Life

5 Essentials for a Cozy Night In

5 Essentials for a Cozy Night In | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve never been much for going out in the evening—although there is something delightfully nostalgic about late, Autumn nights out with friends. When school starts back again and you have a football game to go to, or you just spend the evening at someone else’s house… everything just feels a bit surreal on those evenings, with the leaves changing, the temperature just a smidge colder than you remember it being barely 3 weeks ago when you were spending summer nights outside. But that being said: I would much rather spend my evening at home rather than going out.

Forrest’s sleep schedule has been bonkers the last few weeks, so Danny and I haven’t gotten as many of our cozy nights together as we like. However, he’s finally figuring things out and getting better, so we’re already planning an Autumnal movie marathon (which is our personal favorite way to spend the evening in Fall). I thought I’d share a few of those cozy night essentials that everyone needs—with some links to my favorite products.

cozy night in products

1. A Hot Toddy

Do you like hot drinks? Over the past year, I’ve definitely become more of an iced coffee person—but my day doesn’t start without a hot, cup of coffee. And sometimes in the evening, there is nothing like a good hot toddy or nice cup of tea. I had originally planned to have 4 of my favorite drink recipes up today, but I still have to photograph one of them. Instead, I’ll share these for now: my 4 favorite autumnal teas (still my top 4 Fall favorites!) and 4 hot toddies just for the holidays. Whip up your favorite, settle into the couch, and get ready to be cozy.

2. A good movie

As I’ve said, I have extremely specific movie preferences, but if you’re in need of motivation, here are a few posts I’ve written on the matter:

hygge night in

3. A good board game

Danny is a huge fan of board games and I, unfortunately, am not necessarily. I’ll play, but I don’t love it. He’s always quite fond of card games and has somehow talked my entire family into being obsessed with Cover Your Assets. If you’re indifferent to games and love them, they’re a great way to spend a cozy evening that isn’t watching TV or playing on your phone (although I will personally be curled into a ball on the couch playing with my phone).

4. Your (new) favorite cuddly socks

Little known Michelle fact: I am deeply, deeply obsessed with socks.

One of my weirdest OCD triggers is stepping on any sort of debris in my house in my bare feet, so to minimize this (since it’s impossible to keep your floors 100% clean when you have a dog and a preschooler), I wear slippers and socks nearly constantly in my house. I go through 2-3 pairs of slippers every single year, but in the winter, I start wearing heavy socks.

I, of course, have sock recommendations if you love cozy socks. These are also great under boots if you live in a colder climate, but I mostly wear them around the house so my feet don’t absolutely freeze.

5. Good snacks

Who doesn’t love snacks?! I’m sure there is someone out there and you know what? You are valid. (Also, please send me your tips for hating snacks. Thanks.)

Danny and I usually try to have one very healthy snack alongside something slightly more indulgent: we might pick, say, a Daily Harvest* smoothie to share plus Doritos. Or pretzel chips dipped in Hungryroot Almond Butter and buttery popcorn. It’s about balance. On a cozy night in, we like to have a small spread of snacks to eat: fruits & veggies, smoothies, chips, pretzels, a good mix of sweet and savory. Keeping things balanced can keep us from feeling that specific “food hangover” feeling in the morning.

(Psssst… not to be a total shill, but if you want to try Daily Harvest, they have some amazing Autumnal smoothies & harvest bowls right now—and they just introduced grain bowls! You can use my code PAUSES for 3 free cups in your first order!)

My Top 10 Autumn Essentials

My Top 10 Autumn Essentials | Writing Between Pauses

Are you ready for a very basic, self-indulgent post? Well, here you go. Your wish is my command!

I know often people ask me what makes me so excited for Autumn. It’s hard to put words on why you like something that you just inherently like. For me, Autumn reminds me of school (I loved school and continue to wish I could be in school forever); Autumn was my birthday season; Autumn had Thanksgiving and beautiful leaves and cozy evenings at home. Autumn had my piano recitals, which I remember for scratchy dresses and standing in a cold hallway waiting to play.

(Here’s a funny story: I thought I had finished and scheduled this post yesterday and was super confused when I didn’t see it go up. Then, realized I hadn’t actually finished it… then I wrote it, accidentally exited without saving it, and now I’m just a wreck.)

I felt like if I had to boil it down, I would probably pick these 10 things as my favorite things about Autumn and/or the things I need the most to make the season happy for me. I’d love to hear what people love or consider essential to their season!

1. Decorative Candles

I normally am pro-scented candles and find the LED light candles kind of hokey… but ever since I had Forrest, I’m more careful about candles. These ones are perfect for a little ambient light in the evening without having to worry about Forrest bumping into them or knocking them over.

These are also great if you have cats, as cats can be super disruptive to candles.

2. Autumn-scented oils

Another alternative to scented candles? Scented oils. This brand can be used for soap making or to diffuse. If you’re nervous about scented candles, these are a great alternative. I have this Autumn set and, dang, it’s so good! Every time I use it, people ask what I have baking! They also make some winter and Christmas themed sets, as well as a Halloween set that looks amazing. Diffusing is a cheap and safe way for people with kids and pets to scent their homes. However, make sure to check the ingredients and your specific pets; some oils aren’t good for pets to get on their skin or inhale.

3. Cozy Sweaters

Did you think I’d skip this?! I’m a sweater girl; if I could wear sweaters year round, I probably would. I hate t-shirts. I hate blouses. I hate anything fussy.

I have this one from H&M, as well as this one from American Eagle that I’m absolutely living in lately. There are a few things I look for in a sweater:

  • soft with no wool at all

  • baggy

  • a neck line that won’t ride up as I’m trying to fix my forward leaning neck (listen, I’ve been using computers like 8 hours a day for 7+ years, it’s a struggle)

4. Good Rain Boots

Growing up, I never owned rain boots. In Oregon, most people operate under the belief that you don’t need day-to-day rain gear unless you’re doing something like hiking or camping. So, yes, every time it rained when I was younger (which was… like, every day of Fall, Winter, and Spring), I just had wet shoes, wet hair, and wet clothes.

I’ve been trying to walk more in the evenings, which I found has helped my stress level a lot. For my birthday, I asked for a pair of good rain boots and friends, Danny delivered. He got them for me early, since it is already cold and rainy here in Oregon. Danny got me these rain boots from Ugg in hunter green. I am obsessed with them.

