a day to remember

This weekend was all about the Women’s March for this girl! It was an incredible experience to share with over 2 million women and men who represented love, hope, equality, and progress. I got to laugh, shout, and listen to the likes of Jane Fonda speak on the importance of representation and equal rights. It is a historic, memorable day that, despite critics suggesting otherwise, will be revolutionary to this country. I am also proud to say that both my parents joined in on the march, in support of their children and themselves, and I can’t emphasize how much it means to me that I have two wonderful, intelligent parents who raised and educated two daughters and a son with equal love, support, and expectations.

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One last note: Nothing of quality ever got done by sitting quietly at home and minding your own business.  Our country is built on it.

Other than the march, it was a low-key weekend, thanks to the rain and the aftermath of a cold I was battling all week. Entertaining friends and family is always fun and worth while, but it takes a lot out of me, so I welcomed the relaxation.

Thankfully, I was able to fit in a few solid workouts this week, although much of my time outside of work was spent sleeping. Colds are no fun, but thanks to my constant vigilance, it never accumulated into anything too serious.

Here’s some food from the previous week.

A huge salad with chicken, pita and hummus, and some tempura cauliflower I tried from Trader Joes.

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Cod, zucchini noodles and spinach, and baked sweet potato fries. I was missing ketchup for those fries!

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A hunk of a salad topped with garlic-butter shrimp.

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Sesame ginger chicken with broccoli and spinach.

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A grilled cheese and soup on my sickliest evening. Notice the spinach- gotta fit in those vitamins! The soup was a roasted corn and red pepper from Trader Joes.

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Apparently I’m not good at snapping breakfast shots. This was a warm bowl of oats with peanut butter, blueberries, and strawberries.

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My lunch of the week was salads with chicken, pita, and hummus. I love meal prep because it makes the week so easy.

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After lots of rest and healthy eating, I’m feeling invigorated and ready to face the week! Happy Monday!

My Cat Wants Me To Fail

I was trying to study, but my cat decided it was time to pay attention to him and he jumped up and sat on my textbook. Fine. I had videos I could watch anyways and I did so until Bandit hopped up and sat on my keyboard. He’s not helping with this certification. Whether or not he’s out for world domination is a constant question. He will just have to settle for tormenting me. Thankfully, he got bored and decided it was time to stretch out on my yoga mat.

  
At the gym today, I swam my usual mile plus something a little extra, then headed upstairs to work through a body strength and light weight circuit. I started with knee ups, kettlebell swings, squats, bicep curls, lunges, punches, box jumps, kneeling kickbacks, push ups, hip lifts more lunges, and high knees. I finished with another circuit of abs and a touch of jump rope- planks, sit ups, leg lifts, bicycle crunches, and v ups. By the end, I was beat and very much ready for a relaxing shower.

For lunch, I enjoyed the same dish as yesterday. My caprese pasta salad over a regular salad with some beans. For an extra hit of protein and hint of sweetness, I snacked on almonds and grapes.

  
As for the remainder of the day, I studied some more, walked with my mom and the dog, and studied again. For a snack, I had some popcorn and a tangerine that wasn’t quite ready to be eaten, but it was still tasty.

Dinner was chicken with a cranberry glaze, stuffing, asparagus, and brown spinach rice. Kind of a wintery meal, but delicious!

  
I’ve been fairly good with eating for the past few weeks and have lost a few pounds. The one thing I always always want is ice cream! I need to learn to tame that constant urge, though to be honest, it’s kind of a year round thing.

A Review of…January…Kind Of?

Are we supposed to start a month by our first words being, “Rabbit, rabbit,” or something? I’ve heard that somewhere, so if you’re superstitious, I hope you remembered to say it…

I’ve been bad and haven’t finished a book in a few weeks. I’ve mentioned before how I go through phases. When I do read, it’s the only thing that I can do, but when I’m not in that mode, I get distracted. There simply does not seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes when it comes to extracurricular activities. I’ve been trying to focus much of my attention and energy on writing, which has been better in the past few weeks, but I am feeling the itch of getting lost in a good book.

My problem is that by the end of a long work day, I’m tired and don’t have much energy to expend on things in which I have to focus. Starting my day at 5:00 AM always makes me feel energized and able to take on the day, but it cuts down on the hours I have at night because I need my sleep.

