Looking Back on 2018: A Good Year, Really

Sunday, December 30, 2018


I started last year's year-in-review post like this:
"I've been pretty lucky to have a few good years in a row. What does it say about me if I'm perpetually living in fear of waiting for the other shoe to drop?"
In fairness, nothing bad has happened; that other shoe hasn't dropped, per se (& thank goodness for that). But 2018 wasn't quite the year that the last three or four have been. As 2018 draws to a close, I just feel... tired. Exhausted, really. I feel like I can't keep up with my own life. I feel like I can't get anything right. I am, in short, having a hard year.

In 2019, I Will...

Friday, December 28, 2018


I've got to be honest: 2018 is the first year in a long time that has ended with me feeling less than great - & I've been feeling way less than great lately. I don't totally know why because, in reality, 2018 was a pretty darn good one - but right now, I'm looking forward as much as I'm looking back, trying to figure out how I can start feeling better in 2019.

That's what these resolutions goals are focused on: looking forward & feeling better. Here's what I've got on deck in the new year - to start.

Go back to therapy.

This is my number-one goal for 2019. I stopped therapy in mid-2015, & I haven't felt like I've needed it since then - until now. I didn't look for a therapist in December as planned, but it's the first thing I need to get on top of in the new year.

In 2019, I'm pursuing mental health... again. It feels disappointing & borderline embarrassing to relapse like this after a few years of doing so well & feeling so healthy, but I guess that's how it goes, right? Just gotta take it as it comes - & take care of myself.

Complete 100 Harness Cycle classes... & keep going

At the time of this writing, I've got 20 classes to go, so if I stay on track, I should hit 100 Harness classes by early to mid-February - but I have no plans to stop once I get there. Anyone want to come celebrate my 100th ride with me?

In 2019, here's to many more rides - including the ones designated only for Club 100 members!

Try (at least) 10 new kinds of workouts

Of all my goals, this feels among the most daunting. Since starting to work out today, as I've written before, I haven't lost a single pound - & have, in fact, gained quite a few. I know, I know, "You can't out-exercise a bad diet" (we'll get to that in a sec), but I'd also like to diversify my exercise in an effort to try to be healthier.

In 2019, I'd like to try some other workouts. I certainly don't plan to abandon Harness, but I'd like to put my newfound workout confidence to use & try a few new places.

Focus on healthy eating

I eat like crap. I know it. I try to tell myself that I don't - & I have, to some extent, gotten better about it - but overall, man, I eat poorly. And it's time for that to change.

In 2019, I'd like to... eat better, period. I barely know where to begin, but I swear to God, this will be the year I not only begin but continue

Take a solo vacation of some sort

I've been daydreaming of a week-long vacation/staycation to some sort of cabin or yurt or treehouse or something else outdoorsy & barely wifi accessible. I've never done this before, but maybe this is the year for it?

In 2019, I'll explore a few options & book one & not feel bad about taking a frivolous, just-for-me week of work to not even go anywhere amazing. Know what's amazing? Mental health.

Save at least $5k

This goal is so elusive to me. This year, I paid off my credit card bill, but truth be told, I still didn't quite figure out how to live within my means, as evidenced by the fact that I wasn't able to save as much as I wanted or intended to. That's gonna hit me hard come tax season (uh, like, a week from now).

In 2019, I'm committing to not withdrawing from my savings account, like, ever, unless it's for something huge & unexpected, like a health bill or car issues. No drawing from my savings to supplement my daily living... or spending.

Read 80+ books again

This year, my goal was actually only 75 books, & I blew through it to hit 100. I don't like to set the goal of 100, though, because reading isn't a race, & I don't want to turn down long books out of fear that they'll take me so long to read that they'll be a detriment to my ability to read more... or something.

In 2019, I'll aim for 80 books, which is pretty easy/average for me, & if I go beyond that, great. I'll never be upset to read more than planned - but I don't want to set myself up to leave behind great books in pursuit of a random numerical goal.

Participate in some sort of professional development

I feel like all my friends have masters degrees, & here I am, plugging away at the same job I've had for 6+ years (at the same place I've worked for 11+ years). It's time for me to do something that will make me feel good about my skills, empowered by my efforts to learn more, & equipped to do more, better, & with new knowledge.

In 2019, I'm looking for some kind of online class or course that will help me become a better digital marketing and/or overall communicator. Do you know of anything like this? Get at me!

Focus on friendships

I don't feel like I have a lot of close friends here in Cleveland. I love the folks I know, but I wouldn't say we're close, which means that when I want that debriefing-out-with-a-BFF feeling, I'm at a loss - unless I turn to FaceTime with long-distance friends.

In 2019, I'd like to put extra effort into being a good friend & cultivating closer friendships, whether with the people I already know or new people entirely. So, um, does anyone wanna be my friend?

What are you aiming for in the new year? 

2018: The Year I Got My Sh!t Together?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Photo by Tall Hair Creative
As 2019 approaches, I'm reflecting on how surprisingly successful I was in 2018. I didn't think of it like that throughout most of the year - but now that I'm looking back on it, I feel kind of proud of how well I adulted.

In 2018, I...

Changed my name

In January, I took a day off work, dragged my mom to a judge's office downtown, & made it official: I'm legally Kate Bigam Kaput, y'all! As longtime readers know, my legal first name was Sara - & now it's not. Sure I still haven't changed all the paperwork (like, um, with my banks), & this will probably cause some end-of-year issues, but I'm on my way

In 2019: Time to make it official with my banks! Why do they make it so hard? No one has a fax machine anymore, you guys.

Went to a lot of doctors

This year, I finally took it upon myself to schedule visits to a pulmonologist, an allergist, & a neurologist. I did a CAT scan, had allergic tests, & participated in a 24-hour sleep study, with follow-up appointments to come. I also scheduled an upcoming physical, where I'll get my vaccines updated & ask to have my thyroid checked.

In 2019: In January, I'll find out the results of my sleep study & determine, with my neurologist, a course of action moving forward. I also neeeeed to schedule a well-woman visit & a dentist appointment. Any Clevelanders love their gynecologist and/or dentist? Get at me.

Paid off a huge medical bill

OK, fine, I have $200 left to go, but that'll be paid off in the next couple of weeks, so I'm counting it as paid, for the purposes of this post. It was such a pain to work my way through all this paperwork, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected, & I'm proud of myself for facing it instead of avoiding it, as I am wont to do.

In 2019: I'm sure I'll have a new medical bill to sort out following my recent sleep study (dreading this), but it's worth it to finally see doctors, get answers, & feel better, overall.

