Alyssa J Freitas

July 11, 2018

What To Read This Summer

As a kid I remember the library hosting reading challenges every summer. You'd fill out your list, win prizes, and hopefully not lose too much of your brain power over the school break. Working full time and being an adult means there isn't really a great amount of difference in free time each season, but there is something about summer that makes me want to read more books, faster. Here are the books I've read recently and what's on my list. Let's be friends on Goodreads so we can get recommendations from each other!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Looking for some summer reading inspiration? Look no further. Here are the top books to pick up

What I've Read

London by Edward Rutherfurd
This was an epic book (all his books are sagas). All of Rutherfurd's stories follow families in a certain city/country for generations and it was interesting to learn more about how London has developed over the years. Now I am anxiously awaiting the publication of his next book, China.  

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 
After I read a Rutherfurd book, I always need a quick, easy read to clean my palate - enter, What Alice Forgot. This book tells the story of a woman who gets a head injury and thinks it's a decade earlier, forgetting her divorce, change of friends, and even her children. It was the book I needed, when I needed it.

The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner
Nope. Not for me. I had high hopes because I love historical fiction and am interested in the life of Lucrezia Borgia. However, the book fell far short of expectations and actually inspired me to create a new rule for myself - I will not read any book that gets less than a 4 star rating on Goodreads. It's just not worth it, especially because I'm the type of person who has to finish a book once I start it. Can't afford to put myself in that position again!

Photo Credit: Ally Marcino

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Ok, now we're talking. This was a beautifully written book (definitely could use some pacing work, and probably could have ended a hundred pages sooner) and it had been on my list for a while so I was glad to finally get to it. The story follows college students who find themselves in a series of issues, including murder, alcoholism, near death by freezing, you know, the usual college stuff, and is done in the best way possible.  

Originals by Adam Grant
Here comes the non-fiction. Grant presents ways to have creative, and original ideas, and how your environment and childhood influences you. If you want to harness your creativity and learn how best to present your ideas, this is a quick read that will give you great tips and make you think.

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
I do not like Thomas Jefferson. Before reading this book I would have said I hated the man (there's far too many reasons to get into now). Even though you absolutely must take historical fiction at its word of being fiction, this book humanized Jefferson for me and I have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices of the founding fathers. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This is the first dystopian book I've picked up in a while. A great flu sweeps over the earth, killing more than 90% of the population. We follow those who survived and go back in time to learn more about the world and people who were left behind. With short chapters, I was able to fly through this book.
Photo Credit: Ally Marcino

What I want to read

Here are the goal books for the rest of the summer:
  • My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
What have you read recently? What's on your list for the summer? I'd love to hear your recommendations!


July 4, 2018

July 4th Or 2nd...

Happy Independence Day! I try to always make sure I say "independence day" rather than "4th of July." Why, you ask? It comes back to John Adams (as most of my historical opinions do).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Ever wondered why we celebrate independence day on July 4th? Well, maybe it's meant to be July 2nd...find out why!
On July 2nd, 1776 the delegates of the Continental Congress approved the motion for independence for the 13 colonies to separate from Great Britain. And most everyone was pumped (and also a little scared and confused, because what exactly would this mean).

My guy John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Today we do celebrate independence with parades and games, and bonfires, and all that jazz...but we do it on July 4th. Why?

The committee of 5 assigned to writing the Declaration (Adams, Franklin, Sherman, Livingston, and Jefferson) put forth the document on July 2nd, but the congress did not approve it until July 4th - hence why the finalized version reads "In Congress, July 4, 1776."

The Declaration was then read in public for the first time on July 8th (though it had been printed in the evening of July 4th and distributed) and Washington shared the news with his troops on July 9th.

While I always want my John to be right, he was slightly off on this one. We've adopted July 4th as the anniversary of our independence and I also celebrate the end of a legacy on this day - John died on July 4th, 1826.

How are you going to be celebrating Independence Day this year? 


June 27, 2018

Summer Bucket List

Hooray for the start of summer! Although there wasn't much of a sweet spring to prepare us ("October is the new spring" - my observant friend), I'm ready to jump into the season. Although I've worked every summer since I was 16, this is my first summer that doesn't include a break from school, so I thought it would be good to put together a bucket list to ensure I'm making the most of these summer weekends. Hopefully you can grab some ideas yourself for your own summer bucket list.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Now that summer it here, it's the perfect time to make a bucket list. Check out my list for inspiration

Walk or bike the Brooklyn Bridge

Go strawberry picking

Have a picnic (or a few)

Make s'mores

Go to an outdoor concert

Take a boat ride (can't get enough of the boats)

Go on a weekend getaway 


What's on your summer bucket list? Would love some more inspiration!


