What I’ve Been Reading Lately

flatlay photography of book and cup

I’ve been on a huge reading/audiobook kick lately. I blame it on the grey, rainy days we’ve been having. They make me want to curl up on the couch with coffee and a good book for hours.

Since my evenings are dedicated to wedding planning and cleaning/organizing our house, I decided to download Scrib’d and Libby – two iPhone apps that allow you to listen to audiobooks for little to no cost. They have been life-changing (and I don’t like to use that phrase lightly).

I’m always on the hunt for a good book but don’t visit the library or the bookstore as often as I’d like to. Audiobooks have been a great compromise so I can continue enjoying my hobby without breaking the bank.

I recently added a section to my website called 2018 Bookshelf. In January, I promised myself I would read at least 25 books by the end of 2018. Reading was a huge hobby of mine in high school and college and I wanted to reignite that passion. My 2018 Bookshelf is frequently updated with books I’ve finished this year. I’m also on Goodreads so you can see what I’m currently reading there, as well!

A few recent reads:

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It – Lauren Graham – Anything by Lauren Graham is my favorite. This was a quick read and worth every minute.

What I Know For Sure – Oprah Winfrey – This was suggested by Scrib’d so I thought I’d give it a listen. It was interesting to learn more about Oprah’s background and some lessons she’s learned from being on TV for years.

Where There’s Smoke – Jodi Picoult – I usually love anything by Jodi Picoult so I decided to listen to this short story. I will be honest, I wasn’t a fan of it for a few reasons but the beauty of an audiobook is you don’t physically own the book once you finish it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo – It really is life-changing. While reading this, I found myself wanting to get rid of almost everything I own. It’s a quick way to get inspired and think like a minimalist. I recommend this to everyone and I might have to purchase this one because it is one I would definitely read again.

Advertisements

My First Official 5K

IMG_7150.jpg

Well, I did it!

I ran my first official 5K.

For all you avid runners out there, this is not an impressive feat. A 5K is probably a warm up for most, but for me, it was a goal I’ve wanted to achieve for a while now.

At the beginning of last year (2017), I added “Run an official 5K” to my 101 in 1,001 list and I finally completed it this week.

I “trained” for the 5K the past couple of weeks (AKA I ran 1-2x a week) so going into the race, I knew I could physically complete it.

In my June Monthly Roundup post, I mentioned my 5K goals were to a) run it within 30 minutes and b) run without stopping. I was a few minutes short of completing my time goal, but I didn’t stop!

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the run to affect me mentally, but it did. It was my first official race so trying to find my pace and personal rhythm was challenging with other people running near me. I was able to focus on the goal, but I usually can tune out when running and that didn’t happen this time.

A few running favorites that I have to have in order to run: my Nike sneakers, my favorite running leggings, gum, and water before and after the run.

Fun fact: I don’t typically listen to music while I run! I find it distracting (but maybe I just haven’t found the right mix of songs yet).

What are your running must-haves? Do you have any favorite running songs? Let me know in a comment below!

Monthly Roundup: June Favorites

IMG_6872.jpg

How am I writing another monthly favorites post? I’m telling you, the months are going by so quickly these days…it’s crazy!

June was a fun month, less event-heavy then May but that’s okay. I made some fun memories and checked a few things off of my summer bucket-list in the midst of working and everyday life. It was a fun start to the summer and can only go up from here!


{ONE} Sonic

Yes, a drive-in restaurant made my June favorites list. Why? Because I finally went there with my fiance and a few friends for the first time ever and it was an awesome experience! After seeing the commercials for years, we decided to finally check it out. Marketing works, people. Highly recommend.

{TWO} How I Built This Podcast Series

I am always searching for alternatives to music for commutes. Someone recently recommended the How I Built This podcast series and I am hooked! In each episode, the podcast host interviews a CEO/entrepreneur of a famous brand or company and asks them to share their story of how they got to where they are today. A few of my favorite episodes include Kate Spade, Instagram, The Home Depot, The Knot, and Chuck E. Cheese.

{THREE} 5K Training

I signed up for my first official 5K. While it does not seem like a long distance, this is a pretty big deal for a non-runner like myself. In June I started training for the race (which is in July) and made it my goal to not only run it under 30 minutes, but to do it without stopping. Stay tuned on progress.

{FOUR} Bloom Daily Planners Daily Pad

I won this daily pad on Twitter recently and I absolutely love it. I felt wasteful using each sheet for only a day so I changed up how I use it to accommodate my needs. Instead of a daily pad, I use it as a week-at-a-glance. I fill out my weekly must-dos, important days/times of the week, things to buy, other to-dos, etc. For the meals section, I write “M T W R F” in each subsection so I can document each day’s meals all in one place. I’ve loved it so far and highly recommend it!

Several Months Later

* Several Months Later *Several_Monthes_Later..._

I feel like I am living a Sponge Bob episode where time races forward and the next scene occurs months after the previous scene. AKA I have not written a blog post in several months and a lot has happened since my previous one.

