We haven’t been in touch since Valentine’s Day, when I gave you a mix CD and then disappeared. Sorry to love you and leave you like that, but my family didn’t call me “The Kissing Bandit” in high school for nothing!
A lot’s been going on since Sweetheart’s Day! We’ve had company, we’ve been working, I auditioned for a play, I didn’t run a 5k (oops), we’ve started using the Cesar Millan philosophy in an effort to become pack leaders with our dogs, and today, we went to Smiley’s Flea Market.

This Fletcher flea market is a WNC treasure, and my dad pretty much demands a trip every time he comes to visit us. We saw flowers, fresh fish, video games and video tapes, extreme couponers, probably hoarders, and old men who we’re pretty sure only rent booths to shoot the breeze every weekend. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and the morning spent walking around, browsing through trinkets and toys and pocket knives was a perfect end to a hectic month.
I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled writing soon. There are several exciting projects on my horizon, and I’m excited to get started on March! I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be my lucky month.
(Get it? March? Lucky? Of course you do.)
Original Article

We haven’t been in touch since Valentine’s Day, when I gave you a mix CD and then disappeared. Sorry to love you and leave you like that, but my family didn’t call me “The Kissing Bandit” in high school for nothing!

A lot’s been going on since Sweetheart’s Day! We’ve had company, we’ve been working, I auditioned for a play, I didn’t run a 5k (oops), we’ve started using the Cesar Millan philosophy in an effort to become pack leaders with our dogs, and today, we went to Smiley’s Flea Market.

This Fletcher flea market is a WNC treasure, and my dad pretty much demands a trip every time he comes to visit us. We saw flowers, fresh fish, video games and video tapes, extreme couponers, probably hoarders, and old men who we’re pretty sure only rent booths to shoot the breeze every weekend. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and the morning spent walking around, browsing through trinkets and toys and pocket knives was a perfect end to a hectic month.

I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled writing soon. There are several exciting projects on my horizon, and I’m excited to get started on March! I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be my lucky month.

(Get it? March? Lucky? Of course you do.)

I Can Do Anything Good: January

I’m a very goal-oriented person. Clearly. I set goals all the time in 2011, and it seemed like each month ended with a bulleted list of reasons for not achieving my goals.  Lesson learned: I know that in order to achieve the goals I set for myself, I need to have a certain level of accountability…

So, here are the goals I set for 2012 at the beginning of the year.

And here’s how I’m doing so far:

Reach my goal weight by June 1

So far, so good! I realize that it may come off a little vain or brainwashed by magazine culture to have my weight at the top of my list of resolutions for 2012, so I want to clarify. This isn’t about me weighing what the gossip magazine and television industry says I should weigh – I don’t want to be a scary skinny bobblehead who survives on, like, kale and pickles and lemon juice. This is about my health, my willpower, and my need to stop eating so much pizza and drinking so much beer.

All that said, I lost 5 lbs. in January. Success!

12 in 12

Mom and I ran the Greenville News 5k, and my official time clocked in at 41:53 with a pace of 13:31. In February, we’ll be running the Frostbite 5k here in Asheville, and my goal is to finish in under 40:00. Bring it, February!

No More Debt

Josh and I are on this new budget system that I heard about on the Elevation Church Podcast. It seems to be working well so far, and I think we’re off to a good start.  The hardest part about a budget is realizing that you don’t get to go out to eat or to a bar every time the mood strikes. We’re learning to bargain with ourselves to see where our “fun” priority falls for the week, which is good—but tough to get used to.

Read at least a book a month

Haven’t you heard about my book club? This month I finished The Weird Sisters, which I’ll be blogging about for the BlogHer book club soon. I’m currently reading The Zookeeper’s Wife for the What Are You Reading? book club, and you’re not too late to join us! Click here to join the discussion on Goodreads.

