I Sound Like Adele (When I Sing in the Shower)

If there’s one thing I regret from my time in the womb, it’s not honing my singing voice more. Okay, I know that’s not how things work, but wouldn’t it be kind of cool? If our strengths and weaknesses were based off of training we did before we were born. You know what? This conversation is getting wacky. The point is…

When I sing in the shower, I sound just like Adele, I’m sure of it. There is something about the acoustics in the shower- I’m sure it’s a thing- that allows you to hit all the right notes. I think it must have something to do with the hot water opening up your throat to reach new depths. I’m also talking out of my ass right now. Oddly enough, when I sing in my head, I nail the vocals too. Maybe I just have a strange perception of myself.

What you should take from this conversation is that if I could sing, I would be the biggest music star in the world right now and you all would be weeping at my feet due to my tender, agonizing words and haunting melodies. Semantics.

Another wonder of the world is the missing sock. I am particular when it comes to running, in regards to what I wear, eat and drink before, and time of day. I take a lot of precision when it comes to my runs, in a weird superstitious kind of way, because I live in fear of having to suffer through it. One thing I love are my Saucony striped socks that I wear religiously when I exercise. There are no socks like it that offer the comfort, without the bulkiness, I need.

I also live in fear of losing one of these socks because I couldn’t bear it if I had to throw the lone sock left behind. It’s already happened once, but last night, I thought my pink striped sock fell victim and I was devastated.

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I did a little digging and found it sitting cold, wet, and afraid in the washing machine. Phew.

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For the record, I wore these socks on my run outside- it was SO nice out!- and I rocked it. Message proven.

This was a strange little post.

 

Weekend Catch-Up

The world is a darker place after what happened on Friday, but the truth is, it’s been darkening for awhile now. Bad things happen when people remain driven by anger, hatred, and cowardice. We will mourn, cry, and suffer, but terror and violence cannot persevere when we live our lives to the fullest, with love, hope, and kindness.

I’m starting to suspect that writing is bad for a person’s health. I’ll put together a carefully composed essay on the meaning of life and draw in few readers and no response, then I’ll type a silly story that has no purpose or sense of direction and get a high in likes for the day. Not to mention how the act of writing itself is difficult. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained and used, but it’s a battle to hone it. Sometimes, the spindles contract with you in ease and other times, tension is high and it’s a struggle.  And yet, here we (okay, maybe just I) still are (am?). Nothing that comes easy in life is worth it, right?

Anyways, as I type this up, I’m munching on a greek yogurt with grapes and a scoop of peanut butter for my post-workout snack, sipping on a warm cup of coffee, and listening to Adele. I’ve been angsty in my music choices these days- Adele, Hozier, Ingrid Michaelson.

After two weekends full of excitement, this one was tame. On Saturday, I had an early morning at work, but first, I fueled up with this simple and delicious peanut butter toast.

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After work, I came home craving breakfast food, so I chopped up a ton of veggies and scrambled everything together with an egg and a couple of egg whites. So good and the perfect meal for a run!

It was cold! The wind made things almost unbearable, but my legs were itching to get out there, so I bundled up and didn’t feel like the temperature was too much of a hassle once I got moving.

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I was in a complacent mood when it came to dinner. My stomach was screaming for Indian food, but my body didn’t want to get off the couch. I settled for paneer tikka masala from Trader Joes! I beefed the meal up by adding sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Forgot to take a picture, but once it was on the plate, it looked pretty!

The first meal of the day on Sunday came in the form of an egg and egg white omelet with cheese and an English muffin. I also had a few strawberries, but we were out of most produce at this point.

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That Indian craving was not going away, so for lunch, I had another meal thanks to Trader Joes, this time chicken tikka masala. I added the peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.

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Someone else was feeling the chill of November and needed to be warmed. The best part of this picture is his expression because you just know he is plotting all of our deaths. I try not to be a crazy pet person, but I couldn’t help myself this time. Every time I see it, I burst out laughing. And to be honest, these days, we take all the happy, laughing moments we can get!

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Though it was my rest day from formal workouts, I met up with my friend Molly for an hour or so for a walk. We covered about four miles and it felt great to catch up and stretch my legs before hankering down for an evening of studying. It’s crunch time, friends!

Dinner satisfied another craving I’ve had as of late- chicken cacciatore. Chicken, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and pasta- yum!

