By: Savannah Cordova
5 Delightful Romance Books to Look Forward to in 2021
Most of us could always use a little bit of romantic escapism — and especially lately, given the additional burdens of the pandemic. Even when we’re starved of everything from physical touch to the romantic frisson that comes from brushing past someone in a bar, books are still there as our steadfast companions to entertain us and give our imagination some fodder to run wild.
Indeed, the magic of creative writing is that it operates outside the realms of reality, where our wildest dreams can be realized! If you’re looking for your reality-suspending romance fix, check out my most anticipated 2021 releases below.
1. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Why not kick things off with a New York Times bestseller? You might already be familiar with Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series, of which Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the third (and latest) installment. After an unfortunate set of events at a wedding, Hibbert’s purple-haired protagonist Eve, with her signature bashful chaos, is given an ultimatum by her parents — grow up and find herself, even if she’s not entirely sure how.
Cue the entrance of Jacob Wayne, an ambitious (and somewhat flighty) bed-and-breakfast owner on a mission to make waves in the hospitality industry. When Eve interviews for a chef role at Jacob’s B&B, the pair take an instant dislike to each other. But after Jacob is struck down in a car accident, he has no choice but to enlist Eve to hold down the fort…
If you’re a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, or just in the mood for a delightful, pacy romp, then run, don’t walk to your local bookshop! (And speaking of sexy romance series, you better check out Lindsay’s Lines in the Sand series — it’s perfect for the beach.)
2. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
I couldn’t resist adding one of my favorite authors to this list — and I know I’m not alone in my fangirling! Rooney’s highly anticipated third book is due in September of this year, and if it’s anything like her smash hit Normal People or her exhilarating debut Conversations With Friends, it’s sure to be a zinger.
I’m slightly bending the rules by including this book, as it isn’t strictly a romance, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. This book follows four characters (Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon) navigating hookups, romantic entanglements, relationships, and everything in between, as well as all the learning experiences that come with your young years and new environments.
Much to my chagrin, I’ve not been able to get my hands on a copy of the gorgeous proofs that have been doing the rounds on social media — but if the comments from others are anything to go by, it’s sure to be an emotive and poignant read.
3. Reputation by Lex Croucher
Attention, Bridgerton fans! Croucher’s debut novel Reputation blends comedy, period drama, and romance to produce this funny and sweet tale about doe-eyed debutante, Georgiana, as she moves to a new town to live with her less-than-stimulating aunt and uncle.
Luckily, an invitation to a party allows for a run-in with the mysterious and enigmatic Frances Campbell — who also happens to be fabulously wealthy and one of the best-connected people in town. Without spoiling too much, Reputation is all about exploring first loves, sex, and consent when reputation means everything and a woman’s lot was much different than what it is now. It's full of glitzy parties, handsome men on horseback, and a very Austenian sense of humor, and I personally can’t wait to read it.
4. Love in Color by Bolu Babalola
Love in Color is a bit different to the rest of this list. Rather than being one epic love-infused saga akin to The Notebook, it’s a collection of short stories that draw heavily on the magical folklore of West Africa, ancient tales from the Middle East, and classic Greek mythology.
The stories traverse continents and eras, telling stories of prestigious Nigerian goddesses longing for partners that truly see them, to businesswomen trying to replicate their boardroom confidence in their love lives. The organizing themes of the collection are Babalola’s vivid writing and the potency of true love. If my words aren’t enough, take it from the queen of romance herself, Meg Cabot, who described it as “beautifully written and full of joy.”
5. The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Jess Davis has all but retired from the dating scene. As a single mom and a data scientist, she’s juggling lots of responsibilities — and having been deserted by the father of her child, she’s not sure she can hack another heartbreak.
However, everything changes when she hears about GeneticAlly, a brand-new DNA-based matchmaking tool. Unlike the tumult and unpredictability of falling in love, the logic of numbers is something Jess can get behind. That is, until she’s paired with the company’s founder, the aloof and brooding Dr. Pena, who she’s already met on the industry circuit — and written off. But once she’s convinced to try dating him, for his branding (and so she can earn some money), she realizes there’s more to Dr. Pena than what meets the eye…
If this has taken your fancy, you’re in luck — it was released in May, so you don’t have to spend months waiting for your pre-order in the post!