My problem is that I am a giant procrastinator when it comes to doing things other than browsing the Internet or sitting in front of the television. It’s jut so easy! In some ways, I am diligent and disciplined, especially for my workout routine, but I’m unfortunately not quite there yet when it comes to reading and writing. I know that in order to be successful, I have to work at it extremely hard, but the hours and the days get away from you and all of a sudden you realize you haven’t been very productive in some facets of life.

A new month always brings a new sense of hope. I’m actually not certain where January went. In some ways, it feels like Christmas and New Year were a lifetime ago, but then I wonder how it’s already February. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the snow all seems to be falling at once now after we’ve had nothing at all for so long. I mean, the day after Christmas I was running outside with my jacket around my waist!

I’m trying to reflect back on January and though I know I have a lot to be grateful for, I’m struggling to remember the specifics. The winter in general tends to do this to people. Just from the number of days in the month, I know that February is going to pass by even faster, so now is the time to pay attention to how I spend my free time.

At the very least, I’m happy to be able to say that I have kept up with my blogging! Even for this though, I feel as though I have only done the regularly scheduled posts that I typically do- Meals on Monday, Rave Review Tuesdays, and Workout Wednesdays- but I haven’t contributed any extra, fun material lately. I hope my blog hasn’t been boring, but I will try and make more of an effort to post more than those allotted topics.

For the reading, I am making my way through two interesting nonfiction books on writing, the one on screenwriting that I discussed and another on writing in general that I read a bit from college. They are pretty inspiring and enlightening, but they also say a lot of what I should already know- in order to be a good writer, you have to write.

I always had a romantic view of creative outlets, like writing, thinking that people could simply rely on pure talent to succeed. To be fair, I don’t think I can be entirely blamed for this perception based on what our culture sees as “quality” entertainment, but the more I grow up, experience, and observe, I’ve noticed how hard people have to work in order to pursue any of their passions. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

There will always be excuses not to do something, and it’s much harder to actually get yourself to do things, but that just means it will be worth that much more in the long term. The expression that the journey is far more important than the end result rings truer the more I experience in this world. No one is made by successes and failures on their own, but by the processes taken to reach them.

Now let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…or so they say.

Everything Happens for a Reason, Right?

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I do, with the condition that people be active, hard-working participants of their life. There are some events that will happen to us no matter what we do, good or bad, and then there are the ones based off of choices and actions that occur through a combination of circumstances we don’t always understand or recognize.

Up until this quarter-life crisis of sorts, my life has seemed to fall into place before me. I went the usual trajectory of education up through graduating college, working hard, gaining accomplishments, and growing into an individual who knows her own learning style and confidence. A seasonal job opportunity came together right out of college, then another regular position fell into place after just a bit of search and a touch of curiosity that set me en route in that direction.

That year, an opportunity presented itself to me that, due to my previous dedication to academics and interest in teaching, led me towards receiving my Master’s degree. At that time, I was still hesitant and uncertain if this was what I wanted to pursue as a career, but it was a one year, fully-funded program, and you just don’t turn down an experience like that. It was not for nothing, as they say, because I learned more about myself in terms of resilience, flexibility, patience, and resolve. I grew as a professional and as a student in search of constant learning, whether in the physical realm of classes or life experiences. I also met a great group of people who I worked with in my classes, our tiny bunch socializing and working, and one of the reasons I was able to get through the toughest times of the program.

It would have been easy to continue down the path of education. I am not saying this in terms of the job search because I cannot attest to that, but the focus of my search for stability and professional endeavors would have been far clearer had I stayed that path. It is with a flurry of self-doubt and fear that I decided not to be a teacher, at least at this time in my life. I enjoyed it for the most part. It was challenging, but rewarding, and is more than an admirable profession for one to pursue. The difficulty is, at least at that level of education, one’s primary passion must lie in teaching. Mine is writing, and teaching was an adjunct, not the way to start a career.

It was through a period of difficulty, with tremendous support and guidance from my family and friends, especially my parents and siblings, that I realized that I owed it to myself to pursue other endeavors, as difficult as it may feel. I am doing that now, though the path is unclear and scary, even more so than when I started. As many will find and agree, the job search is not an easy thing to overcome. I have found that I am either over-qualified or under-qualified and people, which is the most frustrating situation to find yourself.

