2017 Recap, 2018 Ready!

2017 was chaos. The hangover from the clusterfuck of the 2016 presidential election loomed over the first half of my year. I refused to let the commander in cheeto ruin my year completely, but boy did he try. I’ve decided to spin something positive out of it and have put upon myself a goal to practice gratitude and find the positives of 2017 in order to determine my 2018 goals.

I created healthy, well rounded habits in 2017. For my physical self I began exercising regularly, cooking more and not eating things that make me sick all the time (looking at you, gluten). I tried new fitness classes. I did barre, pilates, public yoga classes and I began lifting weights. I also let myself take rest days when I wanted and I occasionally went for the full gluten pizza (sorry tummy). I attempted balance and I made it my mission to get strong physically and mentally.

Emotionally, I dealt with the death of two grandparents, the emotional turmoil of being unsatisfied in my career and my post grad comedown. I let myself feel emotions instead of bottling them up. I refused to settle in my unsatisfactory work place and I got a new job in a new city that I started 1/2/2018. I simultaneously managed leaving my position to take this new opportunity, moving my life 300 miles north and spending Christmas with B’s family (before this year I have never spent Christmas away from my family). I managed my stress by practicing my yoga and mediation more than I have in previous years.

I took baby steps and set manageable goals. Most importantly I made it; and if you’re reading this you made it too.

I’ve come out of 2017 emotionally spent but still optimistic for the future. I took emotional strength inspiration from my fellow feminists. I ruminate on the power I felt watching coverage from the Women’s March. I have faith in the common decency of the US even if those in power are only working from a place of self interest. #MeToo brought to light that victims of assault are unfortunately common and will not hide in the shadows anymore. The anger and activism has brought a voice to women. I have learned so much about myself, my views on feminism and intersectional feminism. I’ve learned about the importance of amplifying the voices of those who are not heard. I put a lot of energy in improving myself in 2017 and I want to stay on the same path.

My goals for 2018 are a little abstract again. I want to do more of what makes me happy which includes exercising frequently, attempting a daily meditation, reading books and writing. I want to use my reading and writing to expand my vocabulary; my post grad verbiage is weak. I’m going to continue posting on this blog but I’m going to take it slower and not force myself to put something up when I don’t have honest inspiration. The world doesn’t need more pointless noise. I also want to manage my money better and start saving for future travels. I handled this decently while prepping for my big move but I know there is room for improvement. I want to continue facing my fears (like flying, driving on freeways and doing things that I’m not a natural at) and take every difficult task as an opportunity to grow instead of a road bump.

First things first; I’m going to build on my yoga. I’m doubling down on my 30 days of yoga challenge and I am participating in both Alo and Yoga with Adriene’s January challenges. I’m also setting myself the January goal of settling into my new city which includes finding a new doctor, optometrist and dentist. I’m going to test run a few gyms and snuggle into my new normal in my new city.

StockSnap_TVEUBLIOSK.jpgI’m starting 2018 filled with hope and excitement. I created change for myself in 2017 and I’m happier for it. Here’s to a significantly better, especially on the political front, 2018.

Happy New Year!

Finishing at My Own Pace

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated everyone on my goal of cultivating love and creativity this year. 2017 definitely threw some wrenches in my plan but I managed to meet so many of my goals this year.

I did not adhere to my monthly goals perfectly through 2017 but I learned what worked and what didn’t for me. I was able to sit back and watch how I react to a crazy workload, how I act when I am stressed to the gills and how I react to being underwhelmed.

I’ve learned that a once a week posting schedule may sound simple but it is still a lot of writing. With all that happened this year I had to learn to go easier on myself. I let myself fail, take a couple weeks or even a month off and the best part is that I was okay. Not conquering everything the way I intended to did not kill me (crazy, right?)

1197079A lot of growing feels like failing. It is learning what works for you and what does not.

My mantra for this year has been “just because it does not work for you does not make it wrong”. By removing the emotion from what works for me and what doesn’t I was able to look at things in a more loving way.

I realized that the most important part of cultivating love was having it to give.

