I have been quite the voracious reader lately. Back in January, I finished a book that I've been reading for years (seriously), and decided that if I did that, then 2013 would be the year of reading. I have shelves and shelves of books, most of which have never been read or even had their binding cracked open, and I am suddenly invested entirely in conquering them. I've purged the titles that I have no interest in, and what remains is the beginnings of my library.
A few weeks ago, I had a change in medications, and the side effects left me feeling dizzy at nearly every step. I was forced to sit or lay down for several days on end. I read for days, and fell in love with it all over again. When I was younger, I used to feel like reading was a waste of time, that I should be up and doing and going. I never should have abandoned something I love so much, and now I'm making up for lost time.
Here is what I've been reading lately:
1. Shauna Niequist
I read all three of Shauna's books - Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread and Wine - in a month or so. I just couldn't get enough of her. She has such a poetic style, and she is so insightful. She was able to put words to feelings that I've had but could never describe or maybe even face. She made me feel like I wasn't so alone in the world.
Another interesting thought that my husband and I both agreed on - Shauna and I have very similar writing styles. I think that is another reason why I am so drawn to her. She is obviously several years ahead of me in terms of development, but I am glad to have a writer that I admire so much and that can continually inspire me professionally.
2. The Great Gatsby
I coasted through high school, and never read the assigned classics that we were supposed to read. I'm not sure F. Scott Fitzgerald was on the list, but even if he was, I don't think I would have appreciated his work as much as I can now. I confess that I read the book purely so that I would understand the story in the film better, but no matter that reason - I am so glad that I did. His writing is incredible. I am fascinated at how modern and relevant it is, and it's nearly 100 years old. Stylistically, I love the way he uses language. I also read Farrell's post about Daisy, and am reminded that the story has so much depth to it. My husband and I talked about it for hours. Can't wait to read more of his work.
3. The Paris Wife
After reading Fitzgerald and seeing The Great Gatsby movie, I had to come home and watch Midnight in Paris. I just wanted to be a part of that world - the 20s, jazz, literature, Paris. Afterwards, I saw The Paris Wife sitting on the table, and was immediately engrossed. I loved imagining Hemingway in Paris at the beginning of his career, and even though he wasn't the most upstanding individual, it's fascinating to see how the author created this world around his early writing life.
4. The Hunger Games
I know I am really late in the game to this one. You've probably already read this whole series, so I'll just give you the quick details. I am Team Peeta all the way. I hated the ending of Book 3. Book 2 gave me crazy nightmares. I am officially a huge fan, and cannot wait for the movies.
What have you been reading lately?
I was reading a bit of Ernest Hemingway this morning, and it seriously messed with my brain. He cuts to the core, my core, and I'm left with nothing and everything. His intensity, his directness - it's not familiar. We spend so much time these days shifting around the truth. Trying to make things seem better, appear to be better than they actually are. Reading Hemingway is uncomfortable, but in a good way. His slaving over every word was another way of saying to the world, Cut the bullshit. Let's talk about what is true.
I am working on a post for the Love Yourself series that I'm really excited about, but it's a contentious topic and one that might seem a bit finger-pointy. I don't want it to be, but I know it's vital to write. It's my truth, and I need to share it.
Yesterday, I realized that the week after I posted my recovery story was a really good week. It had the usual stress and errands and normalcy, but there was hope in the air. I was energized. I operated a lot better. I worked harder, wrote more, was more creative, ate more veggies, went for more walks.
Last week, I wasn't as truthful. I hid more. I shifted and scooted around the truth, trying to keep up appearances. I didn't sleep as well. Anxiety crept in. And I wondered what the problem was when everything had been fine just a few days before.
I have a feeling that I already know the answer, but I'm looking to do a bit of an experiment to see if this is true: When I use my voice and share the truth of my experience, even if it ruffles some feathers, life seems brighter and more joyful. I sleep easier. I'm eager to connect.
The hard part is squeezing out the truth. I'm scared of facing it. It's the same feeling I get when people come over for dinner and I judge myself in the meanest way about the dishes in the sink, the stain in the carpet, the dust on the floor. I should have cleaned more. Everyone is looking at that one stain, aren't they? As if people will feel more comfortable with me if I pretend everything is perfect. Why is it so hard to remember that it simply isn't true?
Here's my goal for this week: to write what is true, even if it is dirty. To reflect on how airing out my truth changes my experience. Do I sleep better? Eat better? And to ask the tough questions: why is it so hard? Scary? Anxiety-provoking? And then to work hard to to push through and do it anyway.
Today, I am so pleased to introduce all of you to October Ink, one of my newest sponsors.
October Ink is a design studio comprised of the talented duo Morgan Rapp and Jayne Swallow. I was lucky enough to meet Jayne at a recent blogger meet up, and we totally hit it off. Once I got home and took a look at her and Morgan's work, I was floored by their talent. These two are the real deal.
Definitely go check out their portfolio! You don't want to miss it. They do branding, web design, and even custom wedding design, including invites, stamps, wedding websites, menus and more! I want to get married all over again just so that they can design it.