I write this now because I am scared, but also because I know that in some way, with a lot of effort, patience, and flexibility, it will be okay. My belief that everything happens for a reason has been tested greatly in these past months as I struggle to find my professional self, but when difficult challenges arise, it is all about how you handle yourself.

Everyday, I strive to be productive. I still write, read, and learn, knowing that improvement and growth are what makes life worthwhile. This stage of my life is not going the way I expected, or as smooth as some of the others have come together, but my belief is that this is part of it all. I continue working out and taking care of myself and the other parts of me that I want to foster outside of work, such as cooking.

So yes, I do believe that everything happens for a reason, though it will not always- in fact, rarely- be the way you expected. Don’t give up, but work hard and play harder. I’ve realized that I can’t live with the perspective that my life is somehow on hold and will continue once I get my next job. Life doesn’t wait in this way and neither will I.

Do you believe in fate?

Introducing: Rave Review Tuesday!

Welcome to Rave Review Tuesday! This is the spot for me to reflect on recent books, TV shows, films, or theatre productions I have been fortunate to consume. Fortunately, I have had much more blessed time in which to digest all of these mediums this year, especially in the past couple of months. However, I think it fitting to begin with what I consider to be the greatest creative accomplishment of all time, or should I say creator, Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

Having just finished Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm- I like that she is holding onto that name tongue in cheek style- I found that not only is she a wonderful storyteller, obvious from Harry Potter, but she is a beautiful linguist. I will not show shame in the fact that I had to look up multiple words in the dictionary while reading her newest novel. Not that I felt it hindered my experience, nor did I feel as she was stretching to use these words. She has a remarkable sense of language and how to manipulate it to create a wealth of beauty and I am continually in awe of such talent.

In the summer time, I have a penchant for mysteries, fostered in part by my mother who would pass me her latest crime novel on the beach or by the pool. Though every once and awhile I enjoy a little guilty pleasure reading, I often find I can’t stand the endings of things, be it books, films, etc. There’s always something left unsatisfying about them.

To be honest, there was a point in the book where I knew whodunit, but for Jo’s part, I kept questioning myself and in the end I was surprised by the motive. Throughout the book, I enjoyed myself. This novel wasn’t so much about the mystery anyways. From Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy, and The Cuckoo’s Calling, I have developed a relationship with the characters she writes. You don’t always like them, you don’t always agree with them, but you understand them. They’re real. The worlds they live in may not be real however hard I pray for them to be, hello Hogwarts, but there is something delicious in getting caught up in a book and sensing that the real world around you has been flooded by its literary counterpart.

When I was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for I honestly cannot tell you what time, it was early on though so maybe the first or second, I remember being on the beach, reading a scene that featured a stormy day and looking up into the bright sunshine and being shocked silly.

Jo’s ability to immerse her readers into these worlds that she so obviously has fleshed out in vivid detail in her imagination is beyond compare. I know that I am biased-hello I won a costume contest dressed as Hedwig (RIP)- and put her and her work on a pedestal as so many do, but even as I read Harry Potter over and over again (don’t judge me) I am still captivated by the words I know so well.

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It’s the stories like The Silkworm that reaffirm her talent and I wonder if that’s why she wanted to write under a pseudonym in the first place. My writing professor in college often said that a writer will feel great accomplishment in his/her work when they are published because they will receive so many rejections before that, but once you find major success, you start to wonder about the validity and talent of your work. My dad often says that JK Rowling could publish a book about “poop” and it would be a bestseller, which emphasizes this point. She is an artist and she wanted to sense that special moment again, so I could never blame her for that.

Sometimes when people reach success with a book, TV, or movie series they seem to resent that which made them famous because they always are associated with it. For Jo’s part that has never seemed the case. Just today she posted on Pottermore a little blurb about the Quidditch World Cup under the guise of Rita Skeeter. There’s also the movie series about the Wizarding World to look forward to in the future.

In part, I owe my creative spirit to JK Rowling and Harry Potter. It’s what made me so want to be a storyteller, to play with words, to invent. I have many eclectic tastes that I want to share with my readers as we move forward, but I had to start with this one. For me, this is the epitome of entertainment. Whether I’m curled up on the couch with a cup of tea by a fire in the middle of winter or lounging on a float in the dead heat of summer, there’s no book I’d rather be reading than one of Jo’s.

Now excuse me, it’s time I start my annual reread of Harry Potter.

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Avada Kedavra that.