Thursday, January 28, 2016

Some Super Advice

I've just started listening to This American Life. I know, late to the party, as usual. But I'm seriously in love with the short-story concept. My favorite episode so far is How To Win Friends and Influence People, and my favorite part within that is "People Like You if You Put A Lot of Time Into Your Appearance."

In it, Luke Burbank tells the story of a man he met on a plane. The interesting part, is that the man was wearing a superman costume.

But he doesn't just wear it on the plane. Luke stays in contact with Superman, and eventually spends the day interviewing him. Superman's wife died at a young age--and since then, he had simply decided that life is too short to be boring and mediocre. He wanted to do something special, something with meaning, something unusual.

So he took his love for superheroes and starting sewing his own costumes. He wears Superman in the summer, and Batman in the winter. After work, he'll go out for the day all dressed up, hanging out in public places and talking to anyone who's interested.

What the hell? Is probably the first question that comes to mind. But actually, his 'why' is pretty simple.

It makes people happy. The way he sees it, if someone is pumping gas and Superman pulls up at the next pump, you've just made their day. They have something to talk about. A funny story to tell. And can anything bad really happen on a day you say hi to Superman?

We live so much of our lives chasing arbitrary shoulds and check-points. We all complain about how society wants to trap us in boxes, yet we still beat ourselves up when our lifepath doesn't look like Jane Jones' or the most recent "25 Things To Do Before 25" list. Even worse, we're still so quick to judge others when they start challenging how 'it's supposed to work'.

So just as a reminder: these lives are ours, and we create them every day through the choices we make. We are never done. We are never stuck. We have tremendous (usually untapped) power within us to stand out, make a difference, be happy. And so long as we're not hurting anybody, there's no real reason to avoid the crazy thing written on our heart. Just go do it.

A grown man walking around his small town in a Superman suit is pretty crazy. But dedicating your life to making strangers smile is pretty genius.

Happy Thursday! xoxo

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January Book Report

I don't remember if I've specifically shared it on the blog or not, but one of my goals for 2016 is to read every single day, even if it's just a page (here's an Instagram of the goal tracker I made!). I started counting on the 28th of December, and now three weeks later, I've only missed 6 days. Definitely room for improvement, but so, so much better than I was doing last year.

I'm already almost done with my third book of the year, which is a big deal to me, since I only read 11 books in all of 2015! I'm loving this boost and want to try really hard to keep it up.

First off, I finished He Loves Forever by Thomas Olbricht. The book's about the love of God in the Old Testament, challenging the mainstream thought that the God of the OT is angry and overbearing, whereas the God of the New Testament is loving and carefree (spoiler alert: it was the same God the whole time!). Our family's known Tom through the church since before I was born, and he gave me a copy of this book after our VBS in 2014. I loved the book, and found his writing comforting and hopeful. The very best part to me, though, was hearing Tom's voice on every page. He writes just like he talks, and I loved every minute of it.

At the same time, I finished The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley on audio. I loved it! It filled the void that can only be filled by a totally British mystery told by a brilliant, 11 year-old chemist. It was funny and quirky but still very well written. I'm going to try the second in the series as a print book to see if I prefer it on audio or a 'real book' better.

I'm almost done with Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Once I get going I have a really hard time putting this book down, but in the beginning I almost had to abandon it! Gladwell looks at the outlying situations that end up making someone successful, and in the beginning, it felt so hopeless that I was leaving it really depressed. Luckily I stuck with it, though, and the rest has been more than inspiring! I think Gladwell glosses over the importance of actively choosing to take advantage of your unique situation a little too much, but still it's a very interesting read. The chapter on geniuses was fascinating and almost eerie.

I just bought I Like People, Too: A Field Guide for Introverts by Lindsey Kubly as an ebook. It's much shorter than I thought it was (only 42 pages!) so I'm planning on reading it on my phone at work over the weekend. I've heard nothing but good things about her tips in this book, and seeing another big goal for me right now is being more social and building better relationships, I'm excited! I'll probably use it as my 'book you could read in a day' for the MMD Reading Challenge.

Looking ahead to what I want to read after Outliers and I Like People, Too: my first thought was Jane Austen's Emma, as it's been awhile since I read a good classic and I would love to get through more of Austen's books this year. Another heftier book I'd love to get into is Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper. I actually attempted listening that to audio on CD two or three years ago, and while I loved the story, I just couldn't listen fast enough and had to abandon it. I'm thinking I should pick it up at some point in February and do it justice!

On the other side of the coin, I might do something fluffy: the third Blackbird Sisters Mystery, Some Like It Lethal by Nancy Martin, or finally finishing another audio I eventually abandoned, Austenland by Shannon Hale. I should also finally finish reading yet another book that's been languishing half-read since 2013, The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper. That one's actually the second out of three books, but I didn't know it was a series when I started, so I read through it #3, #1, then #2.

Strategic as I might like to be, I'm really just enjoying the extra reading I've gotten done! I'm refraining from making any specific goals of which titles I have to read, and simply going with what I most want to read in the moment. It's been such a release for me lately, and I look forward to that goal tracker being much more full in the future!