It’s definitely a great year for romance, so have fun getting lost in these absorbing reads. If you're looking for even more escapism, I can guarantee that children's books are another source of great solace (in addition to romance). Happy reading!
Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Savannah enjoys reading contemporary fiction and romance of all subgenres, as well as writing short stories.
You're Wasting Your Time Trying to Look Good
Scrolling through social media today, I saw post after post after post from women about one topic: their looks.
Posts about weight and weight loss and feeling pudgy. Posts about how they are ugly or apologizing for not having makeup or for messy hair. As I scrolled on and looked at all the negative body talk, it hit me.
We waste so much of our lives worrying about how we look when we are worth so, so, so much more than that.
I know that’s not a novel thought. I know there have been millions of articles published about body positivity and self-worth. Still, how effective are these messages in combatting the equally if not more prominent message in the media--that we must look a certain way to be worthy?
Minutes before noticing all of the negative body talk, I, too, had been engaging in the daily war with my body and looks. I had been studying my stomach in the mirror trying to assess how much bigger it is than a few years ago. I was making a mental checklist of all of the beauty routines I needed to do today--a face mask to help with those wrinkles, a hair mask to add more shine and take away frizz. I needed to put on the fake eyelashes because mine were too weak and fill in my eyebrows which are remnants from the early 2000s overplucking trend. The list kept growing, as it always does, and I felt exhausted and behind before the day even really started.
There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your looks. There is nothing wrong with makeup and beauty products if they make you feel good (God knows I have quite a collection of products in my bathroom because I love them). But at what point does having fun with trying to improve your looks overtake your self-worth or detract from your priorities? At what point can we say enough is enough, I am beautiful as I am? Because in my experience, it’s never enough. You will never, in your mind, live up to the impossible beauty standards we are bombarded with daily. You will never see yourself for the beautiful person you are--your eyes are trained to focus on the “problems.” If you lose those ten pounds or get rid of those wrinkles or perfect your eyeliner, there will always be something else your eyes focus on. If we aren’t careful, the beauty industry convinces us that we are nothing but a walking set of appearance problems that need fixed. If we let it, the industry will convince us we aren’t beautiful or skinny enough or worthy of the life we want.
A few weeks ago, I spent an hour curling my hair, putting on eyelashes, shaving my legs, plucking my eyebrows, slapping on fake nails, and perfecting my lipstick. I missed out on an hour of sunshine, an hour with my dog, an hour sipping coffee to cover myself in products. A few hours into the day, my nails were snagging on things, the eyelashes were driving me nuts, and the lipstick was all over my favorite coffee cup. And, after finally being fed up and ripping off the nails, eyelashes, and wiping off the makeup, I felt freer. It was like emerging from a suffocating coffin. It was like breathing for the first time because I realized that all of the annoying procedures and steps I had taken weren’t really necessary. I didn’t need eyelashes to see the gorgeous sunset or my husband’s smile. I didn’t need perfect eyebrows for him to be proud of what I’ve accomplished or for my dreams to come true. I didn’t need fake nails to pet my dog or to grab the life I want.
Did I look like a magazine cover? Hell no. I didn’t when all of the makeup items were perfectly placed to begin with. But in those moments, I realized how much of my time was wasted trying to look good instead of trying to live a good life, a life that fulfilled me. I realized how much “extra” we do in order to meet standards we made up in our heads.
When I looked at those social media posts today, I didn’t see too much belly fat or fine lines or the frizzy hair they claimed to have. I just saw beauty. Unique, one-of-a-kind beauty. I saw strength in their eyes and vulnerability in their hearts. I saw dream chasers, inspirations, and women who have so much on their plate but keep showing up. I saw so many things--but not the things they were agonizing over.
We all have finite time here. This past week, I can’t stop thinking about the families in Surfside waiting for news. My heart aches when I think of those people whose lives were cut short in an instant. Tragedies like the Surfside Building Collapse remind us that nothing is guaranteed. Everything can change in a moment’s notice. Confidence is a beautiful thing. Expressing yourself and your style through makeup and fashion is a good thing. But when we become so obsessed with our outer appearance that we forget our worth, we are in danger of missing out on the most beautiful parts of life.
