Things I Love: December 1

Things I Love: December 1 | Writing Between Pauses

I can’t believe Blogmas is here! I can’t believe I’m already a bit behind! Isn’t that typical? Who knows if I will actually keep up on Blogmas this year—I did well with Blogtober, I knocked NaNoWriMo out of the park, but to be quite honest, I’m very tired. Like, extremely tired!

I’ll be resting on my laurels just a wee bit this Blogmas and doing a lot of Things I Love and Inspiration Sundays. Would you expect anything less from me? Or perhaps, more? (*laughing emoji here*)

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Danny and I took a trip to Idaho for Thanksgiving. And gosh, sometimes I forget how much I like Idaho. I hated it in college, but it’s a different animal now. I was listening to a podcast recently about the book A Separate Peace, which I think is still a common high school assigned reading; they talked about how when you stop going to school (like a university), it sort of ceases to exist and every time you go back, there is a surreal quality to it because it is both changed and unchanged. The College of Idaho exists in my head exactly as when I went there… but it’s been completely changed in a lot of ways since then. It makes me super nostalgic, but also really sad because I wish I had more time as that version of myself.

It goes without saying… getting my house ready for Christmas is one of my absolute favorite parts of the year. I made this palette art last year in a class—and that’s a Balsam Fir scented candle from Bath & Body Works, of course.

This week, I impulsively bought these candies at Target. I don’t know why, but I expected mixed candy… and inside was a bunch of smaller bags of candy. They’re pretty delicious though and give me something sweet to eat that isn’t just chocolate. I’ve never been a big gummy candy fan (except Sour Patch Kids). Forrest has, of course, eaten all the little candy canes.

What are you loving this week?

Things I Love: October 20

Things I Love: October 20 | Writing Between Pauses

Well, it’s here. It’s arrived.

Today, I’m 30 years old.

When I was a teenager, 30 felt ancient. You always watch movies and it seems like by 30, most people have their shit together—and the people who don’t really, really, really do not have it together, but are actively working to get it together. Prime example? All the FRIENDS characters were in their mid-20s in the pilot episode (25-27, roughly).

Your 20s are supposed to be for finding yourself, getting it together, and setting yourself up for success in your 30s.

But what if you are staring down at being 30 and feel like you don’t have any of the pieces of your life just right?

I realize it sounds a little crazy for a parent to write that. Shouldn’t I, as the keeper of a small child, who depends on me, have it all figured out? Shouldn’t I have a plan?

The other day, I had a moment where I really, truly had a panic attack about turning 30. I can’t really put my finger on why I suddenly felt desperately, horribly afraid of turning 30. Most days, I spend my time on autopilot: I get my work done, I take care of Forrest, I make dinner, I clean the house top to bottom nearly every week. It feels like I’m stuck on a clock.

Writing this blog has been a huge way for me to keep “a bit of myself” as I descended into motherhood. Writing about beauty products and how I use them is freeing. And I want other mothers to feel free as well, to remember that it’s ok to take care of yourself alongside everyone else.

But on Sunday, I looked in the mirror and I thought, “I don’t know this person.”

I started reading blog posts and articles about turning 30, about being a mother, about self-care after 30 and realizing that my crisis isn’t specifically unique. But it is my own.

When I had Forrest, it felt like I was swallowed. Like “motherhood”—the big behemoth of motherhood—swallowed me up whole. For a long time, I didn’t really know who I was outside of being a mother. My days are dominated by Forrest and Forrest’s needs. I’m not resentful about it anymore; I’ve managed to regain a little bit of my foothold and feel like me.

But the woman I see in the mirror isn’t… me anymore. We all change as we age, but there is something about this change that feels particularly unwelcome. I don’t look older necessarily (I can thank my round face for that one), but i just don’t look like myself. I think this said it best, from an article called “What I Learned About Self-Care After 30”:

I was so consumed with being selfless that I never stopped to take care of myself, and it pretty much came to a head all at once.
I was nearing the end of my 20s when I looked in the mirror and barely recognized myself one day as I got out of the shower. I used to love doing face masks, getting my nails done, making sure my hair was cut, but most importantly, feeling good about myself and the way I presented myself to the world. That all had kinda stopped. Instead, I was staring back at a tired, overworked mom who hadn’t gotten a haircut in a whole year and couldn’t remember the last time she had a pedicure or even plucked her eyebrows. I felt horrible, and it pretty much got worse from there.

Remember how I mentioned that I hadn’t gotten a haircut in three whole years?

3 years! I went 3 years without a haircut! Without doing basic maintenance on myself.

