Why I Journal

Posted: September 7, 2018 by Rachel

Why I Journal

In my 34 years on this planet, I have written and completed over thirty-two journals, and I often get asked, why. Why I journal. I recently discovered AllSwell (and their adorable notebooks) and immediately followed them on instagram. Recently, I received an email from them (I’d forgotten I’d signed up for their newsletter as well) with the subject line “are you an apology addict?”. I was intrigued, so I read on, coming across this:

People ask if I re-read my journals. I keep them but rarely revisit them… RSVP no, thank you. For me, I release, process and move on — a better version of myself for it. If you read them you wouldn’t be getting an accurate picture of how I feel or who I am. And for me that’s exactly the point, they aren’t intended to be read by anyone, including myself. No apologies necessary.

 

I read that and I thought: BINGO. There’s someone who not only gets it but who could perfectly put into words exactly how I feel about journaling.

It’s a release. A way to process my emotions before I know how I truly feel about something or someone. When I’m having a tough day, I go to my journal and I always come out with a much clearer head.

I journal to flex my writing muscle.

I journal so that I don’t forget the good, but also so that I can learn from the not-so-good.

I journal because it keeps me accountable.

I journal because its the only place I can be me without judgement, without fear. My journal is a dream catcher, an idea incubator, a place to learn about myself.

My journal never looks the same from year to year, but I always carry it with me. There are often times when I have a few minutes to waste, and so I can pull out my journal and gather my thoughts for the day.

**

Now that you know why I journal, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I don’t often come across people who keep journals, so if you do, please comment below and let me know.

How Am I Doing with that Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-that-Soon List?

Posted: August 9, 2018 by Rachel

By sheer, dumb luck I came across a list that I had written two and a half years ago. My MUST-GET-AROUND-TO-DOING-THAT-SOON LIST that I had completely forgotten about. Dare I read it over and see what I can scratch off the list?

My Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-That-Soon List

Book (and take) that vacation to Mexico for our fifth anniversary
Read more classics
Stop comparing myself to others
Publish my second book
Quarterly organization of DJ’s closet
Buy a new journal for 2016 (preferably before 2016 begins)
Try one new restaurant each month for date night
Go back to Bardot for the beet and goat cheese salad
Host a wine and cheese party
Try one of those wine and paint places
Spend a Christmas in Canada
Stop comparing myself to others
Give up caffeine for a month
Give up alcohol for a month
Be more patient
Finish reading The Most of Nora Ephron
Have updated family photos taken
Do something wildly out of my comfort zone

All in all, that’s not so good. But it was a good reminder, and I’m hopeful that if I come across this list again in another two and half years, I can scratch off a heck of a lot more than three things.

I’m curious, though, as to what is on your list, so please share!

700 Books

Posted: June 19, 2018 by Rachel

There are a lot of truly great things about my job, but among my favorite is meeting our authors. I’ve had June 18th and 19th marked on my calendar for a month; a potential new author and his wife coming into town. We had dinner at a nice steakhouse last night, and met again today for a working lunch.

“How many books have you written now?” I asked.

The author combed his hand over his gray beard, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled. “Over 700.”

I wish I knew the exact number, but am aware that it doesn’t entirely matter because SEVEN HUNDRED BOOKS. At least.

This is where I had to reel it in. You know: it. That writerly instinct that makes me want to yell out something like: “how do you do it how do you come up with so many ideas do you plot first or are you a pantser how do you find time to edit TEACH ME YOUR WAAAAYYYSSSS.” Just like that—lack of punctuation and all. The good news is that I ended up with the answers to these questions, I just had to sit back and let it happen organically.

My boss and the author left the cafe we met in twenty minutes ago, and here I sit. I said, “I’m going to stay and work for a bit; get everything we discussed down before I forget it.” It’s the truth, but also not. I’m feeling inspired and motivated but also transfixed. I’m motionless with terror and awe in equal parts.

700 books.

1. I have the coolest job.

2. I better get writing

las vegas and me

Posted: May 5, 2018 by Rachel

Las Vegas and Me

I’ve been asked why I don’t write about Las Vegas much. For that, I don’t really have an answer beyond: how do I write about a city I don’t really know?