So the next time you find yourself at war with your looks, just stop. Put the nails and eyelashes and pencils and glosses down. Stop squishing your stomach or eyeing up the cellulite. Stop worrying about the numbers on the scale or the size of your bra. Instead, look into the eyes staring at you in the mirror and remember that you are strong, wise, capable, and most of all, you are worthy.
So damn worthy.
You do your best to show kindness and give everyone the benefit of the doubt--just like you're supposed to, if they are to believed. You show grace and smile even when you don't feel like it. You shove down your dark, difficult feelings because you don't want to be selfish.
And yet, for every inch you give them, they run you into the ground. They stomp all over your character and shred your perfect dress. They toss aside the gifts, the smiles, the kind words like they are trash.
They don't see you. But I see you.
You never brag about your accomplishments. You don't tell them how you've seen the stars from the precipice of the mountain. You don't sing the song you've mastered. You bury it down inside in the world where women just have hobbies and nice girls don't boast. You stay so small, you crumple into yourself. You let the other girls parade around and hang banners for themselves. You cower in the shadow hoping someone will throw a little confetti your way.
They don't see you. But I see you.
They use you for what you can offer, which you give willingly. And when they've gotten all they need, they walk on by. Not a smile, not a wave, not a conspiratorial wink. They parade on into the sunset while you stand in the settling dust.
Sometimes, you wonder why you try at all.
Sometimes, it feels like nice girls don't actually win.
Most times, though, you just feel invisible, used, and like something discarded by the world. The spotlight never shines on you like it does the others. They never have a parade in your honor. You quietly march on, day after day, wondering if maybe you are just invisible after all. Maybe that's who you are meant to be.
But to the nice girls who feel like they are always getting burned... I see you.
I see you for the quiet strength you possess. I see the strong character in you to keep doing what is right and fair even when no one else celebrates it. I see you for the beautiful warrior you are. I see how brave you are to keep being giving in a world that just takes. I see the courage in you to try again even when it feels like you shouldn't.
Don't let their ignorance, their lack of character, their flashy attitudes detract from the fact that you are you...and you are beautiful for who you are.
It was twelfth-grade literature class when I first realized what a gift the element of surprise is.
We were reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and discussing the symbolism of the pear tree. Now, for some, the pear tree in the book represents Janie's sexuality, but there was also another interpretation--the flowers on the tree represented her dreams, her opportunities, her possibilities. Because youth was on her side, Janie's pear tree was blossoming with so many flowers to be picked. Really, to me at least, it was a symbol of how when you are young, there are so many possibilities flowering. Life is just waiting for you to pluck it, for you to decide which paths you will go down and what surprises you will find along the way. Life in your late teens, even if you don't realize it at the time, feels hopeful in a way it never will again.
I was thinking about this pear tree the other day in the shower and came to a deeply sad conclusion: at 33, I couldn't help but feel like my pear tree is now a crumpled heap of sticks, broken into tiny twigs. In short, I realized with sadness that although at one point, my tree had many flowers on it like Janie's, mine now was plucked and barren (the dream symbol...not the sexuality one. That's a different post altogether).
I'm settled into a life now that I know I am blessed to have, yet I also know lacks a lot of the vivacity that my earlier years of adulthood did. I've settled into a routine where many of the days look the same, where the element of surprise is as unexpected as a freak snowstorm in spring. I've figured out the laundry schedule and my nighttime routine. I've settled into a career, a mortgage, a life of predictability. I've settled into a life where I no longer can see all of the forks in the path, where it feels like I'm endlessly plodding down the exact same one. It's not a bad path--it's just lacking possibility. Choices. Chances.
That lack of choice, of chance, of possibility is perhaps why I found myself staring at the shower wall as the water poured over me and I considered an old metaphor from a book I read long ago.