Paid off my credit card

WOOOO, I am not a person who uses my credit card anymore (except, fine, for the Michelle Obama tickets I just bought!!!, which is OK because I just wanted the points - & then quickly paid it off). I'm really proud of myself on this one, though if I'm being honest, it continues to be difficult for me to curb my spending.

In 2019: I will open no new credit cards & only use my existing credit card thoughtfully & sparingly (like if I want the points on a large purchase). Now, time to start increasing my savings so that 2019 can be the year I really get my finances in order.

Started working out

I know, I know, I've written about this a lot. In April, I went to my first Harness Cycle class... & cried my face off & felt terrible about it. And then I went to, like, 75 more classes, & now I'm on my way to 100, & I haven't lost a single pound, but I do love the ride. For the first time in my life, I can say, "Yes, I work out three or four times a week."

In 2019: I want to step it up & try a other kinds of workouts. I told my mom I'd go to kickboxing classes with her, & a few Instagram friends convinced me that I should give Orange Theory a try. And I still want to try aerial yoga at Yoga Strong!

Did lots of freelance work

Last September, I started freelancing for Cleveland Magazine following a simple request that I write two book reviews for them. That turned into steady work, a project or two a month - just small sidebars, mostly, but I also told my mental health story in a long, personal essay. I've loved the opportunity to learn more about & make more connections in the CLE - while seeing my name in print.

In 2019: I'd love to keep doing this, if Cleveland Magazine will have me, & I'd like to find a couple other outlets I can submit personal essays to on occasion. It's been awhile!

Got rid of a ton of stuff

After reading Cait Flanders' The Year of Less in February, I undertook a process to, well, have a lot less, & I got rid of bags & bags & bags of stuff. Like, how could I even have that much stuff in an apartment so small? I'm now a lot more thoughtful about what I buy & when & why - which is also partially how I paid off that credit card bill.

In 2019: I plan to continue my attempts at thoughtful minimalism, as outlined in a post I wrote right after I read Flanders's book.

Tell me: What was your best adulting win of 2018? What have you finally gotten the hang of? 

The Best Books I Read in 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Photo by Tall Hair Creative

It's that time of the year again - time to recap the best books I read this year! The year isn't over, of course, & so I'll probably fit in a couple more before 2018 draws to a close - I'm hoping to hit 100 - but I'm still going to go ahead & share my 10 favorites of the year.

If you want to keep up with my reading in 2019...


And without further ado, the best of my year!


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is probably one of my favorite books ever, not just this year. & I need to get my hands on everything else Reid has ever written. It tells the story of a Hollywood starlet whose fame began in the '50s. So juicy! So salacious! And yet, somehow, also so tender, so full of genuine feeling. Everyone told me this book was great, & everyone was right. This book is not what you think it will be - & I, for one, could not put it down.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This was the first book I finished in 2018, & did it ever set the bar high! Eleanor is a deeply odd, socially awkward, single, thirtysomething woman who has maintained a surprising lifelong relationship with her violently abusive mother - & has no other relationships to speak of until she meets Raymond, a coworker who becomes her very first friend. This story both broke & warmed my heart.

Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

I was stunned to read the story of Theranos, the Silicon Valley scam company that fooled everyone - & made millions before its fall. How had I never heard of its existence?! This was a real-life thriller, a true crime novel like you've never read before. Carreyrou, the journalist who broke the original story, did incredibly thorough reporting & even better writing to make this book a reality.


Honorable Mentions: As always, I read so many good books this year that it would be impossible to pare it down to just three - & was still really tough to pare down the top 10. Here are the best of the bunch, in no particular order:
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelRead this if you appreciate emotional, complex, character-driven novels, especially if post-apocalyptic is your jam.
     
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Read this if you're looking for heartwarming but realistic YA fiction. And, um, aren't we all?
     
  • You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi KleinRead (or listen!) to this is you're a thirty- or forty-something woman with a good sense of humor about you mental & emotional issues.
     
  • Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertRead this if you've ever struggled with your mental health, your sexuality, your family, your feelings... basically, if you've ever been a person, period.
     
  • The Woman in the Window by AJ FinnRead this if you're looking for a slow but complex thriller with an unreliable narrator & a chilling twist.
     
  • The Year of Less by Cait FlandersRead this if you're trying to delve into thoughtful minimalism or or just want to do some goddamn decluttering.
     
  • The President Is Missing by James Patterson & Bill ClintonRead this if you're overwhelmed & upset by current real-life politics & want an escape into sensationalized political heroism.
What's the best book you read this year? What's on your to-read list in 2019?

Diners, Drive-Ins, & my Favorite Memories of My Dad

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


I don't talk much about my dad, in part because I was only 10 when he died. In truth, I don't remember a whole lot about him. I remember a feeling about him - I was a real daddy's girl - but nearly 25 years after his death, there's not much I can tangibly remember.

The one memory that connects me best to my dad is of Swenson's Drive-In. If you're from Northeast Ohio, you know the glory that is Swenson's, a chain of restaurants that began in Akron, near my hometown, in 1934. Swenson's was my dad's favorite place, hands down.

Wait, let me back up.

5 Christmas Beers I Love

Monday, December 17, 2018


You guys.

I've told you before about how I'm still newish to not-just-PBR beers, which means that, with each new holiday season, I get a little bit more adventurous - & find at least a couple new beers I enjoy.

And this has been a banner year, thanks in part to my recent visit to Der Braumeister's 12 Beers of Christmas event, which I attended just before Thanksgiving. Since then, I've gotten a little bit more adventurous than ever when it comes to holiday beers - & I've found a few new faves. Here are five beers I'm loving this holiday season.

Shiner Holiday Cheer (Spoetzl Brewery)

If you're from the north like me, you probably didn't realize there were Shiner beers beyond the standard Shiner Bock. Enter Shiner Cheer, a roasted-pecan-&-peach-flavored Dunkelweisen available only in winter. I first tried this one at the Der Brau event & am now a biiiiig fan - though it's made in Texas, & it's surprisingly tough to find in the CLE! It doesn't sound like it should be a Christmas beer, but it's surprisingly cozy - & honestly, I would drink it year-round, if it were offered.

Esther (Platform Beer Co.)

