January Coffee Date: Runway Month
Inspired by my smart friend, Brittany Bergman, I'm rolling out a new series in 2018: monthly coffee date posts. I always leave Brittany's Armchair Chats with about 15 tabs open and a few books added to my TBR list and genuinely love the format. These posts are everything I'd ramble on about if you and I went on a coffee date this month: what I'm learning, what I'm reading, what I'm loving, and what I'm writing.
Pour yourself a fresh cup and let's chat.
Every year, I do one of two things with January: I either lean too hard into the New Year hype and am worn out by the time the middle of the month rolls around or I ignore the resolutions and goals and let the first thirty-one days of the year pass without much comment. This year, I did the latter, and it was just about right. I let January be the long runway my 2018 takeoff, and didn't write down a single resolution, goal, or intention (I know, gasp!).
January felt like a bonus month this year for that reason—I loved not letting the expectations of a fresh new year get me down. Now that the pressure has passed, I feel ready to tackle 2018. I have a training plan in place to run a half marathon in May (eep!), I'm slowly learning to focus on my writing craft more, and I'm reading more already than I did last year.
What I Learned
Changing habits demands planning: I wanted to spend some time in January working on detaching (more) from my screens—it's a regular detox I need to take when I can. But at first, I started doing it without a real plan. Now, I have some solid boundaries in place and I've experienced some real freedom in this area. I'll probably write about this in the coming months a little more.
Running is (still) hard: I'm straight-up terrified of running a half marathon in May. Right now, I'm huffing a mile or two in, and I'm supposed to run over 13 miles! But I'm also loving feeling challenged by this goal and that pinch of fear is exactly what I need to stay motivated.
Deep friendships don't change: Highlight of the month? Definitely visiting my dear friends in Oklahoma. It was like coming home, even though I've never been to Oklahoma before. It was an entire weekend of laughing, talking, and connecting.
What I Loved
These joggers: I'm a late adopter of fashion trends because I'm too dang cheap to buy new clothes all the time. Thus, this is my first pair of joggers (which, as I understand it, is just another term for "sweatpants" that are socially acceptable to wear out of the house occasionally). I've basically lived and traveled exclusively in these joggers all through January. They're so soft!
Overdrive: It has recently come to my attention that not everyone knows about this audiobook app that allows you to connect to your local library. I listen to scads of audiobooks for free through my library with this app. Upside: free. Downside: (sometimes) long wait lists. But free!
Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor: I am obsessed with this stuff. It's a cross between lip stain and lipstick and it stays on all dang day long. It doesn't smudge when I kiss my kids, and the Embrace shade is the perfect pinky neutral for my skin tone. Bonus: they're way cheap (hmmm, I'm noticing a frugality trend in everything I'm loving this month).
What I Read
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: It is amazing to me how compassionate, wise, and intelligent Cheryl Strayed is. This book made me cry, laugh, and cringe. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: This is one of those books I appreciated more than enjoyed. Faulkner certainly influenced the American canon with this one and employed some gutsy literary tools—not to mention delivered a pretty scathing critic of Southern culture around the turn of the century. It was also a rough read most of the time. It goes in my "glad I read it, won't read it again" pile. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
East of Eden by John Steinbeck: My friend Meredith and I are tackling 12 classic books in 2018 together, so get used to seeing a few old standards on these lists for a while. East of Eden was downright magical—I've rarely loved and hated fictional characters so passionately. It's going down as one of my all-time favorite books. Read it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run by Ann Patchett: An intriguing storyline, Ann Patchett's strong prose, and neat exposition. It was my January "beach read" (on the cold, frozen non-beach). ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Make It Count by Ashlee Gadd: If you need another reason to throw your phone across the room, read Ashlee's fantastic article.
"If I’m going to spend five years of my life on social media—and Lord, I really hope I don’t—but if I do, I want it to mean something.
In the liturgical calendar, this quiet, wintry span of weeks from Christmas to Ash Wednesday is a far bolder invitation than it so unassumingly seems. It’s called Epiphany, meaning simply “to bring to light"... So what does Epiphany have to do with writing? Everything—if you believe writing begins with seeing.
What I Wrote
The honest answer to "what I wrote in January" is: a bunch of random fiction stuff I'll never share as I play around with a genre I haven't touched since high school. Crazy, right? I'm learning a lot about creative play in the process, though, and how not all writing needs to be productive. I published one blog post this month.
I miss the comfort of easy answers to made-up questions, of knowing all the rules, of the sense of control that comes with being a card-carrying member of an exclusive, hierarchical community. But as my friend Trevor says, if you find yourself in a room where everywhere agrees with you, get out of that room.
Happy January, friends! Here's to starting the real new year.