Before we go any farther, I know I am privileged to say that. I realize boredom is a blessing to many and sought after by those living difficult lives I cannot even imagine. I know I am lucky to be living the life I am. Still, as I let the suds rain down over my body and stared at the blank shower wall, I couldn't help but wonder what my younger self would think of this somewhat passionless existence.
Because that's the thing I think no one tells you about adulthood--that at some point, the magic sort of fades. That at some point, you trade magic for predictability and surprise for security. That you will spend so many years chasing after the elusive "right" path, trying to make choices that will set you up for success that society wants you to find. You will pluck flower after flower off your pear tree, not realizing that someday, all the flowers will be gone and you'll be left with a somewhat depressing, mundane set of branches in their place.
No one prepares you for the day that you realize the element of surprise regarding who you will become will be gone, and in its wake, you'll just be left with this shell of a person who goes through the motions sometimes.
For a while, I thought perhaps I was alone in this feeling. I thought perhaps I was just in a funk where the passion, the magic had died. Where I felt like I was just sort of surviving instead of excited to see what was next. But I've had many conversations with other women especially. I've seen the dulled sparkle in the eyes of those around me. I've seen the translucent moroseness that settles in once someone comes to the conclusion that so many of us eventually come to: This is it. This is what I am, who I will be.
I know that age is just a number. I know that it's never too late to change who we are, to reinvigorate that joy in our hearts and that passion. I know we can find ways to supercharge that spark again. Still, I can't help but let the realist speak up here that the older we get, that the more set in our routines we become, the harder it is to see those flowers again.
It is difficult to imagine a life where you again have choice and chance, where you're fighting to find that dream you once had. I think it's why if you talk to women in their thirties and forties, so many of them have this hidden little dream of waking up and being someone else--or waking up and having a different life altogether.
It's not that there's something broken or wrong with women who feel this. I think it's just no one prepared us for the fact that even if you pick the "right" path, there's a spark that's lost when you settle into a choice. When you let the other flowers fall away and are left with just one, suddenly, there is an emptiness that settles in. A dullness. A "something is missing" kind of feeling.
This is not an article to tell you how to find the spark again. This is not an article to tell you that your best days are over, that your flowers are all dead on your pear tree. This is simply an article to say this--adulthood isn't all the wonderful things we perhaps thought it would be. Adulthood is much harder, much duller, much more complex than they ever told us. And for many of us, women especially, it can be a bitter pill to swallow that the tree we once admired in front of us is slowly withering.
I don't have the answers. I don't have the reasoning. But I do have this--the promise that you are not alone if you are struggling with what this whole thing means and with the reality that hanging onto the wonder, the surprise, the possibility isn't as easy as it once seemed.
So no matter where you are in the pear tree metaphor, I hope you know that you are not alone and that there is nothing wrong with you. Call it faded magic or a mid-life crisis or whatever other fancy term you want, but just know that it's okay to wake up and realize adulthood isn't everything you ever wanted. Know that it's okay to feel a little lost, even if you have the path all figured out and set.
There is no rule book to this thing, no book on pear trees that can give us all the answers. I suppose that is part of the wonder that will always be left--the question of whether or not we're doing this thing right at all.
Recently, I shared a blog post about what my husband and I have been through since 2019 when he lost his career of nine years. It has been a long, winding road of anxiety, fear, and financial frustrations. Still, along the way, we have both grown and learned from the experience.
I wouldn't wish the loss of a job on anyone--especially during a pandemic. However, the statistics show that we were not alone in our struggles. According to PEW Research, "The rise in the number of unemployed workers due to COVID-19 is substantially greater than the increase due to the Great Recession." The site notes that the unemployment rate in May of 2020 was at 13%, while during the height of the Great Recession in 2010, the unemployment rate was only 10.6%. Thus, I've come to learn that so many struggled with what my husband and I went through--and so many are still struggling.
Every battle in life, though, is a learning experience. We've come out the other side stronger, smarter, and more budget conscious. We've also learned quite a few tips that assure me that if we ever went through this again, we would handle it much better.
Below, I'm listing out some of the practical advice I have if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. These are real, actionable steps you can do now to regain some control in your life, even when it feels like all your plans are unraveling.
