Dec 16

The Countdown to 2017 Is Here!

I think we’ve all heard someone casually mention how terrible 2016 has been. While it hasn’t been as bad as some years in recent memory (looking at you, 2010), this year has been trying, to say the least.

The countdown to 2017 is here!

If you scroll through the archives, you can see some whining and rambling posts about how tired and burnt out I was this year. You can see how much I had to process my experiences at the job from hell, even though I left that place in early 2015. What you won’t see is how stressful this year has been in terms of anxiety about life. You won’t see anything about the medical issues that plagued family members this year. You won’t see how much time was spent just trying to chill the hell out.

Have you had a year like that? I bet you probably did.

So, that’s why I’m going to spend all of December getting ready for my favorite holiday. No, not Christmas. In fact, Christmas doesn’t even crack my top five. I’m talking about that shining beacon of hope and personal renaissance — NEW YEAR!

(You had to know that’s my favorite. Like, every post I publish is a rambling screed about fresh starts.)

I think New Year is the only holiday where you get to be treated as an adult. At Thanksgiving, you’re probably still sitting at the kid’s table because just like every other area of your life, the Baby Boomers won’t die off and make room for you. And Christmas is a tough sell when the youngest person in the family is 30, and is probably too hung over to rush out of bed to open presents. But New Year? New Year is a hella party and then a rebirth.

I used to jokingly say that New Year was the best holiday because you could get black out drunk at a party and wake up with a fresh start. But perhaps the best thing about New Year is the way it’s a turning point for new habits and big projects.

So, in true Marisa fashion, I’m letting you know that I’m starting a countdown to 2017. That’s right! In just 31 short days, it will be time for you to declare your resolutions or your intentions, or hell, your word for 2017 if you’re one of those folks.

At this point, I’m not sure what I want to focus on in 2017. Sure, I have some ideas, but mostly I’m ready to take this month to get ready for the new year. So, if you’re in a similar position and can’t wait for the new beginning that 2017 will offer up like a steaming pan of cinnamon rolls, then keep checking back here because I have some awesome posts lined up that should help you get ready for 2017.

Thanks for sharing!
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Nov 16

To Do List for Wednesday, November 9

Today I woke up at 5:10. I fed the dog. I made the coffee. I completed week 3, day 2 of Couch to 5K. I had two cups of coffee, and ate the same breakfast I always have.

Today I will go to work.
Today I will grade papers.
Today I will hold office hours from 11 AM until 1 PM.
Today I will teach from 1:30 PM until 4:15 PM.
Today I will answer student questions about their formal reports.
Today I will tell my students that they may not have an extension on the formal reports, because 6 weeks is enough time.

Today I will email a local politician and ask what I can do to help in my city. It’s not her job to do my “citizen homework,” but maybe she can point me in the right direction. Then, I will contact the Diversity Director in the college where I teach. I will tell him that if any students need a safe place, or a shoulder to cry on, I’m there. I will let him know that I have his back in any new programs he wants to start in the wake of the election.

Today I won’t worry about the stock market, since I don’t completely understand it anyway.
Today I won’t worry about how the stock market may affect how much longer I have a job.
Today I won’t worry about how much closer to we may be to having open carry laws on campus.
Today I won’t think about how many things around my campus are named after KKK leaders, or how much the KKK endorsed the next president.

Today I won’t begrudge others their grief. Everyone deals differently. I like to move into action. Others like to wallow.
Today I won’t get mad at those who say they couldn’t vote for either candidate because it “wasn’t much of a choice.” I may, however, remind them that their privilege is showing.
Today I won’t make light of what others feel.
Today I won’t be flippant on Twitter.
Today I will mostly stay off social media because today self-care is important.

Today I will come home from work like I always do.
Today I will snuggle my dog.
Today I will get lost in a good book while I sit on the couch with Rosie and Chris.
Today we will make steaks for dinner, and maybe watch a movie.

Today is just a Wednesday, and I will treat it that way.