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This morning, I was more than a little excited for breakfast. Yet again, I made an egg and 2 egg white scramble with cheese (breakfast of the moment). This time, I paired the eggs with a bagel slim with a pat of butter, blueberries, blackberries, and a half of a banana.

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The meal well-prepared me for the day’s workout! Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of time developing a new workout plan for the month or so. I’m quite excited about it too as I put a lot of effort into choosing grueling, effective exercises that don’t leave me in the gym for such a long time. Today, I did a series of circuit training that focused on my triceps, shoulders, chest, and core. For cardio, I hopped on the stair master (ouch) for 12 minutes and the rower for another 12.

That takes up to this moment, yogurt now finished, and me very much ready to hop in the shower. Happy Monday- here’s to a great week!

Strength in Nature

Yesterday’s workout consisted of a strength training circuit that focused on moves meant to support the big six I did the day before. I focused on higher reps and lower weights, running through the circuit four times with twelve reps each. I did bicep curls, shoulder raises, tricep extensions, front raises, weighted lunges, and deadlift squats to high raises. After, I ran through a core circuit, same amount of sets and reps- kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, v push ups, hundreds to v ups, hip lifts, and bicycle crunches. For cardio, I hopped in the pool for a 40 minute lap swim.

At home, I was glad to have leftovers for lunch so that I wasn’t in a rush to get off to work. This chickpea dish is delicious, though next time, I think I’ll be more contemplative when it comes to spices. I like spices, but I don’t know how to utilize them in my recipes, so more research must be done! A piece of buttered raisin toast and a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of grapes completed my meal.

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I’m loving all the standing work entails! My hips and butt don’t feel as sore from sitting all day and I can already feel my legs grow stronger as they get accustomed to standing so much again. Nothing was quite like teaching when it came to standing/running around all day!

Dinner was a plate with crockpot buffalo chicken, broccoli, asparagus, and red peppers with a drizzle of ranch over everything. I had a separate bowl for some macaroni and cheese. After a long day, it was a great way to end things.

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I curled up to read for awhile after before drifting off to sleep.

This morning, I took the time to whip up my favorite peanut butter pancakes. They were delightful topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut and paired with a side of bananas and blueberries. I’m still full with these protein and nutrient dense cakes! They’re quite pretty too!

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Now’s time to talk about what gave me strength yesterday, something I promised in another post, but didn’t get to it last night. After work, I was walking outside with my friend when we saw lightning a way’s away from us. It was strange because there was no thunder and it wasn’t raining, so it was just one of those heat things. I tried to get a picture that captured the beauty of the illuminated night sky, but I don’t think I did it justice.

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Standing in a field, surrounded by nature, filled me with the realization of how insignificant the small and petty things in life are. We always need reminders of this. The gift of having seen this lightning show for just a few minutes helped me to see that strength is not always something we seek. Sometimes it entails going out into the world and living in it. These small blessings surround us every day.

*A brief aside: There may be good in this world, but terrible things do still happen, like earlier this morning during the news broadcast. I don’t know why we keep hurting each other and why we remain immobilized from making changes. Living in a world where we’re afraid to live in it (and validated in that fear), is not much of a life at all. For now, we can focus on the victims. Be kinder, love harder, do good.

A Moment and then Movement

Before I begin this week’s Workout Wednesday, I want to take a moment and tell you that today would have been my Nana’s 90th birthday. We lost her thirteen years ago earlier this month and I still miss her dearly. No doubt she is celebrating with a drink and her sisters up in Heaven. My family speculates that she is where I get my penchant for celebrities, parties, and conspiracy theories. There really was no one quite like her and I am grateful for the eleven years I did have with her, reading People Magazine over her shoulder, trying to learn how to write the letter A with her frustrated because I kept writing it upside down, watching her try to get off the moving log ride at Storyland in time then having to go again because she couldn’t and then again when her horse in the merry go ride stopped at the highest point, and the time she had to swat the ants off my ass when I sat in a pile, laughing and muttering obscenities under her breath. Everything she did, she did with a smile, gentle care, and with a touch of sarcasm, which are other facets I hope I get from her. She was one of the strongest, most selfless, and most loving people that I have had the pleasure of knowing, and so it is with bittersweet emotions that I say, Happy Birthday.

Now to take a more judging stance, at the gym, I just witnessed a man stack the barbell with a ton of weight, do two reps, wait five minutes in between each set and only do that three times. He struggled through them and didn’t even complete them fully, which makes me question what his intention is.