5. A Good Rain Jacket

Re: rain gear never being a priority… I wanted a good rain jacket this year too. I’ve been searching for the perfect rain jacket (not a coat—I just want something light I can layer over sweaters and dresses). I am particularly attracted to this one. I ended up ordering this one, however, because it’s sherpa lined; I love sherpa everything, obviously. It just looked a little warmer for my early morning walks, plus I liked the olive green color. I’ve been wearing it basically nonstop on my more casual days and gosh, I really love it.

6. Mini Pumpkins

Me walking into the grocery store: stressed, a little angry

Me seeing the little baby pumpkins I can now buy at the grocery store: happy

7. Cozy Movies

Hocus Pocus has been on Freeform nearly every single day of October so far, which is good/a problem because I will literally sit down and watch it every single time. So, I’ve watched Hocus Pocus every single day of October so far.

I love a few, very specific movies for rainy, cold Autumn nights (Hocus Pocus, Trick or Treat, and Coraline), as well as very specific movies for foggy early Autumn mornings (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter movies) and very specific movies for crisp, Autumn afternoons (Monster House, the Addams Family, and Nightmare Before Christmas*). It just depends on the vibe, you know?

*Danny always argues with me that this is not a Halloween/October movie, but I disagree. I think it is a rare breed of movie that can be watched from September 1-January 1. Please vote in this extremely important poll, thank you.

8. Early Morning Rain

In our new house, our bedroom is in the back of the house and the way the gutters are arranged (we have a lower section just below our bedroom window, so a lot of gutters meet right outside our window) means that we hear the rain about 100 times louder than at our old house. At first, it kind of scared me, because I thought a pipe had burst. It sounded like running water! But now it’s just plain soothing. I love waking up to the gentle sound of rain—it helps that my nightly sleep noise is rain as well.

9. Good Coffee

I have accidentally cultivated a “my personality type is COFFEE” behavior in the last few years, which was unintentional. But I went so long not liking coffee that now coffee is a bit novel. That being said: I like coffee all the time, but something about coffee on a foggy, Autumn morning is just different and better.

10. A Fluffy Blanket

I am a blanket fanatic; Danny makes fun of me because during the winter, I often sleep with our comforter, plus two blankets. I like the weight of a good, thick blanket. I like soft blankets, sherpa or fleece or preferably both. I’m less concerned with aesthetics, but my blankets have to be something I’ll use. Smaller, heavy, thick, soft blankets are my favorite. If I’m sitting down in my house, I undoubtedly have a blanket on or near me. I have an office blanket, a bedroom blanket, a couch blanket… It’s a problem. (No, it’s not.)

Life Lately: 5 Things I Learned Last Week

Life Lately: 5 Things I Learned Last Week | Writing Between Pauses

I have found myself waffling back and forth between two plans lately.

Sometimes, I’m fully committed to being freelance: I post on LinkedIn, I network, I make meetings, everything.

And other times, I just wish I had a job again: a job that I turned off, that I could clean out my office for, that I could drive to everyday and have coffee provided.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you don’t know the big, bad, and also very weird thing that happened to me last week. I’ll get to it!

But it’s definitely thrown me for a loop. I’ve recommitted to going freelance, even though it is hard, and makes me tired, and fills me with anxiety in ways that are both good and bad. The last few weeks have been a series of lessons, over and over. I wanted to share a few things as I know that many are on this journey with me. If you’re thinking of going freelance or becoming self-employed (or starting your own business), you’ve probably felt a few of these things. And if you, like me, have had moments of self-doubt and tried to reconnect to a different path, well, you might feel some of these too.

1. Sometimes, anxiety is self-protection.

As I wrote in my newsletter two weeks ago, my therapist often talks to me about how my anxiety and self-doubt is often me trying to protect myself. I hold myself back in ways I don’t truly understand because I’m afraid of being rejected—and then when I step outside my comfort zone and experience rejection, it just reinforces the “you should have anxiety about this,” or “you are an imposter and you aren’t good at your job” feelings. (If you aren’t subscribed to my newsletter, then, baby, please do.)

The past two weeks have been anxiety central for me. Which is crazy because I had one week where everything went fantastic: I had meetings scheduled every single day, I was networking, I was sending emails, I felt amazing. But then, the next week, it’s like it all came crashing down and I didn’t know how to cope.

Anxiety is often what I describe as a combination of my gut feeling (which is instinctual) and this buzzing in my brain that seems to resonate with “wrong, wrong, wrong, something is wrong.” It’s hard to have the two happening at the same time and wonder if one is correct and the other isn’t. It’s hard to trust myself when what I inherently think (go the easy route, don’t make waves) is often a way of protecting myself from experiencing rejection or anxiety.

Anyway, this is all to say: I’ve been working on how I react to things and how I make decisions. I sometimes jokingly say that I am a classic Libra because I can’t make decisions. But the truth is, I struggle with making big decisions because I tend to make life decisions focused on what other people would want, rather than what I would want myself.

2. My gut feeling is usually correct.

It’s time for me to write the big, bad, weird story here & talk a little bit more about what it made me learn.

This might feel a little contradictory to my last point, but I sometimes just get a gut feeling about things. This won’t go well or This doesn’t seem right. It’s not anxiety, exactly, but sometimes a part of it. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling I have that I can’t totally explain.

Anyway, let’s talk about the big bad: I was offered a job.

Let’s rewind: two weeks ago, I went to an interview where they loved me. I met with an executive, who thought I would be great in the role, but wouldn’t be happy. She then offered to accelerate starting their marketing department so that I would be added to it. She would get back to me in a few days. A few days later, we scheduled a phone call. I clarified my schedule (I want to be able to pick up my son in the afternoon, but I could work from home as much they wanted). They had never done a remote position before, but were willing to try. She said they would be sending a job offer by the next day.

The next day, Tuesday of last week, I woke up from a nap to see an email from her, telling me they would not be sending me a job offer specifically because I wanted to be able to pick up my son in the afternoon.

I know this is not the worst example of anti-mom bias in the workplace. I know that. I also know I’m in a really privileged position to be able to ask for that, but I don’t think it should be a privilege. I think it should be assumed that parents need to be able to leave to get their kids when school is over, but if they work a job that is 100% online the way marketing is, then why can’t they just finish up the last two hours of work from home?! I just don’t get it.

