Safer At Home Reflections
As an extreme introvert, I can’t say my life has dramatically shifted during this time of staying home. What has changed for me is that I now take fewer excursions out of my apartment. I do miss wandering the aisles of H&M. I miss the occasional balcony get together on a warm evening with my friends. I miss going to the beach. I really, and perhaps oddly, miss the routine of waking up and going to work in the morning. Now I just wake up and move from my sleeping bedroom to my classroom bedroom. They’re two separate bedrooms. One is entirely normal, and the other looks like a little classroom.
In all this time at home, there is also so much pressure to use this time to our benefit. Hustle the whole time we’re at home and come out transformed individuals. I’m not really about the hustle life. I lived a hustle lifestyle, and it did not bring me joy. This was actually one of the reasons I decided to move abroad. I needed a hustle-life balance. I was hustling and working too hard, and I wasn’t actually living. My relaxed lifestyle is one of the reasons I love living abroad. Don’t get me wrong; I hustle like no other during work hours, and after that, I relax.
I decided I didn’t want to participate in the hustle of staying at home. We’re living through a pandemic for goodness sake, and sometimes all I want to do is binge watch things on Netflix. When I felt I had seen everything on Netflix, a feat I am sure not many people have accomplished, I turned to books. I used to read all the time. I lived for a good library summer reading program when I was a kid. I had endless time on my hands, and I wanted to fill it all with books. Now it is basically the same thing.
I’ve read quite a few books while staying at home. Here are a few that have touched my heart, and I that recommend to you.
Open Book By Jessica Simpson
I have a love/hate relationship with Jessica Simpson. Growing up, I don’t remember ever really knowing of her or listening to her music before Newlyweds. I also wasn’t into 98°, so I had no idea who Nick was. We didn’t have cable at the time Newlyweds was on, so I have never really seen it. The only way I knew Jessica Simpson was through nightly entertainment show recaps of Newlyweds. I thought she was hilarious. I really loved her bubbly energy and laughed with the best of them when she said such silly stuff. I loved how open and vulnerable she appeared on the screen. After a while though, I didn’t enjoy laughing at her as much. Suddenly in my own life, people started comparing me to Jessica Simpson and tearing me down for all the silly things I would say. As a young woman that only made the difficult journey of growing up more difficult.
I had heard such fantastic reviews of Jessica Simpson’s book, resisted it at first, and then I downloaded it on Audible. I listened as Jessica read her story. I cannot tell you how much I love when authors read their own stories. It adds something you can’t get reading stories yourself. The title of this book holds true as Jessica leaves nothing hidden as she recounts tales from her life. Some stories we know well and some we discover for the first time together. Some stories shocked me, and some stories made me feel deeply understood.
Listening to her tell her story made it all the more powerful. As she reads her story, you can hear the joy and pain and sorrow in her voice. Jessica beautifully tells the story of who she is through gorgeously written moments of her life. I believe this should be mandatory reading for all women. These are not just Jessica’s stories but stories that we can all relate to.
Honest Review: 5/5 Love it!
American Royals By Katharine McGee
As a HUGE Princess Diaries fan (shout out to Meg Cabot!), I have been obsessed with the royal life since fifth grade. I read every single one of the books in that series. I could not get enough of them. Can you imagine? A regular girl turns out to actually be a princess? What if this was my fate too? Sadly, it was not. My dad was not the king of a small unknown country. This is something I am still coming to terms with today. Reading those stories pulled me into a magical world.
Starting this book did not have the same impact as Princess Diaries did. I originally downloaded this story when I needed a quick, simple read to take my mind off of work. I started it, and I just could not get into it. Could not. If I am being honest, I would say the start of this book is rough. I did what any reader does when a book doesn’t immediately grab you- I abandoned it.
Then, there is something to be said about being confined to your apartment and having spent your monthly Audible credits. You start to revisit titles you have downloaded but not read. I decided to give this story another go.
This book is nothing great, the plot is weak, and it tries too hard. Like, way too hard! As I said, they attempt to set up the United States as a monarchy. The House of Washington now rules America. I literally said, “WE GET IT!” into my empty apartment several times. This story is extremely predictable and nothing fancy.
With that being said, there was something beautiful about reading such a mindless book as the world around us moved to a more severe state each day. I have to admit that while not that great, I did add book two onto my Audible wish list. We’ll see if I tune in to listen when it comes out in the fall!
Honest Review: 2/5 Not so great– well, depends on what you’re looking for.
Untamed By Glennon Doyle
I know that you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover. I know, but I saw this book cover, and I thought, that’s me! The cover of this book would be what I would imagine the cover of my book would look like- swirling colors and glitter! Is there anything more, Natasha?
I had no idea who Glennon Doyle was or what this book was about, but I felt so compelled to read it. And, after reading it, I can honestly say my life has changed.