When weight lifting, I’ve read many different accounts, and I myself feel as though it is important to push yourself, but only to a point. You want to be able to get through a number of reps, rest, and do a couple of sets of each move. If you put on too much weight and can’t do the moves properly or fully you will hurt yourself and/or make very little improvement. To each their own, I suppose.

From what I’ve read, if you can’t do a move at a certain weight at least five times in a row properly, then it’s too much weight. It just gets me when people feel as though exercise is about killing yourself, when what you really want to do is improve. Working out and pushing your body is so important, but not to the extent of your health!

This past week, I played kickball and found out that I’m actually pretty clumsy. As I was running to first base, I almost tripped over myself (the ball was caught in the air anyways) and then I stumbled trying to field as well. I did make one pretty good catch and was feeling pretty good about my abilities until of course I was running to second on a play and remembered my fateful fall. I am glad to say I have made a full recovery and there has been no pain in the past week!

The next day, I did some strength training and a quick elliptical workout. Since my college roommate was visiting for the weekend, on Saturday, all we did was walk around, which is acceptable, but I was raring to go on Sunday.

That day, I did another strength and elliptical workout, along with some core exercises. I’ve been trying to increase my plank, and I am now up to about a minute and fifteen to a minute and thirty, though I feel like last week I was doing two full minutes. I think that this is partly because instead of only planking once, I include them in my core circuit so in the end, I’m actually doing more time spread out.

Monday, I was loving the fall air and went out for a run after a long walk with the dog. I came back and did some body strength and core moves, including some Yoga.

The next day, I went to the gym and did a few moves with the medicine ball, including my hated burpees. This move is the pits, but I included a quick ball lift and throw down to make it even more fun (sarcasm noted). At the end, I did some box jumps and jump rope before heading down to the pool to swim laps. It feels as though it takes a long time to swim a mile, and maybe it is, but I have been getting faster. Only 43.5 minutes this time around and I was huffing and heaving by the end of it. I completed my day with an even longer walk with the dog, which left me feeling a bit parched.

Today, I went through another strength workout. To change it up a bit, I incorporated eight moves using heavy weights and performed them in five sets of ten reps and then did eight body strength moves in four sets of twelve reps. I was feeling nice and sweaty, but strong, after and went out for a quick two mile run to try and improve my speed. My legs were feeling tired, but I’m definitely seeing an improvement! I topped it off with a mile walk to recover.

The biggest issue I’ve been dealing with these week are respiratory problems that seem to be correlated to my allergies. I have always suffered through spring, but never summer or fall before this past year. An allergy pill will usually help, but I needed to switch products because during random parts of the day and night, my lungs felt as though there were pressure on them and at times I was wheezing. I can handle to disgusting nose dripping because I can just blow it away, but the constricted breathing is scary. Luckily, they did not happen at times during my workout, and I never would have exercised in that moment, so it leads me to believe that it’s not anything more serious than allergies. With a new brand, I have been feeling improvements. Let’s hope there won’t be any allergies in winter at least! I want to eat apples again!

In Remembrance

I am not a poet and I know that this is late, but I have been trying to think about what to say about this day. I remember I had just started middle school, was starting my first full week, and all I could think about was that we were burying my Nana that day. I cried then because I was scared and sad as so many were. Now able to reflect and understand, I cry because of how truly devastating that day was for this country. I remember too the pride and love that swelled up in this country. Violence and hatred are horrific plagues that do not care for its victims. We do though and we remember the lives lost, the brave heroes who sacrificed everything, and the feeling of strength as we came together to fight against hate.

13 years and the pain is still raw.

Here is a poem I wrote in reflection.

13 years and the memories are still clear.
An attack on this nation filled hearts with fear.
We only grew stronger, together united.
Our reserve never wavered, couldn’t be blighted.
Never forget, we stand as one.

Our heroes, the victims, none of their differences mattered.
The weight of our grief, our hearts were shattered.
They were us and we were them too.
So many lives taken from us too soon.
Never forget, we stand as one.

Yet there is still oppression and hate that runs rampant.
Violence in schools and on the streets, we’re broken into fragments.
We come from different places, thoughts, and ideals.
Have we become so numb to the ways in which hurt feels?
Never forget, we stand as one.

Sometimes our daily routines and lives absorb and blind us.
But let’s try for some appreciation, love, and kindness.
There may always be outside forces that aim to destroy this.
Let’s not allow ignorance and naïveté to run amiss.
Never forget, we stand as one.