1. Get that resume and cover letter in order.
That was how long my husband and I had been out of the resume, cover letter, interview world. Suddenly, though, we were thrust back into all overnight when my husband's company furloughed him.
Immediately, I dusted off his resume and cover letter and got to work.
If it's been a while since you're in the job market or even if you recently got your job, it's always a good idea to do some updating. Ask yourself:
Some other tips I have learned from helping my husband:
2. Get your budget in order.
This is not the time to stick your head in the sand about your finances. This is a time to know exactly what your expenses are and where your money is going.
It is going to take some work to adjust your budget to fit your new situation. My husband and I sat down and actually created a budget for the first time when he lost his job. Up until then, we really just spent whatever and didn't worry about what was coming in, going out, and going to savings. As long as there was money in our account, we didn't worry about it.
After he was furloughed, though, money was much, much tighter. Unemployment rarely replaces the whole income. Thus, we sat down and actually looked at our fixed expenses, sought to cut variable expenses, and tried to figure out how to spend as little as possible. We loved this online budget planner calculator to help us set targets and figure out exactly what to spend on different categories. It is also a great place to check in if you already have a budget and want to see if you are staying on track. We also found we could use this when he was considering jobs and we were seeing if we could make the salary work financially.
3. Sign-Up for a Job Board Online
Immediately after losing his job, my husband signed up for Indeed.com to keep his eye on prospects. This program emailed him any time a relevant job came open and allowed us to get his application in early and sometimes even first. It also helped us keep track of jobs we applied for and what qualifications employers were looking for.
They have a resume builder tool, too, if you are still struggling with step one. Definitely use all the features here to give yourself the best possible options.
4. Have patience.
When you or a spouse loses a job, you want to fix the problem as soon as possible. The anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the situation is so uncomfortable. Still, you need to have patience. This is not a situation that will resolve itself overnight. It has taken my husband over a year to get to a job he is passionate about and we know will be his forever job. In the meantime, he spent time working various jobs to help us get by and keep the budget going.
Don't be afraid to think outside the box in order to survive. There are several ways you can (legally!) make money and keep the household floating until you find the right opportunity. Keep throwing your hat in the ring, keep making smart choices, and keep looking for opportunities. But until then, be patient and know eventually, a door will open that will lead you to exactly where you belong--as long as you are prepared and have followed these steps.
Hang in there. I know it is so tough--but I promise it will get better. And as always, reach out if you need help!
To Anyone Who Lost a Job
Staying Hopeful When You Lose a Job
There is light ahead even if you can't see it because of all of the darkness.
I put that first because even if you can't read the rest, I wanted you to take that with you today, this week, this month, this year. Because sometimes, darkness and hard times last a long time. Sometimes, it feels like you'll be forever lost on a winding road in a horrific forest of grief or fear or anxiety or struggle.
But there IS light ahead even if you can't see it.
As I've talked about before, my husband lost his job in November of 2019. We were terrified, anxious, stressed. Suddenly, our carefree spending habits were put on a very tight budget. Suddenly, my husband, who had an identity wrapped up in his career of nine years, was lost and didn't know where he was going. Suddenly, everything that seemed certain sort of fell apart.
Back then, we naively thought the struggle would last a month or two. We kept assuring ourselves things would be better in a month, two months, by summer. And then COVID hit and the world fell apart completely. The struggle bus was here to stay.
It took nineteen months for us to really see the light, for things to get better, and for Chad to find his way. Last week, we finally took a breath of much welcomed, hopeful air. He has found where he belongs, and we are excited for the journey ahead.
Looking back on the past years, things weren't always pretty. Losing a job is scary. Losing a career path is scary. Losing a sense of financial security in the middle of a pandemic is scary.
Still, when I think about all of the struggles, I also can't believe how much we've grown in the past couple of years. We've learned, truly learned, what it means to need something versus to want something. We've learned, like "The Minimalists" talk about, that you really need to value people and moments, not things. We've learned that $100 moisturizers and fancy gadgets do not make a home--love, laughter, support, as cheesy as it sounds, are the foundations of true, fulfilling joy.