I’m not quite as freaked out about turning 30 today as I was a few days ago. I’m still the same person I was then.

It is hard to compartmentalize my life: to be a blogger, a writer, a professional, and a mother. I am all of those things at once, but sometimes… well, most of the time, being a mother trumps them all. I will abandon blog posts, I will leave work early, all for my child. Because that’s my job. But is leaving myself last on the list—running myself ragged, not taking time to see my friends or do things I enjoy—part of that too?

It’s not. My goal for turning 30 is this: to start taking time to really focus on myself, to let myself become a person I recognize again, and to dedicate time to being the best mother, professional, and blogger I can be. Not just one.

Things I Want to Stop Doing

This is a bit of a different Things I Love isn’t it? I started out writing it fully intending to transition to my usual TiLT posts… but I’d rather leave it at this. I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Things I Love: December 16

Things I Love: December 16 | Writing Between Pauses

Welcome to another Things I Love (aka TiL)! I did these throughout October/Blogtober and really enjoyed them. They're not great for evergreen content, but they are really, really fun to write. 

Originally, I had another gift guide on my editorial calendar. Every single December, I plan these gift guides and, I'm going to be absolutely honest here, I know I'm not great that them. And, again, absolute honesty, I really hate writing them. I like thinking about them; I like once they're posted; but they are such a bugbear for me to write. I really, really dislike it. 

As the week leading up to this post wore on and I just hadn't written anything, I thought, you know, Michelle, you don't have to write gift guides if you hate it. So I scratched it off my calendar and added in another Things I Love. Because, why not? It's Christmas after all and I can do what I want. 

Now, let's talk about the fun stuff: things I'm loving this week. 

Ulta Beauty 12 Days Advent Calendar | Writing Between Pauses

1. My Ulta Beauty 12 Days of Beauty Advent Calendar

When Danny asked me what I wanted in my stocking, I really didn't know what to tell him. I thought about it for a while and when I spotted this 12 day Advent calendar in the Ulta Beauty catalogue I get in the mail... I kind of knew that's what I wanted. Advent Calendars aren't really a thing in the U.S. (although they're getting more popular), so it is a new concept for me. It was only $13.50 so Danny bought it for me (er, I bought it for myself and he was there). I have been loving opening each day. I've been sharing on my Instagram here

2. My new homepage

So you may have noticed something odd (if you visit my website via the main link): I created a home page to make the blog page secondary. I'd been wanting to mix up the look of my blog for a while, except that right now, it just kind of "works" for lack of a better word! However, I got the idea to create a new page and add a carousel to display my most recent blog posts. Easy peasy and I have the look I want for my homepage now! 

3. Salma Hayek's Op-Ed about Harvey Weinstein

I love reading powerful pieces of writing by women, but I wish this wasn't one of them. It's an important one though. Salma Hayek deserved a better career and the things that were done to her were catastrophic to her achievement. But most importantly, Hayek touches on something I have been thinking about a lot: is it possible to separate the art from the artist? And at the end of the day, when an artist is accused of doing something awful, you have to consider the reality that behind that person, there are other people who were capable of creating beautiful, meaningful pieces of art. What about the art all the women Weinstein hurt would have created? What have we missed out on from not seeing their work? And not just Weinstein, but everyone accused of hurting and silencing women for their own gain? So, next time someone suggests we can separate art from the artist, remember that: there is better art out there from people who were silenced. How about we look at that instead? 

4. Cat Person

Another piece of brilliant writing from a woman? Is it Christmas? (Yes.) This short story went viral on Twitter and for good reason. While the takeaway for many is that this is an individually bad person depicted, I think it goes deeper. To me, this short story is about emotional labor: the dance that women undertake to prevent men from experiencing uncomfortable feelings (either out of fear or just not wanting to "hurt" another person). We are socially conditioned into these roles and I certainly find myself doing it with everyone, not just my husband. It is magnificently written and filled with a kind of slow, undertone of dread that feels very, very familiar. Highly recommend. I've been obsessed with it the last week! 

Things I Love: October 28

Things I Love: October 28 | Writing Between Pauses

It's my last Things I Love for the foreseeable future (I might bring it back for Blogmas)! I thought I'd do a round up from my favorite things from the month. The last week I've been working on preparing for November, NaNoWriMo, and of course, getting ready for another month of daily blogging during December. I am really questioning why I took on three month-long writing challenges in a row, but c'est la vie! I think it's been really good for me so far. I love having goals to hit and staying motivated!

So let's get into the things I loved throughout October.

