But Really Though Tries- Pilates with the Reformer

While visiting B’s family in Southern California for Christmas (a fate I would not wish upon my enemies WHERE ARE THE SEASONS SOCAL?) we were invited to try a Pilates Mix class on Christmas Eve. I jumped on this opportunity because I have always wanted to play with the pilates machine (formally known as the REFORMER, sounds scary doesn’t it?). Prior to this, my only pilates experience has been through Cassey Ho or the tragic time my mother asked me to help her with WindsorPilates at home VHS (she still hasn’t forgiven me for taking her request to straighten her leg so literally). So you could say I was walking into the class blind.

The studio was doing a free 8 class pass so we bought the passes online (for a $5 initiation fee smh) which seemed reasonable enough if you were a local and able to use the pass in its entirety. Pilates rule number one is apparently that you have to wear weird little toe socks so I borrowed a pair. After we got set up, we set foot (well butt actually) on the reformer. The reformer is the most fun I’ve ever had using a machine in the fitness world. It may look intimidating but it’s really just a flat slide. The machine itself is a lot of fun and seems like it would lend itself to some crazy intense workouts.

The instructor was nice but it kind of felt like she was phoning the class in (in her defense it was Christmas Eve and she probably pulled the short straw to be there). Usually, when I try a new fitness class the instructor spends some time asking about fitness levels and explaining the machine but she had us just hop right on.

Even though I was most excited to try the reformer, my favorite part of the class was actually with a different piece of equipment called a springboard. This is literally just a board on a wall with numbers and springs to use for resistance. See image for a better idea of what it is and how it works.

Unfortunately for B and I the class we chose was a little calmer than the usual pilates class. We left with tight cores but definitely not sore. It was a lot of fun, but it was only 50 minutes which wasn’t enough time to work up a sweat with the movements chosen for that class. I would definitely take the class again but I would probably try for a different instructor or a different style of pilates. I like my workout classes to feel like they kicked my butt.

Have you ever tried pilates? What are your thoughts on the reformer? Do you think I can by a springboard somewhere? Let me know!

My Favorite Things from July to Beat Summertime Sadness

Summer, as a concept, is weird when you no longer get to spend it sitting at home marathoning ANTM between hanging out with friends and working a minimum wage job. I may never get over the shock that corporations don’t take summer breaks but these are things that helped me make it through July.

TV:

British Bake-Off (Great British Baking Competition)

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THIS IS THE MOST WHOLESOME THING ON TV. I’ve always heard that the show was addicting, but I did not know that is was so NICE. I know it’s a competition but I don’t think the contestants care. After watching the three seasons available on Netflix my faith in humanity has been restored.

GLOW

I love Alison Brie. GLOW puts her over the top acting chops to the test and she delivers. She humanized the “other woman” while still remaining true to her characters narcissistic tendencies. She’s developed a character that I can’t quite hate, almost like a Marnie (from GIRLS) lite.

Books:

American Gods

Hands down, this is the best book I’ve read in a long time. While the extended version rivals Anna Karenina in length it is well worth the extra pages. The highlight of this novel is the character development of the gods. Each deity represents a small portion of the religion or belief they stem from. Beautiful novel with a spellbinding story.

Skincare:

Simple face wipes

Tried and true best friend for the summer sweaty face. I keep these in my purse to cool my face off after the gym. I also use them to take my makeup off at night when I’m too lazy to wash my face and I use them in the morning to wipe off my night cream. I know, the beauty gurus say face wipes are the anti-christ but my skin has never looked better.

Lush Dark Angels

On the days when I actually bother to take off my makeup I use Lush’s Dark Angels to clean out my ginormous pores. A little goes a long way with this and nine times out of ten I leave my sink looking dirtier than when I started but it’s magic for your face. I’ve used this product off and on for the last 6 months or so and every time I consistently use it my face improves exponentially.

Clothing:

Topshop Jamie Jeans

I am a self-proclaimed pants hater. My resentment specifically manifests on denim. Jeans are tight, uncomfortable and usually boring. To keep up with the current fashion trend of normcore, boring, plain clothing I decided I needed to buy some jeans so I went full basic and bought the ones that youtubers won’t shut up about. Topshops jeans are ridiculously comfy. They’re stretchy, they’re flattering and they come in a variety of colors and styles. I love the Jamie jeans and now wear them religiously. On a cool day the comfort level can almost pass for leggings which is a win in my book.

Workout:

Public Yoga Classes

I am an avid YWA fangirl. Youtube workouts are my shit and Adriene makes yoga make sense. Recently B and I decided it was time to take our home yogas out to a yoga studio. I found a Groupon for a local studio so naturally we went with the cheapest one. The class we took was a Hatha Flow Level 1 and we loved it. After the practice the yoga instructor complimented our practice and I’ve never seen B happier. I highly recommend supplementing your home practice with the occasional public class.

Hunting Down Creativity

My creativity is bipolar. It is either manic, coming at me in full force, attempting to attack. Or it is hiding so well I’m convinced I never had it to begin.

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I’m a task oriented individual. I like lists, goals, following a process thoroughly. Creativity does not like to play by my rules. Creativity waltz in, stays for just one dance and then disappears faster than Cinderella at midnight.