Oh, hello, this beer is very boozy. This Belgian Strong Dark Christmas Ale clocks in at a whopping 9.5% ABV, which explains why a six-pack is a whopping $13. It's described as "aromatic & complex, with notes of honey, dark cherry, & a touch of toffee as the glass warms." I, uh, don't know if I taste any of those, but I don't hate whatever it is that I'm tasting. This beer is surprisingly dark for my liking, but I do indeed like it - & it only takes about one & a half of them to get me feelin' toasty for the holidays.

Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Co.)

If you're from the CLE, you know from Christmas Ale - but this is my first year as a fan. For whatever reason, this year it finally just clicked - & it tasted good to me, after a few years of taking small sips of Mike's & making an involuntary blech-face upon doing so. A heady combo of spices & honey, apparently the brew tastes a little different every year (or so say friends; the brewery denies it), & perhaps this year's version just did it for me. GLBC's website says it pairs well with "Roast duck, spiced desserts, and ugly Christmas sweaters" - & as Meatloaf once sang, two outta three ain't bad.

Holiday Donut Cookie (Platform Beer Co.) 

As I started writing this post, I didn't realize that I was including not one but two Platform beers. Guess it's confirmed at my favorite CLE brewery! I bought this one on a whim because the can reads, simply, "Cookie. Spice. Donut." which kind of sums it up, though the beer is much less sweet than I'd expect it to be, given that description. It's somehow reminiscent of all three of those things without tasting like it'll also give you a cavity. At 7% ABV, it's solidly boozy but not overly so - & mostly, it just makes me wish I had a fireplace.

Imperial Cinnamon Roll Ale (Southern Tier Brewing Co.)

There's a new Southern Tier open in downtown Cleveland, & Mike's office's holiday party is taking place there - which means I've got some Cinnamon Roll Ale to drink this weekend! STBC's website describes it like this: "Akin to the morning’s first brewed batch of perfectly roasted coffee, the aromas envelope you and cause the corners of your lips to curl into the slightest unconscious." Who writes this dramatic stuff? I would just say of it, "It tastes a lot like if a cinnamon roll became a beer." Because it's true. Mission accomplished, STBC.

Are you a beer drinker? What's your favorite holiday brew?

8 Ways to Become a Better Gift-Giver

Friday, December 14, 2018

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pinecrest, with whom I'm partnering for a holiday series. I've been compensated for my writing/shopping, but as always, all opinions are my own.



I absolutely love gift-giving, & I think I'm pretty good at it. I could be wrong (you tell me, I guess, if you've ever received a gift from me), but I put a lot of time & effort into gift-giving & really have fun doing it. I love the feeling of making someone else happy by giving them something that's perfectly tailored to them.

1. Think about what they like - not just what you like.
I think this is one of the biggest gift-giving mistakes: Some people love giving gifts but have a tendency not to think of the likes & styles of the person they're giving said gifts to. Instead, they buy what they like for that person - which is not the same thing.

When you spot something that might make for a great gift, ask yourself: Do I like this, or do I actually think my aunt/brother/BFF would like this? Oftentimes - especially if you're a person who's struggled with gift-giving in the past - you'll realize that, upon asking yourself this question, the answer is the former. If so, move along. Don't buy that. let's try again.

2. Consider their interests.
Where to start where to start... This time, ask yourself: What do the people in your life like to do? Let that be your guide.

If your dad is a hardcore hiker, head to REI & see what looks right. Your wife loves home decor & is always trying to redecorate the living room? West Elm it is, & head straight for the fancy tchotchkes. Maybe you've got a sister who's obsessed with fashion, so you check out Vernacular & ask the store clerk for suggestions for a perfect clutch...

Feel me? Figure out what your loved ones like, then go from there. That's all there is to it.



3. Pay attention when they talk.
It may be too late in the year for this tip, but bear with me for the future, OK? Most people will, at some point, mention stuff they enjoy or want or would like to do. If you're not the kind of person who loves gift-giving & finds it easy, well, pay attention.

Even if it's February, make note of the thing they tell you they're interested in. Your football-loving husband says he needs a warm hat for tailgating? Make a note in your phone, & grab a Browns-themed one from Homage when those holiday deals hit. Your sister mentions that she could totally use a massage? Flag it for later, then buy her a gift card to Woodhouse Spa when her birthday rolls around.

People will reveal what they like, if only you're listening. So listen!

4. Investigate their interests a little further.
Awhile back, I was trying to decided between two necklaces for my best friend, but I couldn't remember if she wears more silver or gold. Not wanting to buy her something she wouldn't wear, I did what any smart millennial would do: I turned to the Internet. In nearly every Instagram photo with her face in it, she was wearing silver jewelry - & so I went with silver. The necklace was a hit, & now it shows up in her Instagram photos!


5. Cheat a little.
Do they have an Amazon wishlist? How about a Goodreads TBR list? A Pinterest board titled something like "Stuff I Want to Own"? (That's what mine's called, anyway!) It's not actually cheating to dig around, find a list like this, & buy them something you know they want. That's just smart.

6. Don't forget about experiences. 
Some of the best gifts I've ever received have been in the category of "things to do" instead of "stuff to own." If you want to be sure they still have something to open - you know, for that holiday ambiance - consider pairing the experience with a tangible related item. 

I love the idea of gifting someone a candle in a scent you love, paired with the gift of the experience of making their own at Candle Studio, or packing up a nice water bottle or workout headband paired along with a membership to Orange Theory. (Note: Don't you dare give a gym membership to someone who doesn't want a gym membership, though! That's called body-shaming.)

7. Everyone likes food.
"Food, glorious, fooood!" Any other musical fans out there? Just me? Moving along...

There are many ways to give the gift of food. You can give a gift card to a restaurant or a coffee shop or a dessert spot (lookin' at you with heart-eyes emoji, Duck Donuts). You can create a foodie gift basket out of high-end goodies from someplace like Williams Sonoma, which sells lots of locally made goods. You can put together the best-ever stocking with treats from an old-timey candy shop like Sweetie's Big Fun. You can give someone a card saying that your gift is taking them to dinner for a nice night out together because everyone loves quality time, right?

Look, I'm Jewish. I just think food is a great gift. 


8. When in doubt, remember: Nobody doesn't love gift cards.
I know a lot of folks are loath to go the gift  card route because they think it's lazy, but listen: If you know you're not a great gift-giver, gift cards are actually great gifts. No one is ever going to complain about being able to pick out their own gift on someone else's dollar! For these, you can do what I mentioned about: Wrap 'em up nice like gifts, & even pair them with a related item to create a more "real" gifting experience.

Can't decide on a store? Some place offer gift cards to entire shopping plazas. Pinecrest, for example, sells gift cards that can be used at nearly any store or restaurant in the area. Choose your own adventure!


