But Really Though Reads – Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

B and I went out for a walk in SF today and we magically ended up near a bookstore. Being the bibliophile that I am we had to take a “quick look around”. My quick look turned into a $30 purchase of two books – one of which I promptly went home and read cover to cover today. The book I chose to spend my Sunday with is Sex Object by Jessica Valenti.

Funnily enough, I have put Sex Object in my Amazon shopping cart upwards of 12 times only to then decide to purchase another work of fiction or a collection of essays instead (I apologize to my past self- I don’t know what I was thinking). I have failed myself by delaying the delivery of this book into my hands – it is amazing.

Valenti doesn’t reclaim the title of sex object, but instead provides anecdotes on how she has come to accept this as part of her identity; not because of anything she has done but because society, specifically through the male gaze, has told her this about herself. Valenti provides powerful truths about being a woman in a world that hates women and she doesn’t leave room for the fluff. Sex Object is neither a fight call or a pity party, it is the truth and that is what makes it so powerful.

Valenti and I share many differences but I could relate to her in every story she told. She explained the guilt we feel as women for telling men no. How, even as a published author and feminist, she can still be made to feel small by comments by men. She explains how easy and common it is for us to not react to someone treating us poorly because we like them or their nice or we don’t want to blow up our friendships. She puts into words the emotions we are forced to carry from all the misogyny and blatantly shitty things men (or women –  anyone can be a sexist) do to women.

Thank you, Jessica Valenti for creating something that felt cathartic to read. Thank you for not forcing a silver lining into every story. It was beautiful and painful and still managed to be humorous.

If you want to buy the book I’ve included a link here.

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.

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.

But Really Though Visits – The Pacific Science Center in Seattle

B and I took a much needed mini-vacation to Seattle at the end of April. We spent most of the trip visiting with our pacific northwest friends but we took an afternoon to ourselves to go visit the Pacific Science Center, specifically to see the Terra-cotta Warriors that the PSC are borrowing from the People’s Republic of China.

First of all, how cool is that! This beautiful museum was able to negotiate with a country to get this magnificent artifacts for a limited time. This is beautiful and brings me so much joy. I love that history and knowledge can be shared amongst the many different continents and countries on our planet.

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One of the high ranking officers – look how close we are to the warriors! Amazing, isn’t it?

Now, let’s talk history for a minute. For anyone that doesn’t know (or went to school before these were discovered in 1974) the Terra-cotta Warriors are clay soldiers, horses and armour that are surrounding the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Qin united the warring states of China around 221 B.C. He was a skilled leader and military strategist. Qin wanted to achieve immortality, even went so far as to drink mercury in an attempt to achieve it, and ordered for his mausoleum to begin being constructed shortly after he took the throne. This mausoleum has four main pits, three of which are filled with terra-cotta warriors, dancers, and tombs of sacred animals. Since the tomb’s discovery in 1974 thousands of these lifesize clay creations have been excavated but the emperor’s main tomb still remains untouched. It is believed that the emperor may have designed booby traps or that the artifacts may be harmed by opening this main tomb. For now, we can only speculate on the treasures that lie directly with the emperor.

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Another higher ranking official – is it believed that they were all holding weapons when they were originally buried but the weapons disintegrated over time.

Now that we are all caught up on the history I’ll give you my thoughts on this exhibit. In short, IT WAS SO F*CKING COOL. The Pacific Science Center allowed patrons to get extremely close to the artifacts (without touching or using flash photography). The entire exhibit felt magical. Catering to families, and adults who like to play, they set up stations where you could attempt to rebuild a terra-cotta warrior.

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This room was filled with replicas of the warriors and the state of the warriors when they were uncovered in 1974.

The museum also set up a room designed to make you feel like you were walking through one of the many pits filled with warriors. I was so impressed with how interactive the PSC was able to make the exhibit. B and I spent almost two hours just walking through this one exhibit. The PSC did an incredible job with presenting information at each artifacts station and relating it to the history of Emperor Qin.

One we emerged from the magic of history in this exhibit we explored the rest of the PAcific Science Center. The museum is very tactile outside of this exhibit and has an outside water area, learning stations for sleep, play, personal hygiene, a butterfly room and insect display and a space section.

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Play is important for all!

 

But really though, I could not recommend this museum more! If you are ever in the pacific northwest you must check it out!

What are some of your favorite museums? B and I try to visit one in every city we visit.

 

Trying the Fitness Diet

My March goal to take action was intended to mostly be political but being a type A- personality I had to one up myself mid month and make it physical.

 

I’m an amateur runner. I’ve done a couple half marathons, 10ks and hikes but I am not the perfect example of a runner. Every weekday after work B (boyfriend) and I go to the gym. B and I run 3 miles at the gym at least twice a week and a mile every other day when we go in to do weight training. While this is great and my body is getting fitter, it is really wreaking havoc on my social life. I want to skip happy hours and other engagements to go the gym and after the gym I barely have time to make dinner and hang out before bed.

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This is not at all what it looks like when I run, but an image of the MOON didn’t seem aesthetically pleasing.