I cried a lot.

But, I had been nervous about getting the job offer. I’d debated back and forth with Danny about accepting it. And a small part of me on Tuesday thought: this isn’t right. This isn’t going to happen the way I think it will.

Even as I got excited to accept the job. Even when I thought about the salary and how it would have changed our lives. (We could afford a vacation, for once.)

I was still devastated when I got the email, but I found myself thinking: that gut feeling was right. That feeling I got that they wouldn’t be understanding of my role as a caretaker and mother was right. I was right. It still royally sucked, but I was right. It just sucks.

3. Sometimes, a bad thing leads to a good thing.

The day after I got that awful, no good email, I got a text message about a potential freelance gig. I was groggy, with that “hungover from crying” feeling. I was in a bad mood all day, mostly lying on the couch and sometimes texting Danny, “I had already planned a celebratory Disneyland trip in my mind.” (Yes, I know that is full-blown emo, but what can I say?)

But I scheduled another meeting for a freelance gig. Because why not? Because why stop myself just because I’ve had a rough week?

4. It’s ok to get in your feelings about it—but sometimes your primary feeling isn’t the right one.

As I said, I cried a lot last Tuesday. (And unfortunately, a lot of this blog post is about that email on Tuesday. God, it sucked!) I cried a lot and even though I’d had this gut feeling that it wasn’t the right job for me even though it paid so well and I wouldn’t have to worry about money and it seemed perfect… I still had the feeling that it wasn’t quite right.

But I also had that feeling of: I’m a failure, I fucked up, I’m stupid, I shouldn’t even apply to jobs because no one wants to hire a mother, everyone thinks I’m an idiot.

But then I talked to my former boss and she told me that there was no reason blaming myself. What kind of company offers someone a job, then yanks it away because they decide they don’t like the already agreed upon schedule? Especially in marketing, where a flexible schedule is sort of… the point of working in marketing? “Be angry,” she said.

The right thing is not: “I fucked up.” The right thing is: “they fucked up and I’m so angry.

The worst part is that companies here in Eugene so often complain about being unable to hire good talent. They can’t find people to hire or the people who apply don’t have enough experience. I have 5 years experience; I am a high level marketer; I’m very good at what I do! I am the good talent! But because businesses see “work” as being 40-60+ hours a week in an office, no exceptions, they aren’t willing to accept people who might need other schedules: mothers, or people with disabilities, or anyone else who just doesn’t want to be chained to a desk. Millennials have a much different view about what it means to work “full time” and it’s time for everyone else to catch up.

I sat up on Tuesday night until nearly 3 am writing a blisteringly angry article for LinkedIn. I probably won’t post it, but God, it felt good.

5. It’s ok to be content.

“I should be making more money,” I thought. But is that right? Do I need to be making more money?

If you can’t tell, a big part of why the loss of that job offer sucked is because the salary was good. Full disclosure, I’ve never been motivated by money when it comes to my jobs; I just want to work and to be quite honest, I have a really hard time understanding salary comparisons. I have known, at least somewhat, that as a marketer I should have been making more money ages ago, but it didn’t really matter to me. We got by.

It’s only been the last probably year where things felt really tight, but that was for reasons sort of beyond our control. We had a year of bad financial set backs and then, in 2019, my workplace was becoming more and more financially unstable as well. (Again, no one’s fault! Just the way the cookie crumbles.)

So the idea of a lot more money was huge. We haven’t been on a real vacation since we went to Disneyland in June 2017 and friends, I am exhausted. I think about getting in my car and just driving away at least once every single day. I have worked, for at least 5 hours, every single day since June 2017 on either this blog, or work, or some other professional capacity.

As much as I wish we could be saving more money, I have also realized it’s ok to just get by for a little while, especially if it means improving my mental health. Money is nice and I wish we could afford a trip to take a break (we both need, Forrest needs it), but I’m ok with waiting if it means I’m not continually being punched in the gut by companies!


Whew, I know that was a lot but it felt good to write out. I’m trying to look at the next few weeks with positivity. I have time to make Forrest a birthday cake, to take him to school most days, to pick him up from school and love him. It has been a rough few weeks for me, but I’m lucky to be doing as well as I am, considering everything.

With that said: how have you been doing? Share with me!

Life Lately: August 2019 Wrap Up

Life Lately: August 2019 Wrap Up | Writing Between Pauses

August was a rough month for me!

There, I said it. It’s been the undercurrent of everything I’ve posted, on Instagram, on my blog, on Twitter, for the past month and it’s hard to not seem like a total sad sack about everything. But I’ve felt like a total sad sack!

July was emotional: I was laid off and scrambling, feeling totally adrift.

In August, I started taking on some freelance work, but not a lot. It lacks the structure that I like to have. I’m committed to freelance work for now because it’s what I have available to me at the moment. I’m keeping an open mind, but going freelance is much easier said than done.

Anyway, let’s back up and talk about August.

1. We went to the coast!

I wrote about our trip to Rockaway Beach here. I was a bit of a mess on this trip; it was so close to being laid off and I was still dealing with a lot of anxiety and fall out from it. I wanted to have more fun than I did, but it was still enjoyable. Next time, I’m going to try not to get laid off, like, right before a trip I’ve been looking forward to for months.

2. I filled my schedule completely full for 3 weeks and nearly lost my mind!

I scheduled appointments with friends.

I got coffee with coworkers.

I visited digital marketing agencies.

I emailed everyone I’ve ever worked with to grab coffee.

I went to interviews.

I worked at coffee shops.

I spent time outside the house.

And honestly, it nearly killed me. Last week, I had three appointments nearly every single day of the week. It was great for my business (so much freelance work!), but it was not-so-great for my mental health. In the future, I’m going to keep specific days open for appointments and keep everything in those days if I can help it. Easier said than done, but last week was a lesson in “too much.”

3. I bought a new computer.

So about that working in coffee shops bit… I have an iMac, which I love, but when I went to work in coffee shops, my ancient (circa 2010!!) Macbook was not cutting it. I tried updating it to the newest OS, but I cannot remember my admin password. Oops! So I decided to scrape together some money and buy a new computer because it felt like an investment that was worth it. It’s been really nice being able to actually work now when I’m at coffee shops and I’ve gotten a lot done.