Tell me: What are your gift-giving tips? And what's on your holiday wishlist this year?! Mine's here, in case you're buyin'. 

What It's Like to Do a 24-Hour Sleep Study

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


It's done, it's done, my 24-hours sleep study is finally done! After being rescheduled twice, it finally took place on Sunday/Monday, & boy, am I glad to be done with it. I'd expected it to be like a sleep staycation, but to be honest, I've never been more bored.

If you missed the backstory, my doctor thinks I have two separate sleep disorders, delayed sleep phase disorder & idiopathic hypersomnia. I am not thrilled about either, but I am thrilled to be on the road to having answers & finding treatment. This sleep study was the first step. 

6 Small Goals for December

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Just like everyone else, I'm stunned that it's already December. Is this what adulthood is like? The year just zoom on by? Cue the Amy Grant.

As we head into the final month of the year, here's how I did on my November goals:
  1. Relax. Honestly? I did a decent job of this but not well enough to cross it off the list. I had a few crazy weeks of work, & even on vacation, I was stressed out & uptight. I didn't schedule the massage I'd hoped for (it's next week), & I stayed up late working on more than a few last-minute deadlines. How am I so bad at relaxing?
  2. Finish my holiday shopping. Yesss, I nailed this one, & I'm so proud of myself! You can read about it in this post. The only thing I haven't done yet is to put together my gift for Mike's aunt & uncle, a basket of local foods, but you can only put that together so early, you know? Holiday shopping soooo close to done!
  3. Cook more. I didn't do a great job of this, but I would say I accomplished it. I started making tostadas with gallo pinto, although Mike made the gallo pinto; I baked pumpkin banana bread & made no-bake peanut butter energy bites. And even when I wasn't cooking, I was making, if that makes sense. I had lettuce wraps for lunch, tortellini for dinner, etc. etc. Lots more eating at home than usual.
  4. Do the laundry in a more timely fashion. Accomplished, for the most part. I think I only had to re-do one or two loads of accidentally-left-overnight laundry all month long. 
  5. Go to 10 Harness Cycle classes. Nope. During those busy first two weeks of the month, I I ended up canceling two classes at the last minute, & I was out of town for a full week. I only made it to a total of seven classes in November.
  6. Consume less sugar. Total fail. I forgot that I even set this goal. I did, however, eat significantly healthier this month than usual. 
OK, OK, so this was my worst month in a long time, when it comes to achieving the goals I'd set for myself. Here are some much more achievable (I hope) goals for the month of December:
  1. Get an oil change. Dude, I neeeeeeeed to take better care of my car. I have not been getting regular oil changes, & that needs to change, like, now.
  2. Starting using the Calm app. On Black Friday, I paid for a discounted, year-long subscription to Calm, a meditation & sleep app. I haven't used it much in the past, but I'd like to get in the habit of using it regularly - or at least exploring its options. 
  3. Complete my sleep study. It's here, it's here! OK, it's almost here: My 24-hour (!) sleep study has been rescheduled twice & is finally happening this Sunday. I'm dreading the sorting out of health insurance mess that comes with it, but I can't wait to get answers about my sleep disorder(s). 
  4. Get (or at least schedule) a haircut. It's been almost a year since I last got my hair cut, & man, I look bedraggled. I don't really have a go-to stylist, so it seems like a pain to figure this out, but it's probably more of a pain to look as gross as I do.
  5. Search for a new therapist. I won't get into this except to say: It's time. It's apparently, like, borderline impossible to find a therapist, but I've got to try. Cleveland friends: Any recs?
  6. Successfully host Christmas dinner. In the past, Mike's family has done Christmas at his grandmother's house. Sadly, she passed away last weekend, & we have offered to step up & take on the Christmas celebration. It will be so hard without her here - but I hope we can do justice to the holiday in her absence.
What are you December goals? Do you set new year's resolutions, & if so, are you planning them already? I think I may just stick with the small, monthly goals in 2019... 

What I Read in November

Monday, December 3, 2018


Hello, December! I probably won't hit 100 books this year, & that's OK. I'm trying to focus on quality over quantity, reading things I enjoy & want to be reading, instead of trying to reach a particular number. Sometimes I find myself looking at read-time estimates & going "Seven hours?! No way," then ditching long reads in favor of shorter ones. I don't want to do that anymore!

Incidentally, I mostly only finished short reads this month because I was stressed & wanted a mental break. But they're what I wanted to read, so it's OK. Going forward, I just want to be sure to pay attention to my reasons for reading so that I don't overlook great long reads in favor of shorter ones that will boost my "numbers."

Reading isn't a competition, with myself or anyone else. 

Anyway. Onto my November reads.

Before He Preys by Blake Pierce

I can't believe I've made it all the way to book nine in this very cheesy crime series, but man, these books are perfect when I need a quick & easy escape. I get through them quickly but enjoy them, even if they do seem to be riddled with typos. Hire me as an editor, bro. This one is about a case in which someone is stages murders to look like suicides. ★★★☆☆

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I think Albertalli is one of my favorite writers. I've loved everything I've ever read of hers, & this might've been the best yet - which is saying a lot, given how much I loved Simon versus the Homo Sapien Agenda. This book is loosely set in the same universe - it's all about Simon's best friend's cousin, Molly, so he makes a brief appearance - which was a cute revisit. Molly is 17 & has never been kissed, though she's prone to intense crushes. Her twin sister tried to set her up with cute guy... just as Molly starts falling for her nerdy coworker. Can she follow through on either? ★★★★★

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan

This book was a good start for learning more about financial literacy & getting some good ideas about savings, credit card usage, credit scores, & the like. Unfortunately, it was far too simplistic on some topics & way too complicated on others. It also veered weirdly off-topic into areas like wardrobe selection & cooking, even going so far as to include recipes. I understand what they were going for, but I have cookbooks for that; I wanted more of the financial help! ★★★☆☆

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The world feels gross & overwhelming right now, & so I wanted a lighthearted read to get my mind off of it. Enter Meg Cabot's 2001 hit, later made into Anne Hathaway's big break. When New York native & noted dork Mia Thermopolis learns that she's the heir to the Genovian throne, her first instinct is to keep it secret. When she's outed by way of a front-page news story, her life changes... in surprisingly very normal ways. Unsurprisingly, this book is adorable & was the perfect antidote to my stress. ★★★★☆

Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin

This title is a bit of a misnomer, as it wasn't the three kids who were impossible; it was their scatterbrained & irresponsible mother, who left a 12-year-old babysitter to watch her kids, clean her house, & basically sort out her entire life. One of the kids was freaking kidnapped because she was so scatterbrained! You guys, this book was incredibly dramatic.

