ve Waited 10 Years For

Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

As they say, history does not repeat itselfbut it rhymes.

Margaret Atwood – The Testaments

I have loved reading ever since I learned how. As a child, I loved to be read to by both of my late grandfathers, I read anything I could get my hands on, and I started a pretty healthy book collection even when I was young, thanks to my family. I’ve loved books my entire life. When I was in high school, I took honors English classes and decided to take AP English my senior year. When I got my class schedule the first day of school in 12th grade, my friends and I saw that we were in AP English, but we did not have the teacher that we expected to have. Mrs. Hanna was a surprise to us that day but she ended up being one of the few teachers I’ve had that changed my life. Her love of literature and the way that she taught us to read and write about it ignited a passion for reading that was far beyond what I expected. She taught incredible classics that year, but the one that will forever stand out in my mind is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

To this day, I can confidently say that it is still my favorite book of all time. I’ve always loved dystopian novels but something about the way this was written was special. It’s so dense in prose and somehow beautifully and viscerally gets to the essence of what it is like to experience life as a woman. Published in 1985 by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale quickly became a classic. Set in the not-so-distant future, it gives us a glimpse into what could happen if the country was taken over by a theocracy where women have no rights. America is no longer, and Gilead has taken its place. Women’s only purpose is to bare children in a society where birth rates have plummeted. Fertile women who are unmarried or have what the government has deemed as “moral stains” are forced to serve the men of the upper class as handmaids. They are ritualistically raped every month by the Commander of their household in the presence of the Wife in order to bare children for the family. Our narrator through this terrifying journey is a handmaid named Offred who gives us deep insight into the mind of a woman who is held captive in a world that only values her ability to produce children. I can never praise The Handmaid’s Tale enough. If you have made it to this point in your life and haven’t read it yet, stop what you’re doing and get your hands on a copy.

In 2017, to my absolute surprise and delight, Hulu released a TV series based on the novel. I was skeptical because this is my favorite novel of all time. But when I watched the first episode, I was absolutely blown away. The care that the show makers have taken to give the viewers such a beautifully, terrifying experience is true art. Now the first season of the show ends with the end of the novel. The show has now completed three full seasons and is already hard at work on season four (Praise be!) which means that they have moved beyond the original novel. Now, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to know what happened after the end of the novel, but I wanted to know what Margaret Atwood herself would write.

Well last year I found out that we would get just that: The Testaments. I was ecstatic. I had always longed for a sequel but I truly never thought we would get one. I had countdowns set for the September 10th release date, I pre-ordered my copy, and bought tickets to my local theater to watch the live interview with Margaret Atwood from London. When the book was released, I could not wait to get to my local bookstore to pick up my copy after work, so naturally, I also purchased the audiobook so that I could listen on my commute and all day at work. Once I was off work, I drove over to Barnes & Noble to pick up my copy and read during any spare moments I had. Between listening to the audiobook and reading whenever I could, I finished that 415-page-long book in less than 24 hours.

Without spoiling plot for either book, The Testaments is told from the perspectives of three different women: Aunt Lydia, a woman in the upper ranks of Gilead; Agnes, a young girl brought up in Gilead; and Daisy; a girl that was raised in Canada. The three different perspectives offer a wider range of voices and experiences in relationship to the theocracy that is Gilead. The story of The Testaments takes place fifteen years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale so we are truly able to see how the society has evolved, grown, and developed. I have never anticipated and craved a book like I did with The Testaments. But like many highly anticipated novels, there is the possibility of disappointment. While I have only waited ten years, many have waited 34 years for this book.

Overall, I loved The Testaments. Having the opportunity to dive back into Margaret Atwood’s world of Gilead and her beautiful prose was what I craved, and I was so grateful for it. The thing that I hoped to get out of the book was a greater understanding of the foundation and inner-workings of Gilead as a régime and Atwood definitely delivered in a beautiful way. Now, some of the writing felt slightly juvenile, but I got the feeling that it was intentional given the age of two of our narrators. The thing that surprised me the most was that there were huge plot points taken from the later seasons of the TV show that ended up in the books. I never in a million year would have expected her to do this. Now with that being said, I don’t think you have to watch the show to understand The Testaments, although I HIGHLY recommend the show! I think both novels and the show can stand on their own. I recommend The Testaments to fans of Margaret Atwood and fans of The Handmaid’s Tale. If you are hoping for a perspective similar to Offred’s and pacing similar to the original novel, you will be disappointed. The Testaments is much more fast-paced and plot-driven than The Handmaid’s Tale. But if you are hoping to gain a better understanding of Gilead and the world-building aspect of that society, you will love The Testaments. While I know many readers were severely underwhelmed and disappointed with this release, it was exactly what I hoped to get out of it, and for that I am grateful that Margaret Atwood is still with us and was able to release this highly anticipated sequel to one of the greatest classics of all time.