I’ve discovered that I cannot magic creativity when there is time for it in my schedule so I have dedicated myself to two tactics on finding and harnessing it.

 

  1. Whenever creativity strikes I write it down, jump on it and try to make moves. If I am too busy or at work I jot down the thought in my notes and pray to god that I will have some inkling of its magic left when I have time to look it over.
  2. My less successful tactic, but incredibly more fun, I try to lure it in. When I want to be creative but can’t muster up an idea I force myself to try. I pull out the list mentioned above, or a creative writing prompt from Google or I try movement. I will start by attempting intuitive yoga and see what emotions I can bring out. Once I identify an emotion I write it down to use. Turning movement into words is becoming my new favorite game.

Am I good at these? Of course not! I’m just getting started but I’m working on it.

How are you doing with your goals this month?

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.

June Goals: Inspiration Creation

It is one thing to want to do something creative it is a different thing to actually do it.

I’ve learned throughout May that the hardest part is the dedication and setting aside the time, but both are closely followed by figuring out what to do.

But as Jack London said “ You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”.

Last month’s broad goal of creating was great. It forced me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture but I also caught myself “waiting” for inspiration and creativity. Fun fact; talent and ideas did not flow through my veins the moment I decided to sit down and try. But I did try! In June I am going to create inspiration for my movements and my writing.

Once again I know this seems broad, but I’ve got a plan.

How am I going to do this? Watching, learning and practice, practice, practice.

To inspire creativity in my movements I’m watching more yoga videos like @erinkellyart. Her flows are gorgeous and natural. Watching her it is impossible to tell where the yoga pose ends and the yogi begins. Seamless. While I don’t want to copy her or try to speak her body language I want to watch and learn her transitions. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I could sing her praises all day, but I want to take ideas and her ability to embody herself in her movements to make my own. She also has inspired me to get my handstand press up within the next year. If you don’t know what this move is I suggest you watch a few of her flows and see her in action. Beautiful.

I also am going to get on my mat everyday, regardless of how much time I have to practice. I want to try different flows by letting my body tell me what needs work and what needs rest. I’m curious to see where my body wants to take me if I listen to it.

I’m going to continue this curiousity off the mat and take every opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. Try new workouts, try new games, put myself and my ideas out there (wherever there is).

In my writing I’m going to follow more creative writing prompts and re-read old books from my childhood/ adolescence. I plan on reading Harry Potter, Matilda, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle. After I re-read my favorites I want to read works that are out of my wheelhouse. I plan on going to the library and picking based on recommendations from friends or best seller lists.

While focusing on different reading genres I also want to mirror that with my creative writing. Try my hand at fiction, specifically absurdism (I am most excited to try this!) and see where my stories go. Absurdism, for anyone who is not a huge English nerd like me, is the idea that man is always looking for meaning in life, but there is no meaning. Absurdist writing, like that of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, typically involves a character hunting for meaning in a world that cannot provide the answers. I find this style of writing particularly intriguing as someone who would love to have a purpose, but I have no clue what that purpose is.

Most importantly, taking the time to write write write. From Stephen King’s book, On Writing I have learned that the right of passage to successful writing comes with practice.  

As always, I will let you know how it goes!

March Madness and April’s Recap

March was for action and boy did I take it in that goal on in my personal life. Mid month I decided it was time to start waking up early and working out and feeding my body the good stuff. Starting that habit has created a paradigm shift in my daily routine. Work is no longer the first thing of my day or the last thing that I think about at night.

America has cultivated this unhealthy obsession with getting ahead and my actions helped me realize that. (Yes, I know it is seemingly ironic that by doing more things I have stopped trying to get ahead but being mindful and meditative while doing yoga and running has been so good for me). While I want to succeed in my career I’ve realized that my health has to come before my job. I’m oh so very lucky to work at a company that allows me to take midday walks on beautiful days and encourages the use of PTO but the culture of American corporations in general weighs heavily on all of us. My morning routine and evening workouts allow me to put myself on the schedule instead of just my job. Due to this focus on myself, I have been better at focusing at work. Yin and Yang. That work life balance is oh so very important.

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The view from one of the many beautiful places I’ve gotten to visit. Rattlesnake Ridge in Seattle.

My external actions were a little trickier. I tried to make as many calls to my representatives as I could but I did not reach my goal for the number of calls that I wanted to have made. I still highly recommend Jen Hoffman’s guide and I will still continue to build on this baby foundation of political activism.

April was my month of reflection and repetition. I had not taken enough political action by the end of March to feel like I had accomplished my goal. In April I continued to take action. I donated clothes to a local women’s shelter. I donated money to the ACLU and Emily’s List. I revisited my goal of self-love by getting back into daily yoga and doing little things that made me happy like enjoying coffee with B in the morning. I practiced self-love by reading the book Cunt and really sitting in my powerful feminine energy.  I made plans with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and visited them in their cities. I allowed myself to appreciate the moments I spent with them and to be present. I revisited my goal of listening by taking the time to think about the needs of those I interact with daily and trying to view the world from their perspective as well as my own. I have added this extra lense to as many conversations as I can.

I’m so glad I spent this month slowing down. Making times for friends, myself and relationships I feel like I have now built the steady loving habits I need to start plugging into my creativity. Bring it on May – I’m ready for you.