• Monthly Recap

    may 2024 recap


    It’s time for another monthly recap! Take a look at previous recaps here.


    Hi readers!

     

    Big news: I finally got a job after being unemployed for over a year! Not hearing back from the jobs I applied to for that long brought up a lot of tears and self-worth issues. Ethan got really good at comforting me while I sobbed. But I worked through a lot of issues, pushed through a lot of dark thoughts, followed any insights that popped up, and finally was successful. What I wanted was to get a chill job that fit my needs, paid my bills, and wouldn’t burn me out while I devoted my free time to writing my books and building up my creative entrepreneur dreams. And I found it through a year-round lifeguard job at a fancy fitness center.

    I’ve been a lifeguard on and off since 2013 and it’s honestly something I really enjoy. I like having a work uniform, but alternatively love that the uniform is me being half naked and barefoot. I like the peace and mindfulness of scanning the water, but also the constant low level adrenaline of practicing potential emergency scenarios in my head. I like that I get to be around people, but also that I don’t have to make eye contact with them and I’m supposed to end the conversations as quickly as possible. I love the smell of sunscreen and chlorine. I think it’s a job that’s well suited for both my austim and ADHD. Statistics show an alarming amount of unemployed and underemployed autistic people, so if I can pay my bills and stay at a job long-term without burning out and also publish books and grow my YouTube channel in my free time, like, that’s the fucking goal.

    Speaking of free time . . . after starting work and putting in roughly 30-35 hours a week PLUS two hour daily commutes, I realized that time kind of isn’t . . . real? I feel like it can always expand to meet your needs. I’m still accomplishing the same creative goals that I was back in 2022 before I was rock climbing, before I had a boyfriend, before I had a social life, and before I was working. With every new thing implemented into my life, there has been a transition period, but then the new thing settles in comfortably next to the old things and there’s still time to get it all done. I truly believe that if there’s a desire on your heart, reality can shift and rearrange to bring it into your life. I’ve never been the most consistent creative person on the planet, but I’m still journaling every day, working on my novel every week, currently working on two different essays, reading, and I finished this mf-ing newsletter, babyyy.


    writing:

     

    My pirate novel is going well. I’m actually really excited about it. This novel feels different and better than others I’ve written in the past, and I think people will actually like and connect with this one.

    I’m truly starting to embody the concept of pouring myself into my writing. The concept made sense to me when writing my personal essays, but it was too confusing when it came to fiction. How can I pour myself into a fictional story without turning the main character into a clone of myself? But it’s starting to make sense, primarily because I’ve tapped into the best writing style for myself. I call it intuitive writing. I don’t have a plot or an outline or a schedule. I set a timer for 15 minutes and I write what comes to me. I pour any frustrations or emotions from the day into those fifteen minutes. I pour any recently resurfaced memories or trauma of the past. And as a result, this book just feels very alive and organic. I’m constantly surprised and excited by the shape the story is taking.


    Subscribe to my newsletter to read exclusive novel excerpts:


    reading:

     

    Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui—Karen Kingston

    An honestly life-changing book about how clutter can affect our lives in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. I decluttered the area of my room that, according to the book, represented the financial part of my life, and less than a week later I got two job offers after hearing crickets for over a year!


    listening:

     

    “Goodbye”—Cage the Elephant

    “when the party’s over”—Billie Eilish

    “Doin’ It Right”—Daft Punk ft. Panda Bear

    “Lake Shore Drive”—Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah

    “O-o-h Child”—The Five Stairsteps


    watching:

     

    One Piece—Thriller Bark arc

    The Summer I Turned Pretty—seasons 1 + 2

    The Amazing Race—season 35


    living:

     

    Planning a major trip with Ethan at the end of June.

    Ethan’s obsession with making the perfect banana bread.

    Working on a V7 that is a combination of all my weaknesses.

    Homemade bahn mi sandwiches from Ethan.

    Addicted to pickled red onions + honey mustard potato chips.

    Seeing an assortment of hats covering the freeway.

    Watching the agave plant sprout a stalk as tall as a palm tree.

    Doing a major digital + physical declutter.

    Italian restaurant with duck pizza.

    Smiley face graduation balloon sticking out of a trash can.

    Getting complimented on my ears of all things.

    Reading on a blanket in the backyard with the dogs.

     

    Thanks for reading!
    Ally

  • Monthly Recap

    february 2024 recap


    It’s time for another monthly recap! Take a look at previous recaps here.


