But Really Though Reads – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Maybe I’m spoiled from reading Harry Potter as a kid but it takes a special writer to get me to buy in to a fictional world. I love the world of fantasy but a magical universe has to be not only well thought out, but descriptive and vivid as well. Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy. He is able to describe locations with enough detail to set the stage but with enough blanks to let the reader’s imagination run wild.

Neil Gaiman created a fantastical world right on the edge of reality. Well, actually he put it in the world beneath us. Neverwhere is a story about people who fall through the cracks. The novel takes place in the London Underground (literally). The characters in this story live in the subways and sewers as either invisible creatures or the people none of us want to make eye contact with on the street. The description of London underground is so realistic it has me looking in doorways and down drain pipes for a gateway to the world of forgotten people.

Our heroine is not a femme fatale – she unlocks the mysteries to the magic. The point that she is the key to everything is made painfully obvious by two things: 1. Her magical ability to unlock doors and puzzles, 2. Her name is Door.

Not only did the heroine entice me – Gaiman’s ability to make London seem magical yet identical to any major city is magical. I’ll give you a little taste of his magic.

“It was a city in which the very old and the awkwardly new jostled each other, not uncomfortably, but without respect; a city of shops and offices and restaurants and homes, of parks and churches, of ignored monuments and remarkably unpalatial palaces; a city of hundreds of districts with strange names…and oddly distinct identities; a noisy, dirty, cheerful, troubled city, which fed on tourists, needed them as it despised them, in which the average speed of transportation through the city had not increased in three hundred years” 

Neverwhere has opened my eyes to the underground in my own city, the people who have slipped through the cracks. It can be a heartbreaking concept to think about (homelessness, poverty, etc) but it reminded me to keep looking for the deeper meaning in each person and interaction.

Reading about the fantastical lives of the people living in the subway told me to look for magic every doorway and reminded me that I have the key.

Please please please read this book and talk to me about it. I’m obsessed with Gaiman’s magic and the characters of London Underground.

But Really Thought Tries – Barry’s Bootcamp

I love to dabble in fitness classes. When I lived in SB I took Barre classes all the time but since the move I haven’t been frequenting the studios. I’m currently opting for a weight lifting gym sessions during the week. I’ve started to get a bit bored so I decided to expand my fitness horizons and take up classes again. Recently, this has taken the form of a tumbling class, which has the added bonus of rekindling my love for gymnastics

The cardio queen in me was feeling a bit underwhelmed by all this lifting and flipping so on Saturday morning, so I dragged B to the hardest cardio I could think of – a Barry’s Bootcamp class.

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Cardio Queens Unite 

Barry’s Bootcamp is self-described as a high-intensity interval workout (think HIIT) with “killer music” and “signature red lights”.  Upon arrival, we were eagerly greeted at the front desk, were given a locker and met the instructor. The instructor talked us through the workout split as the class requires specific moves to be performed at specific intervals/timing. We started on the floor with resistance bands and weights, then we moved to the treadmill, then back to the floor for arm, then off to the treadmills we went to finish the class.

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In my head this is what the red lights looked like…in reality they were just red light bulbs instead of white. 

Highlights included:

  • The treadmill and and the single touch option to switch incline/speed
  • The red lights
  • Full length mirrors to check form

I truly enjoyed the class but it was insanely challenging. I know that fitnesses classes work for me because someone else provides the rules. It’s easier to slack when I pick the pace for my HIIT so having someone tell me what to put the treadmill on and for how long prevents me from cheating myself.

I will definitely be taking another class at Barry’s but I will not be doing their recommended 3-5 classes a week. I love that the class gave me workout inspiration and I can now create a similar workout for myself at the gym (saving me a cool $40 per class).

Have you tried Barry’s? Did you love it or is it not for you?

July/August Recap & September Confidence

In June, I kept near my goals but fell off my routine a couple times (my morning workouts got moved to afternoon, I did not listen to others or my body well and battled my brain for control of my life). I was in desperate need of an emotional and physical reset. After working my ass off to get back to my regular schedule this August I’ve decided that I should accompany this reset with some confidence.

I’m going to get back into daily meditation. In June, I got lazy about my regular practice and my mental health suffered. I was easily triggered, not a good look for someone who works in HR. Through the latter half August I’ve gotten back into yoga and meditation and it’s really helped me keep my cool.

