Sunday, August 12, 2018

Fixing my goal-oriented life

I've been in a weird funk this year. I think it's because of my own uncertainty. I'm happy in my daily life; but I've been wondering what the bigger point is. What am I doing? What should I be doing? Sure, I have a good job, but what about a career? A family? What goals am I currently knocking out of the park?

I've always been goal focused in my life. Graduate high school? Check. Go to college? Check. Get a job? Check. Get married? Check. Buy a house? Check. It goes on. But when I'm in-between accomplishments, I tend to feel unfulfilled and unimportant. And it seriously messes with my self esteem. I think that's where I'm at this year.

I've been reading a book called "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson. Yeah, it's a little crude, but its simplicity and ideas have me thinking more and more about what I can adjust in my life to make myself feel more fulfilled and happier. 

The author's tackle on goals has me thinking that I should make some changes in my own life.

From the book:

"If your metric for the value 'success by worldly standards' is 'buy a house and a nice car,' and you spend twenty years working your ass off to achieve it, once it's achieved the metric has nothing left to give you. ...There are no other opportunities to keep growing and improving, and yet it's growth that generates happiness, not a long list of arbitrary achievements."

If that ain't me. I've always felt a need to check off those boxes in my life. It just always felt like that was how life was supposed to work. But what am I supposed to do in the meantime?

"Better values, as we saw, are process-oriented," the author writes. "Something like express myself honestly to others,' a metric for the value honesty is never completely finished; it's a problem that must continuously be reengaged. ...The value is an ongoing, lifelong process that defies completion."

I've been chasing completion of goals for so long, and now that I'm "settled," I feel significantly unhappy. The author nails this one on the head, too.

"The pursuit of these goals causes great anxiety," he writes. "And even if we manage to achieve them, they leave us feeling empty and lifeless, because once they're achieved there are no more problems to solve."

To attempt to end my year on a good note, I'm going to stop looking for problems to solve. Instead, I'm going to look at my values. I value a good work ethic, healthy relationships, and my creative expression. So I'm going to keep working on these things and push myself to try to see where life will take me. Living life so goal-oriented has only made me this anxious, unhappy monster. Instead, I just want to live. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Writing dry spell

Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; from a notebook stuffed underneath my twin bed mattress, to studying journalism in college, to running a blog about a relative with ties to my community.

But this year, I've hardly been writing.

I'm not sure what it is; maybe I've hit a dry spell. Maybe the looming thought of writing my own book has left my creative side paralyzed. I know I've been busy with other things: working quite a bit, devoting time and resources to my new Little Free Library, and burying myself in house projects: new plumbing, yard work, reorganizing rooms, etc.

Writing has definitely taken a backseat for the first time in a long time. Have you ever experienced this? How do you kick it?

I've been searching for inspiration -- watching meaningful shows, reading lots of books, engaging in conversation with friends and family. These things are supposed to inspire and recharge me, but maybe they are just taking away from good writing time?

The thrill of writing something great used to draw me to my laptop, now I hardly ever think of it. Is this just a phase?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

My Little Free Library

My Little Free Library in Sycamore, IL. Photo by Jessi LaRue

Take a book, leave a book.

Little Free Library is a project that has impressed me for years. I dreamed of the day I'd own my own house. Then I could finally install a Little Free Library of my own.

I’ve always been a bookworm, a nerd, a geek. One day in elementary school, I tripped on the walk to school. I skinned up my knee, and there was a little blood. When the school nurse asked what happened, I said, “I tripped while reading my book.” She didn’t think it was such a good idea to walk and read.

Growing up, I spent many Friday nights curled up with a good book. Books took me to far away places, taught me about interesting things, and gave me the power to think for myself and have my own opinions. Books have had a profound impact on my life. After all, I ended up becoming a writer.

My hope for the North Avenue Little Free Library is simple - to spread the love of reading, even to just one person. I hope that reading changes someone’s life, that it makes them question the world around them instead of just going with the flow. I hope that picking up a book inspires someone to create something new. I hope that someone enjoys a book so much, that they can’t help but share it with someone else.

Want to learn more about Little Free Library? Visit to learn about their wonderful mission. And if you’re in the Sycamore, IL area, please visit the library on North Avenue. Take a book, leave a book, write a note in the guestbook. We’d be delighted to have you.

Instagram: @northavenueLFL

P.S. Stay tuned for a "behind the scenes" post about the creation of my Little Free Library!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Vintage fun in Volo

Last week my husband Chris and I took a day and drove an hour to Volo, Illinois, a town I had never even heard of before. With a population of just a few thousand people, why would we choose this small town to spend our day? 

Three words: Volo Auto Museum.

Situated just an hour from our town is a giant museum filled with hundreds and maybe even thousands of cars -- vintage classic cars for sale, and legendary cars plucked from movie sets. We spent hours ogling over the various cars, then walked just across the street and explored three vintage malls for another couple of hours. I absolutely recommend visiting Volo if you love cars, antiquing, and exploring museums. It was a great day, and I took a LOT of photos.

The LaRues take on Volo, Ill.
Volo Auto Museum
na na na na na na
The Duesenberg Room
The Duesenberg Room
The Duesenberg Room
The First Automobile
Boat motors
Jinkies! It's The Mystery Machine
Showroom after showroom full of cars for sale
That color is so me
Chris' favorite
"Terminator" car
Chris was in car heaven
"Dukes of Hazzard"
"The Beverly Hillbillies"
"Who ya gonna call?"
Speed Racer is one of my favorite characters
They had multiple cars from the Fast and Furious franchise
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Chris was nerding out over this one...ELEANOR!
Rows and rows of classics
Showroom selfie
Barbie dream car
MJ soul-mobile
Charlie Chaplin
The Munsters
My dreams coming true...the Grease car!
Johnny Cash Git-Tar Car
Git-Tar Car
Back to the Future
Movie boats, too!
Vintage arcade games
Jurassic Park
The Cat in the Hat
From the live action Flintstones movie
Beach Boys cruisin'
Mirror selfie
Endless Batman
The King's chariot
Displays from Disney World
Disney Dalmatians

More plastic pups
Glam camper
Barbie's dream camper