4. I wrote a lot.

When I wasn’t sending messages on LinkedIn or answering phone calls, I decided to write. I worked on my NaNoWriMo outline; I started several short stories; I’ve started writing poetry again. I hate not having anything to do and without work, I tend to be a bit listless. However, writing felt good. It felt good to just write again, even if it’s “purposeless.” Writing just for fun was a high point, honestly.

Things I’m Looking Forward to in September

I’m looking forward to the start of Fall. I know everyone who knows me is tired already, but yes, I am ready. Yes, I have a pumpkin outside my house already. And a scarecrow. No, I won’t stop being Like This.

I’m also looking forward to more days at home, working. Forrest is going back to school and Danny is going back to work, so I’ll fall into my routine a little bit and be able to actually get work done. A win win for everyone involved, honestly.

I’m looking forward to saving some money! Danny and I really have our hearts set on a big vacation in the next year. We were on our way to saving for it when I got laid off and ended up using a lot of our savings on bills and moving expenses. Major downer, but I’m hoping that with some good freelance work in the next few months, we’ll be back to our usual savings.

How was your August? Tell me about it!

How to Handle Rejection in Your Career

How to Handle Rejection In Your Career | Writing Between Pauses

In case you’re wondering how my freelance prospects have gone the last few weeks, here’s a good example conversation I feel like I’ve had about 400 times:

Prospect: So how much would that be?

Me: Well, I charge $250 for an initial strategy, then actual content creation would be $800 per month.

Prospect: (sharp inhale of breath, mild gasp) well that’s just too much! I guess we’ll think about it and get back to you.

Readers, they do not get back to me. They’re never going to back to me. I know that. You know that. They know that.

Even worse than this example is the people who arrange meetings with me, sit across from me in coffee shops acting interested, or spend an hour on the phone with me pretending to be interested, only to ask the inevitable: “So what happened with [name of agency]?” (In case you didn’t read this blog post, I got laid off from the agency I worked at for 5 years, alongside all my coworkers. It sucked, but I’m doing ok!)

I know what I look like when that happens: the smile on my face becomes just a little more strained, my eyes crinkled up. I want to cry because I always know the question will come in every interview and meeting and phone call for the next few years. I have to say the same thing over and over: “It’s not really my story to tell and if you met with me for gossip, you met with the wrong person.” After that, we usually finish up our coffees and they pretend to want a rate sheet, or they pretend that they’ll let me know when they want to move forward and sign a contract. But they won’t. They won’t answer my phone calls or respond to my emails.

I know that. You know that. And they know that.

It’s fine, really. I have some prospects that look great. But the type of rejection I’ve been getting lately has been different from any other type of rejection I’ve ever experienced. It’s not just not getting a job where there were tons of applicants and, ok, maybe I’m not the most qualified. It’s rejection based entirely on me and my skill level and what I’m asking to be paid. Or worse, it’s a type of rejection that happened before I even got a chance: they only wanted to talk to me for gossip that I was never going to use to leverage getting paid.

I feel a lot of things about being laid off, about losing a job I’ve loved for 5 years, but one thing I’ll never feel is like I have to use any gossip about that job in order to get paid. I’d rather be dirt poor than do that, thank you very much.

It sucks to be told you’re charging too much. It sucks to feel like people only want to talk to you so they can get dirt on someone else. (And they’re never going to get dirt about other people from me, that’s just the rules.) And it sucks to have all of this happening when I otherwise feel really vulnerable and unsure about my future and what I want and what I’m doing generally.

Rejection sucks even at the best of times. But when you’re already struggling, it can feel like an even bigger burden.

Luckily, I’ve found a few ways to deal with my feelings of rejection in the last few weeks. I wanted to share them, as I know for many women and young professionals, rejection can be a huge barrier many of us face as we start our careers. Whether we are just out of college, going back to work after maternity leave, or starting fresh after being laid off (or simply leaving a toxic workplace), the truth is we are going to get rejected. It doesn’t have to be such a big knock to your confidence, so let’s talk tips for coping.

1. Fill Your Time

I recently signed up for Vix Meldrew’s Grow & Glow, which I highly recommend for bloggers. The reason is because I needed something to do. I just… needed something! I don’t know how to explain it, but I couldn’t spend one more of my scheduled “work hours” applying to jobs, rewriting my resume for the 400th time, or drafting a LinkedIn post. Or worse, writing another networking email.

I needed something positive to channel all the energy I usually dedicate to my job into it. Something! Anything! So I decided, for the equivalent of $13 a month, Grow & Glow was the perfect level of dedication: modules I can work on at my leisure, always giving me something to read, watch, and journal about when I’m sitting in a coffee shop.

I’m not tell you to sign up for Grow & Glow. (Although, again, I really love it! It’s helped my blog immensely in the last few weeks.) I am telling you to find something to use your energy on. If you’re currently looking for a job, or you are starting your career, or you just have hours to fill that you wish you were spending working on something… find something to fill your time. It might be a cheap online course. It might be a new certification. It might be learning a new language! Anything that will help you and your career and give purpose to your days is important, especially if you struggle with anxiety when you don’t have anything to do.

I know for me, I hate not having at least 2-3 things on my to do list every day. So having something that I can automatically look to for tasks is important.

2. Spend Time with Friends

If you’re struggling to start your career, or really getting down about your career prospects, here’s one thing to consider: spend some time with your friends. I know it can feel daunting, especially if you’re not working while everyone else is. (I definitely felt this just after I had Forrest; I wasn’t working, at a job at least, but everyone I knew was and it was an incredibly isolating experience.) However, send that text message or email. Reach out on Facebook or LinkedIn. Meet with old coworkers, or old friends, or new friends. Meet for coffee. Talk about what you’re going through. Ask for advice. Ask for potential connections.

Even if nothing comes from it, spending time with your friends can boost your mood and help alleviate the isolation you can feel when you’re getting rejected (by jobs, by potential clients, by what feels like everyone). Reach out to your friends, let them know what’s going on in your life, and they’ll be more likely to check on you as well.

3. Take Care of Yourself

This goes without saying but: rejection often isn’t personal.