Build a business

Well, I’m freelancing steadily! I have one major client keeping me in steady work. I’m getting used to setting my own schedule and being my own boss. I work on freelance assignments in the evening throughout t\he week, and each Friday I make myself a cup of tea and shut myself in the office with the dogs to finish up the week’s assignments and invoices.

I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming for the actual business itself – the name, the website, the services offered, the business plan…it’s overwhelming, but I keep reminding myself that this isn’t the kind of thing you cross off your list in a day. I’m happy with where I am and I’m excited about where I’m going.

Did you set goals for 2012? How are you doing so far? 

Join us on Goodreads!

logo for What Are You Reading? Online Book Club

To make this online book club easier for all parties involved, I set up a group on Goodreads. This way, we can check in and discuss what we’re reading as we’re reading. I’ll still be posting end-of-book recpas on this blog, but if you’re interested in being a part of the What Are You Reading? book club discussions, click this link and sign up.

Currently Reading:

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Previously:

One Hundred Years of Solitude 
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 

First of all, don’t judge. Chances are if you didn’t love The Hunger Games, it’s because you didn’t read The Hunger Games. And if you did read the Hunger Games, then you know what I’m talking about when I say Katniss Everdeen is a BAMF with serious role model potential, and definitely not a girl to be trifled with. Why? I’ll tell you why:

Family, y’all.

Katniss loves her family more than she loves her own freedom. She is a total mama bear when it comes to Prim, going so far as to volunteer to take her place in The Hunger Games – which gives her a 1/24 chance of survival. For Katniss, there was no other option. She couldn’t let her sweet sister go into that terrible arena, so she went instead. Simple as that.  And I can’t even talk about sweet Rue without getting a little weepy, so let’s just say that Prim is not the only kid Katniss would do anything for. She’s a killer with a heart of gold.

Survival Skills

Here’s the deal: if Katniss Everdeen and Bear Gryllis had a wilderness survival showdown, my money would be on Katniss every day of the week. Katniss can kill and prepare her own food, climb any tree,  outwit her predators, and  she gets ruthless when she needs to.  Chances are, Katniss would charm Bear into giving her half his food and all the blankets and drinking water before she left him in her dust and scampered into her top secret tree fort to commune with the mockingjays and wait for him to cry uncle.

Great Hair

Katniss understands that the best hairstyles are the simplest, which is why she mastered the side braid early on. Girls, you do not have to tease and spray and curl and straighten and spray some more. Just take a page from the book of Katniss, learn how to French braid (or fishtail braid, if you’re feeling fancy!), and move on to more important things. Like survival skills and archery and Peeta vs. Gale (This blog is firmly Team Peeta, for the record).

Priorities

This is probably my favorite thing about Katniss. Peeta and Gale are cute, sure, and she gets the warm fuzzies from them both…but when it comes down to it, she has bigger fish to fry. Like political upheaval and her generation’s survival. Katniss isn’t heartless – she has crushes and she gets her smooches in where she can. But at the end of the day, she’s not a breathless, fluttery, boy-crazy nitwit. Snuggling is nice, but surviving and protecting the people you care about is more important, and Katniss gets that.

Another Role Model:

Lessons from Jo March

My Handwriting

When I saw this post at eef-etc, I knew I had to jump on board this bandwagon. Handwriting has always been very important to me. I was the girl who “tried on” different styles of writing at the beginning of every school year - the way other girls would try on new shoes or new dresses.

My handwriting has always been a big part of who I am. Now that I’m a grown up and I don’t have time for silly things like throwing away sheets of paper because I didn’t like the way my writing looked, I have settled on what you see below, and I’ll take it.

Hey there! THIS is my handwriting.

You like how I automatically added the “u” after “q” in my alphabet? Me, too.

If you feel like it, leave me a link to your handwriting in the comments! It’ll be like we’re all passing one big note around the Internet. I like the sound of that.