I’ve decided it’s time to make my workouts harder. I’ve decided to bump up one of my 3 mile runs to 4-6 depending on the week.I plan to wake up on time so I can stretch before I run to prevent injuries from flaring up. I also have started going to a public yoga class instead of only doing yoga at home. I even bought B and I 5 class passes for a nearby studio (it is easier for me to stick with something if I have a partner). So far we are loving it there! B was even told that he had a “beautiful practice”. He’s been on cloud 9 since. I am also going to continue incorporating new equipment and heavier weights into my workout. I’ve really started to fall in love with lifting. I think weight training has brought back some of the confidence I had when I was a dancer. I love being in awe of my own body’s capabilities.

I’m going to have confidence in my writing abilities. It doesn’t matter how creative I am if I am too afraid to write anything to share. I’m going to take control of my craft. I’ve been lazy with my writing lately but I am going to use my confidence in myself to really channel my emotions and create.

I’m going to take my confidence into the workplace. Asking for the resources I need. Contributing ideas with confidence. I am going to start taking complete control of my career. I’m going to be cautious about riding the line between confident and cocky.  

Being confident in myself is definitely going to lead me to my goal of love for the year and hopefully it will help me channel more creativity.

My end of summertime burnout is still here but I’m not going to let it stop me from trying to find love and creativity this year. I want to find confidence in my self love. I’ve been struggling with presenting myself with pride, confidence is definitely an act of self love.

Waking Up is Hard to Do

Unfortunately (or fortunately, I don’t know his life) I do not wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy. Instead, I wake up in the morning wishing I could go back to bed while still enjoying the pleasant calm of being up before everyone else. I’m a morning person but I suck at getting up in the am. It’s like being the extraverted introvert of morning people.

I’m serious, I love the morning the most. In an ideal world I would wake up at 5:30am, do my workout, shower, read the paper and enjoy hanging out with B before heading off to work. Lately, I haven’t even gotten myself out of bed for my 6 am run/yoga sesh let alone up early enough to check the news and panic about the orange monster. I want to be better at mornings. I don’t know if I’m just exhausted or if I’m reverting back to my lazy post grad self but it’s time to kick this sleeping in habit. To assist me in this coming home to mornings, I turned to my bff on all questions, Google.

Obviously to get up early, I have to go to bed early, which I usually do but I haven’t been actively applying all of my healthy sleep habits which has resulted in monstrous mornings.

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Monday (Going the Extra Mile)

To jump back into this I’m starting easy and using an old tactic, placing my alarm on the other side of the room. It’s times like these when I wish I had invested in “clocky” when he first came out.

Hardcore fail. Placing my alarm on the other side of the room was unsuccessful. Apparently the 20 thousand times I wake up in the middle of the night to pee has trained me to solve the problem and climb back under the duvet.

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Tuesday (Meditation)

Meditation always makes things better in my book.  Monday night before bed I meditated using my Calm app that I am obsessed with. Meditation definitely did not hinder my sleeping abilities but I still struggled to fall asleep. When my alarm (ie phone) went off on the other side of the room (consistency) I went and grabbed it then brought it back to bed with me like a crying baby. Four snooze attempts later I was up. Another epic fail.

Wednesday (You Have to Have a Plan)

At this point I was a little discouraged. What I used to do with ease I now could not muster. According to one of the many blogs I ready on waking up in the AM successfully having a plan was key. Tuesday night I visualized waking up Wednesday morning ready for my morning run. Wednesday morning I looked at B and said “Let’s be bed bugs instead”. This bed bug barely made it to her bus on Wednesday.

Thursday (Let it Go!)

After feeling shitty about myself on Wednesday day I decided that evening to let it go (see I told you I meditate). If I love mornings as much as I think I do I should be able to get up and enjoy them, not beat myself up over the ones I miss. Wednesday night I decided I didn’t need to get up early on Thursday to work out (but I could if I wanted) I just needed to get up with my alarm and greet the day. I could wake up and read Harry Potter (my favorite past time of all time), do some light stretching, get in a full HIIT workout or meditate (BUT NOT FALL BACK ASLEEP). Thursday morning I tried. I tried really hard. I hit snooze three times but by 6:45 am I was up. I didn’t get a workout in, I didn’t get any reading or writing done, but I had time to make my lunch because I forgot to #mealprep  AND I had time to have my coffee. Better than most mornings. Maybe all the stuff about slowly starting to get up earlier really does work…

Friday (Accountabilibuddy)

Thursday evening a catastrophic accident threw a wrench in my morning plans. There was a tragic weight lifting accident at the gym and my beloved iPhone did not make it out alive. Unfortunately, my iPhone is my alarm. Fortunately, I live with another human and he has a fully functioning iPhone and is naturally a morning person. Unfortunately, he sucks at tough love. Friday morning I once again slept until 6:50…which is better than 7 am…right?