A few months can change a lot of things. For example, my role as a student took its final bow and I received a college degree as proof. My role as job searcher ended, as well, and I accepted a post-grad job with great excitement. My role as Smurf-owner changed, because I bought a new {silver, not blue} car.

If you do not stop to take it all in, life goes by pretty fast. It feels like just yesterday I wrote a blog post about the anxiety I felt before entering college and here I am, * four years later * reflecting on the truth that I left it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 2.18.16 PM

Life goes on after college. That is one fact I had a hard time grasping throughout the last semester or two. It was difficult to imagine a world without homework, exams, group projects, and presentations. To be honest, it has been challenging to get out of the mindset that I start school in the fall. I’m relieved, of course, and very excited — still, it is bizarre to embrace the idea that I’m actually done. Eighteen years of school and *snap* – it’s over.

Life goes on — a truth, a revelation, a promise.

An adult. A real one. I am a full-fledged adult now, but I still feel {sometimes}
like I am 12. Maybe it is because I have not grown since my pre-teen years, or maybe it is because I do not feel “old” like I once thought adults should feel. Nevertheless, it’s official. I’m a college graduate and a new member of this much-talked-about place called, “the real world.” Ready or not, here I come.

In the beginning of the year, I chose three words to help guide me through the next 365 days: First, Risk, and Joy.

My oh my, how perfect those words have been to summarize the many joys, struggles, difficulties, and blessings I have experienced thus far this year. In just these seven months of 2015, I feel like I have been stretched in ways I did not anticipate. Stretched in patience, faith, love, and joy. Stretched in trust, work ethic, focus, and determination. Stretched, stretched, stretched — but stretched in ways that always pointed me towards focusing on the God who gives me strength.

Without firsts, without risks, and without joys, life is pretty dull. As a girl who usually loves routine and order, the idea of risking a comfort zone to try new things can be a true test of what I am made of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.42.51 PMI have a lot of adjusting and stretching to do. Obviously, I am not nearly as stretched as God wants me to be. Every day of life stretches you a little more towards Him. I’ve been stretching my identity to be more then just a piece of resume paper. My identity is more then the tasks I perform, the activities I participate in, and the motions of everyday life. My identity is through Christ, in Christ, alone.

A professor said to my class two weeks before the semester ended this past spring. He said to me, to us, “Stop thinking about what you want to do after college. Who do you want to be?” It struck me. Not because of the question, but because I realized how often I think about the things that need to be accomplished that I often forget to stop and really enjoy the moment.

The ironic part of this sort-of epiphany is how often I have blogged over the years about learning to find the little joys in every day life. It is a constant, life-long battle, and one that requires me to be constantly stretched and tested.

All I know is that I’m excited… and ready.

Another chapter has opened, full of new firsts, risks, and joys.

Let’s do this. IMG_1385

The 3 Words: January and February Review

It’s been two months and five days since 2015 began.

To me, it seems like we rang in the new year yesterday… time flies! But, so far, so good!

Remember when I chose 3 words to focus on in 2015?

Well, like all ‘resolutions,’ keeping them requires time, energy, and evaluation. Here’s a review of how the progress is going…

First.

So far, there have been a lot of firsts. Professionally, I purchased my first stack of business cards from Vistaprint. They were very affordable and extremely easy to customize. But that’s not all! They arrived only a few short days after I ordered them, which made my day enough to take this picture. Another first this year was reading Gone GirlYes Please, and Bossypants. These three books were incredibly well-written, inspiring, and hard to put down– I definitely recommend them. {Check out the entire stack of winter session reads here.} I’m also pleased to announce I’m an official The Skimm Ambassador and a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network {hence the new ‘Networks’ tab on the right of this page}

There have been several personal firsts, as well. I won’t name them all {I know, I know– I’m a terrible person!}, but here are several I will share with you. For one, I had my last first day of school — ever! And, in typical Keri fashion, I found a throwback of my first day of school {pre-K} and created this collage to summarize 18 years of school. Time flies! It has also snowed {a lot} this winter. Actually, it is snowing as I type this– just another snowstorm to add to the list. This was the first snow sunset photo I took this year — winter sunsets take my breath away.

Risk.

Thankfully, physical risk has been nonexistent; although, there have been several times while driving on icy roads that I have been convinced otherwise. This entire semester will be one big, risky adventure, if only for the fact that people keep asking, “What’s next?” It is hard for me to answer this question sometimes, because the unknown is…well, unknown. My need to plan, plan, plan is going out the window, and it really has pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, as my word ‘joy’ will explain, risk is not always a bad thing. It can lead to…

Joy.

My need to plan is a silly one, because God’s plans are far better than mine will ever be. Every time I think I know what the plan is, He patiently reminds me that He has it all under control. His have {and always will} be better than I had ever imagined. From job searching to figuring out what the next chapter entails to everything in between, it is easy to dwell on the question, “What’s next?” It is easy to rush through the little moments of life, but those are the experiences memories are made of. Joy is in the perspective, and 2015 has been the year of God teaching me more about it.