Thanks for sharing!
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Nov 16

10 Ways to Make Time for Writing Even If You Think You’re Too Busy

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of an idea must be in want of some time to write. But let’s be real. The hardest thing about writing is figuring out how to make time for writing.

10 Ways to Make Time for Writing

In undergrad, I majored in creative writing. One of my best friends at the time was pre-med. Once I told her that I couldn’t go see a band play because I had to write. Her response was “I wish I had time to sit around all day and write.”

Wish you had time to sit around all day and write? YOU DO. #amwriting #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet

To this day, it remains one of the shittiest things anyone has ever said to me, even though I doubt she meant for me to take it that way.

The thing is, everyone has time to write, and I find it hilarious that she didn’t see what I was giving up something to MAKE TIME FOR WRITING. But whatever.

Anyhow, that’s what this post is about. In honor of #NaNoWriMo, I thought I would bring you a list of 10 ways to make time for writing. So, if you’ve fallen behind a little in your word count goals, don’t stress. There’s always time for writing, and here’s how I make time for writing.

001: Wake up early.
I’m a morning person, so it’s easy for me to wake up, brew a pot of coffee, and settle in to write. There’s just something about grabbing a notebook or laptop and getting your brain out on the page before anything else has a chance to dilute your thoughts. Plus, coffee just tastes better when you’re writing.

002: Use your lunch break.
When I worked at the job from hell, I used to take my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard to the foodcourt at the outlet mall. I’d buy some frozen yogurt and type my heart out. The foodcourt was nice and quiet during the middle of the day, and it was the best way to escape for just a bit. While I didn’t really write anything that turned into something bigger, I was able to crank out a lot of words.

003: Embrace your phone’s notes app.
I think one of the biggest complaints I have about everyday life is the amount of time I waste waiting on other things. Standing in lines, sitting in waiting rooms, or just killing the next 15 minutes before a meeting DRIVES ME CRAZY. Ideally, I’d never have these weird lulls so I could get everything done and then head home for the day. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. So, instead, I use my phone’s notes app when I find myself in those situations. Generally, I just outline stuff, but occasionally I’ll be able to bash out a whole scene while I’m waiting for my day to resume.

004: Say no to an invitation.
Remember when I told my friend that I couldn’t go see a band play? I made time for writing by saying no to an invitation. We are currently in that time of year when there are no less than 76 billion invitations to various events. You’re going to have to say no to some of them, especially if you’re going to write.

005: Call in sick.
Okay. So, this isn’t always advisable. But sometimes, it’s necessary. I know that most writers are hustlers. By that I mean that if you’re a writer, then you probably also have a side gig. And when you couple that with family and life obligations, it’s easy to see why calling in sick might be the only way a writer can get some time to hit their word count. When I was in grad school, I called in sick to work because I had approximately 9 hours to write a 20-page paper. So, if you’re way behind in your word count and you have the paid time off, call in and take your day.

(P.S. I made an A on that paper.)

006: Batch other tasks.
I absolutely hate taking time out to cook dinner every night. If I’ve worked out, gone to my day job, and dealt with life in general, there’s no way in hell that I’m going to also cook dinner. So, on Sundays I prep all my meals for the week. I make enough for lunches and dinner. Overall, this takes about 2-3 hours on a single day, but it makes big windows of uninterrupted time in the evenings on week days. Instead of having to make something, I can pop a plate in the microwave, and have a full meal. Then, I have the rest of my evening to write and not babysit a pot on the stove.

007: Never turn on your TV.
I am one of those horrible millennials who doesn’t have cable. But I definitely like to binge watch. And, even when I’m not watching Netflix, I’m totally addicted to PBS’s Create channel and all the great cooking shows they have. (Do you think Jacques Pépin wants to be my French grandpa?) If I’m not careful, I’ll spend way more time in front of the TV than I intend to. And that goes double in the morning when I’m sipping coffee and listening to Charlie, Gayle, and Nora on CBS This Morning. So, if I know I need to get something done, the TV has to stay off.