Even though it feels personal (and lately, everything I’ve experienced feels SO intensely personal), it’s really… not. It’s not! If you don’t get a job you really wanted, it most likely isn’t because you are lacking in some way; it’s because there were tons of qualified applicants and they just happened to pick someone over you. If a prospect says “no” to your freelance services, it’s most likely not because they don’t like you; they probably just aren’t ready to commit anyway (and would therefore probably have made a terrible client).

You deserve a career that leaves you feeling fulfilled and happy. You will find it.

But in the meantime, when everything you’re told feels like a slamming door in your face, take care of yourself. Take a long bubble bath. Read your favorite book. Go out to dinner even though you’re stressed about money. Take your kids to the park or go to a music show with your partner or friends. Don’t treat yourself badly just because you feel badly about how the world is treating you. You come first in your life, so take care of you, show yourself love, and don’t allow rejection to turn into self-hatred.

4. Look at Rejection Realistically

Like I said: rejection is hardly ever personal. Sometimes it is, that’s true. Sometimes, you just might not click with a client.

I recently had to fire a client who I had actually been working with for a long time. I had had some reservations starting work with this client from the get go; they seemed disorganized, very slow to reply, and unsure of what they needed and what they were doing. But I personally really liked them. I should have said, “You know what? No.” I should have been the one to reject them, but I didn’t because I didn’t want them to think I didn’t like them or support their business. (I do like them and I do want to support their business.)

Things went bad fast. They were not an ideal client. They didn’t reply to emails and then, weeks later, would question why something hadn’t moved forward. (Because they hadn’t replied to my emails!) Long story short: I should have said no. Because rejection is about doing the best work possible sometimes, not about how much we like someone.

A potential employer can like you a lot and think you’re incredibly talented… and still say no. Here’s another example: since I graduated college in 2011, I have applied and interviewed at a business at least 4 times! Every single time, the owner tells me how incredible I seem as an employee, how impressed she is with my skills… then she hires someone else. For a long time, I thought she was just doing this to neg me or make me feel inferior—or worse, she was just lying about my skills. But recently, I was talking about this with someone and they said, “she probably thinks you’re great, but just not right for that specific job.” Isn’t that the truth? The rejection wasn’t personal; I just wasn’t the best fit for the job, even though I desperately wanted to be.

All I’m saying is: when it comes to getting that “no” (that can be so painful, so ill-timed), sometimes it’s not really about you. Sometimes it’s about someone else. Not every “no” is a “not good enough”; most of the time, “no” is just “sorry, no.”


Do you have any tips for handling rejection? Share with me in the comments!

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Marriage

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Marriage | Writing Between Pauses

Danny and I got married June 23, 2013. If you’ve followed my blog for that long (and honestly, some of you have!), you know that I blogged about my wedding heavily at that time. Over the years, just like most things, I’ve questioned how much to share about everything in my life. I try not to share too much about Forrest: this is a mommy blog without being the day-to-day, share too much mommy blog I’m used to seeing. I don’t write about my job at all. I even post less photos of myself these days.

But sometimes, it’s good to reflect and sometimes that means sharing more than perhaps I would normally.

Danny and I met in 2007. Can you believe that? We met in McCall, Idaho at our college’s freshman retreat that happened before classes started. We all moved into our dorms on a hot, sticky Idaho August day, then loaded into busses the next day and drove several hours to McCall. I can’t remember exactly when I met Danny, but I know I met him on that trip and he popped up throughout my freshman year. Sophomore year, we saw more of each other, both being in the campus writing club, writing for the school paper, and having a similar, overlapping group of friends.

It wasn’t until junior year that we really became friends. Over that summer between junior and senior year, he watched my apartment for me (thanks!) and visited me a few times when I had mild emotional breakdowns over my roommate (who eventually moved out). It was a rough, weird time for me. Then, senior year, we were in several classes together: a few literature classes and then in capstone.

And then, of course, we started dating.

Without being too sappy, I knew pretty early on (as in, maybe a month in) that we were pretty serious. We started dating April 20, 2011, exactly a month before we graduated. That’s right: we’d had 4 years together, 4 years rotating around each other, and we waited until a freaking month before I moved away from Idaho and he stayed behind.

It was great!

(It really wasn’t great.)

We graduated. I moved back to Oregon. My grandpa was extremely ill. We talked over Skype every day. I cried every day. It was an awful, difficult year, 2011-2012. My grandpa died in November after I graduated. I worked at a local grocery store and cut part of my thumb off in February 2012, then started working at a car dealership, which was soul sucking and made me feel like garbage.

But we made it. We got engaged after 3 months of dating and slogged through a year of long distance together. We planned a wedding and got Danny certified to teach in Oregon and built a home together. We changed jobs and went through the hardest days of our lives together. The months after I got fired. The months where Danny worked never ending substitute teacher jobs. Sometimes I think back to those days, when I made $11 an hour as a full time receptionist and Danny made about $100 a day as a sub, and how we somehow paid all our bills that way. It was so hard and I felt so embarrassed to let on about how hard it was.

This is all to say: in some ways, our relationship started out as totally idyllic. We liked each other—Danny continues to insist I’m out of his league to this day and I insist we are in the same “weird kid” league, both of us loving astrology, the occult, bats, and other weird shit—and we loved each other and that was enough. And even though the hardest parts of our relationship, I’ve felt like I always wanted to keep that part of us: we’re too weirdos who like and love each other, who learn from each other.

I know for other married couples, it isn’t quite that way. Everyone has their own story. But I think there are a few things that are universal, especially when it comes to marriage and relationships. So, without further ado, here are 6 things I’ve learned in 6 years of marriage.

Wedding Photography
Sweet Cheeks Winery Eugene Oregon Wedding

1. Having kids brings out the best (& worst) in you.

I feel like this is one I wish I had been told before I had Forrest. It goes without saying: kids are stressful. And as I’ve written before, I absolutely, positively hated the newborn months. I’d never been more miserable in my life and I was attached to a pump 12 times a day (for a grand total of 6 hours every day!). That’s something that Danny couldn’t help with. He also couldn’t quite understand what I was going through. It’s one thing for men to watch their wives or girlfriends give birth; it’s another thing for them to completely emphasize with how exhausted and wrecked you feel afterwards.

I felt like a foreigner in my own body. I didn’t recognize it; everything hurt; everything leaked; I had to wear diapers; I could barely walk for a week; my skin freaked out. And all at the same time, I was taking care of a new human being and Danny felt totally clueless (and was occasionally unwilling to guess at how to do things, which is generally his M.O.).