It’s not like New York, where you might walk everywhere, where you run into friends on the subway or in line buying a bottle of wine. The closest I get to that kind of life is bumping into a fellow mom in the target grocery aisle (and even that, I can confidently say, has only happened twice in the just over seven years I’ve lived in this city).

My experience in Las Vegas is, I can guess, much different from a twenty-something single woman’s or someone who lives in those fancy oversized, over-priced housing developments that butt up against the mountains. And it is definitely different from someone who lives downtown, where I like to imagine they exist within a three-mile radius: coffee to work to home and repeat. Now that I could get on board with.

The truth is that Vegas and I are still getting to know one another. We’re at that stage in our relationship where we’re been seeing each other for a while and everyone has started asking us if we’re together or not. We own two homes here, work and play here. We are raising a kid here amidst my husbands big, italian family; so the reality is that yes, Vegas and I are together. We’re official.

But.

Seven years in and this city still feels strange to me. I’m more than on board with the weather here, with the affordable housing and food, with the great school district we found ourselves in. i’m on board with family close by. I’m on board with the incredible library system and the fact that there is always great coffee nearby.

But.

I could be somewhere else. If the opportunity came up, I could. There will probably always be a part of me that thinks how great it would be to move somewhere new. Maybe not forever—because I already live in an entirely different country than my family, why would I want to be far away from my husband’s too?—but it would be an adventure. One I wouldn’t shy away from. One I would embrace.

Maybe I’ll never want to be monogamous with Las Vegas. Maybe it will tell me itself that it’s had enough. Or maybe the answer is simply that we need to get to know each other a little better.

 

 

It’s not about the desk (ok, it’s a little about the desk)

Posted: April 20, 2018 by Rachel

I ordered a desk yesterday. A small, white thing with clean lines and a drawer that the reviews say is deceiving because it doesn’t open all the way. But what do I care about that, really? I didn’t talk to Dom about it first. I didn’t tell him I’d been debating the purchase for a couple months now, mostly because I knew what he’d say. “Why do you need another desk?”

I have a nice, big desk in a separate office that is cold in the winter and hot in the summer and I can never quite figure out how to dress properly so that I’m comfortable either way. But the problem is that I work from home, at that desk, in that space. For eight hours a day, I sign contracts there, finalize book interiors there, write marketing plans there, among the other eight hundred tasks I do as part of my publishing job.

That’s the problem.

When I’m in that office, sitting at that desk, I’m in day job mode. And no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I can’t break out of that work mode after work hours.

What I’m trying to say is that at that nice desk, in that lovely office, I cannot write.

So I started thinking about buying another desk. Just a small one that I could fit in the bedroom, or even the guest room if need be. It doesn’t really matter where it is at this point as long as it’s not in the office.

The desk is set to arrive by end of day Tuesday and I can only hope that once I figure out a home for it, the rest of it—the writing bit, the finishing-of-the-novel bit—will all sort itself out.

Why do I need another desk?

Let me show you why.

The Kind of Woman I Want To Be

Posted: March 24, 2018 by Rachel

I want to be the kind of woman who can easily turn away from social media when it feels like too much.

I want to be the kind of woman that wouldn’t care that her stomach oozes over her jeans when she’s bent over.

I want to wash my face at the end of every day (I still don’t do this, after all these years).

I want to be better about biting my tongue.

I want to never again throw away any of my journals (what a hard lesson to have learned).

I want to be more patient.

I want to be the kind of woman who isn’t afraid to eat by herself.

I want to be the kind of woman who doesn’t go shopping when she’s feeling blue. In the end, I only feel worse.

I want to perfect the at-home iced vanilla latte before summer comes around

I want to be the kind of woman who wears long, flowing skirts (like this one, recently purchased).

I want to always reach out to those I admire and tell them so.

I want to be the kind of woman who loves wholly and without judgment.

I want to be better about saying enough is enough.

I want to be the kind of woman who takes more risks, goes more places, takes more pictures.