008: Take away what makes you procrastinate.
It’s really easy to tell yourself that before you hunker down to write, you need to check your email and Twitter. And then, before you know it, you’ve lost the whole hour you had to write. So, to make time for writing, you have to take away what makes you procrastinate. I’m always more prolific when I don’t have an internet connection. Recently, I purchased a used AlphaSmart 3000 on Amazon, and every time I sit down with it, I get a lot of words in fast. Why? Well, because it’s a word processor that doesn’t have an internet connection. That means I can’t stop writing and Google information that I probably don’t need in the middle of a writing session. (That’s what editing is for, dammit.)

Writer tip: Take away what makes you procrastinate.#amwriting #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet

009: Do it first thing on your day off.
I don’t teach on Fridays. This means that while Chris is at work, I’m home alone. I try to take advantage of this time as much as I can. While my to do list is generally jam-packed with every sort of teaching administrative task that I can’t get done during my office hours, I prioritize writing first. That means I have to bash out some words before I will allow myself the privilege of putting grades into a spreadsheet. And once it’s done, I feel so much more productive and motivated to get other things done.

010: Live in squalor.
Okay. Maybe this is an exaggeration. But if you’re trying to write something, that means you have to let something else fall by the wayside. And you know what’s really easy to give up to make time for writing? Cleaning. I’ve read interviews where both J.K. Rowling and Rainbow Rowell have stated that while you’re writing, the house is going to be a mess. And I have to say, I’m fine with that.


So what about you? How do you make time for writing? Any tips or hacks for making time during #NaNoWriMo?

Thanks for sharing!
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Nov 16

Easy Fall Smokey Eye

Before I begin talking about this easy fall smokey eye, I need to give you a couple of disclaimers.


Firstly, yes, I’m a professional who works in a business college. However, deep down, I’m still that grungy writer kid, and I believe makeup should be dark. There is no such thing as too much eyeliner or mascara. Know that I will believe this until my dying day.

Secondly, I think it’s important to mention that I’ve been wearing makeup incorrectly all my life. (That’s 31 years, for those of you keeping score at home.)

I mention this disclaimer before showing you my easy fall smokey eye to keep me and you on an even keel here. When I started wearing makeup in the sixth grade, my mom told me I didn’t need foundation. I think this was probably a money-saving choice on her part, and honestly, I was 12. It’s not like there was anything going on with my skin. In fact, I would die to have the under eye skin I had back then. So, she helped me create a makeup kit that included a CoverGirl powder compact and clear mascara. (Clear because I had terrible allergies and my eyes were always watering.) I believe there was also a set of 3 eyeshadows in a small case with one of those sponge-tip applicators.

And now, at the ripe age of 31, not a whole lot has changed. Sure, I have varied my routine a lot, but I still don’t wear foundation. In fact, I never have. It literally never occurred to me that I should add it to my routine, and here we are. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve gone 19 years without anyone stepping in and setting me straight.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, you can choose whether or not you find me a valid source of makeup information.

Now, to the easy fall smokey eye.


I’ve been known to reinvent myself using nothing but scarves, eyeliner, and dark lipstick. If I ever feel I need a change in my life, that’s usually my go-to method. (I’ll also start writing an absurd amount of poetry.) So it’s only natural I do that in the fall too when I feel like I need to make an update for the new season. And nothing screams fall to me like a smokey eye. It’s moody and dark, just like the fall weather should be, even though it’s in the 70s this week.

But here’s the thing: On an average work day, mama ain’t got time for a smokey eye. Also, I have incredibly hooded eyes, so you can’t see like 98% of the work that would actually go into a smokey eye look. Much of my adult life has been spent shadowless for this reason. When I finally got tired of that is when this easy fall smokey eye was born.

To get this look, I line my eyes with Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in Ripe Plum. (Yes, Rimmel. You won’t find a better eyeliner on the market, so don’t waste a ton of your dollars on something expensive.) I think this color is perfect for people with brown or green eyes, and it’s really great on olive skin tones. This particular eyeliner also comes with a little smudgey sponge tip on the non-pencil end, so I use it to smudge to my desired level of smokiness.