My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture by Guy Branum

I first heard of Guy Branum when he appeared as a hilarious guest on My Favorite Murder, so when I saw that he was coming out with a memoir, I got on the library's waitlist, stat. What I didn't expect was the level of intelligence behind Branum's humor. He's not just a comedy TV writer; he's also a lawyer & an all-around brilliant dude, thanks in part to his life growing up as a weird, dorky, closeted gay kid in a podunk southern town. He's a fascinating, funny guy, & this book was a delight. ★★★★☆

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

I hated this book. It seems to be so well-loved that I thought I'd give it a try, even though I could've known by the touchy-feely title that it wouldn't appeal to me. I didn't know who Hollis was, but I also feel like I somehow should've realized that she is a Christian woman writing for a Christian publishing company & that this book would contain a great many eye-rolly platitudes, Jesus-loves-yous, & statements of unchecked privilege that are just not my jam. ★☆☆☆☆

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I thiiiink I liked this one, but it wasn't necessarily memorable. I'd read that the plot twist was incredible, but I saw it coming halfway through. Still, I enjoyed the reveal. The main character, Cadence, comes from a wealthy family headed by an aging patriarch who pits his three daughters against one another in competition for his money. Every summer, the whole family gets together on Beechwood, a small island he owns - but one summer, something terrible happens. So why can't she remember it? And why won't anyone just tell her? ★★★★☆

Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my bookstagram account!

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

How To Get All Your Holiday Shopping Done in a Single Day

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pinecrest, with whom I am partnering for a holiday series. 
I have been compensated for my writing, but as always, all opinions are my own. 



One of my November goals was to finish all my holiday shopping before December even started. I'm happy to say I accomplished that goal by employing a two-pronged tactic: snapping up some handmade items over the course of the summer & fall, as I spotted them, then doing a final gift push at Pinecrest, a new mixed-use district in Orange, OH - about 20 minutes from me.

I am not one of those people who loves shopping & wants to do a ton of it, so I love places like Pinecrest, where I can do it all at once. This year, Hanukkah starts December 2nd - hey, that's tomorrow! - so I really needed to get things done early.

What stops were on my list? Some of the best! Here's how to make a perfect shopping day of your time at Pinecrest.

Other People's Comments about Myself that I've Too Long Believed

Friday, November 30, 2018

I recently finished Rachel Hollis's Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be - & I absolutely hated it. More on that to come in my November reads post, but it did get me thinking about what lies I've been believing about myself.

I want to be very clear: If you are one of the people who said these things to me, please don't feel like this post is an affront or an insult to you. It is not. I know that, for the most part, none of these things were said in cruelty or with malice. We can never know what we say that will stick with other people in the long-term, what will make an impact.

These are the things that have made an impact - & that I am trying my damndest to let go, some of them decades later.

"You look so funny when you dance."

A friend told me this when I was approximately 8 years old & we were rocking out to the B-52s while wearing our favorite Power Rangers T-shirts (yeah, we were weird kids). I was devastated. I'd taken dance lessons my whole short life, & while I was under no illusions that I was particularly talented at it, I did think I was a decent casual dancer, & hearing otherwise broke my heart.

Following that comment, I didn't dance for nearly two decades - no joke, not even for fun or as a joke. In recent years, though, I've discovered that I looooove to dance at weddings & don't give a flying you-know-what how dumb I look. It's fun as hell.


"You look nicer on the weekends than you do for work."

A coworker (whom I adore) said this to me not long ago on an emergency weekend video call. I'd just rushed back from being with friends, & I was dressed normally - jeans & a sweater, hair down, eyeliner on. Lately, though, I haven't been dressing up much for work or wearing makeup often, & when she said this, I started to feel bad, anxious. Do I look gross at work? Does it seem like I don't "try"? Should I be embarrassed of my workday appearance? Am I letting myself go?

But I keep reminding myself: I don't owe anyone a particular version of my face - not during the work week, not on weekends, not ever. If the version of my face that you see is one with makeup, so be it; it doesn't mean I value you or our meeting circumstances any more than when you see me bare-faced. Period.


"You don't seem to be holding back when it comes to food."

This is one of the most hurtful things anyone has ever said to me, & it was said in such a cheerful, casual, off-handed way that I did the aural equivalent of a double-take to be sure I'd heard it right. I was sitting in an NYC courtyard with a friend, discussing my recent weight gain - at the time, I was at my heaviest - when she commented on my Instagram.

Even now, years later, I think of this statement whenever I'm about to post a photo of something decadent online. How will it cause people to judge me & my body?

There's no way around this, really, because overweight people - women, especially - aren't given the benefit of the assumption of health. Like, just because I post a photo of a pizza doesn't mean I ate a whole pizza (but also, maybe I did). As I try to become healthier & make better choices, I remain aware of the judgments that come with my outward sharing of my decisions - & I decide when I do & don't care enough to post. 

\


"Fat bitch."

A nasty bouncer - himself an overweight man - said this to me on New Year's Eve 2012 when I was freaking out about my cell phone being stolen. Even now, I don't know why, but it stuck with me - like, really stuck with me. I still think of it when I'm feeling bad about myself, when I'm feeling fat or unattractive or unlovable or in any way equating my body to my worth.

For me, there's no way around this one, either - I can still hear his angry, spitting tone, the way he looked me up & down in disgust - but I have to remind myself that I am more than my body, that fat does not equal gross, & that one man's opinion of me (a stranger, no less!) is by no means the basis of my self-worth.


"You should wear higher-quality clothing."

A friend said this to me years ago, back when I was making a whopping $22,000 a year & trying to manage a life in Washington, D.C.  At the time, of course, all I could afford (& even then, barely) were clothes from clearance rack at Target. A wealthier friend with a slimmer body & a much better sense of style told me my cheap clothing made me look cheap - & larger than I was. She was probably right. 

I couldn't afford to buy better clothing, but I could try to disguise how cheap my clothing looked - which is why I started wearing nothing but black. These days, I still largely shop at Target, though only because I like it, & I still wear a lot of black, but again - because I like it, not because someone else says I should wear it to, like, look thinner.


"No one's ever going to love you, & you're going to die alone."

This one came from an ex, many years ago, & even though I knew it was unlikely to be true, it stayed with me for a long time. At the time, I was in the midst of a fairly severe mental breakdown, & I was deeply unhealthy; I'd treated him terribly, & I was fully deserving of this horrible insult.