    Hi readers!

     

    I really enjoyed February. It was a really productive month, and I feel like I became closer to the version of myself I want to be. Like, lots of new things going on so I was kind of slow and behind in some areas (I’m very sorry to the friends I haven’t texted back in weeks!), but I added lots of good things to my life and I’m stoked to see them grow and develop as I give more time to them.

    One of my big projects this month was decluttering. I am constantly amazed at how well I can tetris my possessions to make it look like I don’t own that much. Ready to let go of old versions of myself, things from my past that I held onto for way too long, and really get into the energy of actually moving out of my parents house this year plz God.


    writing:

     

    Interestingly, this declutter project really messed with my ability to write. I felt pretty creatively stifled and suffocated in the midst of this messy overhaul. I only wrote five days this month, which was pretty depressing (still journaled nearly every day though, woo!). But I’m almost to the end of getting rid of stuff and having a messy room, so I think the writing energy will be much better in March.


    Subscribe to my newsletter to read exclusive novel excerpts:


    reading:

     

    My reading has temporarily slowed because I’m switching from ebooks to physical books. I’ve had some eye issues stemming from prolonged screen time (and I’m already half blind in one eye so I’m terrified thanks), so I’m switching as much as I can from digital to analogue. I’ve been a big ebook reader since 2018 (I checked them out free from the library using the Libby app, which is an amazing resource!) so I kind of need to re-learn how to be around physical books, as sad as that sounds. Walking to the library, packing books with me when I leave the house. It’s not as convenient, but it feels so much better to be interacting with the physical realm in this way. <3

     

    What I Talk About When I Talk About Running—Haruki Murakami

    This is sort a memoir based on his running journals, as he is a marathon runner when he’s not busy being a prolific author. I really like the comparisons he made between running and writing.

     

    Day—Michael Cunningham

    Interesting slow literary novel that covers the lives of a family on three different days in their lives, all on April 5, in 2019, 2020, and 2021. It was kind of too zoomed in for comfort, where you don’t really see much happen as far as plot, but you also don’t see much happen in character growth. Ironically I read this entire book in one day.

     

    How To Keep House While Drowning—KC Davis

    Absolutely wonderful book. Basically a housecleaning book written for people with autism, ADHD, depression, and/or grief. People whose brains don’t function quite normally and need workarounds to keep their lives functioning. My biggest takeaway is that you aren’t there to serve your house, your house is there to serve you.


    listening:

     

    Some of you may remember that I deleted my spotify account last year. Since then it’s been really cool to see what music has emerged, not having a way to pin songs down anymore or a clear way to discover new music. I thought I would use this recap as a new way to archive the songs I’m obsessing over.

     

    “No Poetry” (live)—Jasmine Thompson

    The way her voice breaks on the word “grief” at 2:40.

     

    “Ain’t Nobody” (acoustic cover of Chaka Khan)—Jasmine Thompson

    I wanted to sing Chaka Khan at karaoke but didn’t get the chance. :'( This is such a different vibe from the original, but a perfect rendition.

     

    “Grinnin’ In Your Face” (live cover of Son House)—The Vespers

    The high harmony and the drums at the end UGH.

     

    “First Time”—Hozier

    My GOD the lyrics. This is the kind of song you can get lost in and listen to a hundred times on repeat without noticing (speaking from experience). 


    watching:

     

    Lost: finished season 5 and just started the final season. I watched up to the middle of season 5 back in high school, so I’m extremely curious to find out how the show ends (I was told season 6 sucks so we’ll see).

     

    One Piece: episode 262/1,094. Water 7 arc. Gave me an idea for a plot point in my pirate novel.


    doing:

     

    — Snowboarded with Ethan again and got really good at stopping (my favorite part) and went on the big hill with all the jumps and didn’t even cry hahaha. (I’m scared of going fast and Ethan keeps telling me “but that’s the point ?” lol 😭) (Snowboarding has been a really fun experience but I just need to take it slooow.)

    — Also got an over the counter asthma inhaler and actually got to breathe normally while snowboarding ???? (Excited to huff some of that while hiking later this year.)

    — Journaled on the front porch in the sun.

    — Met my friend’s six week old son right before they moved away :'( and climbed together while he just chilled in his little carrier and watched us, so freaking cute.

    — Karaoke night with me and Ethan’s friends and his coworkers.