Saturday (Consistency)

On weekends normally my rule is to get up by 8:30am BUT the internet told me that I need to get up at the same time every day if I want to be a successful morning person. Friday night, after an hour and a half trip to get my phone after work, I set my alarm for 7am. At 3am I woke up and changed my alarm to 7:45 am because I like to self-sabotage my success. Saturday morning I woke up, naturally at 7:30 am. Not proud but definitely not disappointed.

Sunday (Consistency)

Sunday is the day of rest. Since I had failed all week I threw myself a pity party and turned off my alarm. Naturally, I woke up at 7:30am.

Monday (Try Try Again)

I went to bed on Sunday happy after organizing my linen closet (I know, I live a riveting life) optimistic about Monday morning. I woke up Monday morning feeling like crap. You can’t win them all.

By Tuesday I had a cold that lasted until I went to SF on Friday…

Google failed me. I failed. I failed miserably. Does this mean I’m not a morning person? Maybe! But I’m going to keep trying and keep you updated as I do.

If you have any tips on waking up in the morning please leave them in the comments. I’m in desperate need….

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?

Why I Blog & Reaching my Goals

I decided to start this blog with Kate last year and after months of prep and page designing we made it live. Originally, I blogged to make Kate laugh but now I blog to keep myself going with my goals (and hopefully still make Kate laugh).

A huge motivator for my consistency with this blog is keeping me honest about my progress of my goals this year. Truth be told, if I wasn’t sharing all of this information on the internet there is no way I would have ever started my morning routine that I do with B. I would still be BFF’s with Dominos and my flirtations with Taco Bell would be beyond mild.

I also happen to find this process of writing, editing and posting really fun, but without my monthly goals as motivation I don’t think I would have been as consistent as I have been. Lately I’ve been thinking more about why I decided to take this route and what I have learned on my goal setting journey. I wanted to share some of my goal setting tips, successes and failures with you.

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My to-do lists never look this organized
First thing I want to address is why I took this to the internet. Sure, in January I could have written down my goals like everyone else and told myself I was going to work on my love and creativity but I’ve been down that road before and it’s never ended well. I needed adult supervision, but I was the adult..so my inner Rory came out and I made a list of ways to be accountable. Sharing everything online seemed like the easiest and blogging about it seemed like the ideal way to keep my Facebook friends from hating me. By spending the time each month to write about what I have done and plan to do I’m force to keep myself accountable.

Another key factor is “the rules are there ain’t no rules” (Grease for all those who live under a damn rock). I set guidelines instead. It is so easy to derail if you are counting every mistake as a failure instead of an opportunity to reroute. I always try to remind my perfectionist brain that it is “progress not perfection”.  This is another action that is easier said than done but I think a healthy relationship with meditation is key for this. The guided meditations that I do always remind me to come back to this moment, bring myself back in from where my thoughts trickled off to. Mistakes happen, life happens, sometimes you fall completely off your morning routine for a week or two…it doesn’t mean you can’t get back into it and it doesn’t mean you have failed your goals.

 I also decided to break the process down month by month. I prefer concise instructions in my life so I needed to give them to myself. This has been essential to my success. Instead of throwing the broad goal of creativity at myself with no guidance I break down the process to love and creativity. It is very easy to say I am going to treat everyone around me with loving kindness but without breaking it down how am I going to practice it? My monthly goals allow me to focus all of my attention on forming a healthy habit (which takes 21 days) and to then try to integrate it into the rest of my life.

 The ability to refocus my goals every month has been a HUGE help to getting where I am. At the end of every month I think over everything I’ve accomplished and rework my goals for the next month so that I am continuing down the path I want to be on. When I feel like I’m not making fast enough progress I stop and review everything I’ve done.

For example, I wanted to grow in creativity in movement and be confident about it in May and by the end of the month (and with a lot of help from Kate) I have conquered the headstand…my biggest yoga fear! Now that I know I can do this move without breaking my neck for June I can take the confidence from mastering this pose to the next move I want to add to my yoga tool kit or into my work/personal life off the mat.

This blog has given me an outlet to celebrate my victories each month. In January I did yoga everyday, in March I started running in the mornings, in April I spent more time with myself, making my current habits permanent and evaluating what I wanted out of this process and now in May I have begun truly working on my creativity. I’m beyond excited to see where my life will take me with this .

What’s my professional (Read: Amateur) advice on goal setting? Make your goals achievable and if they seem to hard, just change them don’t quit on them.

Do not try to start in the middle, this will not work and you will burn out or get discouraged.

Make your goals fun (coloring and yoga are fun af). Always reward yourself for getting shit done and getting closer to your goal (that’s my excuse for spending too much money on workout clothes and shoes).

If you need someone to celebrate your victories with you, big or small, I’m here.