Ten Favorite Books from the Last Two Years

I have a difficult time choosing my favorite books. I could enjoy a book for it’s fictional characters, the twist at the end, the impact it had on me, or the importance of the subject. Can I call a book that splits me open a “favorite”? The ten books listed below are all books I wish I could read for the first time again. I’ll call them books I recommend you read.

In no particular order…

Know My Name by Chanel Miller (5 stars)

  • I could write an entire blog post on the importance of this book. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Chanel’s way with words is stunning, especially in the way she shares such traumatic experiences. I am so grateful Chanel chose to share her story. The power and honesty in this book…I think every single person should read it. 

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (5 stars)

  • Heavy is just that — heavy. Truly a gutting story, but grateful for Kiese sharing his story too. Really really important even though I found myself crying more than once while in these pages. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5 stars)

  • A favorite of 2020 for me. The first half is kind of slow, but it is a beautifully written story of twin sisters, love, and life. A timely story of trying to be who you truly are. I loved it. 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (5 stars)

  • This story follows the lives of 12 very different characters who are all connected somehow. It’s a long story that makes you want to take your time with it and I enjoyed every page. It is beautifully written, tragic, joyful, entrancing. I loved.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Neil Smith (4 stars)

  • This took a little to get into, but I ended up feeling overwhelmed with emotion at the end. I read this during a road trip and I was just so invested. Something about the characters and the emotions really got to me.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 stars

  • I couldn’t put this down. I was enthralled with Evelyn Hugo and couldn’t wait to hear each husband’s story. Well-written and well-developed characters. 

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – 4 stars

  • My first ever audiobook since I wanted to hear him read it. Really happy I chose to listen because it made a road trip go by quickly and I laughed a lot. This one was worth the hype.

Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson — 4.5 stars

  • Wow. I wish I could read this for the first time again. That’s all I say.

Verity by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars

  • Read this in one sitting. A bit of a thriller, which I wouldn’t have expected from CoHo. Worth the attention it gets!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune — 4.5 stars

  • I loved the love in this. Made me tear up a few times. I don’t usually read fantasy books, but I loved feeling fully immersed in this world. 

Not all books are for everyone, but I personally think these 10 are worth your time. Do you have a favorite book I should read?

How to Elope in Sydney

My now husband and I never planned on eloping. Our big family wedding was all set to take place in October 2020, but we all know 2020 did not go to plan. 

We pushed the big party back for one year and felt good about that decision. Yet as the original date got closer, we realized we really did not want to keep waiting to be married. 

So, I said, “maybe we should just get married anyways?”. We called our parents to see what they thought, and they agreed we should do what we wanted to do, but they wanted to be able to Zoom in (virtually be there). We were okay with this, but decided not to tell anyone else. We didn’t want a big group on Zoom. And we really wanted to keep this day just for us. 

Choosing to elope is a big decision. And as hopefully lockdown eases here in Australia, I wanted to share our experience in case anyone else is looking for help in how to plan their own small elopement. 

Once I had the idea in my head, I couldn’t shake it. But I was also unsure how to even go about it. My first step was reaching out to Kat Rollings, a photographer friend who did a marketing shoot for me in August 2020. I asked if she did small weddings and she wrote back quickly saying of course and that she worked with a team called “Weekday Wedded Bliss” who specialized in small weddings on weekdays. 

This felt like a sign.

We next reached out to the Weekday Wedded Bliss team and it moved pretty quickly from there. We met with Andrea Calodolce (the officiant) for coffee to chat logistics. We chose a Monday morning (in November) at sunrise right here in Bondi because we loved the idea of getting married on the sand. That meant the “Short & Sweet” package option. Andrea sent us from that meeting with all the information we needed to apply for our marriage license and make this happen!

The make-up artist on the team, Sandra/Eternal Elegance, had done my make-up for my other shoot, so I felt comfortable with her. She does hair too, so I decided to pay for both. I wasn’t thinking about the 3 a.m. wake-up call when I chose a sunrise ceremony, but it worked out okay. She had the best energy for that early of a start time!

I ordered three white dresses online from The Iconic. One fit well, so I went with it. We only had about 30 days to get this together and I didn’t want to be picky. Spending about $100 on a wedding dress felt like such a steal. And The Iconic is so great about returns!

Kyle got a cheap tan suit from H&M. The pants may have been a little big, but we didn’t care. 

I got a small wedding band from down the street at Mezi. He ordered a $10 band online that got here the week of. 

We got the marriage license approval, which made it all feel real. I never thought I’d have an Australian marriage license, but truly love that we do.

Flowers came from Tulipanna just up the road. I pre-ordered a bouquet for myself, and a small corsage for Kyle that we picked up the Sunday evening and kept in the fridge.

We needed two witnesses in-person to make it official, so we asked our friend Julia if she’d be willing to get up super early and be a part of the morning. She said yes. And we asked Kat (our photographer friend) to be the second.

The Zoom link was set-up ahead of time and sent to our families. The time zones worked out well, since it was a Sunday afternoon for them. I know they loved being able to watch, even though it was sad to not be together in-person. 

After the ceremony, we had the whole day ahead of us. So, I had asked my Mom to organize a scavenger hunt style day. She went above and beyond to write clues, set-up surprises, and have everything paid for. We had the best day and I was so so happy she was able to plan this from overseas. We ended the day with a small get together at our place with our local friends. It was everything. Best Monday ever. 

The quick version:

  • Find an officiant
  • Find a photographer (if you want one)
  • Choose your outfits
  • Find a florist (if you want flowers)
  • Find a local make-up artist or hair stylist (if you want one)
  • Register for your marriage license one month in advance of the ceremony
  • Set up a Zoom link (if you want to include anyone overseas)
  • Ask your two witnesses
  • Choose the location and time
  • Write your vows (if you’re writing your own)

Our vendors:

I can’t recommend the Weekday Wedded Bliss team enough! The process was pretty much stress-free and we could not have asked for a better day. 

If you are looking to plan your own elopement and have questions, I am happy to share more. Just reach out!

2021 Reads!

Prioritizing reading time again was one of the best things for me in 2020. I worked reading back into a regular schedule, frequented the library, and had great conversations about books. 

I want to keep a running list of the books I read this year, too. Just a quick star rating and short review for each book. No spoilers or lengthy descriptions. You can check out 2020’s list here

I will add the same preface as last year — I am a bit of a harsh critic. I do not give out 5 stars very often, but I will also give a minimum of 2 stars if I finish the book. Attitudes toward books are so personal, so if you want to chat with me about why you loved a book below or why you didn’t, please do. And if my opinion is different than yours, that’s okay.

My goal was 50 books and I hit 50 on December 29th.

Here’s what I read in 2021:

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly – 3 stars

  • I loved the first (Lilac Girls), so I had high hopes for this historical fiction story, but it took me a long time to get through. I did not feel as connected to the characters as I had expected. Still a well-written story. 

Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty – 2 stars

  • I know there are a lot of Jay Shetty fans out there, but this book was just not for me. I liked some of his concepts and his advice, but parts felt repetitive and a bit hypocritical. Seemed like a collection of other peoples quotes and stories. 

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins – 3 stars

  • I enjoyed reading this one. David is super inspiring. While I don’t agree with everything, like training through crazy amounts of pain, etc, this book felt really authentically him and I am glad he told his story. 

The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage by Kelly McGonigal – 3 stars

  • I don’t need convincing that movement is joyful. Much of my life is centered around the joy of movement. But I did appreciate Kelly’s approach and the stories she shared — especially the parts around ultra running. 

White Ivy by Susie Yang – 3 stars

  • I am still unsure how I feel about this one. I read it in less than 24 hours and Yang is a talented writer. Ivy (the main character) isn’t exactly likeable, but I think this is what made the story so interesting. Ultimately, I got to the end and felt like…okay? A bit of a letdown. 

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris – 4 stars

  • Second book of the year about meditation, but I much preferred it to Jay Shetty’s book. This one felt more relatable and less preachy to me. I will say I still do not have a regular meditation practice, but Dan’s words inspired me to do so. 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – 3 stars

  • Another book I feel conflicted about. I enjoyed the writing and felt connected to some of the characters. I won’t give any spoilers, but will leave it at this: the end did not sit right with me. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – 4 stars

  • My first Colleen Hoover and I enjoyed it even more than I expected. A well-written story of complex characters and tough issues. Brought out a lot of emotions. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 stars

  • I couldn’t put this down. I was enthralled with Evelyn Hugo and couldn’t wait to hear each husband’s story. Well-written and well-developed characters. 

Quit Like A Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker – 3 stars 

  • I have so many thoughts on this. I am glad I read it. Coming from someone who just wants to choose to drink less in social situations, this landed with me most of the time. But at the same time, it felt written for well-off white women and seemed to make breaking addiction seem ‘easier’ than it is. I haven’t been there, so I guess I can’t really say, but I do think it is worth noting AA is a free option for recovery and that is valuable even though she doesn’t agree with the program. 

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams — 3 stars

  • This was really slow in the first half. I loved the focus on words and was glad I kept reading, but it took me a while to get through.

Sky Runner by Emelie Forsberg — 2 stars

  • One star for Emelie being a cool person and one star for the amazing photos. It actually pains me to give this 2 stars since I read it for a book club where I’m going to get to chat with the author, but this read like a magazine to me. I wanted more. And I found quite a few typos/grammatical errors throughout which was distracting. Beautiful to look through though.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas — 4 stars

  • Really glad Angie gave us this prequel. If you haven’t read The Hate U Give yet, I would still read it first, but you could also read Concrete Rose on it’s own. Angie tells a story so beautifully. 

Confess by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars

  • I just really enjoy Hoover’s writing. Another quick fictional story that I couldn’t put down. Not my number one Hoover book, but still one I enjoyed reading. 

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen — 2.5 stars

  • I like Rachel. This is a quick read as a good intro to yoga, but I didn’t like how the photos cut into the text so often. Weird breaks. I’d say you could skip it. 

Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi — 3 stars

  • A unique set of stories based on time travel. Worth reading, but I didn’t love it quite as much as I thought I would.

Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo — 3.5 stars

  • I definitely would read So You Want To Talk About Race first. I learned a lot in this one, but it seemed a little scattered I guess?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — 3 stars

  • Another book I saw all over social media that I found to be a bit overhyped. I liked this. I liked the idea and the way it makes you think about your own choices is fascinating, but the character development fell a little flat for me.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah — 4 stars

  • I am a big Kristin Hannah fan. I was excited for her new novel, but it felt a little slow compared to others of hers. A really heartbreaking story, but I enjoyed it.

How do we know we’re doing it right? by Pandora Sykes — 3 stars

  • Essays on modern life from Sykes. This was an interesting collection, but nothing felt really new.  

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin — 3 stars

  • Not my favorite Emily Giffin, but I still flew through it. Was in the mood for a quick fictional story.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — 2.5 stars

  • Quick read with a couple quotes I’ll come back to, but not that impactful overall for me.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – 4 stars

  • My first ever audiobook since I wanted to hear him read it. Really happy I chose to listen because it made a road trip go by quickly and I laughed a lot. This one was worth the hype.

Mind of a Survivor by Megan Hine — 4 stars

  • I listened to this on runs for an athlete book club and really enjoyed it. Practical advice and really cool experiences to learn about.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall — 4 stars

  •  So well written. A lot to think about.

Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson — 4.5 stars

  • Wow. I wish I could read this for the first time again.

How Far Can You Go? by John Maclean — 3 stars

  • 4 stars for the inspiration that is John. 2 for the writing (sorry!). I had the chance to chat with him on a book club video chat and he truly is an inspiration, but I enjoyed hearing from him more than reading the book.

The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn — 3 stars

  • A thriller for the mix. A quick read where I wanted to get to the end. Part of it felt predictable, but I still enjoyed it.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid — 4 stars

  • Really enjoyed this. The focus on the sibling relationships being my favorite part. I have loved other TJR books more, but still even compared, enjoyed this one too.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Findlay — 3 stars

  • A collection of short stories in the form of a full length novel. Some stories were outstanding, but I felt that the way they were put together was a little confusing. I found it hard to go from one to the next and “reset” to take in a new person’s story. Worth reading, but took me a while since I felt like I had to have a lot of breaks in between stories.

Inward by Yung Pueblo — 3 stars

  • Some poems were great, but overall it felt very repetitive to me. I also had seen a lot of the poems on Instagram already. 

Land’s Edge by Tim Winton— 3 stars

  • A nice short story that makes me appreciate Australia even more. Just something about the sea.

Breath by James Nestor — 3 stars

  • Interesting. I love this topic. I wish this had a little more evidence and everyday life examples.

How To Build A Goddamn Empire by Ali Kriegsman — 4 stars

  • I really enjoyed this — a book I will come back to again and again. Thank you, Ali!

Verity by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars

  • Read this in one sitting. A bit of a thriller, which I wouldn’t have expected from CoHo. Worth the attention it gets!

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover — 3 stars

  • Not my favorite CoHo book, but still good. Just enjoy her writing.

The Way of the Runner by Adharanand Finn — 3.5

  • Really enjoyed getting to learn more about running in Japan. Now I want to run an ekiden!

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars

  • Just a CoHo fan. I read this while in lockdown still (my third CoHo in a short time) because I wanted the easy reading escapes. I wanted a bit more from the backstory on this one, but still really enjoyed it.