Happy Thursday! xoxo

PS-I track all my reading on goodreads and would love to see you there! I also sometimes share book thoughts on Instagram and tumblr!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

14 Things For The 14th

01: I LANDED MY DOUBLE SALCHOW! Yesterday. We didn't get the first one on video but we got the second one! I landed about 5 or so after that. So an exciting day! I'm chomping at the bit to get back on the ice and practice them again. Friday come sooner! I want to write a much more in-depth post about double-salchows, but for now here's a preview from Instagram:
02: Speaking of, I got an Instagram! I've loved Instagram for awhile and mercilessly stalked bloggers on it, but I didn't have a smartphone so I couldn't have my own account. I got an iphone 5s for Christmas, though, and the very first app I got was Instagram! Definitely jump over there and follow me!

03: I know I'm super late to this party but Elise's small business story is well written, addicting, and a great series for those of us who often forget that there's not set path.

04: I'm in love with my phone. Seriously though. I feel like I should be ashamed to admit that but I'm just not. Right now some favorites are being able to easily send photos/videos, Instagram (duh), budgeting apps (through Every Dollar), constant access to email, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

05: I am loving the fact that it's only January 14th and I'm already working through my 3rd book for the year. That's quite a feat considering I only read 11 books in all of 2015! The extra time is coming from just a page or two everyday as part of my daily reading goal I mentioned here, and being able to listen to audiobooks easily!

06: I've been working on getting up early again and while I hate it in the moment, I love it the rest of the morning. Before the holidays I was up at 6:45 perfectly everyday and now I'm going for 6:30 and might go as far as 6. I'm in love with being able to have a slower (but productive) morning routine.

07: Last week I had a really bad asthma cough, and it got to the point where I couldn't talk without talking. My side also hurt a ton from coughing, but not just an ache, actually pain. So Saturday after skating and coaching I went to the urgent care. They gave me a new inhaler but didn't seem concerned about the pain at my rib cage...but I totally think I either bruised it from coughing so much, or cracked it, because it just hurts too much.

08: I'm dreaming of soup again. I should learn to cook.

09: I'm back to obsessive clutter attacking. I want to focus on consciously taking care of myself in 2016 (fluffy as that sounds), and I've become really in tune with how much my stuff being sprawled everywhere puts me in a bad mood. So I need to stop!

10: Does anyone use Periscope? I'm intrigued and want to try.

11: Coaching on an outdoor rink is a ridiculously beautiful experience. There's fresh air, sunlight, and it just feels magical. It's also miserably cold and will have you in tears if it starts to rain, but seriously. It's an experience I'm very grateful for.

12: Every day I realize how blessed I am to have my family (for the most part) close by. Especially grateful for my grandparents on my dad's side moving down this summer, so I can see them every weekend!

13:This guy has created a video game called Level Up Your Life where you essentially break your life goals into levels, and can earn points for working towards them! It's pretty cool. Learned about it from the College Info Geek podcast which I just re-discovered and can't wait to find out more.

14:Putting a lot of trust in gut feelings and doing what's on your heart. If something keeps coming back, and just won't leave your mind alone, maybe you should stop ignoring it.

Happy Thursday! xoxo

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Will Be Quite A Year

See also: 2015 Was Quite A Year.

Happy New Year, my friends! I don't know about you, but I am very excited to put 2015 behind us and move on to a bright, beautifully blank-page 2016.

I'm really into resolutions. 3-month plans. January 1sts, Monday mornings, fresh starts. I love all of that. This year, I'm taking two very different (and seemingly hypocritical) approaches to goal setting and I am so excited about it.

First, I'm getting REALLY persnickety and focused. This part of my goal setting speaks to the Type A perfectionist that hides away inside of me. I'm letting her out by:

-Coming up with a short list of big goals for year, which I've displayed on sticky notes on my motivation wall.

-Building a budget and making real saving goals.

-Committing to two daily habits I aim to do everyday in 2016: practice a yoga headstand every day (because headstands) and read every day. I made colorful daily goal trackers and everything!

-Writing a 3-month plan that gets broken into goals for each month and objectives for each week.

-Focusing on creating a rhythm and work flow that is not only productive but happiness and inspiration inducing.

But secondly, I'm also coming at 2016 with more relaxed intentions and mantras for the year. These objectives are just as important to me as my clearly-defined ones, and often, make the clearly defined ones possible.

-Getting better at unwinding. As in hanging out with friends more, knitting, and reading.

-Showing up every single day. Not waiting for inspiration, chasing my dreams now!

-Finding joy and actively pursing joy. I love the work I'm trying to do, but lately I've been very frustrated with my personal skating. A huge goal for me in 2016 is to get back to joy, love of the sport, and love of the art and always keeping that in the forefront. So I'm working on checking in with myself more, focusing less on 'better' girls out on the ice, and not getting down on myself.

-Refusing to be walked on. I don't want to rehash 2015 again, but a huge theme from last year was feeling pushed around and stepped on. In 2016 I'm going after what I want and not putting up with crap.

I love the concept of choosing a word to guide you through the year. It may sound silly, but for 2016, I want my word to be stubborn.

Stubborn as in refusing to give up on dreams.

Stubborn as in digging my heels deeper when the risk of failing seems to get bigger.

Stubborn as in refusing to be put down...

And stubborn as in going after what I want even when others don't believe in it.

2016 is going to be quite a year. I can feel it.