We've learned that it doesn't take a million dollars to make memories. Some of our all-time favorite moments and dates came from this past year--and barely cost anything. We've laughed and pulled together. We've found out that our marriage is even more solid than we thought. And even when things got stressful, we found that together, we could stand strong and come out the other side even stronger.
We've learned that the true value of life is not what's in your bank account--it's time. The time you spend laughing. The time you spend feeling true joy. The time you spend chasing your passions. That's the true measure of how well you are living.
We've learned that true friends, that supportive family, is a lifesaver. We've learned that people are truly kind and thoughtful. We've been so thankful for everyone who helped us along the way, by listening to our fears, by helping us navigate the job world, by offering help in all sorts of ways.
We were luckier than many who get thrown into our position. We are thankful that we came out the other side pretty much unscathed. I know there are many who losing a job for is even harder.
But I wanted to write this in case someone out there is dealing with this--because I know how scary it is. Truly. I want you to know that on the days when the foliage in the forest is so thick, it seems like there will never be a sunny day again...there will. It might not be in a week or a month. It might not be in a year. But if you can keep your eyes on the path and keep putting one foot in front of the other, eventually you'll come out the other side. You will.
There is light ahead even if you can't see it because of all of the darkness.
And there are lessons to be learned and growing to do even in the hardest moments of life.
It's been a rough year to say the least...and many of us are feeling more anxious, more stressed out, and more burnt out than ever before.
If you're like me, the pandemic took a toll on your mental health, your drive, and even your passion. I've been stuck in a rut over and over again these past few months. Still, I've done some digging online for ways to help me feel centered again that don't cost a lot of money. During my pandemic journey, I've found several sites and apps that are not only free or cheap to use, but really help me stay centered, find my joy again, and start working towards my future goals.
Here are the five sites and apps I highly recommend if you're struggling with stress. Together, these five will help you feel more centered and grow both in mind, body, and spirit.
1. An app for the body: Fit-On
I struggle with fitness in a normal year--but the pandemic has really taken the motivation out of me. Still, as I strive to get back on track with all things in my life, I know that moving my body not only has health benefits but also has stress-relieving benefits as well.
Fit-On is an app that has really changed my motivation. I love that there are hundreds of FREE exercise routines to do by dozens of instructors (including celebrities). You can choose to search by the impact level, time, intensity, instructor, and type. They have everything from easy stretching to yoga to weight lifting. I love that the app keeps track of it all for me, too. It's so motivating to set goals and then to see your progress as you complete classes. It's great for taking your exercise regiment on the go, too.
Even with gyms closed, you can stay on track, try something new, and get rid of some of your stress.
2. An app for the mind: Calm
I'm an anxious person to begin with, but the uncertainty of the past year has really taken a toll on my ability to stay Calm. That's why I love the Calm app. It's a way to automate your relaxation and meditation practice. If you are just starting out with a meditation practice, Calm takes the uncertainty out of it by gradually leading you through more intricate practices. I love that you can pick different goals and time ranges. There are also sleep stories that can help you drift off if anxiety is keeping you up.
Calm does have a fee associated with it, but you can try it for free for a limited time.
3. A site to bring you joy: Plays.org
One of the other ways I have learned to de-stress during the pandemic is to bring more joy and fun into my life. Before the pandemic hit, I was definitely a workaholic. I was going a million miles a minute, never slowing down or thinking about my mental health. With the forced slow down that the pandemic brought on, I realized very quickly that working all of the time leads to toxic levels of stress--sometimes you have to step back and rediscover joy, fun, and your childlike sense of wonder.
I've recently discovered a fun, free gaming site that has tons of options. The games are super addicting and a nice way to just escape from all of my worries. One of my favorites to play is Frogtastic because it's so easy to play but so easy to get hooked. I always make sure now to schedule some downtime to play just to help clear my mind and make sure I'm working fun into my routine.
4. A site for your spirit: Artist's Palette Durham Region
Another part of de-stressing is making sure your spirit and your passion is in sync. For me, this Youtube channel has been a life savior during the pandemic. I've always had a passion for painting and creativity. This channel offers FREE tutorials on painting for every level. It's been amazing to escape from the craziness of the world for a couple hours at a time and create something I'm proud of. When I'm painting, I'm not worrying about everything on my to-do list or the craziness of the world--I'm just sitting with myself and letting my thoughts come out through the brush.