    — Set a goal to climb two V6’s this month and I got three!! (Two of them were more like V4’s but I’m still counting it.)


    eating/drinking:

     

    — Made homemade gyoza with Ethan.

    — Korean bbq with Ethan.

    — Hi chews, chocolate, and dried Raman snacks at a little Japanese shop.

    — Homemade chex mix from my mom.

    — Randomly got addicted to hot chocolate after hating it for most of my adulthood.

    — Valentine’s candy from my mom (she made sure it had exactly equal amounts of each specific thing for me and Ethan to share, so cute).

    — Ethan made me miso soup while I was still in bed <3 new fave hangover cure lol (re: karaoke night).

    — Italian restaurant with Ethan and his dad, and I got this shrimp scampi but it was these massive plate-sized shrimp and everything was cooked inside the shells and Ethan had to help me cut it all out because my knife skills are lacking but it was delicious. On a bed of savory swiss chard and paired with a crisp glass of pinot grigio. 💅


    youtube:

     

    I started a “write with me” series on YouTube. This is to help share my practice of just writing for fifteen minutes and not getting so overwhelmed that you never start or take action. Tiny steps building up into a beautiful creative practice.

    Here is my most recent video. A little coffee-making intro and rainy vibes.

    I’m really enjoying being on YouTube and have set a goal to just improve one small thing with each new video. Excited to see how my channel evolves this year. ☻

     

    Thanks for reading!
    Ally

  • Monthly Recap

    january 2024 recap


    It’s time for another monthly recap! Take a look at previous recaps here.


    Hi readers!

     

    Started this year off with a bang with some extensive 2023 reflection and 2024 goal setting. I have yearly, monthly, and daily goals. I wrote an essay last year about hating the concept of batching, so the way I mainly work is to do everything I want to do each day for fifteen minutes at a time.

    This month we had all sorts of weather: rain, our personal version of “cold,” and a few days of heat that I got a lil sunburn from! I usually kind of hate January because it feels both dead and annoying (and my essay writing lately feels entirely like January in this regard), but staying focused on my goals and tiny beautiful moments has been really helpful.


    Writing Life:

     

    Days I wrote this month: 11/31

    Book details: It’s a pirate novel I started in December. I’m writing it like I’ve always written my novels: without an outline, very intuitively. It’s becoming a patchwork of scenes. I never know what’s going to happen until it happens. So far I have a female captain who’s tired and considering retirement (lol), a mutinous cook, a fire eater, a witch doctor, and an annoying little stowaway. My novels are always more character based, meaning, like, plot definitely does happen, but my main focus is these characters and how they develop, exploring different aspects of growth and meaning and purpose through them.

    Idk if it’s bad luck to be sharing excerpts from the baby beginnings of a new novel, especially when I have no idea where the story is going, but whatever. I think it’s fun.

    Excerpt:


    Subscribe to my newsletter to read exclusive novel excerpts:


    Life in General:

     

    Snowboarding with Ethan in Utah! This was my first time ever snowboarding, so I was pretty nervous (this was also my first time being in snow since December 2021 lol). The first day was super rough, because I could barely stand up on an incline. I basically scooted down the mountain on my butt the first few tries. The second day had lots of fresh powder, so I think the extra padding gave me more confidence and I was able to bomb the first half of the little hill. Definitely excited for future trips, now that I’ve got a better hang of turning and stopping without falling. Snowboarding triggered my asthma super badly though (I got diagnosed in 2017 but threw my inhaler away because I’ve always been leery of drugs), so I decided I want to keep an inhaler on hand for future snowboarding trips because my breathing was super ragged the entire time. All in all, a difficult learning curve trip, but also very beautiful (hot tub under falling snow, cigarette by outside bonfire ((asthma . . . cigarette smoking . . . I know)) , snow sparkling like Edward Cullen, and fun new lingo “yewww we got some fresh pow pow!”).

    Super good food! I seriously love food. I love food so much that I write my favorite foods that I eat every single day in my little “one line a day” journal (I have tiny handwriting, so I can fit a lot more than just food into each entry . . . but food takes priority if I run out of room to write). So here’s a little rundown of favorite food situations this month. Dim sum at Tim Ho Wan and taro boba milk tea with Ethan, my sister, and her husband. Ube crepe with Ethan at this super cool Korean inspired coffee shop called Gabi Coffee & Bakery with Studio Ghibli vibes. And we checked out the new Durango casino in Vegas which I actually LOVED because it has very heavy SoCal vibes and hipster food places (yes I’m still a slut for California), and we went to this restaurant called Shang Artisan Noodle where I fell in love with noodles for the first time.