1. Just Peachy Velvet Mattes palette from Too Faced 

Just Peachy Mattes | Writing Between Pauses

I treated myself to this palette for my birthday. Technically, it's from my husband, but I bought it... and I used a Sephora friends & family coupon on it, so I got it for 20% off! It is absolutely gorgeous. At first, I was worried that using only matte shadows would be limiting, but I really love the vibe and how easy it is to add a shimmer from another palette... or just keep it matte for day. I find these shadows really blendable and lovely, and I love a warmy, peachy eye look, of course. 

2. My Halloween costume from 1990 

My mom posted this photo of me on my birthday, for good reason. This costume was iconic in my family: I was well known for being obsessed with pumpkins. Clearly, Forrest took after me in that regard; he's going to be wearing this same costume on Tuesday! I'm so excited to get a photo of him wearing it. 

3. Jojoba Oil 

I've written before, but it's worth explaining again: when I was 12, I started getting acne and it literally never cleared up. Never. From the age of 12 to two months ago, I had acne every single day. Nothing I did worked; your girl tried EVERYTHING. When I was 20, I started getting cystic acne and from that point on, I had 3-5 cysts on my face at all times, worse when I was on my period. Nothing worked on my acne. It was awful. Two months ago, I made the choice to start washing my face with jojoba oil (I double cleanse and follow it with Soap & Glory's Peaches & Clean face wash) and adding 2-3 drops to my moisturizer day and night. Since then, my acne has cleared up significantly. I also haven't been getting hormonal outbreaks. It's truly amazing how much having good skin has impacted my attitude and outlook. I'll write a full post on my acne journey & jojoba oil soon, but I had to share this in my Things I Love! 

Things I Love: October 7

Things I Love October 7 | Writing Between Pauses

Remember that Inspiration Sunday post I did? Well, waaaay back when I first started blogging everyone used to do Things I Love posts… especially Things I Love Thursdays (TiLT). It was a staple of blogging. When you had nothing else to write about, you’d do a TiLT. Boring week? TiLT. Feeling a bit bored with your blog? TiLT. It was easy. And, honestly, it was fun. 

Blogging can feel a bit stuffy now. Everyone trying to think of the best clickbait titles, trying to make the best Pinterest-worthy graphics, trying to write evergreen content. Siiiigh. 

In Blogtober, I wanted to take things back to what I originally loved about blogging… that sometimes you just put up… whatever. that you posted the things that were really happening in your life. Nothing glossed over. No perfect photos of your curated living room. No boomerangs of your vacation that ignored your lost luggage or the fact you cried for 20 minutes because you missed your dog. We wrote honestly back then. And while it’s not better or worse now, it’s just different—but I do miss a little bit of that rawness. 

I say, let’s bring back the TiLT. Let’s make this a thing again. Ok, I’ll make it a thing again. Here’s what I’m loving this week. 

1. My One Line a Day journal

I was inspired to get a One Line a Day journal by both Charlotte and one of my mom friends. My mom friend has a toddler a few months younger than Forrest and while we’ve both always been journal keepers, it is much harder to keep up on after having children. Some nights I can write for hours; others, I can barely lift the pen. It just depends! However, a One Line a Day format gives me the space to just write one fun or important thing that happened. Recent entries include Forrest saying something particularly funny or what we made for lunch together or how he made me sad that he destroyed the Halloween gingerbread house we built together. Just little things! 

2. Family Trips

My husband and I decided, before Forrest was born, that we would try not to do a ton of gifts for birthdays and Christmas (and other gift-focused holidays). We wanted to focus on creating experiences for him, whether that is a party, taking him on a day trip, or taking him on a longer vacation. For Forrest's birthday, we decided to visit the aquarium; I got him a few books for birthday gifts and our relatives got him some presents, but our gift to him was an aquarium trip. He loved it! And it was so much more fun for all of us to have a nice drive to the coast, visit the aquarium, get lunch together, and then get ice cream together. 

3. And That's Why We Drink

If you know me, you know I'm an absolute podcast addict. I have a weekly schedule and I look forward to my favorites every week. I've recently been binging a new favorite: And That's Why We Drink. It's a paranormal and true crime podcast. Sometimes in the true crime community, I feel out of place because I also love paranormal stuff--but this podcast combines the best of both worlds. Like My Favorite Murder, I love that it is a less serious take and is just two friends talking to each other. While I love podcasts like Casefile and In Sight, sometimes I just want something more casual and this absolutely fits the bill. I tip my milkshake to Em and Christine. 

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