When I’m Not Writing: Coloring

I wrote last month that one of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is make jewelry. One of my other favorite hobbies is to color.

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Matthew 11:28

I mostly choose to color Christian coloring books, because when I’m coloring something with scripture it becomes a much more fulfilling experience. Reflecting on God’s word while doing the relaxing activity of coloring helps me draw closer to God.

Since my last post on coloring, I’ve gone even more coloring crazy. I now have 12 books. I also now have a big set of markers and an electric pencil sharpener for my colored pencils sitting on my coffee table next to my coloring basket.

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Some of my coloring books and my favorite coloring markers

Coloring is one of the most relaxing activities I’ve found. I love creating anything, and I love getting to work with my hands, so coloring is the perfect thing for me to do.

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Philippians 4:8

When I’m Not Writing: Jewelry-Making

Though I do have stories running through the back of my head most of the time, I’m not actually writing all of the time. I thought I’d start sharing some of my other hobbies and things I like to do when I’m not writing. One of my favorite things to do is to make jewelry, which I’ve been doing for over half of my life now.

When I was eleven a friend taught me how to make simple bracelets out of embroidery floss. These bracelets were really easy and relaxing to make, and they started off a long list of things I like to do that involves working with my hands. I made so many of these little bracelets, and I loved going to craft stores and picking out new colors of floss.

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I used to wear a bunch of floss bracelets at once like this in middle school.

We moved back to Ohio just after I learned how to make these bracelets, and one of my new neighbors saw my interest in jewelry and taught me how to make beaded pieces. I have spent the last twelve years of my life making jewelry whenever I have time and selling it when I can.

I currently have almost 300 different kinds of beads. I have made almost every piece of jewelry that I wear. I just love all of the colorful beads and I feel at peace when I’m making patterns and stringing beads. These are some of my favorite pieces I’ve made. I wore the blue bracelet on my wedding day.

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Some of my favorite pieces, including the blue bracelet I wore on my wedding day

I recently found a way to link my jewelry-making and my writing in an exciting project called Hope Bracelets, which you can read about here. I hope to find more ways to combine my two passions in the future.

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Hope Bracelets

So if I have free time in the evenings after a day of writing, you can find me spread out on the floor of our living room with my 18 cases of beads, making patterns and creating beautiful jewelry.

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Some of my many cases of beads

My Blog Turns 1!

Today is my blog’s first anniversary!

On May 31st of last year, I published my first post about reading the Selection series and how meeting Kiera Cass helped me to finally write and publish my first novel.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like blogging. Writers learn to write in other’s voices. We write as our characters and we tell their stories. It was an interesting experience to start writing as myself and to tell my own story. I’m really happy with how my blog and website have evolved over the last year, and I really enjoy posting about my writing, books I’m reading, and anything else that affects my life as a writer.

To celebrate my blog’s anniversary, I wanted to look back on some of my favorite posts from the past year. Help me celebrate by checking out some of my old posts!

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Writing a New Story: This post explains what I want readers to take away from my novel, which is of course the most important part of writing the book in the first place.

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How I sign copies of Somewhere Only We Know

World Changers: In this one I explain my calling to be a writer and how I want to use writing to do what I can to make a difference.

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Husband: In honor of Valentine’s Day, I created this list of all the reasons I love my husband.

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This is my favorite wedding photo

Being a “Real” Writer: In this post I reflect on making writing my job and give my view on what makes someone a real writer.

Why Write?: Here I talk about an important lesson I learned back in college-that everyone has something important to say.

Reading Your Own Writing: When I read through my novel for the first time after it’s publication, I had both a negative and positive feeling about it. Here I write about trying to focus on the positive.

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Molly and me reading together

Finding Motivation: In this post I talk about having the right mindset to write and how I created a reward system to keep myself motivated.

Somewhere Only We Know Launch Party: Here I have pictures from and talk about my book launch party.

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Me at my launch party for Somewhere Only We Know

Getting Re-inspired by Les Misérables: Lastly, in this post I talk about finding inspiration from my favorite story ever.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog over the last year, and I hope you continue to join me on my writing journey by reading my blog for the years to come!

My Fitness Journey

On July 1st last year, my husband and I had to go get a health screening done for his insurance. I was pretty nervous for the appointment. I’m terrified of doctors and needles. But I think subconsciously I was just terrified what the results would show. And they ended up confirming what I was already pretty sure about.

I was overweight. No, not dangerously overweight. I wasn’t obese, but my body mass index was up there. And seeing what that number was confirmed what I already knew—I didn’t like my body.

I haven’t been too vocal about my weight loss journey because I haven’t wanted people to get the wrong idea. Let me say this: every body is beautiful. You are beautiful, just the way you are. No matter what size clothes you wear or what the number on the scale says, you are beautiful. I was beautiful, even at that weight. But I wasn’t happy with myself. I knew I could do better.

And so my husband and I set out together on a fitness journey, and we’re never turning back.

Our journey started with one very simple thing—we downloaded the app “My Fitness Pal” by Under Armour. This app has literally changed our lives. We use the free version of the app, which allows you to track every thing you eat. You can scan food packages, enter the portions you eat, and set your calorie goals. This app makes it so simple to lose weight, because it lets you plan out your food for the day so that you only eat what you need in order to have a calorie deficit. Five hundred less calories a day equals 3500 for the week, or one pound lost.

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My Fitness Pal

Now of course it takes a lot of strength and commitment to follow this meal plan. There have been days when I still eat emotionally and go way over my calorie goal, and days when I eat out and (though many restaurant menus are available in the app) I haven’t kept track at all. It’s also been really hard for us to learn to make better choices with what food we’re eating. The first things to go were sodas and sweets. But once you get into the routine, and when you mess up sometimes and see how bad your body feels after eating food that’s not good for it, it becomes pretty easy to stick to it.

The other simple thing we did on our fitness journey was to join Planet Fitness. This gym was the simple choice because of the cost. It’s only $10 a month, and it is so worth it. My husband works out more than I do because I am restricted from asthma and bad knees, but I still go a couple times a week to do a walk on the treadmill. I really love Planet Fitness because of the attitude and atmosphere they promote. They want to provide a positive, comfortable, and judgment-free environment in which people can develop an active lifestyle, and that is exactly the kind of gym my husband and I needed.

It’s been about 8 months since we began our fitness journey, and the results speak for themselves. Both of us have lost just under 40 pounds, getting back to healthier body mass indexes, and we’ve learned to control our portions and eat a lot healthier. We didn’t like something and we chose to change it. We’re happier now and we’re not turning back.

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Me holding the weight I’ve lost (36 lbs!)

Getting healthier has also affected my writing life because I feel better and have more energy. It is so important to be active when you have a job that requires you to sit at a computer for hours.

There are so many ways to go on a fitness journey and try to lose weight. I just wanted to share what has worked for me. Counting calories and doing what I was physically able to to work out were small, simple changes, but they’ve made all the difference.