I highly recommend reconnecting with your passion if you're struggling with stress right now. If it isn't painting, find something else that makes you feel centered and joyful.
What are your best tips for de-stressing? What apps and sites are you visiting to help yourself feel more joyful and centered? Let me know below.
Your next date-night movie awaits
Many people don't know this, but the reason I started writing romance when I got into publishing was because of Nicholas Sparks. Ever since I was in junior high, his stories just spoke to me. I loved watching couples from different situations and circumstances grow together, help each other overcome obstacles, and find the beauty of love.
For me, my favorite story and movie of all time has always been The Notebook. There's just something about the setting of the 1940s that I fell in love with. Couple that with the imperfect yet perfect for each other match that Allie and Noah are, and you have the perfect love story. I adore how the two are stubborn, fight, and challenge each other, yet they also clearly are better together.
For me, this movie is about two things:
1. Social class doesn't matter.
2. A promise is a promise.
First of all, I love how in this story, it is very clear that social class is an obstacle for the couple. However, by the end, Allie learns from her mother and for herself that social class does not guarantee happiness. We also see that although Noah lacks wealth, he has something the other suitors of Allie do not--grit. He isn't afraid to work hard for what he wants. The iconic house from the Notebook becomes a symbol of this. When he buys the old house he's always dreamed about and takes the time to fix it into his dream home, it shows that he has determination and, more importantly, can see beauty where others don't. It's one of my favorite things about this movie, and I have often told my husband my dream home looks a lot like this house. If you're daydreaming about this fixer upper ultimate story, I love that you can check it out in this 3D version here and relive the renovation as well as the symbol.
This movie also demonstrates that in love, a promise is a promise. Noah promises to love Allie forever--he does. He promises to set up a painting room in their dream house. He does. And when she is older and can't remember, he carries through in his promise to still love her and to help her remember. The loyalty he shows Allie is something so many of us dream of.
So many romances out there send bad messages about what love is or isn't. They're all about six-pack abs and sexy getaways and the things of fantasy. For me, The Notebook will always stand out because it is grounded in a simple, sweet reality--love can make us whole, and real love stands the test of time.
I feel myself fortunate to have found my own Noah in my life at a young age--a man who keeps his promises, who has grit, and who is loyal to our love story. As a testament to his love, one Christmas, he actually bought me a signed copy of The Notebook because he knew it was my favorite. It is proudly displayed about my desk in my writing office, and it reminds me that no matter what, love is something to strive for.
Have you checked out this movie? Is it one of your favorites? Tell me below!
Exfoliation should be an important part of your health care routine. It is a process that everyone should do as it removes the dead skin cells from your body. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is constantly replenishing itself. It’s estimated that we lose about 30,000 skin cells a day!
Many of these cells simply fall off. But, if they don’t they can cause your pores to become blocked. This increases the likelihood of an outbreak. The dead skin cells also create a layer over the new cells, preventing them from breathing properly. If you don’t exfoliate your skin can look dull. You’ll notice the difference as soon as you have exfoliated.
In addition, regular exfoliation can help to remove blemishes and give your face a more natural glow, even without other products.
As a bonus, it can actually make your skin look younger.
What products should you use?
This is a difficult question as the products that work well for one person won’t necessarily be the best for someone else. In short, you need to try different options to find the one that best suits your skin and complexion.
However, it is worth noting that quality exfoliation products, such as the Murad range, use natural ingredients. Regardless of your skin type, you’ll find that natural products are much kinder to your skin and less likely to give you unpleasant side-effects.
Frequency of Exfoliation
Exfoliation is important to eliminate dead skin cells and improve your natural glow. However, it is also possible to do it too much. Exfoliating every day is more likely to damage new cells and cause you additional issues.
That’s why most experts recommend you exfoliate two or three times per week. As with most procedures, it is a personal choice. You will have to assess how effective your exfoliation is and how well your skin tolerates it.