Then, after I’m finished, I go back in and coat my upper and lower waterline with Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in Noir.

For mascara, I’ve recently fallen in love with Maybelline’s Push Up Angel Mascara. The unique brush shape totally makes your eyelashes wing out, and it doesn’t clump up after my requisite 2-3 coats.

Here’s where I tell you that I do this easy fall smokey eye all year round. Except in the summer, I use the color Precious Gold instead of Ripe Plum. Totally different look here.

And what’s fall without a dark lip? While I listed some of my favorites here, I’m wearing Rimmel’s Exaggerate Lip Liner in Obsession, and Burt’s Bee’s Lipstick in Ruby Ripple.


So what about you? What’s your go-to fall makeup look?

Check out Ashley’s Fall beauty routine below!

Fall beauty routines are some of my all time favorite posts to read. Everything gets warmed up! I thought it would be kind of fun to share mine. Here’s what I am currently doing:


For foundation I use Becca, specifically this one. I love how creamy it is, I feel like it blends into my skin and doesn’t just sit on top of it. Before I apply a finishing powder, I apply this blush and highlighter. Then I lightly tap on this powder to help everything set properly. I know it seems counter intuitive to apply blush and highlighter first but the pigment is SO much better! Just try it.

For eyes, I use this eyeshadow palette and apply the following shades after applying this primer:

Across the lid and crease I blend in “suspect“, then I sweep “half baked” across the lid, apply “foxy” across the brow bone and blend in with “suspect“, and across the browbone and in the tear area I lightly apply “bootycall“.

Instead of applying a thicker eyeliner I smudged in across the top and bottom lids a chocolate brown shade as well as tight-lined my top lid. Across the waterline I lightly apply NYX’s jumbo eye pencil in shade cottage cheese.

For the brows, I use of two options and pick either one depending on how much time I have in the morning. I will use Maybelline Brow Drama (which is what I used in this tutorial) OR Benefit’s Goof Proof pencil.

Other than my eyeshadow color choices, the biggest thing I change is my lipgloss or lipstick. Instead of a neony color I like to go warmer. My go-to shades for the summer can be found here. For the fall, however, I have been digging this Marc Jacobs lipstick in Baked Rose SO much! I put on Dr Lipp to allow for moisture and then apply the lipstick. It kind of turns into a creamy lipgloss/lipstick color.


All in all I really like how natural it is while still giving a made-up look. It’s something that you can wear out to work or just out running around town. To quickly adjust for the evening I would switch up to a deeper cherry red lipstick and smokey up the crease of my lid with “snake bite” from this eye palette.

Another change I made this fall was my hair color. I went from platinum blonde (see here) to the chocolate brown above! Quick poll – which color do you like more?? I have an appointment in a couple of weeks and am already debating switching back to blonde! Help!

What are some of the changes you make in your beauty routine when you switch from summer to fall?

Thanks for sharing!
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Oct 16

The 10 Commandments of Turning 31

Tomorrow is my 31st birthday, and I’ve got big plans.

10 commandments for my 31st birthday

If you’ve been around here long enough, then you know that I’m big into self-improvement and making grand declarations for the type of person I’m going to be. (See Year of the Space Cadet and Be Intentional.) And along with this self-improvement kick, I’ve got some huge-ass plans that I’m going to be knocking out hard. I know exactly where I want to be this time next year, and I don’t plan on stopping until I get there.

But you can’t get where you’re going unless you have a map. (I used to have a boss who said that. He was the kitchen manager at a professional wrestling-themed barbecue restaurant in the parking lot of a Walmart. He had some good information.) So today I’ve laid out my 10 commandments of turning 31 to act as my map to get me where I want to be.

001: Self above all else.
Recently I’ve realized that I’ve spent way too much time being hard on myself. And honestly, it’s been the most self-defeating thing I’ve ever done. In the past month, I’ve taken better care of myself (mentally and physically) and I’ve seen a drastic change in my ability to accomplish tasks. Had I known that taking care of myself would enable me to do everything I wanted to do, I would’ve started taking care of myself a long time ago. For me, putting myself above everything else means cutting out tasks, people, food, material possessions, and energy that don’t serve me. It’s really a game changer.

