Tuesday, September 27, 2016

12 Books In A Year

gmrobidas 12 books in 2016 book reviews

At the start of 2016, I made my reading goal for the year: 12 books. 12 books. That is so small compared to what I used to read. So small compared to what my goals for the past couple of years have been. And yet, seeing I read 11 books in all of 2015, apparently it's pretty on target. 

This was finally the year I realized that I'm not in middle school anymore. That reading in the middle of the day isn't always an option. That I usually don't get in bed early enough to read.

But with all that being said, I made the goal to read 12 books this year. And I reached that goal in September. So apparently I did something right! I realize that 12 books is ridiculously low for some, and ridiculously high for others, but I'm really proud of actually achieving a reading goal. I guess setting something realistic is a good strategy!

At the beginning of the year, I created a habit tracker to inspire me to read every day. It lasted all of January, but not much longer. I still wish I could get in that habit, but truthfully, I'm not focusing on it right now. But here is how I did read this year:

Audiobooks. Yes! Duh, I know! But for the first time in my life, I listened to, finished, and enjoyed audiobooks this year. I commute a lot, and usually depend on podcasts. But I have found that sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the informational noise of podcasts (granted, I listen almost exclusively to self-help shows). Audiobooks have been a very welcome break, but I do have to be choosy and make sure I'm picking a good narrator and the right length/style of book to hold my interest. 

Lunch breaks. I would love to be the person that reads religiously every lunch break, but I'm not. I only get a half hour, and by the time I heat up my food and walk to my car, I don't have a ton of time to eat left. But when I convince myself that the 1-2 pages are worth the effort, I always leave thinking of course they are. So this is something to get better at. 

Trips. The reason I hit my goal early is because I was able to blow through multiple books while I was traveling. Travel time is uninterrupted reading time for me, I don't try to do anything productive except read. 

Sometimes I didn't watch TV. Okay, so right now I'm watching through Gilmore Girls, which means only the greatest of books is going to inspire me to leave Netflix off and read instead. Buutt, earlier this year when I finished The Office (sob) and could not bring myself to watch anything less amazing, I didn't watch TV at night and read instead. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing catch up with my reading, instead of reading what I want in the moment. But, I made a concentrated effort this year to read what I want, when I want, without book guilt. Progress!Here's what I read, in chronological order:

He Loves Forever by Thomas OlbrichtTom, a retired professor, preacher, and missionary, used to attend our church before he moved. In one of the classes I had with him, he gave us all copies of the new edition of one of his books. I finally got around to reading it, and it was just what I needed. This book discusses God's love for us with a focus on the Old Testament, and refutes the mainstream idea that the God of the OT was a God of wrath and anger. I found this book soothing and uplifting, and it helped me re-evaluate some parts of my faith that needed to be looked at. But my favorite part was definitely hearing Tom's voice on every page.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This was my first audiobook of the year, and I loved it. It's an adult book, written from a child's perspective, and it's not at all patronizing. I love the whimsical feel, and can't wait to get to the rest of the series. 

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Now this was an intriguing book. In it, Gladwell discusses success and the million and one random events that can push people towards true greatness. There were times that I found his opinions rather depressing, because I think it's dangerous to take too scientific an approach to our dreams and goals. Humanity is not always scientific. But I also found parts of it really inspiring, like when he was talking about the school in New York, and the 10,000 hour rule. Lots of good discussion here.

I Like People Too by Lindsey KublyHumph. I was so looking forward to this book, but it didn't do it for me. I thought it was going to be about making friends as an introvert, but it just didn't really share any actual information about how to do it. It was really short, though, so maybe still worth the time.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari Another humph. I love Aziz Ansari from his Parks and Rec days, but I don't know if I'm super drawn to his humor outside of the show. This book is supposed to be half research, have humorous monologue, of the ridiculous state of modern love, dating, marriage. I love the concept and found the research really interesting, but I found his jokes distracting and and some of his conclusions just...wrong. Another one for good discussion, though. 

Humans of New York : Stories by Brandon Stanton When this arrived out our library, I had to grab it! A completely beautiful book, I could have sat and read the whole thing at once. Though I'm not the most avid HONY follower, I didn't notice any repeat stories. Perfect for when your faith in humanity needs a booster shot.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton You know when you abandon a book, not because you hated it, but just because it wasn't right for the time? And then eventually, you pick it back up and it's everything you could ever need? That is my story with this book. Years ago, I got it on audiobook (CD audiobook!), and ditched it pretty early on. But picking it up again this spring was so, so right. This book is slow moving in a decadent kind of way. You can sit for hours and just digest it. It haunts you when you're not reading it. And Kate Morton is the queen of twists. Can't wait to devour more of her books, but I've held back because they're all so hefty. 

Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg Blagh. Gak. Okay. So, this was another audiobook, and if it was any longer, I would have had to abandon it. The story of three sisters on the American home-front during WW2, and based largely around their letters and contact with their boyfriends away at war, it's less endearing and a lot more...stupid. It tried to be a bittersweet, hopeful, coming of age story. And it became one of ignorance, immaturity, and blatant searching for chances to use retro phrases.

Bossypants by Tina Fey Yet another audiobook! My absolute favorite part was hearing about how she got started, and her time writing for SNL and her own show. I find her energy and work ethic so inspiring! Plus, she's a great example of why author's should read more of their own work.

Some Like it Lethal by Nancy Martin This is the third of the Blackbird Sisters mysteries, so it was the usual dose of glitz, sarcasm, and over-the-top posh-ness. They are so fun. This was my least favorite of the three, however, because at times I felt like she went off on tangents. 