Sometimes, I think we are such good parents. But other times, the stress definitely gets to us and we get snappy or we take naps when we should be doing other things. It happens. But I think it’s important to keep perspective when you start to feel like you don’t recognize yourself or your partner after having a child: things won’t always be this hard.

2. It’s ok to be angry.

The most common relationship advice is always “don’t go to bed angry”… to which I call bullshit.

Go to bed angry. Sleep angry. Stay angry.

Anger is natural human emotion. We tend to view anger as a negative emotion (which it is), but also as one we shouldn’t feel, especially as women. And when women get angry at their husbands, they are often brushed off as “crazy,” “nagging,” or “shrill.”

Again, I call bullshit.

My advice is to be angry. Make your anger heard to your husband. Your feelings matter in a relationship and if your anger is justified (your husband seriously won’t stop leaving crumbs all over the counters or drops his socks at the bottom of the stairs or exactly 2 inches from the hamper), then let him feel it & let yourself feel it.

Anger in relationships isn’t bad, but remember you also need to talk it out, express your anger in a productive way, and make sure that your husband understands how you need him to behave. (Put his damn socks in the hamper! It’s right there!)

3. All relationships have highs & lows.

There will be bad days. It’s easy to think that you’ll always be happy, happy, happy. But there will be bad days, hard days, rough days.

When I lost my job in 2014, there were many bad days. I was stressed about money and feeling like a failure. Danny was working hard, but feeling adrift as well. We were dirt poor and had just bought a house, using food stamps, and just trying to get by. Sometimes, it felt like we barely knew each other.

Then, things got better.

Again, I think in the end, this is something that just needs perspective: sometimes your needs in your relationship won’t always be what they were in the beginning. You won’t always be super clingy, super talkative, or super interested in being together 100% of the time. You’ll want distance. Or you’ll want to go grocery shopping alone. Or you’ll just want to sit on the couch and watch Teen Mom without being interrupted or having to watch someone play video games. It’s ok. There will also be times where you’ll want the opposite of all those things. That’s just how relationships are.

Cutting Cake Wedding Photo

4. You should take breaks from each other.

Going along with number 3, it’s important to spend time away from each other.

In 2017, I took a weekend trip to Sunriver alone. Solo. Without Forrest or Danny or anyone else. I drank wine, watched Netflix, took walks, treated myself to dinner, and did all the things I felt I couldn’t do while watching Forrest or cleaning or cooking or whatever. It was amazing. It made me feel rejuvenated.

Every time Danny and I spend a weekend apart, I feel like we’re always 100x happier to see each other than usual. When you spend all your time with one person, you can get sick of them, even if you really love them. I really love Danny, but sometimes I do need a solo shopping trip or a long drive by myself. It’s just better that way.

5. Find routines that work for you & your family.

In my ideal world, I would wake up every day around 7am, make coffee, make breakfast, clean up the house, write a little bit, get dressed, and go do something fun.

That’s not really how it works with a kid and a husband.

Danny likes to sleep late. Generally, he stays up later than me. However, we both get up whenever Forrest gets up, which is usually between 5am and 6am (although he’s been pushing 6:30am lately). This is an early morning for nearly everyone. We’ve gotten used to it over the years, but it is still really hard to wake up at 5:30am every single morning without fail.

As well, Forrest being awake isn’t super conducive to me making my coffee and drinking it alone. I have always preferred to be alone in the morning; I don’t feel like talking right when I get up and I tend to be pretty cranky. I’ve had to adjust my routine; Danny has had to adjust his routine. Forrest gets to run his routine!

This is my way to say: you might have things you really like to do each day, that are part of your routine. As you get older, as your relationship shifts, you might not be able to hold onto those things anymore. I really miss watching Food Network and cooking breakfast every morning, like I used to before I had Forrest; sometimes I miss it so much, I just wish I could scream! But I know life won’t always be this way (life won’t always be this hard) and so I just adjust my expectations & my routine… and move on.

6. Delegate responsibilities.

I know we’ve all seen those articles about emotional labor and about how today, even with progressive husbands, women still perform the vast majority of household tasks.

It goes without saying but that’s true in my life as well.

It’s not really Danny’s fault; he has less stringent requirements for home cleanliness and while I’ve relaxed about mine in some ways (at a detriment to my mental health), I still wish he did more around the house.

I’ve learned over the years that I have to delegate. I can’t run everything on my own. I can pretty much handle one floor of our house and that’s it. It’s either upstairs or downstairs! So in our house, I’m in charge of inside. Danny is in charge of outside. And I stay on top of him in regards to keeping our outdoor areas nice, especially in our new house! As Forrest gets older and can take on chores (he’s still a little young), we will definitely start giving him responsibilities as well.

I don’t want to put the onus on women to delegate chores to their husbands; they aren’t children, after all. But sometimes, we just have to say: you’re in charge of this. Figure it out! It’s not hard!


Thanks for reading! Tell me: if you’re married or have been in a relationship for a significant amount of time, what’s the number one thing you’ve learned?

The Moving Diaries: Is It Normal to Feel Sad?

The Movie Diaries: Is It Normal to Feel Sad? | Writing Between Pauses

5 years ago, Danny & I bought our first home together. It wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of things, right from the get go, that we didn’t love. We had our home built on land I already owned, so we considered it our forever home.

Fast forward a few years: several job changes, a pregnancy, a newborn turned toddler turned preschooler… and suddenly that house just wasn’t right anymore. It felt tiny. We were cramped, on top of each other, and the prospect of adding another child felt absolutely impossible.

A year ago, we decided to build a second home. We would make better decisions this time! We will pick a better plan, build in a better spot, do all the things we didn’t last time. (I will write more about the process of building your own home later. I know this is a totally privileged thing that many people can’t imagine, so just know, if you’re gaping at your computer, I totally acknowledge that.)

Our home was completed last week. It was about 2 or 3 weeks behind schedule by that point. And when I say completed, I don’t mean… “completed.” It wasn’t really completed. (Again: I can write about this later.)

But either way, we started moving our things out of our home into our new forever home. I was ecstatic.