Be.: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself by Jessica Zweig — 2.5 stars

  • The frameworks were a good reminder and helped me think about some things I’m working on, but most of the message actually felt pretty inauthentic. I shouldn’t have read this so close to reading Ali Kreigsman’s new book because I loved that one so much and couldn’t help but compare them.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave — 3 stars

  • Quick read. First one I read after returning to the U.S. I guess I was expecting a bit more from it, so I felt a little let down, but still a good read.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng — 4 stars

  • I’m late to the party with this one, but really enjoyed it. 

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore — 3.5 stars

  • I liked this. Was an interesting perspective that felt different than other time travel stories.

Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart — 3 stars

  • Slower than I expected. I liked the writing, but it felt like a lot of the characters kind of got lost in the story.

Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival and Recovery Against All Odds by Hillary Allen — 2 stars

  • There’s no doubt Hillary is inspiring. I would love to chat with her in real life. And I saved some quotes from this that I’ll refer back to. But as a book, it felt repetitive and a bit scattered.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune — 4.5 stars

  • I loved the love in this. Made me tear up a few times. I don’t usually read fantasy books, but I loved feeling fully immersed in this world. 

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Gooddall and Douglas Abrams — 3 stars

  • I really like Jane’s work and the overall message of this book was nice, but I found the delivery pretty boring. It reads as a conversation, but a conversation that doesn’t flow well? I was kinda disappointed.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune — 4 stars

  • This one felt a bit slow the first half, but I enjoyed his writing and the overall message. I liked The House in the Cerulean Sea more. This one was a bit darker. 

You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero — 1.5 stars

  • 1.5? This was not good. I was in the mood to set new financial goals for my business as we enter a new year and was hoping to feel inspired from reading this. It fell really flat. I liked a couple quotes, but didn’t feel like I walked away with any real advice. 

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster — 3 stars

  • It was hard to rate this one. 3 stars I think? I didn’t enjoy this all that much. Felt a little preachy — like it worked for me so it HAS to work for you!! But I did feel inspired to start a few of the rituals that I don’t do already. And some parts were funny. I think in general I need a bit of a break from self-help books. A lot of what I read this year didn’t do much for me. 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May — 4 stars

  • I really enjoyed this. A good perspective on seasons of life. This was a gift from my MIL and I opened it right before seeing my first snow in about 3 years, so it felt fitting. 

That’s 50! I read a lot of great books and a lot of not-so-great, but I’m happy to share. Here’s to 50 new adventures in 2022.

11 Things We Have Learned From 11 Years of Dating

August 11th: Celebrating 11 years together, 11 things we have learned!

It’s an anniversary over here today. And even though I have not felt like celebrating much in 2020, I think 11 years of dating is something to celebrate. Kyle and I spent our 10 year anniversary apart (him in Australia, me in Chicago), so it does feel special to be together for this one. 

Our relationship has changed a lot over the years. And truthfully, I feel like it is always getting better. I used to think it  was cheesy when people would say things like “I love you more each day”, but with Kyle it’s easy to feel cheesy.

I thought it would be fun to share 11 things I have learned from 11 years of dating him. We have both grown so much and learned a lot about what works for us and what doesn’t. And I asked Kyle to pull together a list too (more on that later).

11 Things That Keep Us Happy:

  • Good communication. If you are going to be stuck at work late, send a text. If you’re apart from each other for a trip, give a quick goodnight call. If you are upset about something, address it quickly. The upfront updates just make everything easier. 
  • Kiss and make up. This goes along with “don’t go to bed angry”. But really it’s hard not to smile after making out, right?
  • Independence. This is something Kyle and I have always prioritized. Be okay on your own (we have done quite a bit of long distance). Have different interests. Have plans with friends on your own. 
  • But also do things the other likes — together. I have gone to my fair share of concerts or sporting events that I would not have gone to on my own, but will go if Kyle wants to go. If you love the person, really any event can be fun. And I think supporting their interests is important too. 
  • Do the little things without being asked. Fill up their empty water bottle. Make the bed. Make coffee. I appreciate these things so much.  
  • Give Dale quiet time. This is something Kyle picked up on quickly – lol.  Introverted empath over here and I absolutely need quiet alone time to recharge. He gets it. 
  • Take turns making plans. Whether this is planning a road trip, reaching out to friends for weekend plans, or making a reservation for a weeknight date night. We take turns being the planner. We both enjoy it, but it’s also nice to not have to be the one always making the plans. 
  • Don’t stop surprising each other. We love to make a new restaurant reservation and not tell the other where we’re going. And I love Kyle surprising me with cookies when he goes to the grocery store just as much. It’s nice to have the reminders of how much we think about each other and want to make each other happy. 
  • Be the strong one when the other can’t. Tough times are hard to navigate in relationships. Kyle and I do our best to be the strong one when the other can’t be. We try to have a rule of ‘we both can’t cry at the same time’. Does not always work (yes Kyle cries), but we try. Sometimes you just have to step up and be the strong one. 
  • Encourage the uncomfortable. Get out and try new things! Kyle encourages me to do things I might not try. Like for example, move to a new continent I had never even visited before. And I encourage him to run and go on adventures with me so much that now he loves them too. We always encourage each other to be a little better, try new things and not to be afraid to take some risks. 
  • Laugh. I am lucky Kyle has me laughing every single day. His humor has gotten me through so much. And it is one of my absolute favorite things about him. You just have to laugh some things off. Kyle reminds me not to be so serious. And I really think laughing makes most situations better. 


I could keep going, but these were the first 11 things I thought of. Relationships take work. But I think the more you work at it and learn about each other, the easier it gets. Kyle and I have found the best way to be the best partner for the other and it really feels like we get better with age. It’s fun. We are not the same people we were when we met at 15. We grew up independently, while also knowing we always wanted to be together. We work at it. We are by no means experts, but it was fun to think about what helps us work so well together and I wanted to share it. 

Just for fun, I asked Kyle to write a list of his 11 things he has learned from dating me before I showed him mine. I was not even sure if he would give me a serious list, but I wanted to ask. It ended up being the perfect mix of funny and serious, kind of like him. And we had a few overlapping of course.

Kyle’s honest list below.

  • Don’t let Dale go hangry
  • Have interests different from your partner
  • But also some the same
  • Screen prospective partners for snoring
  • Running isn’t that bad after all
  • Make sure you like different flavors of chips so you have your own snacks
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things together
  • Find a partner who can do mental math if you are unable
  • Distance is hard but the right person makes it easy
  • Keep going on dates
  • Always say goodnight before you go to sleep

His is a good list too. XO.

tas selfiebarefoot runningbyron lighthouseCoffee with KyleKyle and I

2020 Reads!

I have always loved to read. I vividly remember going to story time at my local library as a young child, completing summer reading challenges through middle school, actually enjoying reading the classics in high school English class, and escaping into books on long solo plane rides as an adult. Reading has been an escape and a challenge I have enjoyed throughout my whole life. Some years I read more than others, but I have set a Goodreads goal for 4 years in a row. It keeps me accountable and helps me prioritize reading time.