So that’s a {general, brief} overview of the first two months of 2015! If this is foreshadowing to how the rest of the year is going to be, 2015 is going to be a whirlwind of {awesome, exciting} adventure.

How’s 2015 shaping up for you? Let me know by sending a tweet or commenting below!

Slide1

January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?

Guest Post: Courtney Kincaid on Blog Vision

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 7.18.35 PM

A few nights a week, I end my day on Pinterest. Yes, yes, I know, so cliche. I go for inspiration and for ideas, especially when it comes to style and blogging. I stumbled across Courtney Kincaid’s blog, The Everyday Elegance, and was immediately hooked. Her posts are engaging and her entire blog is adorable and fantastic. I noticed she also was working on a 101 in 1,001 list, and being the curious individual that I am, I began reading it. One of them was to write a guest post for another blog, and that’s when I decided I wanted to help her check off this item. I emailed her and before I knew it, she had agreed to guest blog for me, and I, in turn, guest blogged for her (another one of her 101s– you can read my post on The Everyday Elegance here).

Pinterest is fantastic and so is the blogosphere. I’m thrilled to have met a new blogging friend and am honored to welcome Courtney as a guest blogger for KeriBetters.com. Enjoy, and make sure to follow The Everyday Elegance on social media!

///////

Since starting my blog 10 months ago, I have definitely run into some struggles. There were literally days (more like weeks) with 0 page views in the beginning. It wasn’t until about 5 months ago that there were some real issues with my blogging vision. Having a vision is necessary for blogs. Without it, the blogger tends to ramble on and on about nothing. It’s an important foundation when deciding to start or rebrand a blog.

A major part of having a great vision includes two important characteristics: consistency and perseverance. Again, this is something that I struggled with for a long time (Probably May to September of 2014). Unless consistency was structured for me, I wasn’t consistent, and when the comments and page views didn’t happen after a couple of months, I lost my stride.

blog1

  1. Write original content. This seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised that many people are affected by this. I was affected by this. My blog was originally thrown together under the impression that I was “finding what I wanted to do in life and expressing myself in a creative way”, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Until I looked at some of my content and realized that I was simply regurgitating what other bloggers were saying. I was afraid to share my own personal opinions, and because my posts weren’t my own opinions, it was a lot harder for me to come up with content. And because it was a lot harder for me to come up with content, I was less consistent. After a while, I resented my blog because it wasn’t a representation of myself. It wasn’t something I was proud of. This lead to the whole “re-vamping” of my blog. Now I’m getting at least 4 posts up weekly with content that I’m proud of. I’ve found that I’m more inspired and wanting to write posts about things that I love. Find what you love and write about it, whether it be fashion, interior design, social justice, religion. You’ll find that when you write what you’re passionate about, blogging becomes more exciting.
  1. Keep an editorial calendar. It’s necessary. This is coming from someone who was the most disorganized person ever in high school. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of my life could be categorized as “organized clutter”, but here’s the thing: It’s organized in a way that makes sense for me and in a way I can keep track of it. Here’s why you need one: If you don’t have a place that you set deadlines for yourself, you’ll keep pushing back and pushing back until all of your goals seem unreachable. This is true with a number of other things. I’ve found that writing it down (particularly in pen) I’m more likely to keep the deadline.Honestly, there’s nothing worse than scratched out pen in a Kate Spade Agenda. If you’re a digital person, use Google Calendar (or whichever calendar you please)! There are a number of options to keep yourself organized.
  1. Join networks. I’m not kidding, I have never felt more support than I did when I joined two networks over the winter break. Mid-December, I was accepted to HerCampus Blogger Network, and in January I chose to join The Peony Project, a network for Christian Bloggers. Both of these networks over a variety of things and there are thousands of others that fit different niches. From blog design to follow trains and daily encouragement, don’t even question whether or not I should have started my blog. It just seems like a natural source of community for me, and to be able to talk to bloggers who have more skill than I do in areas and learn from them, it’s been a priceless experience.

When I started my blog 10 months ago, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. 10 months ago even 5 months ago, I was still afraid to share that I had a blog. I was afraid to open myself to criticism. But as I’ve joined blogging communities and established my personal vision, I’ve grown. My content has grown, my writing and photography quality has grown, and in turn my readership has grown. Having consistency and perseverance with your vision is vital to the life of your blog. Within a week of having a blog, I quickly realized that this was one of the most challenging things I have faced. Maybe you’ve realized this too. Maybe you wish that you could “get the hang of this whole blogging thing” so it would just be easier. But here’s something important to remember:

blog2

–  Courtney Kincaid

Courtney is a junior studying Social Work at The University of North Texas. She’s excited to have the opportunity to share her story at KeriBetters.com and to have made a new blogging friend through this experience. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to see the latest on food, fashion and her kitten, Queen Bee.