So, after months of careful fitness consideration and many failed attempts before I am COMMITTING to getting up at 6am to run or do yoga every weekday (allowing more time in the evening for weight training and hanging out). I have recruited B as my inhouse accountibilibuddy and Kate as my over the phone motivator. I kept a daily diary accounting the results and difficulties I’ve faced during the first seven workouts below:

 

Day 1:

I started this on a Thursday to allow myself a couple days of getting up and then immediately reward myself with a weekend. This morning wasn’t the worst. Waking up when the sun is still sleeping is hard and running in the cold is semi-uncomfortable but finishing 3 miles before 7am really jump started my day. B had time to make us coffee in the morning, I had time after the run to do my makeup and not feel rushed. Most importantly I had that high that only crazy people who work out in the morning have. I only had one cup of coffee the entire day and I was still pretty energetic.

 

Day 2:

My arms were sore from the gym this morning. My lungs did not want to cooperate and some monster flowers are in bloom so I only made it 2 miles this morning…but I did do it…and I didn’t complain too much when B woke me up. TGIF my friends.

 

Day 3:

I have decided on a MWF running schedule with a TR yoga/rest day/weight training after work. B has agreed because he is always a good sport about these things. So run it is. Sunday night I had horrible, mundane but exhausting, anxiety dreams. I woke up exhausted, confused and mad at B for waking me up (how dare he make me follow through with my commitments). I somehow managed to put on running clothes and run (albeit a little slowly) our 3 mile loop. My only motivator was coffee this morning and boy was it not worth it. I remained weirdly groggy at work all day until around 3pm when I finally got my head in the game. I’m praying for rain on Wednesday so I can get out of my new “diet”.

 

Day 4:  

Thank the Lord it is YOGA DAY. Waking up was still insanely difficult but climbing onto my mat was so much easier than preparing to go outside. I was still a little sleepy throughout the day and had a significantly lesser high from yoga than from running but I think I’m slowly adjusting to this lifestyle.

 

Day 5:

I begged B to let me stay in bed this morning. I prayed for rain…but no…there I was at 6:15am halfway down the street giving B the silent treatment for “making” me get up (I warned him before we started this that he would have to force me from bed every morning and apologized in advance for the dramatic comments I make when the alarm goes off). By mile 2 I had forgiven him. I was thrilled that by the time we finished our 3 mile loop the hardest part of my day was over.

 

Day 6:

Today my plea for 5 more minutes was greeted with a rather rough no…so I got out of bed and dragged myself to the yoga mat. The YWA video we chose involved a lot of half moon/ balancing practice so I had to do a lot of yoga for the brain to keep myself standing and awake at the same time. I may have spent a vinyasa or so in child’s pose…but I did it! B chanted “Day 6, Don’t Quit!” at me after we finished the video and giggled at his own rhyme so I guess getting up was worth it.  

 

Day 7:

I officially have bragging rights after finishing my Friday morning run (and evening leg day) although I tried to hide my head under the covers and pretend that I was part of the bed. This did not fool Detective B who TOOK THE COVERS AWAY (monster, I know) and refused to let me have another 5 minutes. I was too tired to put up much of a resistance and before I knew it I was a mile into my run.

 

I DID IT! A ginormous thanks to B for making me get up. If it takes 28 days to make a habit I am ¼ of the way to this being a permanent part of my life.

 

Action packed March is almost over, crazy, right?

 

How are you doing on your goals?  

Listen Up, Did I Learn Anything?

February FLEW by.

 

En route to my goal of cultivating love and creativity this year I planned to spend the month of February listening and learning from myself and others.

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This process was necessary, listening to others on my unplugged rotary phone wasn’t working well for me…

A part of my plan of action was to listen to others with my full attention. So in February I slowed down in conversation. I stopped thinking about what I was going to say next and started to stop and listen. I practiced staying present in conversation even if it meant I didn’t have an immediate comeback.

 

This helped me learn to cultivate love in my relationships. Time flies and pauses when you are present. Being present added emotion that I would not have noticed in conversations. It gives me insight into the speaker that I would not have if I had only been thinking about myself and my reaction to the situation.

 

The second part of my listening was to listen to myself, my physical body in particular. Listening led me to more action than I thought it would. I ran almost 30 miles this last month. While this may seem like I was not respecting rest days or listening to my body I really changed my running habits. Twice a week I try to run at least 3 mile runs. During these runs instead of trying to maintain a steady pace I have found that my body reacts best to pace changes. I increase and decrease my speeds (never dropping below a 10 minute mile pace) for the duration of the run.I also took a couple days, unintentionally,  off of yoga. This was a huuuuuge mistake. My body got sore from my runs much faster with the missing stretches.

By really listening to my body and adjusting to what its telling me I have began truly enjoying running. It feels like less of a chore now. I’ve learned that my body always hates the first mile and kills it on the third so I have learned to listen to it without giving into my first mile woes. I have also started eating a bit later in the afternoon to fuel these after work runs. My unintentional yoga break taught me that I respond best to cardio and stretching, so I need to be sure to work yoga in almost everyday. I also discovered that since my best moods of the day are after working out I need to start my day with a bit of movement and get a jump on the day.
Another month is done and 2017 is flying by! How are you holding up on your resolutions?