Shop the books referenced in this post!

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From a Member of the Dead Moms Club

Review: The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir About Death, Grief, & Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer

And the fifth and final rule of the Dead Moms Club? You’re totally allowed to side-eye all people who say, ‘At least she’s in a better place now.’ Screw them. Welcome. I’m so sorry you’re here.

Kate Spencer – The Dead Moms Club

As some of you may know if you’ve read my previous blog posts, I lost my mom two years ago. It was incredibly sudden, unexpected, and utterly heartbreaking. Soon after we lost her, a friend who had also recently lost her own mom added me to a Facebook group for daughters grieving their mothers. I didn’t participate in the group much at first, but one day I was seeking some guidance (and you all know I love to read) so I reached out and asked everyone if there were any books that they recommended.

The first two that kept coming up were books that had already been gifted to me by my dear friend and leadership coach, Amanda King, who lost her mom when she was my age. The first was Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman. This one is more research based and discusses the commonalities between women who have lost their mothers whether from death, abandonment, or estrangement. The second was I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping, & Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, PhD. This particular book is more of a how-to manual for getting through any type of sudden death of a loved one and provides helpful next steps to the reader.

The third book that kept coming up was The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer. When this was first recommended, I’ll admit that I was taken aback by the title. It sounded so harsh. That’s definitely not the club I want to be a part of, but I have no choice, I am a member. I looked it up and the reviews sounded great so I immediately purchased a copy. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. The author Kate Spencer has the incredible ability to tell her painful story in a way that is all at once heartbreaking, comforting, and hilarious. There is something to be said about comedians writing about difficult topics. Their observance and honesty allow them to be unbelievably relatable to their readers. Kate talks all about helping her mother through her last days as she battled cancer and the aftermath of her death.

When I hear stories of those that have lost a parent to cancer or long-term illness, I feel a strange envious feeling. I feel terrible for being jealous of those circumstances but I so desperately wish I had time to get used to the idea that I could lose my mom before it happened. I had absolutely no warning whatsoever. But the truth is that never can ever prepare you for the loss of your mother. We all thought my mom was perfectly healthy. I just got a phone call in the middle of the night saying that paramedics were at my family’s house trying to revive her. A loss like that felt impossible to process.

I am currently writing this blog post on November 24, 2019. Today is exactly two years after I saw and spoke to my mom for the very last time. My mom was at our local bowling alley where she bowled on a team with my sister, my grandma, my cousin, and our family friend just like every other Friday night. This was the day after Thanksgiving and I went down there to hang out with the family like I always did. We watched them bowl and all laughed together like we always did. Since it was black Friday, my sister, her boyfriend (now fiancé), and one of our best friends decided to go to Target after we were done to do some shopping. After they finished bowling, we all walked my mom and grandma out to their cars like we always did. I hugged my mom and said “Good night, see you later” and she said “I love you, be safe” and we left.

The next day I was busy at home and getting Christmas shopping done so we didn’t talk that day. That night at 1:48AM, I got the call that altered our lives forever. There is no way to prepare for that news. After we were told she was gone at the hospital, I drove to my apartment, packed a bag, and headed to my grandma’s house in the middle of the night to stay with her for the week. I was terrified that the unimaginable loss of her youngest child would be too much to bear and that we’d lose her that same week. After all, I was the one that had to called her to tell her that her baby died. The shock of everything kept me busy. I did every single thing that I could control and that I thought my mom would do in that situation. I planned her vigil, funeral service, burial, and reception. I wrote her obituary for the local paper and her eulogy which I delivered to a full catholic church filled with 400 attendees. I went back to work after only taking a few days off and even went back to my classes after only 2 days to take final exams.

I stayed busy because the overwhelming loss was too much to face and bear. I’m very proud of how her services turned out because they were as beautiful as she deserved and I can rest knowing we honored her properly. But it came with a hefty price. After I began therapy, I learned that I did not get to skip my grief, it was just delayed. And that at some point, I would have to go through those five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though they may happen out of order, I would eventually have to experience them. But books like The Dead Moms Club help so much.

