Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coffee and Blogs No. 16

Where I live, it is snowing. It's so damn cozy I can barely handle it.  We're snuggled up with electric blankets and warm drinks and no plans at all, the perfect timing for staying inside and fighting off head colds.  Here are some things to read if you're able to lay low!

LATE NOTICE! Today is National Readathon Day! Get cozy and read because you have an excuse!  Right now I'm reading All The Truth That's In Me, but I'm having trouble pushing through because it's sad and haunting.  You might have heard me raving on Instagram about the awesome, hilarious, light and fun Evil Librarian.  For me, it's one of those books that makes others after it seem less than.  I also have been hearing GOOD THINGS about Station Eleven.

Sarah from Yes and Yes is starting a series of modern-day takes on awesome classic ladies.  I love her idea, and her sweet profile of Anne Shirley, but I think there needs to be a nod to Anne's awesome teaching career somewhere in her update.

Speaking of riffing on literary ladies, a few people have pointed me to this AMAZING re imagining of the Potter series with Hermione as the main character.  Some of my favorite lines include, "without Hermione, the Boy Who Lived would be dead as shit" and "Hermione did not like being ignored, nor did she like institutional gender bias. So she set that bitch on fire."  I remember reading an article in Jane magazine mentioning Hermione as a poor role model because she always studied and always worried, and feeling wounded.  Now I'm smart enough to know that Hermione doesn't have to Lara Croft to be a terrific badass.  Thank god.

Kate is asking us to make some room, and it drove home a point that has been tickling the edges of my mind.  I went to college in Massachusetts and surround myself with friends and media that is largely liberal, so I often think "we're done fighting! no one is going to be rude about racism or social issues and obviously this is my body and everyone can love who they want."  But, ah, no.  We have a lot further to go.

I don't share enough Gala articles- she is one of the first people I ever followed who talked a lot about self-love and other mystical things.  We're currently in Mercury Retrograde (I fact I somewhat ignorantly blame on every single thing that I struggle with at work right now) and this article has some advice to help you thrive until it ends on Feb. 12th.  I've also been reading about magic for your house and I need some oils and some crystals, stat.

My favorite new Instagram account- @omgliterallydead.  Literally.  Thanks, Victoria.

Here are a few of my articles I found myself revisiting lately: Channeling Leslie Knope to Kick Ass At Work, hey suburbia, we're in love with you, Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

I'm trying to work on setting up a virtual book club (be your own book club?) and I'm wondering if there is any interest on the blog front?  I have a few friends I want to include that I chat with on instagram, and some friends scattered around the country.  The only title I definitely want to include is Yes Please, but I'm open to title suggestions (YA not necessary, despite my obsession of late).  Let me know your thoughts, lovelies!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

at the moment no. 10

at the moment, I'm...

freezing and numb. Actually clutching the warm sides of a candle in a metal tin.  The heat is never on on the porch where our office is.  There's an electric baseboard heater, but I'm usually the only one out here, and the electricity prices just went way up.  So I bundle up, wear wool socks, and wrap my hands around cups of coffee and lit candles.  It's still my favorite place to be. This morning I spent too much time reading about the upcoming book releases in my favorite guilty pleasure series (SHADOWHUNTERS FTW) and didn't do as much writing as I wanted, but it was still time in the dark and quiet and it was just for me.  I'm so greedy about it.

losing weight.  But only technically.  I spent a good deal of money to be part of a 21-day-fix diet plan and I got a month's worth of Shakeology with it.  I like the idea behind all of this.  I use the protein shakes to keep from eating everything in sight when I'm starving after school and I still have to pack our lunches and make dinner. The 21-day fix gives you workouts (that hurt, and that's good) and portion controlled containers that train you to eat healthy.  I like that, too.  But this week I've felt restless and weird (winter blues?) and I'm only stayed on plan about half the time.  It was Elliott's birthday and I had cake. I went out with friends and had a beer and some wings.  I laughed enough that I think I might have negated the extra calories I ate.  I don't know.  I like myself so much that losing weight is not something I want desperately.  Maybe that's just an excuse.  I joined a weight loss challenge at work, too, and the pot is $560, so maybe my self-confidence can take a backseat for awhile.