This book is life-changing people! As a woman, I have always tried to surround myself with other empowered, or as the book calls them, untamed women. If I traced it back, it probably all started with Girl Scouts. I loved Girl Scouts so much. Still, to this day, I love it. As a girl growing up surrounded by boys in our neighborhood, in our extended family, and in school I frequently heard that girls couldn’t do what boys could do, and it made me mad. I knew in my heart it was not true. In Girl Scouts, we could do whatever we wanted. There was no one saying you can’t do it because you’re a girl. Instead, they were saying, try it! See what happens. I bet you can do it!
After such incredible formative years being a Girl Scout, I decided I wanted to attend an all-girls high school. In high school, I met new women and learned how to become a bit more untamed. We openly discussed society’s expectations of women and what it meant to be a woman in today’s world. We developed skills to think for ourselves and focus on our own truth. Last year, I met a new friend who attended an all-girls college and spoke of similar freedom and empowerment.
As women, so often we’re tamed by the world around us. This actually pairs really well with Jessica Simpson’s book. Jessica discusses how everyone placed their expectations on her, and she worked to meet them. Glennon discusses the untaming that happens as women grow older, as we discover who we are when no one tells us who to be.
Reading this book reignited that untamed power within me. It reminded me of all the lessons I have learned from the strong women in my life. It made me focus on myself a bit more. To reevaluate things that I had always thought to be true. Glennon frequently discusses being your “truest, most beautiful” version of yourself. I could not love this idea more.
I loved this book so much that after I finished listening to it on Audible, I bought it on iBooks. And I read it again. One read-through of Glennon’s powerful words weren’t enough for me. I needed to hear it again. The amount of highlighting I did in that book is really absurd. The amount of quotes I wrote down is astounding. BUT the lessons I learned and reflections I did about myself and my own life will continue to be impactful for years to come.
Then, after I read it on Audible and read it on iBooks, I bought a paper copy of this story for my mom. My mom was the first untamed woman I knew. She’s always working to untame herself and to raise my sister and me to be more untamed than she was. I hope to continue this tradition if I ever have a daughter one day.
Honest Review: 10/5 – It can’t be tamed into a 5 point system.
My Friend Anna By Rachel DeLoache Williams
I automatically assume that whoever is reading this blog post did not have a phase where they were obsessed with influencers. I did have that phase. I’m not ashamed of it at all. I full-on embrace it. I was so intrigued by their lives. I have always loved blogging and have had so many different blogs throughout my life. I like blogging because I like telling my story through pictures and written words. During this obsessive phase, I even thought I wanted to be an influencer. I opened up my Instagram and made a Facebook page for this blog, and then I realized- I really don’t care.
I don’t care how many likes my picture gets. I don’t care if you read this and love it, or you read it and hate it, or you don’t even read it at all. I’m not blogging for other people, I am blogging for me. Now my Instagram is once again on lockdown, and I don’t follow a single influencer. However, I am still very intrigued by their lifestyle.
One case, in particular, stands out. The story of Anna Delvey. An apparent New York socialite who conned so many people. I love a good con story. If you are not familiar with the true story, it goes like this. Anna moved to New York and pretended she was a rich heiress from Germany… as you do. She conned many people out of money to invest in her projects and her Instagram worthy lifestyle. One day, as I assume most con jobs go, everything came crashing down. She was arrested and charged with grand larceny, aka a lot of theft.
This story is told from one of her best friends during her con days, Rachel. Rachel benefitted from Anna’s outlandish lifestyle and didn’t question a lot until they were stranded in Morocco. She had to charge an absurd amount of money (something like $60,000) to her company credit card to get out. Eeeek!
As someone who has traveled internationally with many groups of people before that bit stressed me out. Sure there’s been times where someone’s credit card gets declined, and you pick up the tab to have them pay you back later. I never would pick up that large a tab, but WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!? Thank goodness the charges I racked up over holidays were like a $300 rental car tab or a $100 Ryanair flight- that usually got paid back!
Some people read this tale and have no empathy for Rachel. They think if she could afford to charge that must money she is fine. I read this story with the most amount of empathy possible. Sometimes we have shitty friends, and we don’t realize it until it is too late. It can really happen to the best of us.
Honest Review: 5/5 Pretty stellar
My Next Read
The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood
Even though I absolutely love reading, I am the absolute worst book club member. A few years ago, I actually stopped joining book clubs for my own good. I never ever read the books. Then last year, I was peer pressured into it, and I wanted a change as a reader, so I joined. I read exactly 0 books and went to 0 meetings. This year I read one book and went to one meeting. So… progress. This year my book club (my is used very loosely here, more like the book club I aspire to be in) read The Testaments. I had big hopes and dreams that I would reread Handmaid’s and then read Testaments. I never did. There’s no time like now, so I am fulfilling the empty promise I made to myself, and I am going for it. I haven’t started reading yet, but I hope to make it through both books before summer vacation- whatever that even means now!
Hopefully, I’ve added a few titles to your to be read list. Let me know what books you’ve been reading while staying at home in the comments below. I love to hoard book titles in potential to be read lists. Nothing makes me happier!