There are far too many of us in this club. So many of my friends and authors who have also lost their own mothers at a young age like I did, have helped me immensely through their courage and honesty. They inspire me to be vulnerable and open enough to share my own story. I only hope that it helps the next person to experience this terrible tragedy. If you have lost your own mother or a loved one, know that my inbox is ALWAYS open for you. I hope that you have the courage to reach out and ask for help, because that is true strength. Our power rests in our community and seeking help when we need it. Those who share similar experiences have the ability to help give tangible steps to processing tragedy, taking care of yourself, and reaching true happiness and acceptance again. I promise you that is happy to reach a place where you are content with your life and use your tragedy to propel you. We have to honor our loved ones that we have lost by living our best lives. And if you are lucky enough to have a good relationship with your own mother and she is still here, I hope that you cherish it as much as you possibly can, while you still can.

If you have lost your own mother or a loved one, I highly recommend these books to you. You can order them here:

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The Intentional Pursuit of Happiness

Review: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, & Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence

I have had countless people recommend Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project to me so I was already intrigued. One day while my ex-boyfriend and I were on our anniversary trip to Napa County, we stopped at the most incredible bookstore in Petaluma (Copperfield’s Bookstore) that was filled with new and used books. I found three amazing titles on sale (each for less than $10, score!) that I had been wanting: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips, and of course, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was so excited to find these. Wandering through bookstores is one of the things in life that makes me the happiest. When I got home, I knew I wanted to get to these books ASAP. I ended up starting Big Magic first, because I’ve heard such great things and I love Elizabeth Gilbert.

But after I started it, I found myself extremely curious about The Happiness Project. In my own life, I’ve also started taking action to make myself feel better (emotionally, mentally, and physically) by participating in Rachel Hollis’s Last 90 Days Challenge. You can read all about it in my first blog post when I reviewed Girl, Stop Apologizing. But the basics are that for the last 90 days of the year, I do her 5 to Thrive items every single day: drink half my body weight in ounces of water, write down 5 things I’m grateful for, move my body for at least 30 minutes, wake up an hour earlier than usual and use that time for myself, and give up one category of food that I know I shouldn’t be eating. I’m not even quite halfway through the 90 days yet, but I can already tell you that I feel better than I ever have before. So, I knew that Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project was all about her doing her own version of intentionally seeking happiness for a full year.

I couldn’t wait to finish Big Magic to start it so I decided on the next best thing: to listen to the audiobook! I know that some people don’t think that audiobooks count as reading, but for those of us with busy lives, they are the perfect way to get in more books that we want to read but may not be able to get to. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the career that I do. I work for an incredible company estimating on large multi-million-dollar construction projects. But this means that I spend 8+ hours a day estimating on my computer, staring at construction plans & drawings all day. I love it, I truly do. And a bonus to this job is that I can listen to music while I’m working and better yet, listen to audiobooks! Yes! This means I can be “reading” for the entire 8-hour work day while getting my work done! It’s a win-win for me! My favorite types of audiobooks to listen to are non-fiction, personal development books. I love these books and I find that I get even more motivated listening to the author read them aloud and I feel even more motivated to work hard at work! The Happiness Project ended up being perfect for this.

Gretchen Rubin is a writer from New York City. She left a career in law clerking for Sandra Day O’Conner to pursue her passion to become a writer. She began to ask herself if it was possible to intentionally make herself happier. She decided to embark on a yearlong mission to design a life and take specific action in order to become happy. Is this possible? Can you come up with a plan and just decide to be happy, and then actually feel true happiness? The answer that she found (and I too, found this year) is YES. Gretchen’s project was far more ambitious than just 90 days though. She settled on actively pursuing happiness for a full year. She makes clear that her action plan is specific to her and that anyone can do their own happiness project, and that everyone’s personal project would look different based on their own lives, needs, and dreams. For Gretchen, she focused on a different area each month: January – Vitality, February – Marriage, March – Work, April – Parenthood, May – Leisure, June – Friendship, July – Money, August – Eternity, September – Books, October – Mindfulness, November – Attitude, & December – Happiness. To be successful and keep herself grounded, she gave herself Twelve Commandments to keep in mind throughout the process, such as “enjoy the process….lighten up….there is only love” and another list she calls “The Secrets of Adulthood” including helpful life lessons such as “It’s ok to ask for help…Bring a sweater…Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” These basic principles helped to guide her journey and stay grounded.

Every month, she kept a short list of action items to be able to tackle the overall theme of the month. She refers to each of these action items as resolutions. This helped her to keep them at the forefront of her mind and attempt to pursue them with intentionality all month long and then to continue to pursue them in the months that followed. She found that although she didn’t always keep her resolutions 100% of the time, by remembering her commitment she was able to continue on and improve in those areas far beyond what she had before. And after her year was over, she truly felt happier!