stepping it up, ya hear? I've had my fitbit for awhile, but tons of my friends and family have also gotten one recently, and this adds a whole new layer to the way this tool helps me move.  There are challenges that you can participate in with your friends- most steps in a week, most steps in weekend, most steps in a day.  It is so damn motivating.  I love that my sister in Florida has one and we daily check in, chat on the challenge board, inspire each other.  I love that she works until 7 and then comes home and slaughters her step goal before bed.  I find it incredibly inspiring, and it also lets you creep on people's lives (omg, they just got 3,493 steps, where ARE they?  oh, the gym, that's annoyingly healthy and wonderful), and the competition pushes me.  I love my weird little fitbit tool, and now I'm lusting after the newest model with a heart rate monitor built in.  Plus, cute wristbands at Target.

maintaining my bookworm status. Last year I kept track of all the books I read in a list on the sidebar of the blog.  I read 29 books (one of which was actually a long ass serial fanfiction piece that I'm counting because I think it's much longer than any published novel and it's more well-written than half the published stuff I read) and some of them I never finished.  About a third of my reading was done in the last two months of the year, when I let go of any "intellectual" aspirations and let myself read young adult fiction like I was a 16-year-old with a crush.  I read a ton of Mary Higgins Clark when I was a preteen, so maybe I've overdue, you know?  

This year I've already read four books, many in one sitting by staying up way too late.  I want to branch out and read some stuff for adults (Anita Shreve, who wrote my favorite book I read in high school, The Red Tent, has a new book called Boston Girl) and reread some of my soul-crushing favorites (The Little House series, followed by the autobiographical Pioneer Girl, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Anne of Green Gables)  I might be ready to reread a few books about death that I love and terrify me (The Lovely Bones and A Widow For One Year), and I have some good nonfiction queued up (#girlboss and somehow I've resisted reading Amy Poehler's Yes, Please.  I'm saving it like a good bottle of wine).  There is still plenty of YA I'm waiting for, particularly Hollow City.  I'm terrible at keeping up with my goodreads page, but here the link: BOOKS YO.  Recommend something to me!

I'm getting lost in all this book talk and there is breakfast and swimming lessons to think of.  Be my friend on fitbit.  Tell me the books you love.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Word of the Year 2015: Write

Last year was a family year.  We wanted to move, houses, and our bodies, and we had lots of projects that centered around us as a unit.  When I needed to get myself in shape, my main motivator was my family, to get strong for my boys, to be healthy for Ben.  At the beginning of the year, the kids were so young and needed so much undivided attention from me.  Elliott was just weaning off of bottles, which I had not previously realized makes a HUGE difference in daily family life.  Both boys napped at different times, had different interests, and were too different to truly play together.  I was Mama (and teacher and student, hustling to finish out those last classes of my Masters degree), and I liked it, but I was a little burnt out.

Then something miraculous happened.  Elliott grew out of his morning nap and the boys started sleeping in the same room and the same time for several hours every afternoon. I finished graduate school. Ben took the lead on our biggest house project of the year.  Milo learned to share his cars (most times).  By the fall, for the first time in years, I had a lot more time for me.  I traveled solo twice.  I started a new blog.  I indulged my interest in tarot cards and moon phases and other slightly mystical things. I read a ton of books.  I met friends for drinks of all kinds.  I wrote 55,000 words of a fantasy story. I was killing it.

I've read a quote (does seeing something on pinterest count as reading it?) that says "There are years that ask questions, and there are years that give answers." Last year answered a ton of shit, but more than anything, it reminded me of some things I already knew.  That I love reading and writing.  That it's worth it to make the time for trips and meeting up with friends.  That I am more than just a mom.  I can truly say that by the end of 2014, I was feeling like a super cool version of myself, with tons of self confidence and excitement about what was ahead. I'm going to hang on to that feeling for dear, dear, life.

In this vein, I've chosen my word for 2015.  This year, it doesn't really represent a family view, but more what I'm going to prioritize as I move through these months.  The word is write.  It's okay if you need to roll your eyes- I know I've been talking nonstop about writing since November. But it woke something up in me.  I'm thinking of Eugene Levy in Waiting for Guffman when he gets the acting bug and he's chortling in the interview "I'm worried that I might have been wasting time!" I'm not about to give up my orthodontic practice.  I just want to continue with this hobby that has let me have so much fun.