To be proud of this nation like we were on that day.
We have to listen to others and hear what they say.
Differences in people have the power to make this world stronger.
Prejudice and inequality will define this country no longer.
Never forget, we stand as one.

On this day we look only to honor the people we lost.
To ponder, reflect, and remember hate’s cost.
Death and destruction cares not for its victims.
But we do, so much, everyday we miss them.
Never forget, we stand as one.

Joan Rivers and the Importance of the Bitter Comedian

This Thoughtful Thursday is very sad. With someone like Joan Rivers, you’re always surprised to hear old how she actually is. That kind of person, the Hollywood fixture, seems like he or she will live on forever. Death strikes me as particularly harsh when it happens so suddenly. Anyone who is of good health and mobility, who goes from the norm to death, takes the air right out of you.

It doesn’t feel right.

Many will remember Joan Rivers as the cranky old woman with the plastic face who made fun of celebrities. Sometimes I think she took a sort of pride in this, though I did not know her nor could I speak for her, but I think it was one of those things where she said, “Well, they’ll talk about it and then they’ll remember me for it.

And we are.

I’ve also never understood how people become so upset or defensive when she made fun of celebrities. Sure, sometimes she was way harsher than she should have been. Sometimes she was crass and offensive. I’m not sure how that’s different from other celebrities of her nature. Celebrities are put so high up on a pedestal, and okay yes I am guilty of this as well, but in reality, we should be making fun of them as much as we are making fun of ourselves for being so obsessed with this culture. No one should have as much power and wealth for doing what they do. Our culture being as it is, and again I do perpetuate that so I say this with a smile, celebrities do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out how ridiculous this is.

The biggest thing for me and so many about Joan Rivers was that she was the first true female comedian. Many point out that she had a bitter edge to her, causing her to make the jokes she did in the manner she presented it. Of course she did. In all great female comedians, and in male as well, there is a bitter tendency to them. This could in part be due to the fact that they are struggling through a male-dominated business, always needing to defend themselves as funny.

Not funny for women, but funny in general.

Chelsea Handler has too been called a bitch and a crank, but it forms a more interesting personality. We remember her for that. There’s also an intelligent purpose behind it, knowing that in order to succeed and to do her job well, she will be loud-mouthed and she will put the celebrities on blast when they do stupid things or take themselves too seriously. Celebrity culture is fun, but it’s absurd.

We see this from Tina Fey and Lena Dunham. Their shows are quirky and hilarious, but always with a touch of bitterness, as though as to say, “Eff off, just laugh.” Even in shows like Parks and Recreation, where the humor can be softened and sweet, though still hilarious and wonderful because Amy Poehler is a goddess, there is still that bitter undertone emanating from Leslie Knope as she too struggles in a male-dominated field. She, and Amy as her pen, are saying, “Enough already, I’m here, I’m successful, and that’s okay!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus certainly held her own on Seinfeld and in so many other excellent shows. (Sidenote: I want to watch Veep!) But Elaine, surrounded by men who are her friends, is the voice that’s saying women are funny too and she is hell on wheels if anyone tries to dispute that.

I’ve been told that my humor borders on the bitter and to that I say, thank you. Because that means in some way, I have something in common with these hilarious icons who are a fixture in our culture. Whenever I watch The Emmys- except for this year because my television was broken!- I don’t care who wins Best Actress in a Comedy because I love them all (though Amy deserves a win), but I love watching to see what antics the nominees are getting up to when their names are called. Even this year, when announced as a presenter- the only moment I saw- Amy asked to be introduced as “Beyonce,” clever, funny, and slightly bitter because who isn’t bitter that they aren’t Beyonce? Maybe Oprah…

I am not saying that females base their humor off of being pissed off by men or whoever stands against them. But there is something to this bitterness and their success. Miss Congeniality is one of my all-time favorite movies. Sandra Bullock is a gem, not afraid to fall face first and look anything like glamorous. Gracie Lou Freebush is a bitter woman trying to navigate through the FBI with her majority of male co-workers and she does it with a rough exterior and an attitude that will tell it like it is. In The Heat, both Sandra’s and Melissa McCarthy’s characters are pissed off at the world for whatever reason, are told that they have too strong a personality or too much gruffness, but they don’t care, they just are.

That’s funny, male or female. We’re just starting to see it represented in women more and more.

That is the epitome of what Joan Rivers was about.