I learned an incredibly valuable lesson this year from both Gretchen Rubin, Rachel Hollis, and a few other authors as well: you are the only one that can make yourself happy. There are life circumstances that are out of our control. I know this as well as anyone. I cannot control that I have anxiety, I cannot control that I experienced difficult childhood trauma that resulted in PTSD, I cannot control that my perfectly beautiful, healthy mom went to bed one night over Thanksgiving weekend and died in her sleep, I cannot control that the trauma of that night compounded my existing PTSD and made it more complex. But do you know what I can control? I can control my daily habits, I can decide to pursue things that I already know make me happy, I can seek help in the form of a therapist, I can talk to my family, friends, and boyfriend when I need support. But the biggest lesson that I learned is that I have to be INTENTIONAL. I can’t just say “I’m sad, life has been so hard, when will I ever be happy again?” I have to say “I’m going to actively do things to MAKE myself happy. No one can or should do it for me.”

One of my favorite Rachel Hollis quotes is “If you’re unhappy, that’s on YOU.” That may sound harsh to someone that has experienced life’s difficulties and traumas. But I am here to tell you that it is true. I was grieving and very unhappy for a while even though I had beautiful things in my life. But I was spending time trying to self-soothe and to make myself feel better in the moment. I was not actively doing things that were actually good for me. Once I realized that there were simple things that I could choose to do every day, I felt so powerful. I realized that I’ve been yearning to feel happy again. While Rachel Hollis’s ideas were about specific daily habits and Gretchen Rubin’s ideas were about creating a plan for the year and building on what she learned, the overall idea is intentionality. You have to have specific things in your life that you are doing that will make you happy ON PURPOSE. No one can do them for you. As Gretchen Rubin says towards the end of the book: “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life. When I made the effort to reach out for them, I found out that the ruby slippers had been on my feet all along…” Both Girl, Stop Apologizing and The Happiness Project are great personal development books because they truly help to give you an actual action plan. So many books seek to be helpful by introducing powerful concepts, but these books give you specific action items that you can do right now to change your life. And that is endlessly powerful.

Here are a few of my favorite resolutions that Gretchen pursued during her year of her Happiness Project:

  1. Toss, restore, organize
  2. Tackle a nagging task
  3. Fight right
  4. Launch a blog (oh hey!!!)
  5. Work smart
  6. Take time for projects
  7. Take time to be silly
  8. Be generous
  9. Keep a gratitude notebook
  10. Make time

Check out all the awesome books referenced in this post!!!

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This Book Changed My Life Forever. No, Seriously.

Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing & Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

As most women do, I struggle with a truly horrible habit: I am constantly saying “sorry”. I say “I’m sorry” and apologize for EVERYTHING. I apologize for almost bumping into someone in Target, for asking a family member for something I need, and even for what I perceive as inconveniencing anyone at all, even in the most minor of ways. My ex-boyfriend constantly told me to stop apologizing because I have nothing to be sorry for. And the thing is: I know this! But as women, we feel this need to over apologize for everything. I am constantly working on stopping this habit but it has been ingrained in me since childhood.

One day I saw a Facebook ad for a new book that was coming out called Girl, Stop Apologizing and I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my (then) boyfriend telling him, “Wow, this looks like a book written for me!” I looked up the synopsis and decided that I needed to read it ASAP. The day the book was released, I went to my favorite Target location and purchased it immediately. I did not know much about the author Rachel Hollis so I did a quick Google search and realized she also wrote the New York Times Bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. I saw that several of my sorority sisters and friends had read this so I looked into her further and saw how much she has helped women with her honesty, relatability, and tangible advice for living your best life as your truest self.

I started Girl, Stop Apologizing as the second book in my “12 Books in 2019” goal I had set for myself and was instantly captivated by what she had to say. Rachel discusses her successes and failures in building her career and personal life and gives true step-by-step advice on how to achieve your goals. She laid the book out in three easy-to-read parts titled “Excuses to Let Go Of”, “Behaviors to Adopt”, and “Skills to Acquire”. In each section, she includes a chapter for each excuse to let go of, behavior, and skill needed to stop apologizing for who you are and to start pursuing your dreams.

Of all the topics that she covered, the one that struck me the most was the idea of habits. She discusses a set of five daily habits she has called the “5 to Thrive”. These include drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, moving your body for 30 minutes, waking up an hour early to use the time for yourself, giving up one category of food to prove that you can, and writing down five things you are grateful for. As simple as these things are, they are tasks that have to be done with intentionality. On her social media platforms, she was promoting a challenge called “The Last 90 Days” where from October 1st through the end of the year, you complete every one of the 5 to Thrive items every single day. The idea is to start the new year off as your best self, rather than waiting until January 1st to start an unrealistic goal after recovering from the holidays. If you can change your habits, you can change your life.