The bottom line is that it will be different for everyone as your skin is unique. It should be noted that exfoliation is not something just for women. Men can benefit from exfoliating the dead skin cells away just as much as women, if not more.
Use the Right Type
As well as natural products being better than those loaded with chemicals, you should remember that there are physical exfoliants. These include face scrubs and clay masks. They are very effective and generally quick and easy to use.
But, you can also get chemical exfoliants. These are peels and acid serums. You need to approach these with considerably more caution. While they can be effective, they can also damage the new skin underneath, especially if left on for too long.
It’s better to use a natural exfoliant two to three times a week and enjoy the results. Again, there isn’t a perfect solution for everyone, you need to find the one that suits your skin best and gives you the results you want and need. Then everyone will be asking you for tips!
To the Woman Who Has Lost Her Fire
How to get your passion back
You’ve done all the things to bring that spark of life back inside of you. You’ve watched the podcasts, bought the inspiring quote pillows, and taped notes all over your mirror. You’ve done the face masks, the exercises, and more meditation than you thought possible.
Still, deep within, the truth resonates: The fire is gone.
Maybe it’s a fire for the career you once loved or the life you lived. Perhaps the spark has simply dulled for the things you used to know. Whatever it is, you know the torch has died down and the zest for life has been usurped by a bleak gray color. Nothing shines vibrantly anymore.
Life feels monotonous and draining. Suddenly, you understand those rebels without a cause who disappear into the vast wilderness, hitchhiking across the country. You understand that thirst for wanderlust, for adventure, for a life that is wildly unfamiliar.
Because behind all of the daily routines and monotony that leaves you feeling dead inside, you just want to feel something again.
The past months haven’t helped things, certainly. With COVID-19 has come a slew of new anxieties and a brand-new meaning to the word boredom. Life is both terrifying and dull in some new paradox of life we have adapted to as the “new normal.” But the foreign sense of normalcy we’re told to get used to brings little if any comfort. In fact, if anything, it makes us all question who we are, what we want, and what life really means.
As a woman who lost her fire, you feel a sense of dread when you confront what your life's purpose is now.
You used to walk into a room and see possibility. You used to revel in the spotlight and in the journey you were on. Your feet couldn’t hit the pavement fast enough as you joyously ran toward that goal, that dream, that destination.
Now, all you feel is stuck in the swampy mud, wondering if you’ll ever feel that buoyancy again.
To the woman who has lost her fire, I say this: I see you. I feel you. Because I think if we’re being honest, many of us have faced this, too.
Adult life is tiresome and difficult. Everyone talks about what hard work it is and how confusing it is, but few talk about the very real monotony we all face at some point. No one talks about how to handle it if suddenly your dreams don’t light you up anymore. We all shy away from the truth of that because our quote pillows and our inspiring podcasts tell us that we should be grateful and make our own joy.
But sometimes that advice makes it all worse—because it encourages us to cover up and mask the very real hardships we’re facing. Sometimes, when we lose our fire, it makes us feel like we are alone in that misty, murky water. It makes us feel like we should already know where the life jacket is and how to paddle out of it.
To the woman who has lost her fire, though, I also say: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for help from other women in your life because I know for a fact so many of us mask this hardship, and there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if the fire has been put out for too long or if the days and nights just feel too dark to handle by yourself. There is nothing wrong with admitting the fire has turned to ash and that you need someone to help you find the matches again.
You have one life, and it is too short to waste it experiencing guilt for how you feel. It is too cold of a world to live without that inner flame that keeps you warm, keeps you exuberant, and keeps you healthy.
Finally, to the woman who has lost her fire, I also want to say this: Maybe that wasn’t your true fire all along. Maybe what you thought was your eternal flame was only a spark to give you sustenance for the road ahead. If you can walk far enough away from the smoke signal of your old fire, perhaps you’ll see that in the horizon, a bigger blaze awaits. It can be scary to venture out from the comforting glow of what we’ve grown used to. However, sometimes we have to walk a while in the cold to get to the fire where we truly belong.
Want more inspiration? Come follow me on Instagram.
*As an Amazon Affiliate, I get a small fee for any books purchased through the links below.