    Books I Read:

     

    The Miracle of Morning Pages—Julia Cameron

    A cozy little book going into more detail about the morning page journaling process than The Artist’s Way did.


    Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education—Stephanie Land

    This book enraged me. I quite enjoyed her first book, Maid, but was very disappointed in Class. What mostly angered me was the choices she made as a 35-year old single mother. She behaved like a 21-year-old, consistently prioritizing herself at the expense of her young daughter’s well-being. Normally I’m not going to judge someone’s memoir so harshly, but the way it was written, almost a decade after the events of the book, she had zero self-awareness, took zero responsibility for her actions, zero reflection on her choices, and had a heavy tone of entitlement and victimhood. The lack of that stuff kind of misses the point of writing a memoir in the first place, and kinda looks bad when you have a current estimated net worth of $500k to $2 million.


    Look Me in the Eye: A Memoir—John Elder Robison

    A favorite re-read. John is the older brother of the memoirist of Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs. This is his memoir on what it was like growing up not knowing he was autistic. He’s an incredible writer (much better than his more famous brother, imo), and he’s had such a vibrant life, including being the person who invented the stunt guitars used by the band KISS.


    The Covenant of Water—Abraham Verghese

    Beautiful book. Beautiful ending. Spanning three generations in 1900’s India. Incredible seeing how the stories spin together. Themes of family, medical issues, water, striving towards dreams.


    Mother, Nature: A 5000-Mile Journey to Discover if a Mother and Son Can Survive Their Differences—Jedidiah Jenkins

    I read all of his books. He’s a gay ex-Christian and an amazing writer. This is the story of him going on a trip with his homophobe Christian mother to retrace a famous walk across America she did in the 70’s, and coming to terms with their very different belief systems. Not as impactful as his first two books (I thought they were going to recreate the original walk and actually walk across America together, but it was just a two-week road trip, bummer), but always love his voice and storytelling style.


    Chill and Prosper—Denise Duffield-Thomas

    A kind of vibey business book. I read her money book Get Rich, Lucky B*tch almost three times last year. I really appreciate any non-fiction book that isn’t like “these are the cold hard facts of reality” because that’s not at all how I view life. I see things as fluid and changeable and feelings-based, so getting business advice from that perspective is really nice.

     

    Thanks for reading!
    Ally


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  • Monthly Recap

    november 2023 recap

    It’s time for another monthly recap! Take a look at previous recaps here.


    I realized I missed having more of a “bloggy” vibe to my website/newsletter, so I’ve been working on this recap all month to make sure I keep track of all the highlights and updates. November is my absolute favorite month (the first half is pumpkin spice latte szn and the second half transitions into eggnog szn), so I’m stoked to kick this off with this month. 


    Books I Read:

     

    The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz Book Cover Ally Brennan Website Blog Author Essays Newsletter Quotes Nonfiction Spiritual WisdomThe Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

    This has been on my “to read” list for a while, but I actually had no idea what it was about. It’s kind of a spiritual book about how our lives are basically an accumulation of the beliefs and assumptions we hold. It kind of validated my own beliefs about the world, which was cool.

     


    Writing Life:

     

    I wrote 28 out of 30 days this month and have pretty much built up a successful daily book writing practice. Most days I wrote over 400 words, and some days I wrote multiple thousands. I’m feeling like a real writer these days.

    What am I writing? I went back to my journaling self-help book I started last year, because it wouldn’t leave me alone and let me write a new book. I added over 25k words to it this fall, so now I have roughly a 50k word draft.

    My book feels basically done, so today I started the editing process. I’m not sure what this process is going to look like, because I’ve never edited an entire book before. I feel kind of overwhelmed but ready to take this one step at a time. I’m starting off by making an outline of what I’d like the book to look like, and seeing if that matches up with what I actually wrote and if any content is missing (if that sounds like a backwards process, it’s because it is . . . most people create an outline and then write a book lol).

    I don’t want to lose my habit of writing a few hundred words each day while I’m editing, so I started writing a new book today. Kind of wild. Might give myself burnout. But at this point, I kind of just feel so desperate to start writing and finishing books and get the ball rolling on my author career that I don’t really care if I burn out. I just want to go hard for as long as I can and see how much I can do. 