I set a goal of 35 books for 2020 at the end of last year (obviously not knowing about the pandemic that was about to hit). So, it’s now the beginning of May and I just finished book 24 of the year. Think I’ll have to change my goal to 50. I’m loving the extra reading time!

I like to share what I’m reading in hopes you find some good reads from my finds. And I love getting book recs, so please send them my way! I’ll keep updating this blog post with my short reviews (very – or you’d be here all day) and star ratings for each book as I finish them. Also a quick note, I am a bit of a tough critic in that I hardly ever give 5 stars. But I also will always give a book 2 stars unless I DNF it. So, I really enjoy all my 3 and 4 star rated books, but those 5 stars are saved for books that impact me in a big way.  And as always, if you want to chat with me more about a book below, please reach out!

Happy reading.



  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)
    • Emotional book to start the year with. I’m a sucker for a good dog story! The characters in this story were really well developed and I definitely shed some tears.
  • Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl by Jeannie Vanasco (4 stars)
    • This was heavy and honest. A look at sexual abuse from someone you know. It made me uncomfortable, but I was glad I read it. Probably would have given it less stars if I read it later in the year, but sharing my star reviews from right after finishing the book.

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer (2 stars)
    • Could not get behind this at all!! It won awards and was recommended to me by a few people, but I was so bored. The main character seemed so entitled and I never felt a connection to him. I finished just because I thought it might get better, but honestly I didn’t care for it.

  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller (5 stars)
    • I could write an entire blog post on the importance of this book. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Chanel’s way with words is stunning, especially in the way she shares such traumatic experiences. I am so grateful Chanel chose to share her story. The power and honesty in this book. I think every single person should read it.

  • City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham (3 stars)
    • A nice collection of essays. I liked that it focused on Australia and I share her affinity for trees.

  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (4 stars)
    • I need a good fictional story every so often. I enjoy Jojo’s writing. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy it. Strong female characters.

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (3 stars)
    • I really enjoy historical fiction and this book had high praise from so many people. I found it to be a bit of a let down. It wasn’t bad, but I have read many better WWII era historical fiction novels.

  • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma (2 stars)
    • This is an oof from me. I liked the concept, and I learned a couple good takeaways, but honestly those could have been summed up in about 10 pages. I had to force myself to finish this one. A lot of it felt scattered and unnecessarily lengthy.

  • All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church (4 stars)
    • I chose this one randomly from the library shelf and I’m glad I did. The abuse was tough to read about, but I really liked the main character. She was strong and resilient. Interesting story!

  • Empty Bottles Full of Stories By Robert M. Drake, R.H. Sin (2 stars)
    • I usually like poetry, but this fell flat for me. Nothing spectacular.

  • Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan (4 stars)
    • This book was so perfect for me and my stage of life. I am going through a lot of what the author went through when moving to London without knowing anyone. It was relatable and enjoyable.

  • This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (4 stars)
    • This story is about the last death penalty death in NZ. Sad, and hard. But I liked learning more about some history over in this part of the world. Well written.

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3 stars)
    • An erotic, romance novel I could not put down. I liked both main characters and thought the story was enticing. Super quick, enjoyable read.

  • Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes (3 stars)
    • Cute collection of stories. I like Jojo (clearly). The Paris stories in the collection were definitely my favorite. She can do a lot in just a few pages.

  • Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi (4 stars)
    • Another random library pick up that had me glued to it. This story is about a 17 year old alcoholic. Tough, but a little bit sarcastic and humorous. Definitely recommend!

  • The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman (3 stars)
    • An interesting story of friendship and love. Quick read and I liked the characters.

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear (4 stars)
    • I actually purchased this book because a friend told me it was ‘life changing’. I’m glad I did. So many great takeaways and i know i will refer back to it often.

  • Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie (3 stars)
    • I was so excited about this read, but found it really hard to follow. This is the story of four different women who worked in the Silicon Valley world. I think these women are amazing, but the chapters jumped around from one perspective to the next, one year to the next, and I thought it was confusing. It made it difficult to connect with the women.

  • The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore (3 stars)
    • Quick ‘murder mystery’ type fictional story with a ton of music references. Not evolutionary, but I found it enjoyable. Loved all the music notes!

  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (3 stars)
    • I’m a big Gillian Flynn fan. This short story was well written and made me want more. I think that was the point.

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman (3 stars)
    • Another novel that was recommended to me by many, that I found disappointing. It was good. But I didn’t get sucked in the way I expected. The first half felt a bit boring. I am glad I finished it and the story is important, but I did not fly through it.

  • All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (4 stars)
    • Read this in less than 24 hours. I really like Emily Giffin’s writing style. This book was from different character perspectives as well, but in an easy-to-follow way. Just a realistic, fictional story.

  • The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts (4 stars)
    • Wow. Such a hard read, but a great read. A look at the work of Sue Lloyd-Roberts before she died and both the terrible and incredible things she saw along the way. Tough to get through, but powerful, well-written and important.

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (4 stars)
    • I loved Nightingale, so I was excited to read this one. It lived up to the Kristin hype. A story of love, life and struggle out in Alaska. I shed a few tears. I love her character development.

  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (4 stars)
    • This wasn’t a page turner. If anything it took me longer to get through than most books because I felt pressure to go to sleep instead of reading (lol). But there was a lot of really useful information here. Great for me to share with my athletes as well. I always say sleep is the best recovery tool and this books proves that. 

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle (4 stars)
    • I gave Untamed 3.5 stars (rounded up on GoodReads) out of peer pressure I think. Everyone LOVED this book this year. I was hyped. I actually purchased this one instead of getting it from the library because I knew i would love it too, but i actually didn’t. I feel like i had heard most of it through Glennon’s podcast interviews before reading. Not saying there weren’t good parts, but this was a majorly overhyped book for me.

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (3 stars)
    • I think I read this a long time ago, but it was nice to read again. A book you can revisit and feel differently about in a different year. Definitely a classic worth reading. 

  • Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper (5 stars)
    • “If your rage can do anything for you, I hope it can do for you what it has done for me — help us to build the world we want to see.” My favorite quote from Brittney in this book. I loved her words. Such an important read. 

  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (4 stars)
    • Rupi is good at what she does. I love her way with words and find myself re-reading her poems all the time.

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (5 stars)
    • 4.5 stars. A book everyone should read. I highlighted so many parts of this book and want to share it with everyone I know. These are the discussions we need to be having. 

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (4 stars)
    • Conflicting reviews from my friends and I on this one, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a quick, relatable fictional story that still addressed important real-life issues. I couldn’t put it down! Overall, I wanted a bit more from the characters, but I did enjoy reading it. 

  • Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life by Archie Roach (4 stars)
    • I took awhile to read this one. Archie’s story is heartbreaking. This year I really wanted to learn more about the Indigenous People of Australia and Archie really paints the pictures of what his life here has been like. He’s an inspiration. 

  • Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (5 stars)
    • Heavy is just that — heavy. Truly a gutting story, but grateful for Kiese sharing his story. Really really important even though I found myself crying more than once while in these pages. 

  • The Yield by Tara June Winch (3 stars)
    • I am a word nerd, so I was drawn to The Yield because of the dictionary style Aborignal culture was shared. You hear from three different perspectives and it’s a unique way to tell a story. I finished wanting a bit more from it, but I like her style.

  • The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin (3 stars)
    • I couldn’t put this one down, but ultimately I did not enjoy it. I like Emily’s books and I was so excited for this one. I flew through the first half, but I just really did not like how she wrote about 9/11 or any of the characters. I was missing the connection piece with this. 

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5 stars)
    • A favorite of the year for me. The first half is kind of slow, but it is a beautifully written story of twin sisters, love and life. A timely story of trying to be who you truly are. I loved it. 

  • Food Fix by Dr. Mark Hyman (4 stars)
    • Another book I think everyone should read. It reads kind of like a textbook, but it SO educational. It is upsetting. It is hard to get through. But I really appreciate Dr. Mark’s perspective and his approach to health. I always leave books like this wanting to change our entire food system — and that’s the point. 

  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (5 stars)
    • Another favorite for me. This story follows the lives of 12 very different characters who are all connected somehow. It’s a long story that makes you want to take your time with it and I enjoyed every page. It is beautifully written, tragic, joyful, entrancing. I loved.

  • Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (4 stars)
    • I was sucked in. Sometimes you just need a quick, fictional read. This story dealt with some current issues and I did like the characters. I was actually surprised by the turn it took. 

  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (4 stars)
    • I do not typically read murder mystery or thriller style books. But I borrowed this one from Julia and ended up really enjoying it. I was hooked from the start and want to read the next one. 

  • Something Special, Something Rare (3 stars)
    • This is a collection of short stories by Australian women. I loved some of them and wanted more from the author and others were a bit boring. Overall, 3 stars. 

  • Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams (2 stars)
    • Maybe the worst book I read this year? Sorry, but I could not get behind this. It felt drawn out and like the author was really trying too hard. Also found quite a few typos which annoys me. Seemed like it was trying to be so ‘millennial’ by mentioning buzz words, etc. 

  • The Impossible First by Colin O’Brady (4 stars)
    • This book brings you to Antarctica! What a story. I was hooked and so so impressed with Colin. Really grateful he shared his story with the world. Just wow. 

  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (3 stars)
    • I generally like Jennifer’s stories. I was craving another quick fictional read, so I went for this older one I hadn’t read about addiction. It was okay. It kind of felt like I had read the story already or seen a movie of it. 

  • Educated by Tara Westover (3 stars)
    • Another 2020 disappointment for me. This book was raved about by so many people. And I do agree it is an inspiring story, but after so many other incredible stories of trauma, hardship and overcoming I read this year, this one fell short for me. I admire Tara for sharing her story, but I didn’t feel connected. 

  • North by Scott and Jenny Jurek (4 stars)
    • I love a good ultra running story. I’ve been a fan of Scott Jurek for awhile and I was so happy to escape to his world for a little bit. Also really loved hearing his wife’s perspective throughout. Her feat was just as impressive as his if you ask me. Really enjoyed this. Made me want to go out and run another ultra. 

  • Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (3 stars)
    • Another Emily book that I read really quickly. I wanted a ‘by the pool’ fiction read for our fake honeymoon and this fit the bill. A sweet story about adoption and relationships. Nothing spectacular, but a good, quick read. 

  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Neil Smith (4 stars)
    • This took a little to get into, but I ended up crying at the end. I read this during a road trip and I was just so invested. Something about the characters and the emotions really go to me. I loved it. 

  • Brain Wash by David and Austin Perlmutter (2 stars) 
    • A non-fiction book about taking care of yourself.I wanted to like this, but I felt like I didn’t learn anything new. It is great information, but I wasn’t surprised by any of it. Just seemed pretty common sense. But doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice to follow. 

  • Home Body by Rupi Kaur (4 stars)
    • Rupi’s newest. I really really enjoyed it. Her friendship poem had me in tears. Again, she is just so good at what she does. 

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (3 stars)
    • I liked Queenie. The writing was enjoyable and it was a quick story to get into. I finished wishing I had a bit more from the characters, but I did like it. 

  • Braving the Wilderness:The Quest for True Belonging by Brene Brown (3 stars)
    • This one was disappointing for me. I love Brene. And I probably should not have read this one of her books first. I get what she was trying to say, but it kind of seemed like an afterthought book to me. It came out in 2017 and with a 2020 lens on it, it just felt a little off to me. 

  • Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (3 stars)
    • A good dose of inspiration to live in the now. This is a reminder I have been needing. A little bit preachy, but I liked what he was saying for the most part. 

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (4 stars)
    • A book of prose telling the story of two teenage girls. I loved the style, the way feelings were described and the uniqueness. I felt like I got to know them. 

  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (3 stars)
    • Read this one in less than 24 hours. I really wanted to know what happened and I enjoyed getting to the end, but the end left me a little let down. No spoilers, but I was just bummed to get to the end. It’s a little like reading a romantic comedy, but not in the way you’d expect. 


And that’s it for the year so far — all 55 of them.  I’ll keep adding to this list if I finish more the end of the year! Xx.


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Ideas to Make Running Fun In The Midst of a Hard Time

I don’t know about you, but running really has not been very enjoyable for me for most of this lock down/pandemic time. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me as I watched the Boston Marathon get postponed, my flight home to see family and friends for the first time in 6 months cancelled, and I began living this new “stay at home” way of life. I needed time to adjust. And running (something I love) just didn’t sound fun most days. 

I had been training hard for Boston since November. Training in Sydney, Australia through the summer. It was HOT. It was hilly. It was hard. Having a goal race kept me out there doing hard runs, long runs, and uncomfortable runs. But once I didn’t have a marathon to train for anymore, I felt kind of lost. And I knew my body needed a break. Five months of hard marathon training is a lot. I knew I should not continue training through this pandemic at full capacity, especially if I will start training again in June. I need the break. I need the time to focus more on strength, yoga and chilling. THAT IS OKAY! But that does not mean I have to stop running completely. 

Now what? I love to run just for running sake. It isn’t all about races for me. But that said, getting out for runs anyways when you do not feel like it, is a lot easier when you have a date on a calendar you’re working toward. Speed work in heat just isn’t going to happen for me if I’m not racing soon, because it isn’t enjoyable for me. And all I want is for running to feel enjoyable. I had to reset my mindset. I wanted to just run for my mental health. To get outside and get fresh air. To run for pure enjoyment. And for me, that means not forcing anything.

For the last two weeks of March and first three weeks of April, every single run felt frustrating. Despite stay at home orders in Australia, there were more people out running and in parks than ever before. Running paths I used to have to myself were now flooded with people (groups of people!!) who were breaking the rules and oblivious to those around them. Most runs were flat out angering. I didn’t feel like myself. And having something I love that usually brings me peace all of a sudden bring me panic and frustration is just a terrible feeling. 

