Where Have I Been?

Good question. You may or may not have wondered what happened to the ol’ website that is frecklesandfigs.com for the last couple of months. I have, even if you haven’t. I’ve asked myself way too many times, How long can one avoid blogging until they need to remove “blogger” from their Instagram bio? The truth is, every time I’ve sat down to brainstorm topics to write on or started to click away on my keyboard, one of several rotating excuses pops into my mind.

First, though, let me say how much I hate when people in my life make excuses for things I understand they want to prioritize. For example, when my boyfriend expresses that he wants to workout but simply doesn’t have the time, in my head, I’m like, You’ll have the time when you make the time, buddy.

Isn’t it sad and hilarious how the things we tend to harp on about others are often the things we dislike in ourselves? So, yeah. I’m going to be honest about the excuses that have been keeping me from this place that has been such a wonderful and powerful outlet for my all-over-the-place thoughts and musings.

Before we get to those, I’ll tell you where I really have been. I’ve been traveling: home for my grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration and to Texas for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party in the hill country and to Asheville, NC, for a trip full of card games and delicious food with my boyfriend’s family. I’ve been adding freelance clients to my roster, whom I write several pieces of content, including blog posts and social media copy, for every week. I’ve been spending time with my sister, who has lived in Nashville for the summer doing travel nursing, going to concerts, drinking too much rosé, and talking about life face to face, which we haven’t done so regularly since high school (the chats, not the wine and concerts). I’ve been tip-toeing more and more out of my comfort zone — I joined a small group at my church, have done some volunteering, have attended way more spontaneous social get-togethers than I would prefer. (I’m a planner; have you noticed?)

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Get Out of Your Way

Two months later and hello! In case you were wondering, I took a little break over here. It wasn’t really on purpose. One week, I missed writing a blog post, and then the next week I didn’t write one, either, and then again and again the next and next weeks.

I kept thinking to myself, I should really write something, but then I’d get bogged down with what outfits I’d shoot (because that’s what lifestyle bloggers do, gosh dang it), whether or not I wanted to (or could afford to) pay for photography that week, not wanting to just write “filler” content (see: my last post where I was really reaching to get just about anything that came to mind written and published), not feeling inspired, and blah blah blah. I feel like I’ve been here and written about this inner-tug to slow down and step back before. Oh, why yes, I have.

So, I’m not complaining over here — just being honest: I let life get in the way of writing and then wallowed in the realization that I let life get in the way of writing. And then (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve heard this story) something awful happened to the unrelenting people pleaser that I am.Read More

Three Words To Change Your Life

I am a big, BIG listener to and lover of podcasts. I nanny during the day, so — while I can do baby talk and love hanging out with my best 13-month-old pal — sometimes I need a little more stimulating “conversation” during my weekdays. Podcasts might not provide the back-and-forth of your typical conversation, but at least I can get a laugh or learn something interesting throughout the day.

I subscribe to funny ones, like My Favorite Murder (you might not think murder is comical, per se, but the hosts somehow tell these real-life horror stories in an unabashedly fascinated and, yes, humorous way); inspirational ones, like The Skinny Confidential: Him & Her (Lauryn Evarts is the creator behind the blog, The Skinny Confidential, and the banter with her husband, Michael, on their podcast is all at once informational, relatable, and hilariously real); and mindless, fun ones, like Straight Up with Stassi (she’s my favorite Bravolebrity and always has interesting guests and behind-the-scenes stories that I live for).

The latter is what I was listening to a couple weeks ago on the treadmill when I was happily surprised with a more serious topic than Stassi normally goes into. In this particular episode, she brought on a life coach who gave advice on working through anxiety, not letting others’ opinions get to you, and a simple method to understanding your place in the world. The life coach said that sometimes we get bogged down by other people’s expectations, and even our own expectations about how we think our lives should be going or how we should be dealing with things. (Raise your hand if you’re thinking, YEP, because I sure was.)

And then we get disappointed when life doesn’t go according to plan, or when we fall short in some way. So, she explained that we should all have a phrase to come back to when we’re feeling lost or out of sorts, no matter if it has to do with your personal life, work, relationships, or even just being stressed out in traffic. This phrase should be your home base, your reason for what you do and how you act in every situation and every second of the day.

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What I’m Reading Right Now

books to read 2016

I’ve always been an ardent reader, an enthusiastic lover of stories. I remember when I was little, before I learned how to read, I wanted to know how to read so badly. I couldn’t wait until the day that I could sound out more than just my first name. I would pick up my older siblings’ books and novels and just sit there staring at the pages while they watched TV or played. Between skimming the pages, I’d peek up to see if they noticed that–HELLO–I was “reading”! (Or, you know, I was looking intently at odd shapes that I assumed made up some magical story within the book I held.) They never appeared to notice or care, but I continued on flipping through pages, imagining what kind of story was encapsulated inside this or that book.

Now, it’s hard to find the time to wrap myself up inside a great book (and it’s not because I’m still learning to read). Between a busy work and life schedule, I find myself starting several books and slowly–we’re talking molasses-slow–chipping away at each of them simultaneously. The OCD side of me hates that I do this because finishing one of these books takes about, oh, a year (if I’m being generous). But, at the same time, I get to choose which book of the several I’m reading at once that I pick up, depending on what mood I’m in and what topic I feel like investing time in. Here are the four I’m working at (and loving) currently.

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you know me personally or have read any of my blog posts, you know I struggle with finding balance between creativity and the rest of my life. This book is teaching me–in a beautifully written, yet firm, way–to SHUT UP and just get to work. Simple as that. Plus, Gilbert’s one-liners that serve as inspirational quotes to Pin forever and ever are amazing and aplenty.

2. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller

John (boyfriend) and I are slowly working our way through this one–like, slower than all the other books on this list. It’s been a couple months since we picked it up–but we both agree that the main lesson is an important one. While John and I have entirely different work styles and goals, Keller’s lesson of choosing one thing, the most important thing, to focus your attention on at a time is a takeaway that’s proven useful in both John’s and my life.

3. Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams by David Bach

Speaking of John, he gave me this book last year as a gift. I think it’s a sign he doesn’t exactly trust my financial skills? (KIDDING. Because, what financial skills?) I’m learning, you guys, and this book is certainly helping, even though it’s usually last on my list to pick up when I have spare time for reading. I am pretty self-aware about my financial situation, but that doesn’t mean I always know what I should be doing financially, as a young professional making a modest living. And this book is helping with that in a totally understandable way.

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The one novel I’m reading right now, this book is a tear-jerker and a page-turner. It’s about a deaf girl who, during World War II, gets separated from her father and must find her way to safety amid the approaching Germans. I am a sucker for Holocaust history and sad stories, but the weight of this one makes it difficult for me to pound through quickly. So, I’m savoring it–something made lovelier by the incredible writing courtesy of Doerr. (Shout out to John’s parents for a fantastic Christmas present!)