002: All free time must be productive.
I’m not saying that I will use every waking moment to get work done. But what I am saying is that I need to be more productive with my downtime. When I’m done with my downtime, I should feel rested and ready to continue moving forward with whatever needs to be done. You know what’s not productive downtime for me? Social media, reading the internet for hours on end, texting, or watching TV. You know what has proven time and again to be incredibly productive downtime for me? Reading a book (and not on my iPad), walking Rosie, having coffee with a friend, and working out. 

003: Remember that everyone is lying to you.
This commandment sounds more nefarious than it actually is. It’s not that I think a ton of people are actively trying to deceive me. (Though, I have 96 students who are capable of coming up with the most interesting reasons why they didn’t do their homework.) Whether or not they mean to, people generally give bad advice because they don’t have your best interests at heart. I say this as someone who NEVER crowdsources for opinions on what I should do, nor asks for the sort of advice that would guide a life decision. I’m insanely self-reliant in that way. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t offer up opinions about my choices anyway. And what someone else believes to be best for me is as good as a lie because I know in my own heart EXACTLY what I need to do.

Everyone is lying to you. Click To Tweet

004: Put out the sort of energy that keeps you safe.
I wrote a little about how sometimes people can make me feel crazy when I reassured you that you’re supposed to be here. But it’s something I struggle with remembering myself. That’s why I need to put out energy that tells others to back off with their anxiety and negative thoughts. I need to create a protective bubble with my thoughts, actions, and words so that the self-doubt that’s planted by others can’t take root.

005: Contingency plans are for people who plan to lose.
Plan B is a birth control method. It’s not a way to envision the future. No more of my energy needs to go into contingencies. It’s full steam ahead toward goals.

Plan B is a birth control method. It's not a way to envision the future. Click To Tweet

006: For things to get done, you have to do them.
I think it’s really easy for me to just say I’ll do something later. Whether that’s the dishes, putting away my shoes when I get home, or working on a novel, I know that later translates to never. So, for those sorts of things to get done, I just have to do them. I have to make myself go to the sink and scrub the pots and pans. I have to walk myself the extra 20 or so steps to my closet where I can toss my shoes on the floor. I have to schedule an hour every day to just sit down and write. Because doing things is how they get done.

007: Be stingy with your time and money.
Neither of those are infinite resources, and the more of each I have, the easier it is for me to rest easy at night. I’ve written about the importance of saying no before, and it’s a constant practice for me. Now, I need to apply the same sort of discipline toward not spending money, and I’ll be golden.

008: You’re too damn old to talk shit.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. For too long gossip was my love language. Not any more.

009: Don’t make anxious decisions.
Anxiety is like the jealous best friend you had in middle school. It’s the friend that makes you doubt what you believe in. It’s the friend that tells you how you’re not good enough. It’s the friend that makes you regret so many things. It’s not really a friend at all, but just like that girl you knew in middle school, for some reason you can’t shake anxiety either. But I know I can recognize when anxiety is pushing me to make a bad decision. More often than not it’s a decision about spending money or eating junk food, but it has pushed me to some pretty terrible extremes. (I took the job from hell out of an anxiety-based decision.)

010: Be relentless.
Everything takes time, and it’s an absolute waste to give yourself ultimatums. Far too many of my artistic friends say things like “If it doesn’t work out for me this time, I think I’m going to quit.” And I don’t think that’s fair. All I can do is relentlessly work. I can’t make others interpret what I do as marketable and therefore pay me for it. All I can do is be relentless. All I can do is sit down every single day and work. All I can do is continue up this hill. All I can do is do.

All I can do is sit down every single day and work. All I can do is continue up this hill. Click To Tweet

What do you think? Any commandments I should add? What sort of plans do you like to make on your birthday?

Thanks for sharing!
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