12 in 12: January

Corley at the Greenville News 5k 2012The morning of January 21 was cold, rainy, and generally gross. The alarm went off way too early, I was way too tired and completely unprepared. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from backing out was the thought of having to write a post admitting to giving up on my FIRST 5k of the year. No way. Not acceptable. Not in 2012.

So I rolled out of bed, pulled my bedhead into a ponytail, tied my running shoes, and headed into downtown Greenville, SC for the Greenville News 5k. I think this was the biggest race I’ve ever run - somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 people braved the dreary weather to pound the pavement, and mom and I were right in the middle of the pack.

As I mentioned, I was completely unprepared for this race. No training at all - which is why my hips were aching all the way home, and why I slept for a solid 10 hours on Saturday night. Mom stuck with me (although she could have left me in her dust!), and I probably walked as much as I ran, but I’m happy with how I did. Obviously, I won’t benefit from this resolution at all if I roll out of bed and stumble through each race without any training or work beforehand. I’ve got my starting time and a plan for February, and it’ s only going to get better from here.

January Time: 41:53
*This was the time on the race clock when we finished. It took us about 30 seconds to actually cross the start line after the race started, so this is probably a little inflated, but I’ll count it. 

February Goal: Under 40

February Race:  Frostbite 5k in Asheville, NC

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children First of all: Young Adult Lit is really stepping up its game!

What several years ago may have been easy to write off as juvenile or simple has matured into a genre of literature that is just as complex and entertaining as its more “serious” older sibling. It’s a very exciting time to be a Young Adult author or reader, and this book just helps to prove that point.

I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it looked spooky (and the only time I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover is when I’m looking at actual books and judging them by their actual covers) and seemed like it would be a fairly quick read. It was, and it was. And I loved it.

The book’s framework is a collection of uncomfortably weird photographs of children. These photos were really what drew me in to begin with – I love looking through abandoned photo albums in antique stores and flea markets, and I’m a sucker for the strange and creepy, so…perfect match.

Once I started reading the book, the photos combined with the easy tone and gripping story made it tough to stop—much like The Hunger Games series, I finished this book in about three days. And I loved it.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children felt like an adventure made up of equal parts Magical Realism, Thriller, and Historical Fiction. If you’re into shows like Ghost Hunters (guilty), Ancient Aliens (guilty), or any other show from the “historically spooky” Sunday afternoon lineup on channels like Discovery and History and SyFy, read the book. Chances are you’ll love it, too.

Next Up on What Are You Reading?

My next book is going to be The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. My friend Megan is going to be reading along with me – if you’re interested in joining us, please do! Just get a copy of the book, start reading, and keep in touch about what you think!

Previously: 

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What Are You Reading? 100 Years of Solitude

100 Years of Solitude

Although it took me WAY longer than it should have, I finally did finish 100 Years of Solitude. (You may remember I started reading it five months ago when I started this little online book club.)

By the end of the book, I felt like poor Ursula—and oh, how I loved Ursula—in her old age. All the characters, their lineages, and their stories blurred completely together. It was all I could do to keep things straight until the end, and I definitely relied on help from the family tree printed in the front of the book.

Muddled though it left me, I do feel like I achieved something by sticking it out with this book. I was tempted to overthrow it for something simpler several times, but I knew it was just too big a story to leave unresolved.

In a lot of ways, this book felt a little Biblical. The family tree grew gnarled, crooked, knotted with begats and with roots so long that the ancestors had become more like legends than family members.

I knew as soon as I finished 100 Years of Solitude that I would need to read it again. This first time was really just to understand what I was getting myself into—and I did sometimes feel like my shoes were made of cement or stuck in mud as I slogged through the densely woven web of stories. I’ll read it again, maybe next year, to actually process, understand, and enjoy. For now, I’m just glad I finished it at all.

I’ve got one more book to tell you about before the book club picks up in real time. Until then, what are you reading? Do you have a book to recommend?

If you’re interested in becoming a reader with me, leave me a comment and let me know! I’ll add you to the list.