I want to embrace being almost thirty-four.

**

P.S. The 2014 version

Winter Lists On a Thursday Morning.

Posted: March 1, 2018 by Rachel

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I was inspired this morning. So, here’s a little glimpse at life right now:

things currently on my nightstand.
mango papaya candle
slow motion by dani shapiro
ear plugs from last night
phone charger

songs I can’t stop listening to.
say something by justin timberlake & chris stapleton
help me out by maroon 5
hold me tight or don’t by fall out boy
still feel like your man by john mayer

things on my 2018 to-do list.
eat more popsicles outside
teach my son to swim
go on a road trip
finish my new book
see fall out boy in concert again

things i want to purchase but won’t.
another third love bra
every single one of dani shaprio’s books (i’m pretty close, anyway)

things i’ve loved lately.
archer farms donut shop coffee
waking up at 5am to write


Previous Lists:

Winter 2017
Winter 2015
Summer 2014
Spring 2014

I worry

Posted: February 25, 2018 by Rachel

Last week, I heard something in an interview with Cheryl Strayed that stopped me cold. I hit pause—Cheryl’s face frozen mid-sentence—and tried to regain my breath. I sat there for a few more beats before I decided it was best if I got up and moved around (I have a bad habit of sitting for periods far too long), so I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee—my third of the day, probably.

And then I finished watching the interview.

I’ve since watched plenty of Big Little Lies and read Hourglass (and half of Still Writing), not to mention worked plenty of hours, but I can’t get what Cheryl said out of my head. I fear I never will.

She’d said that she worked as a waitress, specifically, because it was something she could turn off at the end of the day. She didn’t have to take her work home with her. When she wasn’t waitressing, she was writing. There were no blurred lines.

My life is one big blur. I work in publishing, from my home office. My days are made up entirely of reading books, thinking about books, marketing books, helping authors, acquiring new authors, etc. And when the day is over (pretending that I can turn it off at 4pm), I try to then think about my own writing.

I love my job, I sincerely do, but there is no turning it off at the end of the day or over the weekend. And because I work from home there is no way I can’t take my work home with me.

So I worry. I worry that it’s not possible to focus on my own words with so many others’ in my head as well. I worry that, working from home, I’ll never achieve that separation that Cheryl spoke of. I worry that the struggle will always feel like it does right now: impossible.

I worry that I won’t figure out how to make it work.

Could it really be as simple as finding the perfect chair? The perfect routine? An ideal room in which to write? The ideal notebook? (These are all things I’ve read lately—because we writers are superstitious creatures, did you know?). Maybe I’m only the perfect pen and favorite coffee mug away from figuring it all out.

Wouldn’t that be great!

My (Very New) Writing Habit

Posted: February 18, 2018 by Rachel

My (Very New) Writing Habit

For almost two weeks now, I’ve been doing this thing where I sit down in the same place and same time every single day, to write. I give myself an hour, because, really, that’s all I can afford most days. I’ve read enough from successful writers to know that the real work is sitting your butt down in the chair every day and, well, I wanted to figure out a way to make that work for me.

I take it quite seriously; that hour every day. Sometimes it means rushing my kid out the door (if it’s my day for drop-off) so that I can be back at my desk by 8 am. Other days it means telling my family I’ll see them in an hour and then close myself in the office. One morning, it even meant sitting in the hotel lobby while Dom slept in upstairs (and here, it should be noted that I sat and wrote in front of a lovely, warm fire).

I don’t always write for the full hour, but you can be sure my ass is in my chair that whole time. I’ve never been great at creating habits from scratch, but this one? It will be well worth it in the end.

—–

I haven’t really talked to many people about what I’m working on now. There are a select few who know how I’ve been spending my mornings; what thoughts are now filling my journals and notebooks, but mostly, I’ve kept it to myself. I think that, right now, while I have some inkling of what it could all be, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It needs to be something more, something bigger, before I share it with everyone.  I have a habit of jumping the gun, and I don’t want to do that this time. Not with this project. Not with these words.

These words are rebuilding me, letter by letter.