So, yes, I'm going to keep writing my story about schizophrenia and alternate universes.  I'm going to keep writing here.  But I also want to get back into the habit of writing as a way to keep myself organized.  I've really fallen away from writing daily lists, keeping things organized on the calender.  I want to keep better notes at work and better track of things at home.  I'm still trying to keep healthy living as a focus, and one of my goals is to track what I eat- write it down.  I like when my word can branch to cover all my bases, and this one is able.  My word for the year is write.

Do you have a word for the year?  A resolution?  My favorite of all time is still: eat more bacon, have more sex.

(The lovely image is a print that you can find here. Text added by me.)

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Word of the Year 2014: A Move Update

I'm starting my new year late in 2015.  I still feel like I'm tying up muddy ends of last year, which was good and whole and bursting with so much that it didn't end on time.  We just rolled in from a family vacation yesterday.  I'm easing into all the new, and I'm not done remembering the old.  Let's talk about our word for 2014.

The word of the year was always Move, and when we found out we couldn't actually move into a new house, we were initially let down.  I know Ben still struggles with our small house and a community that doesn't feel like home for him, but we're making changes in here and it's leading to a much more comfortable life.  One thing we really needed to do was decide what we wanted to accomplish in each room.  This sounds deceivingly simple, but we had to strip away expectations and make our house work for us.

We started with the living room and realized that we needed to plan for play and toy storage more so than adult entertaining.  With this in mind, we carpeted over our hardwoods with extra soft padding and rugs that can take a beating, got rid of almost all art, bookshelves, and coffee tables, and brought in the train table.  We went out and got a huge cubed storage piece from Ikea (it used to be Expedit and now it's something different but it's still amazing) and keep all toys, a good chunk of the kid books, and the kid DVDs in this unit.  This room is much safer and much more fun than it ever was before.  

Another big problem we had was no personal space for Ben and I.  Kids stiff was everywhere.  Ben's desk was shoved into our tiny bedroom, where small people were constantly climbing up to press buttons and scribble on the bank ledger. I had a laptop balanced on an end table in the living room, and usually a cup of coffee too close to the electronics. We wanted some adult space, so we looked to our trash-heap storage dump of a three-season porch.

It is appalling how we were treating this space. Ben was pumped about the clean up.  Then the entire summer was hanging out with the worker guys as they took down the walls and put them back up again.  Milo and Elliott loved it.

Ben took the charge on this project and completely brought it to life.  It was a year of securing a loan, hiring contractors, managing the work, ordering carpet, painting (a color he picked)- I feel like this room is the best present he's ever given me.  I don't have many pictures of it out here, because this is not where I come to hang out with my family.  This is where I come to write, and be quiet.  Ben and I are just starting to put up posters and bring our books and DVDs to fill in the space. I did all my National Novel Writing Month work at the little desk on the left.  After dinner, sometimes we let the boys dance in the big empty space in the middle.  This room is true love.

Another aspect of Move was moving our bodies, and I made some strides this year.  I ran, a lot.  My FitBit helped me figure out when I needed to get off my bum, and when I was powering through just fine. I used the Couch 2 5K running program all spring and summer, and ran two 5K races.  I consistently went to the gym in the fall, walked on the treadmill at least 3 times a week in November, and we did a five mile Turkey Trot as a family.  I definitely slacked off in December, which I feel might be my national duty, but all in all, I felt proud of the moving I brought into my life in last year.  There's more work to be done, but habits are being worn in to my beautiful brain grooves.  

Move was a good word for our family in 2014.  It was something that we were actively pursuing well past January, even when our original plans were firmly derailed. I'm not sure if the 2015 word will represent our whole family or something I personally want to work on, but I'm down to pick another word for another year.  It worked. 

I'll be back later this week to do a little personal reflection about 2014 and what my intentions are for the coming year.  Things are lovely and bright!  Do you have a word for this year? How did 2014 treat you? If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear.

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