We moved things for 3 days in the evenings: piece by piece, it felt like the slowest process ever. But there was only so much we could do as two people! On Friday, we went to IKEA to buy some new furniture (including a new kitchen table) and then thankfully Danny’s parents arrived and helped us move boxes and furniture.

Friday night, we all slept in our new home for the first time. Forrest’s room was mostly put together, but in our room, we only had our mattress on our box spring on the floor (our bed frame is still on a delivery truck somewhere!). I had a suitcase and my toiletries and that was about it.

I told Danny, “it feels like we are on a really weird, shitty camping trip.” That feeling isn’t helped by the fact that our contractor hasn’t really finished our upstairs toilet in the master bathroom (again, more on this later!) and 50% of our possessions are still in a different house.

My anxiety was high Friday night. Like really high.

Remus is also an anxious being (in that specifically hyper chocolate lab sort of way), so he woke me up 3 times during the night. He would run outside and pee, then look at me as if asking, “Can we go home?”

And at 3am, my last wake up, I briefly thought: let’s just go home. I started to panic. Do I really want to live in this strange house that doesn’t smell like me? Do I really want to leave all my memories behind?

I thought of all the memories I have of our old house. I let Remus back inside, locked the patio door, went upstairs, and cried while Danny slept. I panicked and cried and felt horribly sad.

I thought of bringing Forrest home—anxious, swollen, bleeding, looking wretched—and seeing the sign my sister-in-law Amy made and put on our front door. I remember sitting upstairs with him, pumping and feeding him, while my family sat downstairs. I thought of the hours I spent holding him during naps on the couch: the light shining through our windows in such a specific way.

I thought of painting our living room wall grey last summer, our breakfasts in our kitchen, standing at the counter making Christmas cookies with Fo.

For once, I thought not of all the things that I didn’t like about that house (the cramped layout, the lack of a closet in the master bedroom, the teeny tiny bathrooms) and I thought about all the things I loved. Sitting with Forrest in his room, reading him Harry Potter. Being in his room when he was 2 weeks old and wouldn’t stop crying and not knowing what to do. The long nights I spent awake and pumping. The sink where I washed all his bottles. Seeing him walk for the first time. Getting home from Disneyland with him and being so relieved and sad.

When Danny finally woke up, I told him I felt panicked. I think a lot of it was the feeling of being totally overwhelmed: we still have so much to pack and move and I feel rushed and anxious to get it done. I want to do it, but I also wish I could hand off the wheel and let someone else (anyone else!) do it! Mostly, I just felt sad.

Danny assured me that this seemed normal: we’re in a new house that doesn’t feel like “us” yet even though it is very “us”. We will get used to it and we will love it.

The same feeling hit me later on Saturday. (I’m actually typing this up Saturday, so it’s a particularly fresh memory.) I ran to the old house one last time—at 8pm, of course—to get my computer. I needed, in order to feel sane, to set up my computer. To get all my desk things and arrange them on my new desk and sit and work and feel normal. I went to the house and packed up my office… then I went into Forrest’s room.

Forrest has gotten a big bed in the new house. He’s incredibly proud of it. But in his old bedroom, his toddler bed is still sitting there, along with some of his toys and some boxed up clothes. About half his books are still there too. (Like I said, so much to move still!) I collected up all his clothes to pack into the car and as I walked out of his room, I started to cry. Again.

It hit me like a wave. To me, that was Forrest’s room. It always will be. I took all his weekly and monthly progression photos in that room on his chevron carpet. I rocked him to sleep every single night for two years—and have read him a story and sang him 3 songs every single night for about 1 and a half more. That room is his room: it feels like him, it smells like him. But we’re emptying it out, shaking out all the things that are Forrest to make into a new space. And while he loves his new room, I can’t help but think of him crawling across the floor, the nights I ran in when I heard him sick and crying, reading him Harry Potter while he drank his last bottle for the night. That toddler bed will be moved to the new house and have the front put back on in anticipation of a new baby: one I don’t know yet, who will fill our lives the way Forrest does.

Moving is hard. As someone said to me on Twitter, moving is nothing but trauma. Change is hard and locational change is particularly difficult for me, someone who is incredibly anchored by my physical space. Not being able to clean and organize the way I want makes it hard for me to feel anything but adrift.

I don’t know if it’s totally normal to be sad over moving. I cried when I moved out of all of my college dorms, however; I cried when I left my college apartment. I cried when I drove away from Caldwell, Idaho, a town I had viscerally hated for 4 years (and now return to on vacations at least twice a year). I cried when I moved out my parents’ house. I cried when I moved in our old house. I suppose for me it is normal, but it feels like this time it has hit me a lot harder than it did before.

It’s a total cliche, but it’s true: moving is hard. It stresses everyone out. And now being the one in charge of the moving (no one is holding my hand and helping me make these decisions!), it’s even more stressful.

I don’t have a real clear message to end this post on. It’s a much more personal one than I usually post. I guess what I’m saying is: I don’t know if it’s “normal” to feel sad when you’re moving, but with emotions running so high, I can’t imagine it’s a new phenomenon either. If you’re moving and feeling sad, tell me about it!

Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency

Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency | Writing Between Pauses

On February 24, around 12pm, it started snowing.

It snowed for the rest of the day without stopping. By the time it got dark outside, we had 2-3 inches. My husband and I excitedly talked about a potential snow day (he is a teacher after all and sometimes, they do get excited to have a snow day!) as we got ready for bed. However, our lights started flickering on and off around 8pm. They kept going off, then coming back. Twenty minutes later, it would repeat. We went around unplugging things, sure that if they went off, they’d be on within a few hours like always. We started a fire in the wood stove and left it for the night.

We climbed into bed and fell asleep. At midnight, the lights went out for real. At 2am, Forrest woke up, terrified in the dark. I brought him to our bed and as he went to sleep, I realized I could hear strange sounds outside. Crashing sounds. I shrugged. i hadn’t looked out a window. I didn’t know then that it was still snowing.

It snowed into the next morning. We got up at 6am and got the wood stove going again. As I let Remus out, I realized that branches were falling off the trees. Those were the crashing sounds. When we stood outside, we could hear not just branches falling, but entire trees. The cedar tree right next to our house was swaying. As it got light outside, we saw how bad it was: multiple large branches had fallen off the cedar tree.