I had to kind of trick myself into enjoying running again. I am still working with my coach, but he is letting me lead what I want to do at the moment. I do still think even in spite of the uncertainty, now is a great time to work with a coach. They can hold you accountable, challenge you (if that’s what you want), encourage you, and make sure you don’t over train (huge right now). My athletes have been inspiring me with the work they are still putting in day after day. And I truly believe running is a good thing right now. You might just need to frame it differently in your head. If virtual races and normal speed work is your jam, then go for it. If it isn’t, that’s okay too. I came up with some ways to make running feel “fun” and wanted to share if you also are in need of some inspiration!

  1. Random Directions – Set out to run with no total time or mileage or route in mind. Try to run down some streets you haven’t run before, or at least don’t run often. Every time you get to a stoplight or stop sign, just choose a direction. Go right, stay straight, etc. Just use your gut instinct and go every which way with no real plan. Turn around and run home when you want!
  2. Run/walk – (I promise I will actually get my blog up soon about the benefits of run/walking.) I am a huge proponent of the run/walk approach. Especially in a time like this. If you’re struggling to get outside because running feels daunting right now, try this: run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. Or run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. The walk breaks are short – just enough to drop your heart rate a little and help you reset your easy pace. They make a big difference in effort and are so great on the days you think a run won’t feel good. Try it!
  3. Photo hunt – If you run with your phone and like photos, try to set a silly photo challenge before you get out to run. Choose an object like trees, street art, leaves, anything you want and plan to take X number of photos on your run. I think this is a good reminder to look up, take in nature and scenery around you and be willing to press pause. It’s a nice little distraction. The purpose of this run can just be to go take some photos, and however far you run is however far you run. 
  4. Errand run – I love the errand run. I use my Camelbak pack to carry things when I run and it’s great. I often run to drop off a library book, pick up something from the store, etc. I have been doing this for years, but I have found it especially nice in this time. We are all staying inside more, as we should be, and time in stores or visiting restaurants is limited. But if you choose a run once a week where you can run to go leave a book on a family members front porch, or a card in your friends mailbox – go for it! You might not even think about the running part. It’s just something on your to-do list and maybe a nice gesture.
  5. Fartlek – If you are wanting to get some speed back in your legs, but don’t love the idea of structured speedwork, try a fartlek run. You can set the “hard” minutes and “easy” minutes for however long you’d like. Try a 10 minute easy warm up, 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 10 minute cool down. Really any combo you like! Just make the hard a hard effort, don’t worry about paces. 
  6. Stair/hill climb – I am lucky I am surrounded by SO many hills and staircases, but I think most people can find a good staircase somewhat close by where they live. If you can, try a stair workout. Maybe run 10 minutes easy, climb the stairs 4 times, run 10 minutes easy, climb the stairs 4 times. However many stairs or hill reps your heart desires. Different terrain is really good for you and now is a great time to work it in if it’s something you usually avoid. 
  7. Podcast length – I have been “saving” my favorite podcast episodes for runs. Since I know I can only listen to them while running, I look forward to the run. And I set out with the intent to just run for the length of the episode. I might pick a 20 minute one or an 80 minute one, it doesn’t matter. I just put on my headphones, and run until it’s over. This lets me really disconnect and not even think about the running part. Highly recommend it. 
  8. End at a coffee shop – You might not all love coffee, but this could be anything really (a doughnut treat, a smoothie..). Start out a run with a final destination (that isn’t your home) in mind. Mine lately has been a coffee shop a few miles away. I run there, grab a coffee, and walk home as I drink my coffee and maybe call a friend. I love walking almost as much as I love running and coffee, so this way I get all three. You can support a small business, get some exercise and get extra time outside. I find having a place to ‘go’ on a run really helps. 


I hope you try some of these and find new vigor in your running. Run for fun! Run for your mental health. Run for alone time. Run to run. Now is the time to just enjoy it and remind yourself why you love it in the first place. But also, just one more reminder that now is also a great time to take a break. On the days you don’t want to workout, don’t. It will be okay. Just do what you feel like, when you feel like it. If you feel like running, but need an extra reason to get out and enjoy the run – I hope one of these ideas helps. 



So we all know what is going on in the world. I didn’t end 2019 anticipating April of 2020 to begin like this, but none of us did. I’ll keep this short: I’m okay. Not every day is good. Not every day is bad. I am finding something to be grateful for every day (even on the days I cry multiple times). We’re all in this together. And any way you’re feeling today is okay. But I wanted to share some ways I am distracting myself. Here’s a short list of some things I am listening to, reading, watching, etc. Hope you find something from it that you’ll enjoy too. Hang in there xx. 

A few things I’m listening to:

  • Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us Podcast. I just started this new series a couple days ago. LOVED her episode on FFTs. And I just finished the episode on comparative suffering today. Really relevant and uplifting. Big Brene fan. 
  • The XX first album. This album brings me comfort, always has. I turn to music in hard times and I like to return to albums and artists I have loved for a long time.
  • Addie’s ‘a sense of calm’ playlist. I also love a good calming mix of songs I might not be all too familiar with. Addie’s latest playlist is really great. 

A few things I’m watching:

  • Bon Appetit YouTube Channel (always). Gourmet Makes and anything with Chris is a definite mood booster. And love that they’re offering home video content during isolation! This team is pretty amazing. We’ve been cooking up so many of their recipes too. But even if you don’t cook, it’s fun to just watch their videos. 
  • Ozark. (On Netflix). Just started season one since it’s trending and I’m enjoying it. I’ve always liked Jason Bateman. Season three just came out this week!
  • Tiger King. (Also on Netflix). I had to with everyone talking about it. And honestly I have no words for this except…WHAT?! There’s only one season with seven episodes, so if you are into it, it flies by. 

A few things I’m reading:

  • Atomic Habits. I purchased this book (which I rarely do since I’m a big library person) because Jake recommended it to me and said it was life changing. If I’m going to read a life changing book, I need a pen or highlighter in hand. I’m about 100 pages in so far and really enjoying it. 



  • Nina is Not Ok. Just finished this fictional story. I randomly picked it up from the library a couple of weeks ago because the cover said it was ‘laughable’ and ‘hilarious’. I wanted something light-hearted. And this is not. Sure, there’s some humor. But it’s the story of a 17 year old alcoholic and her struggles. I didn’t find it really funny, but I liked the characters and read it really quickly. 
  • Alpha Girls. My up next read about the women of Silicon Valley. Excited for it!