June 20, 2018

What To Spend Your Downtime Consuming

There is so. much. content out there for us to consume. From never ending Pinterest feeds, to newsletters, to shows, we are constantly inundated with something to read or watch or listen to. Two years ago I wrote a post about how to consume media consciously. While my minimalist mindset did a lot to inform that post, I didn't talk much about my own method of determining what is worthwhile to spend my time on.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! With only so much downtime, it's important to make the most of it! Here's how to make sure you're consuming the best of the best
Here are a two ways you can figure out what is worth allocating your limited time to:

Explore based on recommendations

It's far too easy to just jump out into the vast internet and libraries of the world to search for your next book or article or piece of entertainment. Instead, try working off of recommendations. Did a blogger you love just write about her favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Did your friend rave to you about a podcast she can't stop listening to? Chances are, if you're already friends with or following someone they'll be able to point you in the right direction of what to check out next.

Reviews, reviews, reviews

I've instituted a new rule for myself that I am LOVING: Only read books that get a 4 star and above rating on Goodreads. After recently reading a bad book (once I start a book, I'm committed even if I'm not enjoying it, which is probably a blog post and self-examination for another day), I decided I needed a way to avoid that in the future. This threshold rule of 4 stars is a great way to ensure that I'm reading quality books. Maybe you can look at Rotten Tomatoes first if you love to watch movies, or statistics on Netflix to keep yourself enjoying the best of the best.

How do you figure out what to read or watch next? How do you stay inspired with new things to read and watch coming at you from every angle? Any advice is much appreciated!


June 13, 2018

1 Year Post Graduation: What I've Learned

The end of last month marked one year since I graduated and this month is my one year anniversary of working at IBM. I sound like a broken record because I keep reiterating how unbelievably fast the time passed and it's so. darn. true. As I'm inclined to do, I've been evaluating what has happened over the course of the year, what I've accomplished, and what I've learned. Today I'm going to share with you my main takeaways one year out of school, in the place called "the real world."
Click to read now or pin to save for later! It's been one year since graduation and I've learned so much! Here are a few lessons that will help you make the most of your first year after graduation

Your goals will change

There have been many posts on the blog about how to achieve your goals (check some out here, here, and here), but I've never talked about what to do when your goals change. And that's because I've mostly been consistent with setting good goals for myself that I want to achieve, and am able to make a reality. However, one major goal I set for myself to achieve 6 months post-graduation was to move out on my own...and I haven't done that yet, nor do I have intentions of going anytime soon.

Alyssa on graduation day would have been shocked and guess that something terrible must have happened to prevent me from moving out (was I fired? is someone sick?), but nope, I just learned about what life actually looks like full time and the reality of costs and changed my intentions accordingly. When you make aspirational goals before entering a certain life stage, there's a pretty good chance you'll change your mind once you get more information. And there's nothing wrong with that!

I've learned to give myself a break and to accept that what I envision is not always going to be the best for me. Rather than holding on to goals and making them set in stone, I'm working on going with the flow and understanding that my decision making will get better as I gather more information.

Your relationships will change

A few months ago I wrote a post about how to stay close with your friends post-grad. When I was graduating, I knew that things would change, but I didn't know how infrequently I would end up seeing everyone. At first I was resistant and wanted to replicate at least some of the consistency of hanging out, but with different schedules and priorities there was no way I could. Now I've had to shift my mindset and instead appreciate the time that we do have together in person and make an effort to keep in touch electronically in between.

Something that I do want to work on is making new friends, because although I've started to get to know some new people, I can do more to grow those relationships. Pushing yourself to not just stay comfortable in existing friendships, but to expand your circle is rewarding and a healthy part of growing outside of college.

You need patience

This is the biggest lesson that I am still challenged by on a daily basis. When you're in school, there are clearly defined timelines and sets of accomplishments, and if you're ambitious and hard working, you can add a lot to your resume fairly quickly. Out here in the real world, timelines change. One year in college meant that you've already gone through a quarter of your college career. One year post-grad means you're only about 1/40th of the way through. Plus, you have an even steeper learning curve (and probably more lofty goals for yourself).

This is where patience comes in. Staying the course, working to your best ability each day, and realizing you're not going to know as much as someone who's been in the business for 20 years in your first year is essential to not drive yourself crazy with feelings of not living up to your own expectations. Like I said, this is something I am actively working on and I'm not moving as fast on being comfortable with it as I'd like (^see my lack of patience haha). 

As you probably picked up on, the key themes here are change is cool, you have to embrace new experiences, and please, I beg you, give yourself grace when you aren't the master at something instantly.

What have you learned your first year post-grad? If you've just graduated, what are you most nervous about?