Because of that, I don't blame him at all for saying such a mean thing to me - but it also set the tone for me to be terrified & mistrusting of relationships for years to come - like, right up until Mike. But, um, can you look at this photo below, please? So clearly not true.


What lies about yourself have you believed? How are you moving on?

Where to Go & What to Do in Hilton Head, S.C.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


For about the bazillionth year in a row. my family visited Hilton Head Island, S.C., which I wrote about just before Thanksgiving. That was an emotional-ish trip down memory lane; today's post is a travel-centric, telling you some of my favorite spots & things to do on the island.

First you should know that in the 1980's, the island marketed specifically to Ohioans, selling it as the "best family vacation" & not too far from the Buckeye State. When I was a kid, we drove, but now, Allegiant offers easy, inexpensive direct flights to Savannah, GA - & Hilton Head is just a 45-minute drive way. There are so many Ohioans who vacation in or have moved to Hilton Head - like, generations of us, by now.

In the mid-1980s, my grandparents bought a timeshare here, which is now in my mom's name. Each September, she stays in the same little house we've been in since my childhood (though this year, our trip was canceled due to hurricane!) A few years ago, my aunt & uncle bought a large rental house with private beach access, which is where we stay during this Thanksgiving trip.


Without further ado, here are just a few of my favorite spots on the island. If you're a Hilton Head-lover like I am, I'd love to hear your recommendations for my next visit! 

Rent bikes from Sharky's.

There are tons of bike rental shops on the island, but we like this one best. Their bikes are in good shape, & the guy who owns the place is super-friendly & easygoing. For $25 apiece, we got the bikes for seven whole days, baskets & bike locks included, & they picked them up when we were done with them. How convenient is that?!

Our beach house is about 1.2 miles from Coligny Plaza, where all the closest stuff is, & it's a nice, easy ride down a bike path. There are even two Little Free Libraries along the way!




Do a little local shopping at Coligny Plaza.

We always stay down the road from Coligny, a shopping & food plaza full of locally owned & independent spots (along with a few more corporate ones, like Francesca's & Chico's). Some of my favorites are House of Jerky, The Shell Shop, The Spice and Tea Exchange, & Black Market Minerals, an incredible shop full of hippie stuff like Himalayan salt lamps & crystals & driftwood masks & God-knows-what else.

Search for weird sea creatures along the beach.

Our beach house is right off a private stretch of beach that runs into Coligny Beach, the public beach. All along the way, we spotted horseshoe crabs (I'd never seen them here before!), jellyfish, fish, & all kinds of other deep-sea weirdness. There aren't many shells on this beach, but the weirdness makes up for it.



Get your seafood fix at The Sea Shack.

Mike wanted to hit up a hole-in-the-wall seafood joint while we were on the island, which led us to The Sea Shack. It boasts lines out the door during the busy season, but we were lucky to wait only about 10 minutes during the off-season. Still, the place was slammed throughout our visit.

Don't expect anything fancy of this place, which is what you'd expect from a place with "shack" in the name. They've got a letterboard menu & serve lots of fried foods - but they do it well. We both got the shrimp po' boy sandwiches, which Mike inhaled (though I wished they'd come with remoulade). My sides of choice were "field peas" - black-eyed peas, apparently! - & sweet potato cornbread, plus each meal comes with two hush puppies. Yum.


Watch the sun set on the beach.

We were lucky to have a few beautiful, warm-ish days during our visit, which isn't always the case during the off-season. When the skies were clear, we headed out to the beach to watch the gorgeous sunsets over the Atlantic... & to take a bunch of goofy family photos on a timer.





Taco 'bout the soup at The Sandbar Beach Eats.

This spot is located on the edge of a popular shopping plaza full of local stores. It used to be the location of one of my favorite restaurants, which has since moved into a new building - but the Sandbar has gained it's own place in my heart as one of the best little places on the island. My mom & Mike watched the Michigan v. Ohio State game there on Sunday while I finished a little freelancing.

Their tacos are huge & fresh, served in fried flour tortillas for a little bit of a crisp, & their she-crab soup (a South Carolina specialty) is a thing of delicious beauty. I'm a sucker for a coconut shrimp, too, & theirs hit the spot, served with a mango wasabi dipping sauce.



Get your tiki on at Pool Bar Jim's.

I was so excited when Mike discovered an oceanside bar that no one in my family had ever heard of! This place was super difficult to find, as it's located within a gated community & there are "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, but once you make it to Pool Bar Jim's, you'll feel like family.

Jim is an expert in tiki & exotic drinks - literally, he wrote a book on them, full of 200ish incredible & over-the-top recipes, We got rum painkillers, then Mike ordered a Jamaican milkshake - & Jim was kind enough to give me one, too!



As you can see, we did quite a lot of eating & drinking on this particular visit - even though we spent two solid days cooking & eating at home, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday & all the leftovers it provided! Because it was colder than usual, we stayed in more than usual - not as many days spent sitting on the beach, lots of time hanging out on the porch of our beach house - but it was nevertheless a great trip.

I loved being able to show Hilton Head to Mike for the first time - & as always, I'm looking forward to going back!

A Little 2018 Holiday Wishlist

Monday, November 26, 2018


Whoa, whoa, whoa, it's holiday season already? Mike & I got home from our Thanksgiving trip yesterday, & we're going to put up our Christmas tree this week - & Hanukkah begins next week.

My family actually does our holiday gift exchange over Thanksgiving because we don't spend the December holidays together, so I don't have much going on on the gift front - but who doesn't like to dream up wishlists, anyway?

And listen: I'm a grown-ass lady. Maybe I'll buy my own gifts!
  1. Women in History print by Lady Noel
    I've long been wanting to own a print by local artist Lauren Mckenzie Noel, whose work is bright, colorful, & female-centric. How great is this print ($42) of powerful & impactful women throughout history?
  1. Boho Babe Sea Salt Spray from Revival Body Care
    In October, I bought a bottle of this incredible sea salt spray ($14.95), made by a local beauty brand, & now I know I'll never be without it. It's hands-down the best of its kind.
      
  2. Speed-Up Tight from Lululemon
    OK, lemme just be real for a sec: I don't own any Lululemon leggings ($108), ostensibly because I am too plus-sized for them, but they do come in my size, & I kind of want to see what all the fuss is about. Come on, can you blame me?
      