I was skeptical but I was looking for a life change of some sort. My life was going ok. On the surface it was great: I’m living in a house with two incredible friends, I have the job I set out for and I’m learning every day, and I have an amazing family. But over a year of unresolved grief from the traumatic loss of my mother and childhood hardship, coupled with a severe lack of self-care was causing me to feel stuck and like I was not able to enjoy my life as much as I should be able to.

I found a therapist that I love who challenged and encouraged me to take small steps towards my health and wellness. When I read about the Last 90 Days Challenge, I knew this was EXACTLY what I needed. I’m currently writing this post on October 26th which means I’m not even a third of the way through the challenge but I can already tell you that it is truly and utterly life-changing. Yes, it sucks to wake up early, to make it a priority to workout even when I don’t want to, and it’s super inconvenient to have to run the bathroom all day long because HELLO, drinking that much water means that’s what happens. But I have never felt better in my entire life.

I know what you’re thinking: “You mean to tell me those little things changed you after only 26 days?” Yes, they did. And I’m not even a third of the way done with this. The power of this challenge is in the habits. Doing these little things every day is what got me to prioritize my health, my mental state, and my overall well-being. I start my day early, but with gratitude. During my one hour every day I list 5 specific things I’m grateful for, do some goal setting journaling, plan my day, meditate, and read a non-fiction personal development book. Then I get ready for work and start my day coming from a place of taking care of myself. I drink water ALL DAY LONG and I get in a great 30-minute workout after work. I am happier than I’ve been in so long and probably ever. There is such power in taking care of yourself intentionally and doing things that make you feel good. I am better able to show up for my life and others when I take care of myself and pour into my wellness. Whatever form this takes for you, I hope you find a daily routine or ritual that fulfills you every day with gratitude, self-care, and intentionality and you will start to see all the beautiful things in your life to appreciate fully.

This book is great for all women, honestly, but especially if there is something that you dream about in your life but you just don’t know where to begin. Personal development is something that everyone should strive for but sometimes books on the topic are more abstract or concept based and don’t always tell you exactly what methods to use to grow. Rachel Hollis give true tangible tools to use in your every day life and teaches her readers to create a road map to achieve big, audacious dreams using exactly what they have right now with who they are and their own tenacity.

Have you read Girl, Stop Apologizing? If so, what did you take away from it and what are some of your big dreams and goals? If not, do you plan to read it? I also did end up reading Girl, Wash Your Face. Let me know if you would like me to cover that as well!

And don’t forget: Your existence is to be celebrated. Don’t you ever apologize for it.

About the Author

My name is Lea and I am a 29-year-old living in northern California with a lifelong love for books. In college I majored in English literature & sociology with a minor in gender studies. But even with this liberal arts background, I somehow ended up in an unexpected career in the electrical construction industry working with some pretty incredible people. I have been wanting some sort of a creative outlet to help myself heal from some pretty tough life experiences and I have truly missed writing; so here we are! My hope is that my writings will help someone else who has experienced trauma or hardship to feel less alone. Our traumas do not define us, but the lessons they teach us help us to grow. My mom unexpectedly and suddenly passed away on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. I also had some major unresolved childhood difficulties that have affected me into adulthood resulting in complex PTSD and anxiety. But even through all this, I have found true happiness in gratitude, learning to care for myself, and being excited about the future despite life’s adversities. This is by no means an easy journey, I must admit. But I was able to begin my healing process through reading, therapy, and reaching out. Asking for and seeking help is not admitting weakness; it is showing immense strength and resilience.

Life Meets Literature is where you can find book reviews, recommendations, and how those books have shaped me and helped to heal me. I will be writing about fiction, non-fiction, and even audiobooks. There will be some personal posts mixed in when they are relevant. I also wanted to write about what you want to read about! If there is a book that you want to know more about or a topic you want my perspective on, reach out to me on Instagram or via e-mail. I want to write content that you want to read!

Instagram: @LifeMeetsLiterature

E-mail: LifeMeetsLiterature@gmail.com

Some quick facts about me:

Favorite book – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Favorite genre – dystopian novels

Degree – BA in Sociology & English Literature with a minor & concentration in Gender Studies from the University of the Pacific 

Favorite Bookstore I’ve discovered so far – Copperfield’s Books in downtown Petaluma