I’m spending the last month of 2017 healing from a surgery and getting ready for a big change. I figured out that my current position was no longer serving me and it is time for a change of scenery. Letting go of what does not serve me and moving on to something better is the biggest act of self-love. Because of this B and I are relocating to the bay!

With all of this change rapidly approaching my only goal for December is to continue getting comfortable with my self-love and the channel my creativity into something fun, decorating my new living space. After the rapid changes of 2017 I’m ready to slow down.

See you in 2018 with my new goals.

The Draw of Teen Dramas

When the world is overwhelming I turn to trash tv for comfort. Lately, everyday has been absurd, so in between my ResistBot letters and yelling at my CNN app I’ve been binge watching teen dramas. In my opinion, there is nothing quite like watching 20 to 30 year old adults pretend to be high society teens to jolt you from our grim reality.

 

This obsession all started in high school, when I got addicted to Pretty Little Liars. PLL took me on a tumultuous journey that lasted over half a decade and ended with me screaming at the tv. My flirtations with post PLL teen dramas have been brief; until recently they haven’t stuck. But now I am in deep. Below are my two new favorites.

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Gossip Girl

I get it, I’m late to the party but this show is a GOLDMINE of feel good trash. If you’ve never seen it then I’ll catch you up on the arc of each episode. Serena and Dan have some sort of miscommunication which makes them worry that they aren’t perfect for each other that they resolve by the end of the show. Blair and Serena fight over Blair’s poor decision making skills, Chuck sexual assaults someone, Nate worries about the future he doesn’t want to have and Jenny actually gets shit done. There is a lot of ridiculous slut shaming and a lack of feminist values in the show but it is so bad it’s good. In my opinion Jenny should be Gossip Girl, but I don’t think the draw to the show is the mystery..it’s the stupidity in the drama. I love it.

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Riverdale

Riverdale season one is so insanely binge worthy that I finished it in less than 48 hours. Riverdale is a murder mystery coated in teen drama. It is so ridiculously palatable that B binge watched with me. The characters are loosely based on the characters from the Archie comic strip, but beyond that the comic has little to do with the plot. I’m personally obsessed with Cheryl Blossom and her family’s “maple syrup” company.

 

These are my current guilty pleasures and I’m pretty impressed by their effectiveness. For at least 30 minutes a day I can almost forget whats going on in the outside world. Necessary self care.

 

Summer was a time for activity and outdoorsy events but now that it is fall* I’m ready to Netflix and Chill with my blanket.  What are some of your guilty pleasure shows?

*SoCal doesn’t have seasons I’m just pretending my PSL is a latte and not a frap.

But Really Though Reads: Normal by Warren Ellis

Lately I have been reading more to write more (or at least that’s the lie I’ve been telling myself to set aside time to read more).

My most recent read was Normal by Warren Ellis. Normal is a dystopian tech-thriller. This niche category of science fiction includes works like Blade Runner and 1984.

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The succinct novel takes place in a surveillance society not too different from our own. It begins with Adam arriving to Normal Head a mental health hospital for those who have been driven insane by their jobs of “staring into the abyss”. The patients of Normal Head divide themselves by their careers from the outside world; big business paid v nonprofit workers. Adam has played both sides which makes him a slightly more reliable narrator than any other patient at Normal Head; but as the doctor at Normal Head tells Adam “Everyone here is batshit.”

Normal is puzzling, uncannily too close to our current surveillance culture and highly engaging. It has stuck with me days after finishing the novel. The paranoia is palpable from the first page and builds until the last. Every character represents a different approach to dealing with a reality that encourages paranoia, much like our current world. The smokescreen of the pro’s of the surveillance society is lifted and what is left is chilling.  

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants to knock a book out in one sitting (I read it in an evening because I could NOT put it down). It’s also great for those of us who love a good conspiracy theory or for those who still recall the uncanny feeling they got while reading Orwell’s 1984.

Leave a comment if you’ve read Normal and let me know your thoughts!

 

*SPOILER* 

 

Did anyone else get Kafka’s Metamorphosis vibes while reading this book?

