Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: challenges

Literary Ladies summer reading challenge: My list


I hadn’t planned on sharing my reading list for The Literary Ladies summer reading challenge but then I remembered that I do better when I make my goals public (because you know, accountability and the looming threat of public shame if I fail) so I changed my mind. If you haven’t heard of the Literary Ladies, it’s a reading challenge/book club (book for that is Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen if you’re interested in joining) hosted by Kristen, Kay, and Kari. There’s also a Goodreads group if that’s your jam or you want an enhanced experience or can’t wait for the linkups. The reading challenge runs from June 21-Sept 21 and the first book club discussion is August 4 (I think. Please correct me if I’m mistaken).

They picked 10 categories for the challenge so I’ve listed those below along with my picks. Let me know if you’ve read any of these so I can reconsider or if I should be even more excited to read one of them.

YA Book: Hate List by Jennifer Brown or Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Book by a non-US Author: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Book recommended by a blogger: Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell (recommended by Steph and, to be clear, I’m pretty confident I’m going to hate-read this one)

Book on my TBR list for more than a year: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (added to my list on 7/23/14. Close enough)

Book with a kickass female lead: Let It Be by Chad Gayle

Book that is or will be a movie or TV show: The Long Home by William Gay (you can see here for the casting for this one)

Book by a comedian/celebrity: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Book with a one word title: Confess by Colleen Hoover or Us by David Nicholls

Suspenseful/mystery/thriller book: Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille

Book about summer/with summer in the title: Summerlong by Dean Bakopolous

If one reading challenge isn’t enough for you, Alyssa and I will be announcing our Long Hard Reading Challenge in August, Lisa and Shelly run their monthly Page Turners book club, and Erin is also running one. If I missed one, let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

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I’m Having a Me Party: 8 activities to do alone

Sing it, Piggy and Amy!

As I get older, and as I get crankier and possibly more introverted, I’ve become a lot less tolerant of other people. I find it frustrating to make plans only to have them canceled last minute or worse, stood up, and it’s gotten quite annoying to sit in my house more than I care to because people are assholes. So I’ve been practicing doing things by myself and you know what?


It’s nice to just pick up and go and do what I want and not give a shit about other people’s feelings or agendas or even have to listen to their petty problems or complaints. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy socializing with friends and going on dates with my husband and planning family activities but sometimes, when I want to do stuff, I’m okay going at it alone. 

There are still some things, like going to bars or walking on a dark, empty city street or meet anyone from Craigslist to buy anything, that I will not do alone mostly because I am paranoid and fear that I’ll, you know, be murdered, but the more I force myself to do it, the more I’m learning to do certain activities alone. Activities like:

  1. Shopping. Sure, I like to bring a fashion conscious friend along when I do some actual shopping, mainly for necessity, but for regular things like books or yoga pants or shoes, it’s easier to go alone. I get to take my sweet time, look at everything and anything I want, without worrying if I’m boring my companion.
  2. Manicures and pedicures. On the rare occasions I treat myself to one or both of these, I find it much more relaxing to do it by myself. No small talk, just pampering and eavesdropping on the other customers who have not been so smart as to go solo. Or those who have and talk loudly on their cell phones. They’re asking for it. #sorrynotsorry
  3. Traveling. Specifically, long car rides. I do some of my best thinking when I’m driving (and by “thinking” I really mean “sing like a rock star very loudly and off-key”) and having others in the car really impedes my ability to do that. 
  4. Attend conferences. My husband does not understand blogging and having him along at a blog conference would ruin my ability to enjoy myself and catch up with friends I only see once a year.  
  5. Go to the movies. It is nice to go on movie dates with my husband. However, we have completely different tastes in movies and sometimes, I want to see something that he’d rather not. So I go alone. And it is glorious. Particularly in the middle of the day, during the week. I highly recommend it.
  6. Go to the bathroom. Remember when you had to bring a friend with you because that was perfect gossip time? Well, I suppose that still applies in some circumstances but after the last 8 years of peeing with an audience, I relish in the chance to do my business without an extra set of eyes.
  7. Eat in restaurants. This used to scare the shit out of me. Then I did it a couple of times and now, it’s totally fine. Especially when I bring a book. Because not only do I look completely unobtrusive, but the book scares of anyone who might talk to me and I can be nosy without looking like I’m being nosy. It’s basically a perfect situation.
  8. Exercise. When I was in my Zumba obsessed phase, I learned to go to classes by myself because a) I didn’t know anyone at the gym and b) the people I did know outside of the gym wouldn’t go to the classes with me. But I wanted to go so I went anyway. And I survived and now, I actually enjoy working out by myself. Like driving alone, it gives me a chance to clear my head.