  3. Macrame Earrings in Mustard Yellow by Terra Blue
    My social media friend Morgan turned her longtime craft habit into a bonafide business selling macramé earrings ($17) & teaching macramé workshops in her city (which is sadly not my city). How gorgeous is this statement pair?
      
  4. Bluetooth Sleep Eye Mask from Amazon
    I asked for a similar gift last year & received it & loved it, but it had one fatal flaw: no bluetooth. I kept getting tangled up in the headphones part of it as I slept, often losing my phone in my be. This version ($24.99) would clear up that little problem.
      
  5. Balm Dot Com Trio from Glossier
    I looooove the Glossier balm dot com lip balms  ($30 for three), especially in the coconut & cherry flavors. In fact, they're the first lip glosses I can remembering running out of rather than losing. I keep close track of them because I love them so much!
      
  6. Retreat Backpack from Herschel Supply Co.
    I have one backpack I love, a Puma that I use to travel - but it looks a little bit too athletic for me to want to use it as an everyday bag. I'd love to find a backpack like this one - or, you know, this exact one ($79.99) - to use as a computer bag & for on the go.
      
  7. Stainless Steel Watch Band in Gold from Edmond & Co.
    I'm not wedded to any particular gold-toned watch band, but I found this one ($34.99), & it seems nice enough, in my kind of style, so why not? My mother-in-law very kindly gifted me her old Apple Watch when she upgraded, & I'm obsessed.
      
  8. Blood Orange Soy Candle from AromaSoy
    I was gifted one of these candles earlier this year, & I burned through it in no time because it smelled so darn good. I've since purchased a few other scents, but I think this one ($16) was my fave - & I'm currently all out, so it's time for a restock!
      
  9. Harry Potter Golden Snitch Clock from PBTeen
    I am so in love with this snitch clock. lIKE, I've been wanting this thing ($39) forever - since it came out. Should I just buy it for myself, at this point? Yes, probably. And... wait, OK, maybe I will.
      
  10. The Petite Coventry Bag in Hazelnut
     by FOUNT
    This beautiful hazelnut-toned leather bag handmade by a local leather goods boutique is my dream gift. I've been saving up for it in my TipYourself app, giving myself $5 each time I work out so that I can eventually buy this bag for myself as a reward. ($240)

What's on your holiday wishlist this year? 

My 2018 Cleveland Gift Guide: Give a Little CLE This Holiday!

Friday, November 23, 2018


Happy Black Friday, friends! Errr, is this a happy day? Let's be honest, I kind of hate it. I do, however, love the concept of Small Business Saturday, which is coming up tomorrow - & of supporting local & handmade businesses all year round.

For the last two years, I've written local & handmade-centric holiday gift guides here on this blog: Here's the one from 2016, & here's my 2017 guide. (I still stand by the items included in both of them, though of course, not all of these things are available anymore. Still, check 'em out if you're so inclined!)

This year, instead of writing a gift guide for my own blog, I wrote one for the good folks at Cleveland Plus, a blog run by Team NEO (a local business development nonprofit focused on job creation). This gift guide features 20 of my favorite CLE-themed items - a few featured in my gift guides past, plus a few new ones, too. I've gotta say: I think it's my best one yet.

Without further ado, click through to read...

A Very CLE Gift Guide:

20 Cleveland-Themed Gifts to Give this Holiday Season


An Ode to Hilton Head, S.C., My Family's Go-To Vacation Spot

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


When I think of Hilton Head, I think of photos from my childhood that depict moments I don't actually remember but feel like I do. In one of them, we're all in a hot tub together; my dad is holding a tiny, baby version of me, his mustache a thing of '80s glory. In another photo, I'm jumping into the swimming pool, with my grandfather there to catch me on the day he taught me how to swim.

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the house we've rented since I was 4 years old, a little bungalow in a beach development. I think of the mirrors that used to line the living room where our mothers slathered my cousins & me in sunscreen; I think of the kitchen table where we served "fancy dinner," with written menus; I think of the room upstairs we I shared, my youngest cousin always forced to sleep on the floor.


When I think of Hilton Head, I think of that little beach development we've always stayed in, Port O' Call, & the swimming pool where my cousin Emily & I made up synchronized swimming routines that were always far from synchronized. I think of that pathway to the pool where my grandpa fed overly friendly squirrels by hand & taught us to escape from alligators by "running in a zig-zag" - though luckily, we never had to! 

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the year we decided to follow through with out family vacation even though my father had just died a month or so before. We did the best we could to celebrate my mother's 40th birthday, decorating the rental house with balloons & "Over the Hill" signs & ice cream cake, anything to try to bring her happiness in a hard time. 

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the friends I made one summer when my cousins couldn't join us for the week. Their names were Michael, Jason, & Kate, & I spent my entire vacation with them. Afterward, Michael & I became penpals for a year, & I kept all the letters he sent me locked inside a small, red lockbox lest my mother know that I had a huge crush on a boy five states away. 


When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the summer I was allowed to bring my friend Marisa. That summer, we stayed in a different house than our usual, one too far away from the town, & couldn't go anywhere unless an adult was there to drive us. We watched tons of TV & gossiped & enjoyed the Jacuzzi & complained heartily about being so isolated & so far from the beach - oh, & my grandpa accidentally insulted Marisa with a rude comment about her double-pierced ears. Oops.

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the last time I saw my grandmother relatively healthy, before she died of an aggressive form of cancer just a few short months later. We took a family walk down the beach, even though it was incredibly cold, & she drove me to the airport to catch my flight back to Boston - though I'd gotten the flight time wrong & ran to the gate just as the doors were closing.

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the summer my mom rented some weird place called Xanadu, seriously, & invited me to bring my best friend, her brother & his boyfriend, & their cousin, who I was dating at the time. We played board games & laid on the beach for hours & mastered stand-up paddleboarding & jumped as high as we could & had an all-around amazing time together. 


When I think of Hilton Head, I think of the mother/daughter vacation we took here a few years ago, when I spent much of my time working on a freelance essay - my first for The Washington Post. I conducted interviews on the empty second floor of our beach rental, banging out my piece & trying to perfect every word before I sent it off for potential publication & my biggest-ever byline.

When I think of Hilton Head, I think of this year, Mike's first Thanksgiving spent with my family. We've only been here for a few days, so who knows which memories will stick? I can't wait to find out. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope you make some memories worth thinking back on.


12 Beers of Christmas (Or "Why I'm Thrilled Not to Drink Crappy Beer Anymore")

Monday, November 19, 2018


I used to think I only liked crappy beer. Like, really. All I drank was Miller Lite! At fancier events, I was totally stumped. You just don't want to be the girl at a black-tie wedding requesting a Miller Lite, you know?

