currently: march 2020

currently loving: All of my favorite podcasts, like Art Juice, Gary Vee, and Dave Ramsey, are getting me through my work days lately. I have been extra productive and on top of things. 

currently reading: I almost finished reading My Dear Hamilton, the first historical fiction novel I have read in quite a while. I really enjoyed it and want to read more historical novels this year. It has become my weekend morning routine to wake up and stay in bed reading. I also finished Outlander on Audible and ending up starting the second book after a brief break. Then, I started Extremely, Loud, and Incredibly Close — which I was supposed to read in 2019.

currently watching: I restarted The Office a few weeks ago, and it has been nice to have on in the background while I cook dinner and clean. I can’t watch new shows with only partial attention, but I did find time to watch the first season of The Witcher. I thought that was fun. Then I started Peaky Blinders; I quickly became a bit obsessed with it and lost a few evenings glued to the screen. Oops.

currently celebrating: I finished the online mini-MBA course through the University of Buffalo that I started in the fall. I am glad I did it. It was a bit of an investment, but I think it has made an impact on my future goals.

currently thinking: I am scheming and plotting. I feel really optimistic lately. I think finishing the online course and listening to encouraging podcasts have helped me start to see the future as something exciting again.

currently worrying: Well, since I cut down my hours at the bar, I would really like to pick up a side income again. If I did go back to tending bar, I would probably want it to be a little more lucrative. I have been considering renting out a room in my house (*vaguely* considering).

currently knitting: This is embarrassing, I finally finished a scarf I started over a year ago. Honestly, it might be two years since I started it. I finished it while watching The Witcher and Peaky Blinders! 

currently painting: I told myself I couldn’t paint until I finished my online course. I sort of defeated that by binge-watching Netflix shows. BUT now that I have finished the course, I HAVE PLANS. I am going to have fun. I am going to dig deeper and do better.

book review: the tenant of wildfell hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I imagine, there must be only a very, very few men in the world that I should like to marry; and of those few, it is ten to one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I should, it is twenty to one he may not happen to be single, or to take a fancy to me.”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Drugs, alcohol, and debauchery in a 19th century novel written by a woman? As relevant as that sounds for the modern young person, this story is just really sad. The protagonist, young Helen Lawrence, is courted and married to Mr. Huntingdon – a man who’s debauchery becomes his sole purpose in life. He not only neglects his wife, but flirts with other women in front of her, puts her in dangerous situations with other men, and teaches their child to drink, swear and behave badly just to make her mad.

The novel starts from the perspective of Gilbert Markhum, who only comes to meet Helen after she has run away from her malicious husband. The reader then discovers the tale of Helen’s woes from her diary which she gives to Markhum to make him understand why they cannot fall in love. Both Helen and Markhum learn about themselves, and true love and Christian duty, as the rest of the novel unfolds. Of course, all ends well for the well-behaved Christians and all ends horribly for the drunken Huntingdon and his gang.

While Anne Bronte hoped to preach that Christian values always win and that sin leads to destruction, I think the argument for discernment in a relationship is just as important. The initial love between Huntingdon and Helen can only be described as superficial and misplaced. Helen loves Huntingdon with a love that comes from her duty as a woman (and her misguided perceptions of his character) and Huntingdon loves Helen (if you can call it that) with an infatuated and shallow heart that fizzles rather quickly.

“He never could have loved me, or he would not have resigned me so willingly”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

As a single woman in 2019, I really connected with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, not because I am self-righteous or morally superior – as is Helen – but because I see a lot of men act the part of a devoted boyfriend or husband who think it’s okay to run around on side. I also see a lot of women who think they can make a man change his ways.

“When I tell you not to marry without love, I do not advise you to marry for love alone – there are many, many other things to be considered.”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I do not understand why a man would get married (or stay in a “monogamous” relationship) when he has no intention of being a companion or being faithful. This burns me. Does it really come down to societal pressures and expectations? Do cheaters truly just want to keep appearances up for the sake of their reputation? Huntingdon wanted Helen to stay at home and wait for him and heed to his every need. Even when they could no longer stand each other, he refused to let her go so that people would not think badly of him.

These relationships are brutal to observe from the outside and that was what reading this book was like — listening to a woman talk about her relationship and not being able to say what you really think about it. We all know a Huntingdon and a Helen. We know the player who woos and manipulates women. We also know the woman who falls for it every time. “He might leave his wife for me.” “He told me this time was different.” “He said he wouldn’t do it again.” — Girl. What do his actions say?

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book review: you are a badass

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a quick little read (or listen) that can give you the push you need to start being a bad-ass. Jen Sincero’s writing is familiar and humorous (not laugh out loud funny but pleasant). There are a lot of good reminders in this book to encourage you to make changes in your perception, your mind, your heart, and your life. Sincero argues that if you want something, you need to believe you can have it. In essence, believing you are worthy of a great life and that you can have whatever life you imagine, is the only way that life will ever truly come to be. Sincero also reminds you that if you aren’t following through, you don’t want it enough.

Here’s what I was reminded:
1. Imagining the life I want to live is something I don’t do enough. For me, just having a clear picture of my life can be difficult because I can imagine multiple lives for myself.
2. I am really guilty of telling myself something is a priority and then not doing it (like exercise).
3. Trusting myself is both more difficult and more important to me than I thought.

I agree with Sincero in that if we believe we can and we follow through, we will achieve our vision, but there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s great to be all good vibes and light, but to go after dreams is work, plain and simple. To make money is work. Sincero’s “real life” examples of how the universe listened to her intentions were weak. Rather than claiming the sky opened up and answered her prayers, I’d much rather have heard the tangible reasons she was able to do the things that she did. She obviously did the groundwork to build her career and connections. There’s very little mention of those though.

As much as I gained from this book, I got caught up by the foundation of her perspective: the idea that the universe and our desires want to be in accordance with each other. Maybe it’s because I’m Catholic, but God – the Universe, the spirit energy, whatever you call it – doesn’t owe us a beautiful, fantastic, amazing life. Worthiness and self-love are crucial to being confident to go to new places and seek new achievements, but trusting that everything you imagine will be handed to you is a slippery slope. What if what you want and what God has planned are different? What if in the midst of striving to build your business, you lose a leg? What if you want a family, but you haven’t met the right person?

I have been struggling with the idea of purpose for the past few years so maybe it’s just me being cynical, but life happens and circumstances change constantly. Being able to identify the beautiful, amazing, fantastic things in the life you have can be even more beneficial than imagining a life you wish you were living. Gratitude and love can transform an average life into a light-filled life without money and without traveling to Bali or Spain or Tokyo to write a book.

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