Having some alone time is great. It not only clears your head but it makes you appreciate the time you spend with others that much more because, now that you know you can be by yourself, it’s a choice to give that time to your family and friends.
It took me a long time to be okay with doing this stuff. Mainly because I suffer from low self-esteem and feared people would judge me or look at me funny but you know what I learned? No one actually gives a shit. No one is looking at me. No one is judging me. They’re there, wherever it is, for themselves. They’re not worried about me. And if you’re like I used to be, afraid to do things alone, don’t be. Just try it once. Start small and work your way up. 

Trust me. You’ll learn to love it. 

Especially if you have kids. 

Then it’s like a vacation. 

And it’s better than hiding in the bathroom faking a bout of diarrhea. 

Not that I’ve ever done that.

How about you guys? Are there any activities you prefer to do alone or you’ve learned to enjoy doing alone?

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Choose Your Own Adventure: Simplify in December, Create in January

Can I say how much I love all the choose your own adventure challenges? Not only do they help keep me focused (which, let’s face it, it’s in short supply these last few months) but being able stay focused while picking my own rules for doing so is basically the best way to go. GoalSettingLinkup

When the topic for simplify came up for December, I planned to apply it to blogging. And did I ever! In fact, I simplified so much that I didn’t blog for almost 3 weeks. It was necessary to do, given my mental health situation, and man, did it feel good. I mean, I missed writing and reading blogs and chatting with people during the day but all the other pressure? Gone. The ideas for posts kept flowing, I gained new perspective on what I want to do with the blog, and I realized that I need to go back to my blogging roots. Whatever those are, I’m not quite sure, but I do know that I need to stop obsessing about all the parts that stressed me out.

I don’t blog for stats and likes and shares. I don’t blog to compare myself to other bloggers. It’s not why I started and it’s not why I need to keep going. 

 I blog because I love to write, I love to share my story, and writing has always been my dream job. While I don’t get paid for it (yet. Fingers crossed that it changes), I’ve realized that my blog is a step, a big one, towards achieving that dream. That’s what I need to remember, along with the fact that blogging is a way to connect with people I might not have otherwise had the chance to connect with.

That’s the important stuff. 

The other important stuff is my simplified blogging plan. 

The specifics: I’ve decided that I will no longer blog 5 days per week. If I have enough to say, I might blog 4 but for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. I’ll be sharing some old posts on Facebook and Pinterest on the days I’m not publishing new content and hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll have a newsletter established for a special series I wanted to share on the blog but for now, will only be sharing with those who want to read it. I don’t want to shove it down your throats. 

This simplified blogging schedule will also allow me time to work on editing my first book. Publishing a novel has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember and it’s time to stop thinking about it and start actually doing it. And trust when I say the book needs A LOT of work. On another note, if anyone else is working on a big project and wants an accountability partner, let me know because I’m all for that.

The two new projects, editing and starting the newsletter, also fit in with the theme of this month’s challenge: COMPLETE. For me, it’s important that I complete the first pass of editing as well as complete the set up for the newsletter. Not only to keep me in content and connecting with readers but as a self-esteem boost. I haven’t completed a project in years. I’m hoping this will help me gain momentum I desperately need. 

Also on tap for this month’s challenge, complete the update of my photo frames in my living room as well as the decor in my daughter’s playroom. We organized the shit out of it over my break and now it’s time to make it look a little nicer. I have some ideas, too, and I can’t wait to share them!

If I haven’t yet said it, thanks for sticking with me through all of this. I appreciate it more than I can say and I’m hoping, in the coming months, to have lots of good stuff for you guys.

Are you participating in this month’s challenge? If so, what are you working on?

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