But Really Though Reads – Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter

Break in Case of Emergency is the best satirical takedown of celebrity philanthropy.

This novel balances, as Mike Schur put it “the moment in your life when you go from ‘young’ to ‘no longer young’”. It presents the stage where you are no longer the youngest person in the office but you don’t feel old enough to be making the decisions presented to you.

Winter’s work handles current global topics such as female friendships, pseudo-feminism, mental health, fertility and the monetary class divide. Jen, the main character, struggles with the absurdity of celebrity charities, the heart wrenching jealousy of the wealthy and the anxiety of having talent with no outlet for it.

Winter’s characters are lovable, multi-faceted and believably human. Jen has talent but lacks the privilege to live the life of her dreams, while it seems like everyone else around her has the monetary support to follow their artistic endeavours and take advantage of her on the way. Something that really resonated with me was her unwillingness to accuse her friends of taking advantage of her. Jen also refuses to let them help her out, not because of her pride but because she would never ask for what she couldn’t return. Women must help other women on the climb to the top without squashing anyone else on the way.

The character development and plot of this novel is what stood out the most to me. I would highly recommend this book to anyone in an in between phase looking for a humorous approach to dealing with the realities of the world we live in.

 

 

 

 

But Really Though Reads—You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

For Christmas I received so many beautiful books! One of these was Jessi Klein’s autobiography, “You’ll Grow Out Of It” and this writer/comedian did not disappoint.

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Klein is a writer for Inside Amy Schumer, SNL, Transparent amongst many other works. Not only is she insanely talented with the pen, she is also captivating in conversation (she often appears in NPR’s radio show “Wait..Wait..Don’t Tell Me”). Jessi identifies as a “tom man” meaning she is a tomboy who never “grew out of it”

Jessi Klein is so hilarious and captivating that I finished this book in one sitting. I have not been actively engaged in someone’s story like this since I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Klein is a comedic genius and her staccato comedic timing translates perfectly on the page. Reading this memoir felt like a conversation. Klein’s perspective on everything stereotypically feminine, from weddings to the television show The Bachelor, is relatable and refreshing. Klein identifies as female and heterosexual but still finds that she never fits in the feminine box. She is the comedic queen of the not so feminine female.

Without giving away too many of the book’s comedic secrets, my favorite analogy of hers is the Poodle v Wolf. According to Klein, women are categorized as either poodles or wolves and while both are from the same species, they have very different defining characteristics. A poodle is in sync with her feminine side and a wolf is more masculine. Being pretty is not the dividing line between poodles and wolves, poodles are more yin and wolves are more yang. For example, Sofia Vergara would be defined as a poodle while Jennifer Aniston is a wolf. While both are beautiful, it is their personality characteristics that place them in their category. I love that Jessi differentiates between the two without belittling either category. You trot on you beautiful poodle or wolf!

Klein is a genious, a goddess and a wonderful soul. This book is a must read for any misfit with a love for wit.

I’m always on the hunt for new books, leave me some suggestions for my reading list!

Listening & Learning

I talk, a lot.

 

That’s why I blog.

 

I have opinions about EVERYTHING and I love making them known. Due to this chatty Cathy lifestyle of mine, I can be a pretty shitty listener. With my intentions to cultivate love and creativity this year, I’ve decided that February will be about listening.

 

By listening to the world around us, the people around me and my body I will continue to build the foundation for the loving, confident, creative woman I want to be.

 

I was inspired to begin listening externally by the 2016 election results and the stories shared at the historic fan-fucking-tastic Women’s March on DC event that took place on January 21st. I was inspired to begin listening to my body through my yoga practice.

 

It is obvious to me that a large portion of this country has felt ignored by current politics. These are people that I originally wrote off as morons. I assumed that if you were able to vote for someone who believes in taking away the rights of my friends and myself that you were an idiot. While I do still believe that it takes someone with an inflated ego to think that their money is more important than the rights of others, I’ve decided that I have to listen to what the other side is thinking. To protect and defend my friends it is time to listen to what the opposition has to say, take in their concerns and see what a polite conversation can do for us.