Yes, she was acerbic and borderline, okay downright, rude. She wasn’t afraid to tell someone if they looked like a turd in a dress because they did look like a turd in a dress. The woman had a crutch on her shoulder, was bitter as hell, but I’ve realized all the great comedians do. That’s what makes them want to make the world laugh. Because at the end of the day, with all the ridiculousness of this world, the stupidity of people, and those moments in everyone’s life when irony bites you in the ass, you have to laugh. Laugh, laugh, laugh or else we’d cry. And that’s just sad.

I’m still laughing Ms. Rivers, though I might be crying a bit now too.

RIP

Making Peace

This post is a week in the making and I wasn’t sure I was going to write it at all. Suicide, depression, and prejudice are deep topics much beyond the scope of the material I usually post on here. I’m not sure I’m well-versed enough. I can’t say that I lived through enough tragedy, fear, or prejudice to have a right to say what I am.

But I have lived and I have seen. And I am very sad for the state of this world. My best way of coping is to write.

I will never pretend to understand what went on inside Robin Williams’ head, just as I would never pretend to know how anyone was feeling or thinking unless they shared it with me.

There is undoubtedly a darkness and a lightness that lives within all of us. It cannot be defined and it is often never declared to anyone outside of that particular mind. Blessed as we are to live with conscious thought, the ability to read and write, and to communicate with others, there too are always consequences.

Robin Williams brought such joy to movie and television screens. He was someone who found what he loved and achieved such astounding success. We were lucky that he shared with his audience that lightness, humor, and grace that flowed through him, even as he battled demons that remain unseen to all of us.

That it ended how it did is tragic, as any loss of life is. It was not for a lack of love or support from what I have gleaned, though sometimes, I suppose it must be. I will choose to mostly remember him for how he lived, performing and making me laugh and cry, sometimes all at once, but I also will never forget how he died.

He was a man. A person who battled as much as he loved. We all are, whether we understand something or not.

Because we loved him. Because we celebrated him and all of his talent, the world got to share in the lightness that lived within Robin Williams. Now we cry at his pain and pray that he finally found peace.

Some people’s reactions have centered more around hate and judgment. This is something that we see now on the news and in our lives in every part of the world as hate announces itself. Yet, we see, perhaps not enough, that kindness, understanding, and love do exist, though those acts are often not broadcast on television as they are not gritty enough for ratings.

I have no answers as to how to solve the issues that run rampant, other than to try to love a little harder, accept that which you may not understand, and especially to love those who are not like yourself in any way shape or form because difference and similarities are what make us all important and special.

Someone once said that we must learn to tolerate differences. Another countered and said, we should go past that and accept. I am sure that many have also said that we should go beyond even acceptance, and I’d like to reiterate that ideal. We should learn how to celebrate a person for all that they are, not simply by categorizations of differences and similarities of which we are so prone to do.

Is it more comfortable to try and understand a person by defining them? Maybe. But this is a hazard that has plagued humankind for centuries.

I am not perfect, nor am I full of wisdom. I am however full of sorrow for all that I have seen these past couple of weeks and through all that I have heard in a lifetime. I am also terrified of that I have not seen or heard because there are dangers and hatred lurking even when I choose to ignore them in my cozy life.

I make judgments every day, against myself and against others. They are not overtly malicious, but it adds to the fuel that cause others to turn on each other. Whether it be a person who cut me off or another who steals my machine at the gym. I feel angst or resentment towards them and mark them as that. Sometimes I look at a person walking down the street and I don’t like the look on their face and a judgment is sparked.

Personally, I do not believe that anyone has been racist, sexist, or prejudiced towards me, but I have been judged, whether I know it or not. I see it happen to others, or I hear of it happening, and I am sorry that it happens so frequently and so consistently, even when we think we are so enlightened in this twenty-first century world.

I am sorry that we live in such a hate-filled world. Equality, as it is claimed so often, is supposed to be a right of simply being a human being. I don’t think anyone can pretend as though that is enforced.

Step by step, together, we must learn how to understand, or at least accept that we won’t always understand everything, and celebrate an individual for everything that they are and everything that they can bring to this world.

We, as a whole, are a long way away from this, but that doesn’t mean we give up and don’t try. I pledge to try and pay attention to the choices and the words I say every day. I’ll make mistakes, I’ll say something, I’ll judge someone, but I won’t give up trying to be better.

Maybe you don’t understand me. Maybe I don’t understand you. But we can no longer hate each other for it.

Haven’t we seen enough of the terrible consequences?