A few workouts I’m loving:

  • Studio Three IG Lives. Three a day! I have been doing a combo of strength and yoga. I attended Studio Three in Chicago for classes shortly after they opened over 4 years ago and every week since until I moved to AUS. I’ve been missing these classes and the people like crazy, so the chance to take classes with them again (virtually) right now is a big reason to be grateful for me. I’ve loved Court, Heather, and Jen’s body weight strength circuits, Mar, Lauren and Katy’s yoga flows. I could name every instructor. They’re all amazing! I love that Studio Three is doing this. 
  • Melissa Wood Method. I always do a few of her workouts a week. Usually a quick abs, flow, or arm series. I love that I can do these at home and fit them in before or after a run. I pay the $9.99 a month and definitely think it’s worth it!
  • Mobility with Jake. I also regularly work with Jake, but he sends me videos to ‘take class’ with him right now too since we’re in different countries. We do a lot of mobility and strength work. I love having the direction. And the extra time for mobility right now is a very good thing for me!

A few other random things that are entertaining me:

  • The NYTimes daily crossword mini. These are free and there’s a new one every day. I love them! Kyle and I race. And I’ve recently challenged my Mom too (but she’s like TOO good). It’s a fun push notification to look forward to every day. 
  • Doodling and coloring. Before entering quarantine I bought a giant sketch pad and some markers. I have drawn more in the last few days than probably the last 10 years. It’s something fun and relaxing. 
  • Perfecting my cup of Chemex coffee. I always wanted to be that kind of person that makes GREAT coffee at home. I was okay before, but I wouldn’t practice that often because I love to go out to coffee shops. Now, I’m practicing a lot. And I think I’m getting pretty good. 
  • Beating Kyle at Bananagrams. This was the only game I brought with me from Chicago to AUS and I am glad I did. I am a huge word nerd, so I love this game. 
  • Getting approval for a rescue dog!! We’re a few weeks into this process. Tentatively approved and waiting to get matched with a dog. I am SO excited. 


I hope you found something on this list to check out. And I’m just here to say hang in there, you’re doing great, and it will be okay. ❤ 

quarantine days doodle



Favorite Moments of 2019

It is hard for me to believe we are almost at the end of 2019. This time of year is often my favorite because it is a chance to set new goals for the new year. But I never look ahead without first reflecting on the past. The good and the bad. I set goals every year very well knowing I will not achieve them all. And I also do some things each year I had no idea I wanted to do. It’s cool to be working on yourself always, but I think it is also really important to be proud of what you have accomplished too. So, before talking 2020 plans I want to look back at 2019.

The craziest, most memorable, big-leap kind of year I have ever had. It deserves some reflection because I often feel like “what just happened?!” I could write about this year for hours and hours. I’ll save you. But I am going to share some of my favorite moments from the year. I’ll call them ‘fitness moments’ as this is a running blog most of the time, but they really are just life moments.

Running my first half marathon without looking at my watch, adding a new state to my 50 state goal, and setting a PR.

My coach challenged me to go into this race without glancing at my watch – at all. I thought it was crazy, but I did it. I tucked my Garmin under my sleeve and I ran entirely off of feel. It was the best half I ever had. PR’d by over 3 minutes while exploring a new city and then meeting new running friends. It was an amazing birthday weekend! I always love these February trips to knock off a new state.


Returning to Boston for my second Boston Marathon. 

No words really for Boston Marathon weekend. I will never feel anything but proud and grateful when I get to run from Hopkington to Boston. The energy in this city on the day and all weekend is incredible. I got to run along side some of my favorites. And I had SO much fun.

Traveling to Denmark, running the Copenhagen Marathon, PR-ing my marathon time, and getting engaged.

What a trip. I loved Copenhagen for so many reasons, but I’ll always love it for holding my first international marathon finish line and where I got my fiance. I had never felt such pure happiness as I did on May 19th, 2019. It was the best day of my life.


Running my first beer mile.

Never had I ever thought I would run a beer mile, but this summer Jake convinced me. I made it a point this year to not say no to things just because they scared me. So, I went. I ran a 7:10, I didn’t throw up, and I got to slide through an inflatable slip n’ slide to end it. Such a fun day and I am SO glad I got out of my comfort zone and tried. it.


Becoming an Ultra Marathoner, seeing one of my best friends run 50 miles, and a weekend full of happiness with my people. 

Another favorite weekend of the year, the first weekend of August when Lexi and I became ultra marathoners. This was something I did not think I would do in 2019, but Lex convinced me. We had the most incredible support system with us and we did the dang thing. I’ll always remember crying across that 50K finish line feeling so proud of my independence and crying when Lex came in after 50 miles because I was so proud of hers. We’re lucky we have the best support systems, but also it’s nice to remind ourselves that we do okay on our own. This day was the BEST.


Having a private yoga class send off from Katy.

I had a lot of favorite yoga moments in 2019 too, but the best was Katy’s small private class send off for me in Chicago. Katy is the brightest light and the reason I got into yoga in the first place. To have one last class with her was really important to me. She even read my favorite Cleo Wade poem at the end of class and we both cried. It’s a morning I won’t forget. Thank you, Katy.


Spending my last ‘Chicago Day of Fun’ with my run squad. 

We had a few send offs, an Evanston sleepover, a Gilt Bar final goodbye and a day after Chicago Marathon ‘day of fun’. I don’t know where I would be without this group. On October 14th we started the day with a photo shoot with my friend Aaron (sadly without Cait & Jenny) and we went to the zoo lot to run a last 800 meter rep to celebrate what brought me all of these friendships in the first place. It was a day I’ll remember.

2019 - run squad 22019 - run squad 12019 - run squad 32019 - run squad 4


I have a lot more I could share. I’m grateful for all the experiences of 2019. I worked at a nonprofit I loved, I officially started coaching endurance athletes, I planned a wedding, I lived alone (for the first time) for 5 months, I packed up my Chicago apartment after 4 years and I moved across the world with just a few suitcases to a place I had never even visited. If you had told me in January 2019 I would be living in Australia as I was writing my year recap I would have said “good joke”, but sometimes you just have to make the leap when life presents you with an opportunity. I am glad I did. I am proud of myself for going for it and making the most of 2019. And I cannot wait to see what 2020 has to offer.

To New Routines and a New City

Moving somewhere you have never even visited before is scary. I am actually still surprised I did something like this. I packed my life into three suitcases, got on a plane by myself and traveled for 20 hours to a new home. It wasn’t like me to make such a big jump, but I guess that’s why I am even more proud of the decision to go. If you had told 16 year old me, or okay even 24 year old me, that I would do something like this – I would have laughed and said “yeah right”.

But I really did it. I live in Bondi now. A new continent. 17 hours ahead. I kind of feel like I live in the future.


Before this move, I had lived in Illinois my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs, went to school in Champaign and then moved to Chicago after school for four years. I loved it. But I also knew I wanted to live in another place in my twenties. I had no idea I would be in Australia, but here we are.

I essentially closed out a chapter of my life to start a new one. One where I can’t flip ahead and find out what happens. The only person I knew here was Kyle (and thank goodness for that). I am so unbelievably happy we get to share this adventure together. But besides him, I moved not knowing anyone. No family here. Nothing. That’s scary.