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay Is it weird that a self-help book about your 20's is one of my favorite books of the year? Probably. But I do love a good self-help. Here, Dr. Jay challenges the the idea of just 'living it up' in your 20's, and discusses the importance of being intentional with your career, relationships, and overall life. I've always been more on the planning side of things, and loved finding a like-minded person in Dr. Jay. But I'm also a procrastinator, and this book served to kick me into high gear, as well.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough Even though this is a pretty hefty book, I tackled it on audio! The Thornbirds follows multiple generations of the same family, recording the struggles and day-to-day life of the Australian outback. While this book sucked me in and was the reading shot-in-the-arm I needed for September, I did find myself having to step away occasionally. This book deals with some heavy stuff and on some of my long commutes, I needed a break. Still such an absorbing read, though!

I'm so happy with the reading I've completed this year, and now that fall is here to stay, I'm looking forward to finding more time to read again like I was in the spring. Right now, my only reading goals for the rest of the calendar year are to finish The Two Towers;and listen to more audiobooks. Right now, the titles I'm most wanting to dive into are Someone Else's Love Story168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and a good Agatha Christie mystery.

Happy Tuesday! xoxo

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Summer 2016

Before last week, we hadn't talked since the end of April!  Here's a peek into the past 4ish months...because let's be honest, the blog silence started way before April!

In April we Act 1 ladies learned an entirely new Freeskate! After getting critiqued at the Vermont Theater on Ice Festival, we decided that while our CE was full of potential, our Freeskate needed a new direction. It was definitely a risky move 2 1/2 months before Nationals, but we took the plunge and pulled in Adam Blake. Oh. My. Goodness. I have never had so much fun in my life! After a week of long practices, we finished it, and then stood around in a mixture of awe for Adam and pride in our team. An experience I'll never forget!

Act 1 also skated in Ice Chips: Show of Champions. On my own, I was a soloist for my home club's annual spring show, and most exciting of all...I passed Senior Moves! I was very proud of my skating that day, and got a 4.7 or higher on every element (passing average is 4.5). For someone that hated moves in the field at first, and didn't even test until my freshman year of high school, passing senior after just a 5-year period was extremely satisfying!

Gillian Robidas Act 1 of Boston at Spotlight on Theatrical Skating CE 2016
Spotlight on Theatrical Skating (can you tell we're cold?!).
In May we did two competitions with Act 1, the North Shore Open and Spotlight On Theatrical Skating. We won both! Perks of being the only senior team in the area, haha! Seriously though, these competitions were a great way for us to get feedback that was especially useful to us with such a new freeskate. Experience skating outside of practice in any venue is always helpful!

Another exciting May highlight was wedding dress shopping with my best friend!

Gillian Robidas Act 1 of Boston 4th at the 2016 National Theater on Ice Competition

In June I focused a lot on getting outside, spending more time with my family, and going out with friends more often. The pace was a little slower...for the first two weeks, anyways! After that, everything got busy with Nationals!

The 2016 National Theater on Ice Competition was incredible! I loved the experience of competing on a senior team verses a junior team, but there were so many good programs from all levels. Honestly, some of my favorite events were Special Olympics and Preliminary! We placed fourth, coming home with a pewter medal. While this is not the placement we were hoping for, I personally was very proud of our team. We went up against a lot this year, and I love how adaptable and hard working and open minded we were this season.

4th of July fireworks in Nashville, Tennessee // gmrobidas

In July I came home, but not before spending the 4th in Nashville with my mom! I loved how local Nashville felt, it seemed almost small-town for such a big city. I would love to go back at some point.

A few days after coming home, my grandmother on my dad's side passed away from brain cancer. We knew it was coming, but were (of course) still hoping for more time with her. In a way, it was almost comforting to know she was no longer in pain. The cancer really changed her, and at the end she was not even recognizeable as herself. I will always really hate, though, that my last memories of her are so pained. We moved my grandfather in with my aunt, and thankfully, that is going very well.

Country summer wedding of best friends // timeladygeek // gmrobidas

In August we tried to hold on to the last lazy summer days, but to be honest, I was getting itchy for the 'new' year and regular schedules and skating to start back up. I coached my own private student who I met through group lessons and stuck with me through the summer, and focused on my own skating lessons. I also went to two workshops for American Ice Theater of Boston, and started working on putting together a Showcase program.

The most exciting thing about August, though, was my best friend's wedding! Deanna and I have been friends for about 10 years, and being a part of her wedding was such a joy! Having been by each other's sides through first boyfriends, and school, and first jobs, and then her starting to talk to Jake (her husband) at Teen Conference, and then dating, and their engagement, it was just an honor to be by her side at her wedding. It's not everyday you get two great friends in one couple!

And In September...most of the rest of the calendar year is up in the air, as it's currently unclear what coaching will look like and I'm waiting to be pointed in the right direction in terms of day job. I'm putting most of my focus right now into creating a showcase program to compete with this year, which is all new to me and really exciting. I'm also going to take my Intermediate Freeskate test this fall, so a lot of prep is going into making that test ready.

After auditions with TOI of Boston, I was placed on Act 1, their senior-level team, again. I am so, so grateful to skate with this amazing group again and am really looking forward to this season. We started choreographing last weekend, and I came away so pumped up and ready for more!

I have to admit, this was an extremely busy summer! But thankfully, it was busy because we had far more blessings and opportunities than negatives. While it's crazy that it's already September, I am looking forward to the fall schedule and settling in, not to mention fair season and fall leaves and hot coffee.

So how has your summer been? And what's your September going to be like?

Thanks for reading! xoxo