 

On the other side of that coin it is time for me, as a white feminist, to listen to the stories of all the women of color, members of the LGBTQ community and other oppressed minorities. My story, or one similar to it has been shared thousands of times. It is time to check my white privilege, get off of my soapbox and learn about the struggles of minority women in our society. It is important for me to listen without asking those who are oppressed to educate me. I’m very excited about this journey and already have a couple ideas in mind for reaching this goal. I’m starting small by listening to feminist podcasts like “2 Dope Queens” and “Call Your Girlfriend”

 

I am also going to listen to my body. I am known for pushing myself to unhealthy limits from time to time. Instead of taking a rest day I will work in a quick set of squats. Instead of clocking out at 5, I am known to stay an extra half hour just to make things perfect. This results in my body hitting its breaking point and I pass out for 12 hours during the weekend. My Yoga with Adriene journey in January taught me a lot about listening to my body and breath as a team. I want to learn to listen to my body when it is tired and let it tell me when I’m overworking it without letting my brain take over and turn me into a lazy couch potato. While I’m still working towards a healthier mind and body with fervor, I intend to listen to my body and take that extra rest day when I need it.
These are my intentions for February. A short but important month.

I will report back what I learn by listening. Stay tuned, my friends.

Cultivating Love & Creativity in 2017

Happy 2017! We all have our opinions about the trainwreck that was 2016 but now it is finally over. On to a new and brighter year! For 2017 I have chosen a word to represent my goals for the year.

 

Cultivate.

 

Specifically, I’ve decided that after the year we had as a collective group I want to cultivate creativity and love in my life and share it with others. Although, right now all I am able to cultivate is a glimmer of optimism and hope for our world under Sir Cheeto of the United States I am hoping that with enough hard work and meditation by the end of 2017 you will all be reaping in the joy of knowing me (even if it is just through the internet). I am taking the year 2016 gave us and turning it into a personal challenge to spread more love and combat all of the hate we harbor in our lives.

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Big fucking goal, right? Yeah, I thought so too. So yesterday I decided that my quest to feelings happiness and creativity is best broken down into small chunks. By taking the quest one month at a time I will be putting less pressure on myself to conquer something that is so abstract. At the end of each month I am going to check in with myself, and you, and decide what I need to work on next to complete this quest.

 

I am so fucking excited to see where this takes me! Are you ready?

 

January 2017 is going to be all about self – love and gratitude. I’ve gotta love myself so I can spread my love to others. Below you will find my bite sized goals for my January 2017 journey to self- love and gratitude.  My two first steps to cultivating love and creativity.

 

  1. Turning “I’m Sorry” into “Thank You”. To create feelings of gratitude I am going stop apologizing for things that are out of my control and thank others for their patience around them instead. For example when I am supposed to meet B and the gym and am late I will thank him for waiting for me instead of apologizing for running a bit behind due to work. This does not mean I will not apologize when I make a mistake or when I am wrong, it will only replace the unnecessary I’m sorry’s.
  2. Daily Guided Meditation. Every day, probably before I go to bed, I am going to do a guided meditation to bring myself into the present moment and ground myself and my emotions.  I love using the Calm app for this. I am going to begin the month with the “7 Days of Gratitude” series and then move on to the “Loving Kindness” themed meditations for the rest of the month. If you would like to know more about the Calm app check out my Relaxation Station post or check out their website here.
  3. Yoga Revolution, a 31 day Yoga with Adriene program for January. As I mentioned in my Fitness is Fun post, I love Yoga with Adriene. The queen of “finding what feels good” is once again doing a yoga camp for January and I am, once again, hopping on board. I love Adriene’s relaxed yoga style. She removes the stiffness from yoga and replaces it with an opportunity to get to know how your body reacts to movement and stretches. I am the most excited for this journey with Adriene and the yoga community. If you would like to join, it is not too late. Sign up for her newsletter here!

Well, there we have it. Those are my bite sized goals for cultivating love and creativity in January. Let me know if you have any long term goals and if so how you are breaking them down! Let’s kick some ass this year.

 

XO

Em