In an attempt to find my way around and establish some new routines I had to think about what is important to me. This was actually fun to map out interests and ideas of how to meet people. Getting used to AUS will still take time, but I wanted to share what I have been doing to try my best to lean in.

Take or leave my suggestions. If you’re moving to a new place and feeling unsure, I’d love to chat about our mutual unsure-ness. I am no expert, I feel lost some days and I am kind of making this up as I go, but I want to offer my experience in case it will help anyone else take a leap or make a change.

Things I have done so far or am doing:

  • Joined Classpass
    • Classpass is like a fitness studio Disney World. You can book so many different types of classes and try different studios. I joined Classpass when I first moved to Chicago in 2016. It helped me find Studio Three (the forever home kind of studio). So, I knew I had to try it in AUS too. I did the two week trial and now I’m paying for the monthly membership. I love group fitness classes as a way to meet people! I have not been to a studio I didn’t like yet. They do fitness well here. And the people are so welcoming!



  • Got a library card
    • Reading has always been important to me. When I’m feeling down, I love to lose myself in a book. So, I knew getting a library card was a must. It was a top priority. The librarian who helped me get my card actually laughed at how excited I was. I am so grateful to have more time to read right now. There’s something really comforting to me about walking into a library and deciding I can learn anything, read anything.


  • Airbnb Experiences
    • I have loved Airbnb Experiences since the early stages. Kyle and I have done a few in Ireland and in Copenhagen. Nothing beats having a local show you a cool part of their city. These are some of my favorite vacation memories and we have met amazing people. AUS Experiences are the same. We did a day hiking trip with people from all over the world last weekend. Over ten hours of hiking, swimming, driving and exploring with a group of 16 and two local guides. I think it’s the best way to see places. And we plan on doing more while we live here!



  • Both cooking more and trying new restaurants
    • I heard on a podcast recently that one of the only things you have complete control over is what you put into your body. This hit me hard. It’s true. And when I’m feeding myself garbage, I feel like garbage. So, one of the nicest things I can do for myself right now is eat well. And eating well to me also means eating treats and high quality, high calorie meals. It’s enjoying food! I have been cooking a lot more after not having a kitchen for a month and I am enjoying cooking more than I ever have before. And I am also LOVING all the food options here. The restaurants are truly incredible. I find more places have healthy options, vegan meals are popular, and portion sizes are much more realistic. I will share a blog soon of all my favorite food spots so far!



  • Joined a running group
    • Running group, duh. I met some of my best friends through running in Chicago. Running is such a bonding experience. I wasn’t looking for a full time group training group, but just a fun run I could do every so often. After some searching, I found the Midnight Runners. They meet in Sydney every Wednesday evening for a 5K or 10K run with multiple “exercise stops” where you do lunges, burpees, etc for the length of a song. The run leaders wear speaker backpacks to lead the 100+ runners who show up. I am loving it. Kyle has been going with me and it is such a fun way to enjoy Sydney and get outside. Oh and the best part? It’s totally free. And welcoming. It can be hard to join a running group that seems like they’ve know each other forever, but this group made me feel welcome from the first minute.



  • Encouraging group hangs with Kyle’s friends
    • Since Kyle moved here 5 months before me, he has had longer to make friends. And luckily, he works with some pretty great people. Quite a few other Chicagoans have also come over to Sydney, so I have been able to meet some wives and girlfriends of his friends. We have done a few group hangs and I genuinely really like them all. As an introvert, it can be hard for me to be the one encouraging plans and meeting new people. But I am really glad I have been making an effort. Every hang has been fun. And also who knew I just had to win a few games of beer pong to impress some Aussies? The people here are pretty great.





  • Searching for events
    • I have been checking Eventbrite and Facebook Events regularly to find fun stuff to do in the area. Tonight actually I am attending the Almost 30 Podcast event with Jessica Sepel. And I am going ALONE! Crazy right? For me anyways. I am actually excited. I love this podcast and I know it will attract an awesome group of women. Events are a good way to push myself to get out there. If I buy a ticket, I will show up.


  • 30 day unlimited yoga trial
    • Yoga always calms me. For this transition period, I really wanted to get back to a regular practice. After trying Power Living on Classpass, I learned they offered a 30 day unlimited yoga trial for $49, so I signed up! I have gone every day this week and it is making a big difference for my mental health. I have also met some of the nicest people. Yoga people are good people. I crave yoga practice and the space to just “be”. Daily practice is really good for me. Going to be sad when the trial is over!


  • Marco Polo
    • I am especially glad I had friends get me on Marco Polo before I moved. It’s basically a video chat app that doesn’t require you to be on at the same time. This is SO helpful with the crazy time change. You can leave a message whenever you want, they’ll watch and respond when they can.  It is helping me stay connected to my people and “see” their faces every day. I miss everyone so much, but Marco Polo helps me feel like we’re still hanging out. You can basically have a group text, but it’s all video messages that don’t disappear. I have friend groups, individual chats and even a family group. My Dad on Marco honestly cracks me up. I love it! Highly recommend this for anyone who lives far away from their people. Very thankful this was invented!

Marco Polo is the best.

  • Bumble BFF
    • Another big out of my comfort zone thing: I joined Bumble BFF for friends. As someone who has never online dated, this is funny to me. But I made a profile and have been swiping and having convos with some girls in the area. Hoping this will turn into some fun coffee dates! I know a lot of other people here are in similar situations and honestly making new friends as an adult is HARD. It’s not like I’m trying to pick up friends at bars. So, this seems like a good place to start too. We’ll see how it goes!

This is what is working for me (so far). The introvert in me is proud of my little wins. Going somewhere alone used to freak me out, but now I do it all the time. I already feel like this experience has made me grow as a person and I am excited to see where it takes me.

I won’t lie and say that every day I wake up feeling positive and happy. To be honest, I still don’t have a set routine. I’m not working full time. And I really miss all my people. But I refuse to not make the most of this opportunity (even when I don’t feel like it).

I’m giving myself grace to just be where I am right now. I am not in a hurry to get to the next part. It is actually harder for me to sit and feel content where I am than be working toward a goal, so I am trying to get better at it. I am aiming to be comfortable being relaxed and stress-free. I am doing the things above to give myself some normalcy, meet people and acclimate. It is working, but it is a slow process. And that’s the thing – I can’t be in a rush. I don’t want to do things just to do them. How often do we get the chance to do absolutely only what we want to do? I am grateful I have the chance. And I won’t waste it.

So, while this week is hard being away from family for Thanksgiving and I know Christmas time will be even harder, I am choosing to focus on the good things here. Kyle and I are lucky to live here. We’re having a lot of fun and I also get this time to be selfish and really explore ‘me’. I am loving this city and the adventure. And I have a good feeling about where it will lead.