I got dressed in a snow jacket and gloves, pulling on my boots. My mom and I had been texting all morning; their driveway was blocked and my dad had gotten his truck stuck trying to find a way out. I started down our driveway, slightly terrified by how many trees were falling around me, to find that we were also blocked in. 4-5 trees had fallen across our driveway. The snow was almost up to my knees then and still coming down.

Throughout the day, I packed up our emergency supplies: a suitcase of clothes, our box of important documents, things for Remus. If we needed to leave, I told myself, we would be able to. I kept repeating that to myself, even though I knew our car couldn’t get down our driveway. The cedar tree outside our house lose 5-6 large branches, but none hit our house. By the time it stopped snowing, everything was a mess: our internet satellite dish was snapped basically in half, our backyard was a mess, we had no power and very little food, and we couldn’t leave.

That was Monday, February 25. The next day, my parents were able to help us clear the driveway and we were able to go to their house. The day after that, we were able to get to town and buy canned soup and extra water. And the day after that, my parents’ power was restored. Our power wouldn’t come back until Sunday, March 3. It was such a relief when it did.

During the week of the snowstorm, Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, declared a state of emergency. All the power companies were completely overwhelmed; the road I live on, for example, had almost every single section of power line damaged by a falling trees. On the road just beside my house, all the trees had fallen into the road, blocking on lane on a tight corner. The roads were covered in snow and ice, almost no one could get down their driveway unless they had a larger truck, and as I live in a rural area without city water, none of us had access to running water.

Before the snowstorm, Danny and I had often talked about being prepared for emergencies. We talked about things we needed to get, how we should have some batteries saved up, but we never did it. I did have about 6 gallons of water saved in our pantry, but that was it. When our power went out, we weren’t ready—and we definitely weren’t ready to be without power for 7 full days.

When we finally got our power restored, I got so many questions about being prepared for an emergency on Instagram that I knew I had to write about it. But I do want to start with a disclaimer: I’m definitely not a doomsday person at all. I think being prepared for an emergency is something we all have to account for; we never know when a big storm will hit, leaving us all without power for a long amount of time. It never hurts to be ready, even if it never happens.

With that out of the way, here’s what I learned during the big snowstorm.

1. You’ll Need Way More Water Than You Think

When our power went out, I had maybe 6-7 gallons of water saved up. For reference, most people say to be prepared, you need 1 gallon of water per person in the house (as well as any pets) for each day. That means if we were to be prepared for 2 weeks without water, we would need 4 gallons of water per day for 14 days. That’s 56 gallons of water! For the average person, it’s just not possible to store that much water, so my advice is: keep as much water as you are able to store. For us, the floor of our pantry is now dedicated to water storage: every time we use up a thing of juice or a gallon of milk, I clean the container out well, sterilize it, and fill it with fresh water. I have about 20 gallons right now, which is much better than 6!

One more note on this: some people think if they have city water, they won’t need to worry about this as their water will still run even if their power goes out. However, many people further into town during the storm did not have access to water as the sewers became backed up. Whether you have city water or a well, you should stockpile clean water no matter what, just in case something detrimental happens to the water supply.

2. Have Lots of Food On Hand

Because we were without power for so long, we had to throw away everything in our fridge and freezer. It was all unusable and went bad fast. (More on this later.) That meant, we only had a little bit of food available. I tend to prefer to eat fresh foods: fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese. You know, the basics. We survived on oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches for the first few days, until I got some cans of soup at the grocery store.

My stash of canned food was shockingly low. Because we have a wood stove, I was able to cook food like oatmeal or make soup, but I didn’t have much. My advice is to always have a supply of good canned food available, as this will stay good the longest, as well as things like canned milk and canned broth. We also were able to make coffee with a French press, which sounds like a luxury, but it was often the one thing I looked forward to!

3. Make Sure to Empty Perishable Items

If your power goes out and there is no estimate for it to return (by the second day of the storm, our utility company was saying to be prepared to be without power for up to two weeks), you’re going to want to throw away your perishable items ASAP. This will save you a huge headache, as it means you won’t have anything rot or drip all over your fridge or freezer. It will also make clean up once power is restored a lot faster. It feels awful to throw away so much food—as an example, I had to throw away a bunch of Costco freezer items I had literally just bought, including a $20 box of chicken nuggets. I nearly cried. But trust me, it can’t be saved. It can’t be saved.

4. Keep a Large Cooler Available

Well, ok: remember when I just said, it can’t be saved? Well, that’s kind of not true. Some stuff can be saved.

If you’re in the middle of a winter storm, my advice is to get a large cooler and fill it with snow; put it outside; and put as much perishable food inside as you can. This is how Danny and I saved our milk and coffee creamer. We could at least keep that routine for Forrest (having milk ASAP in the morning), which was good. In the summer, this wouldn’t work obviously, but it made me feel better to at least save even 5% of our fridge.

5. Everything You Need a Stockpile Of

I don’t need to explain this at all, but here’s a list of everything you need to have a stockpile of:

  • Flashlights (probably one big, sturdy one; one lattern; and several small, easily portable flashlights)

  • Batteries (of all kinds)

  • Candles

  • Matches

  • Medical supplies (any medications you take, as well as you’re preferred pain reliever, bandages of all kinds, gauze, tape, scissors, antiseptic ointment and wipes, soap to wash wounds, and more)

  • Pots and pans that can be used over direct fire or on a wood stove (that means, no Teflon coating or plastic handles/lids)

  • Blankets and towels

  • Antibacterial wipes to wash hands

  • Gasoline or diesel fuel for your car and/or generator

  • Wood (if you have a wood stove or fireplace)

  • A power pack to charge phones and any communication devices

  • A hand power or solar powered radio

6. You Need an Alternative Heat Source

We were incredibly lucky to have a wood stove, as it kept us from being too cold and we were able to cook on it. Even during the summer, we would be able to use our wood stove to cook and boil water to clean with. It goes without saying: an alternative heat source is incredibly important for any emergency preparedness.

If you aren’t able to add an alternative heat source into your home, investing in a generator is another option; there are lots of generators available these days and they are relatively easy to set up (you just need a specific outlet on the outside of your home).


Whew! That’s it (at least for now). There is a lot more about emergency preparedness that I could write about—and I definitely haven’t covered everything you need to be prepared for an emergency. But these were all the notes I kept track of while we were without power.

Have something to add? Let me know in the comments!