Luckily for me, I turned 30 & learned about hops - specifically that I don't like them, which opened me up to a whole wide world of non-hoppy beers that I've come to love. Now I know that I dislike IPAs & stouts, sours give me heartburn, & I love saisons & kolsches.

Newly armed with beer knowledge - & love! - I was excited to be invited to a preview of Der Braumeister's 12 Beers of Christmas event. (Pro-tip: Even if you're not local to the CLE, you're gonna wanna read on for some delicious beer recs.)

5 Easy Ways I Practice Gratitude

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Just before Thanksgiving, my friend Marisa invited me to be a return guest on her podcast, Get Well, Girl. The topic? Gratitude, of course!

Here's a sneak peek at (& an expansion of) some of the content of our conversation - five ways I try to practice the act of gratitude. Listen to the podcast to learn more about how & why - plus a few funny stories from Thanksgivings past.

1. Naming three good things.

Sometimes at the end of the day, when Mike & I are lying in bed, I'll ask him to name three of the best things about his day. It's a nice, low-pressure way for us to reflect on the day behind us & to identify specific moments or experiences that we're thankful for.

While it's a fun exercise to do on good days, it's an especially meaningful one on bad days, when it can be difficult to see the positive. It's always there, if you take the time to look!

2. Writing in a gratitude journal

I purchased a daily gratitude journal on Amazon, & though I've unfortunately since left it in a hotel room, I'm planning to repurchase. I love the idea of practicing gratitude both first thing in the morning & last thing at night, following simple journal prompts designed to help me identify my hopes for each day & the best parts of the day behind me.

3. Saying " Thank you."

A coworker once told me that I was the only person he worked with who regularly said "thank you." How is that possible? Now, I make it a point to respond to work emails with a simple "thank-you"; it can be all too easy to neglect to do so, but it's so important.

We may not think of thank-yous as acts of gratitude, but that's exactly what they are: outward expressions of our thankfulness to & gratitude for others. Don't underestimate the power of how good you can make someone else feel just by recognizing them & appreciating them.

4. Writing snail mail.

I'm a big fan of snail-mail notes. Remember this piece I wrote for Country Living magazine? I sent thank-you notes for just about everything, from friends hosting us for dinner to gifts from my mother - but I also love writing simple snail-mail notes of hello, those old-fashioned letters to friends that are all too frequently replaced, these days, by one-off text messages.

Sending a snail-mail note says, "I am thinking about you & I care about you & I am grateful for you." Plus, what's better than getting actual mail amidst all the junk mail?!

5. Leaving positive reviews. 

Whenever I have a good experience at a store of restaurant, am on the receiving end of stellar customer service, or purchase a products I love - especially from small & locally owned businesses - I try to show my gratitude to them in the form of writing a public review. A positive rating & review on Yelp or Google can go a long way to a business that doesn't have the power of its own marketing team.

This also applies to iTunes reviews, especially for podcasts: Taking the time to leave a four- or five-star rating for a podcast you love helps boost their overall numbers & thus become more discoverable & more successful. What says gratitude like spreading the world? (Psssst, if you're feelin' it, wanna leave one for Get Well, Girl?)

Want to hear more from Marisa & me on the topic of gratitude? Give us a listen! You can download the new episode of her podcast, Get Well, Girl, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast fix. 

Why I Joined a Coworking Space

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I'm a proud new(ish) member of Limelight, a coworking space in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. Having been a full-time remote staffer for nearly eight years now (oh my God), I've definitely gotten the hang of working from home - & every coffee shop within a five-mile radius. But sometimes, I want something more like... well, more like a real office.

Enter Limelight, an absolutely beautiful new space that opened in May.

I was invited to work out of Limelight for free for a few days during their two-week soft launch, when they were still completing some of their construction & decor. I spent about three days there & was absolutely in love with the space, so in September, I took the plunge & joined.

What do I love about being a member of a coworking space? Let me count the ways:
  1. Switching it up: I love my coffee shop life, but just as I'm perpetually searching for new coffee shops to keep things interesting, Limelight offers yet another space to choose from. It's huge, there's always somewhere to sit, & you can stay all day, if you want, which is decidedly not the point of most coffee shops. It's also a gorgeously decorated space that's just pleasant to work in.
      
  2. Faux coworkers: The best thing about working from a coworking space is working around other people. Sure, I work around other people when I sit in coffee shops, but there's a certain hustle & bustle there that doesn't always jibe with my need to crack down & work. Limelight feels like a real office (because it is), & unlike at coffee shops, the conversations with strangers are friendly but not intrusive - because we're all there to work.
      
  3. An office, when I need it: My apartment doesn't always feel like the most formal of spaces (um, because it's not). Working at Limelight allows me access to some office amenities I don't normally have, including a printer & a fax machine - & it has both better wifi & cell service than my apartment does.
      
  4. Safe space: At coffee shops, I can ask a stranger to keep an eye on my stuff while I run to the bathroom, praying no one robs me (no one yet has, knock on wood) - but if I need to grab lunch or take a walk around the block, I have to take everything with me. At Limelight, I can claim my space & leave my things throughout the day - like at an office.
      
  5. Fun benefits: Limelight offers free coffee & tea, they have snacks for sale at low prices  (including Gushers!), & there's a full kitchen/pantry area for keeping your food cold/warm/whatever. They also host events, like happy hours & networking opportunities. I like that my membership includes worthwhile extras that make the space feel more like a community & less like a... well, just a space.
      
  6. Convenient location: Limelight is in the heart of Ohio City, about a mile from my home. It's next to a grocery store (easy lunches) & near lots of restaurants & bars (good for quick meetings, after-work happy hours, etc). It's also in the same neighborhood as my riding studio, which is probably why I only ever show up to Limelight in workout gear. I wear real clothes, guys, I swear! 


The only bad thing about my Limelight membership is totally my own fault: I'm having a hard time figuring out how to space out my visits! I don't want to use up all my days at the start of the month, so I hang onto them... & then by the end of the month, I don't have time to use them all. I'm still searching for that perfect balance, but I'll figure it out.

Moral of the story: As someone who's worked from home for so long, joining a coworking space - & Limelight, in particular - has been a gamechanger for me in terms of opportunities, community, & the ability to feel like an actual, professional human who puts on pants during the daytime.

Have you ever tried a coworking space? Are you interested in Limelight? Let me know, & we can go together! 
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