It’s been a busy month full of highs (my birthday, a new Backstreet Boys album) and lows (an ER visit, that forking tearjerker known as The Good Place season finale). It’s also been one month since I launched Joyful, Brave & Awesome.

Inspired by two of my favorite bloggers – Anne Bogel and Emily P. Freeman – and their “What I learned this month/season” series, I’d like to start writing fun monthly reflections on a few awesome finds. Here are four people or products that helped me feel more like “me” this January, and two more things that I’m looking forward to this February.

1. #MomLife: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book – After putting JB to bed every night, I enjoy an hour or so of “me time”. This usually involves watching TV and coloring. It’s how I unwind from my crazy day of monitoring tube feeds, playing in-home therapy traffic controller, and attempting to keep the dog’s and the kid’s toys separated! Lately, I’ve been loving the snarky coloring books from Papeterie Bleu. This particular one captures witty comments on motherhood, involving everything from toddler tantrums to “Mom hair, don’t care” to wine – lots of wine. The paper quality is impressive, the designs are fun, and it’s a great way to keep my hands busy and not snacking or Facebook scrolling before bed.

2. The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer – For the second year in a row, I’m participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I selected The Ten-Year Nap as a book on the backlist of a favorite author.

This novel follows a group of young mothers in New York in the years immediately following 9/11. Each mother is wrestling with her decision to stay home or work after having kids. Additionally, vignettes from characters’ mothers’ point-of-view show what has and hasn’t changed for mothers over the past 50 years.

As someone who has now experienced both being a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, I identified so deeply with many of the complex emotions the characters felt. As in Wolitzer’s The Interestings or Liane Moriarty’s books, the characters are each imperfect and not always likeable, but they are all captivating in their own way.

3. Trevor Noah – It’s no secret I have quite the schoolgirl crush on Trevor Noah. I mean look at those adorable dimples! And his autobiography, Born a Crime, is one of the most powerful books I’ve read in years. (Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook, if you can. It makes all the difference in the world hearing him effortlessly switch back and forth between languages and accents.)

So what made Noah even more lovable in January? Watch this Daily Show segment, in which he goes completely off script and chats with his audience about the lack of TV/movie roles for actors with disabilities. Noah admits his own lack of knowledge regarding inclusion of people with disabilities in Hollywood, and touches upon the importance of representation. All this, and he also manages to tie in Lion King references! I encourage everyone to watch this clip and fall a bit more in love!

4. Too Faced Then & Now Eye Shadow Palette – My “treat yo’ self” purchases fall into one of two categories: Books or beauty products. My birthday gift to myself this year was this amazing palette from Too Faced, featuring 10 shades from 1998, and 10 modern versions of the same colors. The colors last all day, even without a primer, and the bright glittery shades make excellent eyeliners.

Let’s pretend for a moment that 1998 wasn’t 20 years ago, because I cannot mentally or emotionally handle that fact. Does anyone else remember when Too Faced was featured in every issue of Teen People, YM and Seventeen magazines? Let’s be honest – I wasn’t buying any of the products, as my budget then was better suited for Wet & Wild cosmetics, and my junior high didn’t allow makeup. But I remember thinking someday I’d be able to wear all the “fancy” stuff – whatever clothes and makeup I wanted. As I write this 20 years later, I’m wearing jeans, a t-shirt, ChapStick and Wet & Wild brow pencil. So here’s to you, 1998 self. Keep living your fancy best life!

What I’m looking forward to in February

  • My Book of the Month delivery – I had paused my BOTM subscription for a few months, as I knew I’d be getting lots of books for Christmas and my birthday. But I’m back, and excited about my selections for February: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, and The Library Book by Susan Orlean. If you aren’t familiar with Book of the Month, it’s a subscription where each month you receive your pick from one of five new hardcover releases, and up to two additional books from earlier months. Honestly, the prices are comparable (often cheaper) than those at discount book retailers like Amazon and Costco. I’ve found several great books through BOTM, especially in the historical fiction genre (my favorite).
  • The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy – After reading this hilarious memoir, I mailed two of my closest friends this book, informing them that this will be our inaugural book club selection. I disagree with many of the author’s views – specifically around religion and politics – but his spot-on pop-culture commentary is everything and more. I mean, he compares the Holy Trinity to Danny Tanner, Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis, complete with an in-depth analysis of which is which. I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through grad school, and we never tackled such important theological concepts!

What brought you joy in January, and what are you looking forward to in February? I’d love to hear from you.

(Please note: These opinions are all entirely my own, and I have not been compensated to review any of these products. That being said, there are affiliate links in the above post. If you purchase from an affiliate, I may be compensated. )

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