    Life In General:

     

    Nov 2—Golden Knights hockey game and ice cream date with Ethan. I think it’s ironically insane that Las Vegas has such a good hockey team. Also that they beat a Canadian team (soory). Speaking of sorry, Ethan and I love going to this ice cream place in Vegas called Sorry Not Sorry. The BEST flavor there is ube honeycomb (not pictured, because I decided to try a different lesser flavor on this date). If you ever have a chance to try anything ube-flavored (ube is a purple yam, and is the most perfect flavor), hop on it! 

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Las Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Nevada Photograph November 2 2023

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Las Vegas Sorry Not Sorry Ice Cream Aesthetic Nevada Photograph November 2 2023


    Nov 6—Ethan and I had our one year anniversary! We celebrated with the same thing we did on our first date: karaoke bar with our climbing buddies + his coworkers. It was wildly chaotic and fun, but more importantly, it marked one amazing year together. Excited for year two. <3


    Nov 13—Placed third in the 5-week bouldering league competition at our gym. Our team name last year was “Ally Can’t Cook” because Ethan is a chef, and our other teammate is a cook. This year was the same lineup, plus a new teammate who went to culinary school, so our name this year was “Ally Still Can’t Cook.” 

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Las Vegas Boulder League The Pad Rock Climbing Gym Nevada Photograph November 13 2023


    Nov 14—Started playing Hogwarts Legacy on Switch! I definitely do not consider myself a gamer, but I was having serious (Sirius) Harry Potter withdrawals after re-reading the series this fall, and found myself obsessively watching Hogwarts Legacy gameplays on YouTube. Ethan was sweet enough to get it for me on his Switch, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying. It has the perfect blend of world exploration, plenty of side quests to satisfy my ADHD, yet a simple steady gameplay and main quest to keep me from getting overwhelmed. It’s probably the most perfect game I’ve ever played. I really enjoy how you can choose how you respond to people in the side quests, so sometimes I’m really nice but sometimes I’m petty and self-serving which is fun. This is also the perfect time to mention that I finally took the official Wizarding World house sorting quiz and got placed into Slytherin. 🐍

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Hogwarts Legacy Nintendo Switch Nevada Aesthetic Photograph November 14 2023


    Nov 17— Started a book club with my sister! We’re currently going through the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, which we enjoyed as teenagers and wanted to revisit. I’ve never been in a book club before, because dissecting a book through canned discussion questions never appealed to me, but it’s been really fun. It ends up enhancing my experience of reading this book, because I get to hear her perspective on stuff that maybe I didn’t catch while reading.


    Nov 18— Started a new part time job as an editorial/admin assistant for a local author! During the interview, it felt SO GOOD to rattle off my writing experiences and creative entrepreneurial skills and have all of those things validated and praised and given a price tag. And when I’m working, I pretty much feel like I’m getting “free money” because the work is so enjoyable and stuff I would do for free tbh. Now I’m slowly gaining the confidence to create an actual resume catered towards this kind of job and start putting myself out there into the actual field I want to be in, rather than just sticking with childcare/lifeguarding because “that’s what I know.” It’s been a long journey to get to this point, but things are finally looking up.


    Nov 30— Went to the Arte Museum created by Korean company called d’strict. Incredible immersive art experience with lights, sounds, even smells. It was a pretty magical experience. And there was this interactive coloring station where we colored in an animal print out page, put it on a special scanner, and then it uploaded to a projector wall and became animated. So we were surrounded by people’s crayon animals all walking around. It was the coolest!

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Las Vegas Nevada Arte Museum Star Raindrops Aesthetic Selfie Photograph November 30 2023

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Las Vegas Nevada Arte Museum Aurora Beach Couple Love Aesthetic Photograph November 30 2023


    Recommendations:

     

    Silko Toothbrush:

    This is the most incredible toothbrush! It has 12,000 nylon bristles and feels like a cloud. I have extremely sensitive gums and have been using toddler toothbrushes up until this point, because adult toothbrushes felt too rough. Toothbrushing is a pretty common thing that neurodivergent people struggle with, due to various sensory issues and sensitivities, so I’m stoked that I found this toothbrush because it makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable. Highly recommend!


    Scrapbook:

     

    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Palm Tree Moon Aesthetic Nevada Photograph November 23 2023
    Palm tree moon. November 23, 2023.
    Ally Brennan Newsletter Website Author Writing Blog Essays Book Rainbow Moon Aesthetic Nevada Photograph November 27 2023
    Rainbow moon. November 27, 2023.