Let's get to know them a bit better! I have had the best time chatting with them. This is a spotlight you don't want to miss.
1. How did October Ink get started?
Morgan: October Ink was actually a lot of years in the making, now that I look back on it! Jayne and I grew up together, and even when we were little, we always loved being creative together. When we were kids, we would scrapbook in my parent's garage for house and talk about boys. We went to different colleges - Jayne pursued Graphic Design and I majored in Marketing and Art. When Jayne started designing wedding invitations in 2008, I started helping with the marketing side of things. Meanwhile, we were both freelancing separately with bigger projects, and then one day, we realized that we should combine our talents and October Ink was born!
2. October Ink is a partnership between two fabulous people - Morgan and Jayne. How did you two meet?
Jayne: We pretty much met in diapers. Morgan and I grew up down the street from each other. We went to the same schools, played soccer on the same teams, went to church together, and played in an awesome two-man band together.
Morgan: I can't remember a time when I didn't know her!
3. You both do a wide range of design work - branding, web design, wedding invitations, and more. Do you have a current favorite?
Jayne: I love it all, but if I had to choose one, I'd say branding is my favorite.
Morgan: Ooh, that is a tough one. I think right now, web design is my favorite. I think it is what has really helped our business grow and makes us unique in that we are designers who are also capable of implementing a client's online presence. It challenges me the most as there is always new things to learn. I love seeing the final product come together for the client, as well. Seeing their website launch really brings the project full circle.
4. What is your favorite thing about being graphic designers?
Jayne: I love being a graphic designer because it allows me a constant creative outlet. I also really enjoy the business and strategic aspect to design. You get to work both sides of your brain at once.
Morgan: I love interacting with clients and working with small business owners. Each client we have has a story behind their business and it is amazing to work with so many people who are just as passionate about their work as we are. I also love helping a client's vision come to life and seeing where the creative process take us with each project.
5. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Jayne: I find it EVERYWHERE. In a pattern on a dress at the mall, vintage ephemera, blogs, pinterest, on packaging at the grocery store.
Morgan: So many places! One of my favorites would have to be Pinterest (of course), but lately, I have been feeling it is getting so over-saturated so I have been loving Dribbble.com even more. I also love to follow a few graphic designer blogs. A few of my favorites include Breanna Rose and DesignLoveFest.
6. When you're not working, what you do like to do? I see one of you is a self-described Downton Abbey addict.
Jayne: I think Morgan and I are both Downton Abbey addicts. I love my TV shows. Also, I love the outdoors. My husband and I love to snow ski, water ski, mountain bike, and road bike. I LOVE to travel. I love exploring new places and seeing the real culture, eating the real food, having a real adventure, etc. I think Scott and I wouldn't know what to do with ourselves if we went on a vacation and stayed in an all-inclusive resort. I think we'd get bored, and catch a cab to get some street food somewhere.
Morgan: My husband and I really enjoy dining at new and local places, as well as renting a good movie to unwind. We also love traveling, and trying new things when we can. I bought a DSLR camera last year, and love exploring photography.
7. Any exciting October Ink news coming up or on the horizon?
Jayne: Yes, we're launching our first wedding stationary line this month! Stay tuned for the new line on our website. We're also going to the National Stationary Show in New York City in a week! Super excited to mix and mingle with fellow stationers.
Morgan: We'll also be starting graphic design workshops in the Salt Lake area, and possible Denver this year, which we are excited about. Also, Jayne and I just happen to both be expecting our first babies in September, and we are excited about exploring that new chapter of our lives.
Visit their website for more information on their work and pricing, and catch them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Today, Cal from Call Me Cal is here to tell us a bit about her thoughts on traveling. Cal and I share a love of adventure, and her blog and mine speak to the same notion that you can and should make travel your own. Make sure to check out her blog!
Traveling has been a passion of mine ever since I was a little kid. I grew up experiencing all different types of travel, from road trips to international travels, with my family and with my peers, and everything in between. These experiences have been invaluable and definitely shaped my interests as an adult. And when I have kids, I definitely want to travel with them as much as possible and expose them to difference places and cultures just like I was able to experience.
Spencer and I started looking for our first home to buy a few weeks ago, and the whole process is crazy! Layout, location, the future, and of course, money - this is all we talk about now. I'm constantly perusing West Elm for furniture for the house that is not yet ours, and last night, Spencer read a book on expansive soils. I kid you not.
I think we found our place, but we won't know for sure for a few weeks. In the meantime, I think I'll start posting about home decor, design ideas, entertaining... anything that helps me stay sane through this process. Sane and excited.
Here are a few home blogs/websites that I've been visiting throughout this process. If you have a favorite, share below in the comments!
1. I want this chair from West Elm.
2. Erin's home tour is so inspiring!
3. I love how Jen and Kev painted their mudroom.
4. Filling my 'At Home' pinterest board to the brim.
And last but not least, we have a winner for the Ashley Ella Designs giveaway! Hilary of Young Texan Mama - congratulations! Can't wait to see the finished design!